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This report is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

William Barnes at Prayer Douglas Ashdown
THE REV. WILLIAM BARNES, B.D. [1801-1886] THE WILLIAM BARNES SOCIETY

The annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for the life and work of the Rev. William Barnes, B.D., the Dorset Dialect Poet was held at the Parish Church of St. Peter, Winterborne Came on 23 February, 1992. The Service takes the form of the Church of England 'Morning Prayer' with the addition of sundry 'Readings' by Members of the Society. Apart from the traditional recitation in the dialect of two of Barnes's poems each reader chooses his own material and this informality always produces something new.

Prayers written by Barnes in his own rather spidery handwriting have recently been rediscovered. Rarely seen, certainly never published, they were porbably last read by Barnes in his Winterborne Came Church well over 100 years ago. At this act of fellowship two of these prayers were combined with one of his Sabbath Lays to form a reading.

The reading

'Teach us to Pray'. Luke, Chap. 11, v. 1.

O Lord we pray not as we ought;
We pray in word but not in thought.
Our hearts are dull and cold; we kneel
And tell of wants we do not feel.
But warm our chilly hearts of clay,
And teach us, teach us how to pray.

We ask for pow'r, we ask for gold,
We ask what mercy must withhold;
We ask for life, and earthly bliss, ...


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