“The War Prayer”

The “War Prayer” in Twain’s original prose form is here.

O Lord our Father,
Our young patriots, idols of our hearts,
Go forth to battle – be Thou near them!
With them – in spirit – we also go forth
From the sweet peace of our beloved firesides
To smite the foe.

O Lord our God,
Help us to tear their soldiers
To bloody shreds with our shells;
Help us to cover their smiling fields
With the pale forms of their patriot dead;
Help us to drown the thunder of the guns
With the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;
Help us to lay waste their humble homes
With a hurricane of fire;
Help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows
With unavailing grief;
Help us to turn them out roofless
With their little children to wander unfriended
The wastes of their desolated land
In rags and hunger and thirst,
Sports of the sun flames of summer
And the icy winds of winter,
Broken in spirit, worn with travail,
Imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it –

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,
Blast their hopes,
Blight their lives,
Protract their bitter pilgrimage,
Make heavy their steps,
Water their way with their tears,
Stain the white snow with the blood
Of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love,
Of Him Who is the Source of Love,
And Who is the ever-faithful
Refuge and friend of all that are sore beset
And seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.


By Mark Twain