Till Shadows Lengthen

“May God support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen,
and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and
the fever of life is over, and our work is done!
Then in his mercy may he give us a safe lodging, and a
holy rest, and peace at the last.”
(John Henry Newman, 1801-1890)

Lovers of prose now and then play the game of pointing to instances
in which someone uses language well.  Not a few will nominate this
elegant prayer by John Henry Newman as among the most beautiful
sentences in the English language.

Millions have voiced it at evening worship or breathed it as a bedtime
word before God, the merciful one.  They, we, have found that
praying it simplifies understandings of what the day is about and
provides calm in the face of the terrors of the night.

What works well at evening, when the spent day offers no more
challenges than for us to yield everything back to divine mercy,
also can guide the pilgrim through the day.

In the morning, we think of “the day long” with all its
complications.  In the early afternoon, the shades of frustration
begin to grow: so much has been left undone.   The hushing of
the world, the lowering of life’s fever, the freedom to yield the
tedium of the long hours can be prospects all the day.  Beyond
all this lies the greater prospect of safe lodging and the peace
that comes with it.                                       ~ Martin E. Marty


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