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Prayers for Living: 500 prayers for public and private worship by Rosalind Brown

04 March 2022

Christopher Irvine finds a welcome variety and tone in these prayers

IN HER poem “The Minister”, Anne Stevenson suggests that the task of the minister is to “to take care of the words”, and this is precisely what Rosalind Brown has given us in this book of prayers. Here are prayers that sound the heart’s reasons, our deepest cares, concerns, and thanksgivings and send them heavenward.

The prayers, originally composed to be used in public worship in Durham Cathedral, manage to blend formality and intimacy in their tone and vocabulary and so can be used in a variety of settings and occasions. And it is the range and contemporary resonances that are so remarkable and mark this collection out from other available anthologies of prayer. Our Jewish friends tell us that the Law of God covers every conceivable situation in life, and such a claim could well be applied to these prayers, too.

The 500 prayers are arranged under nine broad headings, covering times and seasons and every human condition and contingency, from emergencies to those things in life which should make us stop and think. The largest sections are those for daily life and people in need: evidence that the work of prayer is to bring the world, as it is, into the arena of God’s mercy and helping presence.

The preface is more of an introduction, and an extremely useful one it is, reminding the reader of the grammar of Christian prayer, based on the ancient model of the collect, with its threefold shape, addressing the Father, through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of the prayers that follow are certainly longer than the traditional collect, but each one is carefully crafted. Brown is a poet of God, and, with its two indexes to aid the reader in finding the right prayer for the occasion, this a very usable book when praying either alone or with others.

The Revd Christopher Irvine is Priest-in-Charge of Ewhurst and Bodiam, and Rural Dean of Rye, in Chichester diocese, and teaches at Sarum College and the Liturgical Institute, Mirfield.


Prayers for Living: 500 prayers for public and private worship
Rosalind Brown
Sacristy Press £19.99
Church Times Bookshop £17.99

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