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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Robert Burns (1759–1796)

Holy Willie’s Prayer

OH, Thou, wha in the heavens dost dwell,

Wha, as it pleases best Thysel’,

Sends ane to heaven and ten to hell,

A’ for Thy glory,

And no for ony guid or ill

They’ve done afore Thee!

I bless and praise Thy matchless might,

Whan thousands Thou hast left in night,

That I am here afore Thy sight,

For gifts an’ grace,

A burnin’ an’ a shinin’ light

To a’ this place.

What was I, or my generation,

That I should get sic exaltation!

I, wha deserve sic just damnation,

For broken laws,

Five thousand years ’fore my creation,

Thro’ Adam’s cause.

When frae my mither’s womb I fell,

Thou might hae plung’d me into hell,

To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,

In burnin’ lake,

Whare damned devils roar and yell,

Chain’d to a stake.

Yet I am here a chosen sample,

To show Thy grace is great and ample;

I’m here a pillar in Thy temple,

Strong as a rock,

A guide, a buckler, an example

To a’ Thy flock.


Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,

For here Thou hast a chosen race;

But God confound their stubborn face,

And blast their name,

Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace

And public shame.

Lord, mind Gawn Hamilton’s deserts,

He drinks, and swears, and plays at cartes,

Yet has sae mony takin’ arts

Wi’ great and sma’,

Frae God’s ain priests the people’s hearts

He steals awa’.

An’ whan we chasten’d him therefore,

Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,

As set the warld in a roar

O’ laughin’ at us.

Curse Thou his basket and his store,

Kail and potatoes.

Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray’r,

Against the presbyt’ry of Ayr;

Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak’ it bare

Upo’ their heads;

Lord, weigh it down, and dinna spare,

For their misdeeds.

Oh Lord my God, that glib-tongu’d Aiken,

My very heart and saul are quakin’

To think how we stood groanin’, shakin’,

And swat wi’ dread,

While Auld wi’ hinging lip gaed snakin’,

And hid his head.

Lord, in the day of vengeance try him;

Lord, visit them wha did employ him;

And pass not in Thy mercy by ’em,

Nor hear their pray’r;

But for Thy people’s sake destroy ’em,

And dinna spare.

But, Lord, remember me and mine,

Wi’ mercies temp’ral and divine,

That I for gear and grace may shine,

Excell’d by nane,

An’ a’ the glory shall be Thine.

Amen! amen!