Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Thomas Becon
Editor: James Mardock
Not Peer Reviewed

The Flower of Godly Prayers (Selection)


Introduction

Thomas Becon (c. 1511-67) was an early Protestant reformer and homily writer. Arrested and forced to recant during Henry VIII's reign, upon the accession of Edward VI he became chaplain to the Lord Protector Edward Seymour and later to the household of his patron Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. His Flower of Godly Prayers, reprinted in 1561 and again in 1570, was an influential and widely used devotional text. The language of the confessional prayer to the Holy Spirit here excerpted is traditional, and draws heavily from that of the earliest English bibles, but it is of interest since it may be the source, rather than the Bible itself, for the Archbishop's language at TLN 65-69 about Henry's reformation. This modernization is based on the British Library copy, accessed through Early English Books Online.

A confession of one's sins unto the Holy Ghost (fol. xiv-xiiiv)

1Most blessed and Holy Spirit, equal God with God the Father and God the Son, I, miserable sinner, confounded in my conscience and almost fallen through the multitude of my sins into the hell-like pit of desperation, am come at this present before thy divine majesty most humbly to confess and from the bottom of my heart to lament all those my sins and wickednesses which from my youth hitherto I have unjustly committed in word, deed, or thought against thy goodness: most entirely beseeching thee mercifully to forgive me all those mine offences and abominations, and to make in me a clean heart, endowed with a new and right spirit, which may from henceforth through thy godly governance so direct me in all my doings that I may only attempt such enterprises as be agreeable to thy blessed will, profitable to my neighbor, and pleasant to my soul.

2O Lord my God, where thou art, there is liberty. But I, through the crafts of Satan, the lusts of the flesh, and the pleasures of the world, am in most miserable captivity, slavery, bondage and thralldom, whereby I evidently perceive that thou dwellest not in me, neither that I am thy temple, nor yet have the ghostly freedom wherewith all be endowed that have thee dwelling in them.

3O Lord, have mercy on me, and take away from me that heavy bondage of the flesh wherewith I am most grievously closed, and give me that sweet and free liberty of the spirit which by thee is wrought within the hearts of the faithful, that I, being delivered from the power of mine enemies, may serve thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life; again that thou making me a new creature by mortifying the old Adam in me, and by giving me a good spirit, mayst delight in me as a father in his son, and continually dwell in me as in thy holy temple. O blessed spirit, forgive me my sins; purify my mind with thy holy inspiration; comfort my weak heart with thy joyful presence; make merry my troubled conscience with true and spiritual mirth; lead me, which have so long erred, into all godly truth; give me the knowledge of all heavenly and spiritual things, even so much as is necessary for my salvation; put on me the shield of faith that I may be able to quench the fiery darts of the devil; kindle my heart with the fire of Christian love; make me a fruitful olive tree in the congregation of thee, my Lord God; give me patience in tribulation; take away from me the vainglory in prosperity; engraft my heart continual humility; make me bold to confess the truth of thy gospel before the tyrants of this world, and give me grace to persevere to the same unto the end; replenish my breast with thy heavenly gifts and spiritual treasures that the devil, the world, and the flesh, with all their works, pomps, and vanities from me utterly secluded and put apart, thou mayst continually dwell in me by thy godly inspirations, and I in the thorough, true, and undoubted faith doing that always that is good and pleasant in thy sight unto the glory of thy blessed name, which livest and reignest with God the Father and God the Son in one majesty, power, and glory, very God, worlds without end. Amen.