Jacob Trapp's variations on the Lord's Prayer

Like many British and American Unitarians I have been quietly influenced by the words of Jacob Trapp, not only the lyrics of his hymns (Let freedom span both east and west, The art, the science, and the lore, Wonders still the world shall witness) but also his meditations found in a 1968 Lenten Manual called "Intimations of Grandeur", a pdf copy of which you can find at this link.

I'm attracted to his work because it seems to be a version the verwindung about which I often speak. That is to say the overcoming of our old (primarily Christian) understandings of God, the divine and the sacred, theologies and metaphysics, not in a strong way (überwindung), in which we forcibly replace in one fell swoop strong words or concepts with new strong words and concepts but, instead, by employing a weaker, more gentle and creative way of proceeding, namely, by consciously surpassing, twisting, and reinterpreting them (verwindung). This latter process allows one to remain meaningfully connected with our Christian tradition but in a way that encourages the religious/spiritual and political freedom to be tomorrow what we are not today.

One prayer that seems to me urgently to require overcoming (in the weak and gentle way outlined above) is the Lord's Prayer. For all kinds of reasons our Christian culture has turned the prayer into a fixed text but it is very interesting to note that in the Gospel of Matthew (6:9) it is prefaced with the words "After this manner therefore pray ye" — i.e. like this, or in this fashion, rather than in exactly this way. It suggest that the prayer is best thought of as a footprint and not a blueprint, an example to born in mind as we travel the life of the spirit and not a set of words endlessly to be repeated verbatim.

Anyway, Trapp's variations on the Lord's Prayer found in his "Intimations of Grandeur" seem to me worthy of consideration and so I reproduce them below (in a the lightly edited form I have come across elsewhere — for neither is Trapp's original prayer simply slavishly to be repeated verbatim) for your intellectual consideration and even, perhaps, heartfelt prayer:

O Thou, whose kingdom is within, may all thy names be hallowed. May no one of them be turned against the others to divide those who address thee.

May thy presence be made known to us in mercy, beauty, love and justice. May thy kingdom come to be in the life of all humankind. May it come with peace, with sharing, and in a near time.

Give us this day our daily bread, free from all envy and alienation, broken and blessed in the sharing.

Keep us from trespass against others, and from the feeling that others are trespassing against us. Forgive us more than we have forgiven.

Deliver us from being tempted by lesser things to be heedless of the one great thing: the gift of thyself in us. 

Amen.

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