Monday, April 28, 2008

America Must Pray - The New England Primer

How to teach their children about Christ and convey proper moral values was a consuming challenge for the Puritans of early New England. Parents genuinely feared that their teenage children who died without the divine grace of the Lord would be lost forever without Christ. But the parents further reasoned that the inability to read the Scriptures was a design of Satan to keep people from spiritual truth. Therefore they were driven to instruct their children to read because the need of prayer and strong morals was so important.

They came up with a public school book entitled The New England Primer that was similar to one published in London. The text immediately caught on and became the most popular book in the new world apart from the Bible. In it was a study of the alphabet with the Bible, a basic doctrinal section, and a prayer book. Five million copies were ultimately sold! The book became an integral tool for educating youth on into the nineteenth century. The volume contained one of the most popular prayers ever quoted from generation to generation, the "Evening Prayer for a Child."

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep;
if I should die before I wake,
I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.

But few remember the "Morning Prayer for a Child" in the book which reads:

Now I wake and see the light;
tis God who kept me through the night.
To Him I lift my voice and pray
that He would keep me through the day;
if I should die before ‘tis done,
O God, accept me through Thy Son.