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Medieval Prayers

Updated on June 8, 2011

Medieval Prayers

In the middle ages, prayer was not only an everday occurrence, but time was actually measured by the monastic prayer cycle. Today, however, even when we find time to pray, it can be difficult to know what to pray. Medieval people did not have that problem; for every difficulty and thankfulness and sin, there was a prayer to take care of it.

The following is a collection of traditional and personal prayers from the middle ages.

Prayers for Various Hours of the Day

To pray at the midnight bell:

Dear Father God Almighty Three in One Who wert, art, and shall be blessed world without end, I thank Thee that Thou hast kept me from nightfall to the hour of morning, I pray Thee to grant in Thy holy pity that this day I fall into no sin, so that at eventide I may again give thanks, praise and blessing unto Thee, my Lord and Savior.

Alternate or additional prayer (or prayer upon rising):

Dear Lord God Almighty and Father Everlasting Who hast safely brought me to the beginning of this day by Thy holy power, grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that by Thy restraining care my thoughts be set to keep Thy holy laws and do thy holy will.

Prayer to Mary and Jesus:

Mary, holy Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, into thy hands and those of thy blessed Son now and forever I commit myself, body, soul and spirit. Lord deliver me from all evil, from all sins and from all the temptations of the Devil and keep me in all perils. Sweet Lord Jesus defend me, giving my body strength and my soul health, enduring me with the will to do what is right, and to live justly in this world, and not to fail. Grant me remission of all my sins. Lord, save me waking, save me sleeping, that I may sleep in peace and awake in Thee in the glory of paradise.

Supplication to Mary [and my favorite]:

Most certain hope, O Lady the defence of all who seek thy aid. Glorious virgin Mary, I pray thee now, that in the house when my eyes shall be so heavy with the darkness of death that I cannot see the brightness of this world, nor move my tongue to pray or call to thee, when my frail heart that is so faint shall tremble from fear of the enemies of hell and shall be so stricken that all my limbs shall melt away in sweat from the pain of the agony of death, then, sweet and piteous Lady, deign to look upon me with compassion and aid me that I may see with thee the company of angels and the knighthood of paradise, and that the troublous and frighted enemies by that help shall have no sight, presumption or suspicion of evil against me, nor any hope or power of banishing me from thy company. Instead, most gentle Lady, may it please thee to remember my prayer to thee now, to receive my soul in thy blessed faith, in thy keeping and defence, to present it thy glorious Son to be appareled in robes of glory and made one of the company of the blissful feast of the angels and all the saints. O gate of paradise! O Lady of the patriarchs, of the prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and of all the saints. O day star brighter than the sun and whiter than snow, I clasp my hands and lift up mine eyes and bend my knee before thee. O most gentle Lady, by thy joy when thy holy soul departed thy body unspotted and fearless, to be borne in the midst of angles and archangels, and was presented singing to thy glorious Son and was received there to dwell in eternal joy, I pray thee that thou wilt succour and present me in this dread hour. When death shall be so near, Lady, be to my soul comfort and refuge and defence, so that the cruel enemies of hell, so fearful to behold, may not confront m with the sins I have committed, but that these shall be pardoned at thy prayer and blotted out by thy blessed Son. And wilt thou, O sweetest Lady, present my soul to thy blessed Son, to attain by thy prayer the possession of eternal peace and joy that shall never fail. Amen.

These prayers are from:

The Goodman of Paris: A Treatise on Moral and Domestic Economy

By A Citizen of Paris, c. 1393

Translated and with an Introduction and Notes by Eileen Power

The Folio Society, 1992

Prayers for Confession

Pride:

Lord Who art vicar and viceroy of God, I make confession to God Almighty and to the blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints of paradise, and to you, dear Father, of all the sins I have in many ways committed. First of pride: I have been proud of and have vaunted of my beauty, my strength, my praise, my excellent apparel, the skill of my limbs, and have given matter and example of sin to many men and women who looked upon me with pride, and when I saw this I thought of the power my children should have in their day, and of my power, my wealth, me estate, my friends and my birth, and how none could compare with me in all these things I have spoken of, and through this sin of pride I fell into its many branches.

Envy:

Sire, in all these things that I have before named, I have sinned full sore; for in my heart I have thought it and of my wicked will I have done it and by my false mouth I have said it and sown it wheresoever I could, and if I have spoken well concerning him or another, I have done it faintly and as a feint and nathless I was mocking; and in truth concerning those whose honor and good I ought to have kept and could have had I willed, I have turned it to ill; and when I saw that ill was being spoken, I betook myself and went there and consented to ill speech with all the power of my heart and mouth and body. And all, dear father, I have done out of envy, and I repent thereof, and I seek pardon of you.

Wrath:

Sire, I have taken the name of God in vain in my wrath and I have spoken foully of God and of the blessed Virgin Mary, His sweet Mother and of all the saints of paradise; I have been roused against others and in my wrath have refused speech with them; I have angered my lord father and my lady mother by my wrath and I have spoken despitefully to the poor and called them caitiffs in my wrath. Sire, I have by my wrath moved many to swear foully and by right foul oaths; my servants and many others I have moved to anger and I have moved them to do ill. And I have full oft time thought how I might revenge me upon those that I hated and gladly did I do them ill, if I could, when my heart was turned against them. Much and for long have I dwelt in hatred, whereof I repent, wherefore dear father, I require of you pardon and penance.

Sloth:

Sire, I have also sinned in all the branches of sloth; by my negligence I have been slow in God's service, slothful and negligent in the faith, and I have taken great care and thought for the ease of my vile body, and I have not remembered the words of the Scriptures, nor followed after them, by reason of my sloth. Again I have not given thanks to God, as I should, for the spiritual and temporal blessings that He has given and sent me, and furthermore I have not served God as I ought, according to the blessings and virtues that He has given me. I have neither said nor done those good things which I might has said or done, and I have been slow and slothful in the service of Our Lord, and have done and busied myself in the service of worldly things, and also I have better served myself and mine own flesh and have set more store thereby, tan in the service of my sweet Creator. I have long been full idle, whence many evils and ill thoughts and meditations be come to me.

These prayers are from:

The Goodman of Paris: A Treatise on Moral and Domestic Economy

By A Citizen of Paris, c. 1393

Translated and with an Introduction and Notes by Eileen Power

The Folio Society, 1992

Prayers to Use with Rosaries and Paternosters

The Lord's Prayer (Pater Noster):

[Note that the medieval version listed below is slightly different from the modern version.]

Our Father,who art in heaven,

hallowed be Your Name,

Your Kingdom come,

Your Will be done,

on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day

our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

as we forgive those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Amen.

Hail Mary:

Hail, Mary, full of grace:

Our Lord is with you.

Blessed are you among all women,

and may the fruit of your womb, Jesus,

be blessed.

Amen.

These prayers are from:

The Prymer: The Prayer Book of the Medieval Era Adapted for Contemporary Use

Translated and Adapted by Robert E. Webber

Paraclete Press, 2000

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