The Random Thoughts of a Lutheran Parish Pastor
It doesn't seem like it would take three hours to say the First Prayer of the Continental Congress given on September 7, 1774, by Rev. Jacob Duché (1737-1798), rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, as requested by Samuel Adams. Later Duché suffered several misfortunes. On July 4, 1776, when the United States, through the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence, Duché's church's vestry passed a resolution stating that the name of King George III of Great Britain was no longer to be read in the prayers of the church. Duché complied, crossing out said prayers from his Book of Common Prayer, committing an act of treason against England, an extraordinary and dangerous act for a clergyman who had taken an oath of loyalty to the King. On July 9, Congress elected him its first official chaplain.In 1777, when the British occupied Philadelphia, Duché was arrested but later released. Duché then wrote a letter to General George Washington in Valley Forge urging him to lay down arms and negotiate for peace with the British. Duché sailed (interrupted by being shipwrecked) to England during the War with other "non-revolutionaries." In 1778 he was convicted of treason by the Pennsylvania Assembly (through a process outlawed by the U.S. Constitution in 1787). His wife and three children were made homeless when his house was confiscated. Duché did not return to the U.S. until 1792, after he had had a stroke.
The painting which depicts the first prayer of the Continental Congress was created in 1848 by a New York painter, Tompkins Harrison Matteson (1813 - 1884). Matteson was known for his paintings of patriotic and historical scenes. The original painting has been lost since the 1950s.
Did they think that they would be heard for their many words?Fr. D+
I'll leave it to certified mindreaders to reveal what the delegates were thinking about any Holy Spirit-required word count of Rev. Jacob Duché's prayer at the first Continental Congress. However to me, 295 words doesn't seem like many words, especially ones that close with, "Preserve the health of their [the CC delegates] bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior."
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