Originally published on 60x365.com on November 12, 2007:
War Prayer I is today's listener suggestion. It comes from my uncle Edward "Skip" Morneau, who also suggested the two "Paul is Dead" pieces. He suggested that I take a look at Mark Twain's War Prayer and make a series of pieces about it.
Briefly, the poem sets the scene in a small American town, bursting with pride over it's young men in uniform who are going off to glory in war. There's flag-waving and a parade. On Sunday morning, the townspeople gather at church to worship and to ask God for victory on the battlefield.
During the pastor's extended prayer, an old man in white enters the church and ascends to the pulpit. When the prayer is finished, he steps up and says that he is a messenger of the Lord. He goes on to say that every prayer asking for a blessing is actually two prayers, one spoken and one silent. The old man recites for them this second silent prayer, asking God to crush their enemies, to destroy their land, and to make widows and orphans of their people.
It's really much more powerful in Twain's words. You should read it for yourself. If you prefer not to read online, any library should have it.
I've decided to make three pieces from this poem. Today's sets the scene in the town with a parade song, an Old Testament reading (Ezekiel 25), a response to the reading ("May God continue to bless America") and an "organ burst". Tomorrow we will hear the pastor's prayer and on Wednesday we will hear the old man's prayer.