Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey with Sunlight

Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens (my favorite author) are buried here, side by side, in the Poets Corner. There is something very special about that. And George Frederic Handel is their close neighbor.Through eternity. What brilliant stories and music they must share! How moving it has to be to hear Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus in this historic Gothic cathedral with its high walls of marble and glass. Queen Elizabeth I (a woman who has fascinated many, including myself) is buried here with her estranged sister, Mary. This was done to symbolize reunification in the resurrection. After all, sisters should be forever close, shouldn’t they? A number of the tombs of royalty have likenesses lying atop – recumbent effigies – hands poised in eternal prayer…

Photos are not allowed inside Westminster Abbey. This served to add to the sacred nature of the environment as cameras and mobile phones (moe-byel-s) were stowed and attention was given instead to the venerable majesty and history. Every hour, Westminster Abbey honors a moment of prayer which is delivered by the Duty Priest. Those who are present are asked to pray or “be still and quiet”. I happened to be there when Father Louis delivered the following prayer. Just afterward, he wrote the words in my journal when I asked him if I might have a copy of what he had recited. It was a tremendous gift.

This is what he prayed:

God bless this city

and move our hearts with pity

lest we grow hard.

God bless this place

with silence, solitude, and space

that we may pray.

God bless these days

of rough and narrow ways

lest we despair.

God bless the night

and calm the people’s fright

that we may love.

God bless this land

and guide us with your hand lest we be unjust.

God bless this earth

through pangs of death and birth

and make us whole.


He then added as an extra gift:

This prayer is written by the Revd. Jim Cottes and was offered at Westminster Abbey on Thursday, 16th May 2013. Pax et bonum.   

Fr. Louis Sarraut

And peace and goodwill to all of you, my friends.