Holy Willie's Prayer

By ROBERT BURNS  (1759-1796)



0 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 bumin' an' a shinin' light,

To a' this place.


What was I, or my generation,

That I should get sic exaltation?

I, wha deserve most just damnation,

For broken laws,

Sax thousand years 'fore my creation,

Thro' Adam's cause.


When frae my mither's womb I fell,

Thou might hae plungéd me in hell,

To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,

In burnin lakes,

Where damned devils roar and yell,

Chained to their stakes;


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.


0 Lord, thou kens what zeal I bear,

When drinkers drink, and swearers swear.

And singin' there and dancin' here,

Wi' great an' sma':

For I am keepit by thy fear

Free frae them a'.


But yet, 0 Lord! confess I must

At times I'm fashed wi' fleshy lust;

An' sometimes too, wi' warldly trust,

Vile self gets in;

But thou remembers we are dust,

Defiled in sin.


0 Lord! yestreen,o thou kens, wi' Meg­

- Thy pardon I sincerely beg;

O! may't ne' er be a livin' plague

To my dishonor,

An' I'll ne' er lift a lawless leg

Again upon her.


Besides I farther maun allow,

Wi' Lizzie's lass, three times I trow­ -

But, Lord, that Friday I was fou,

When I cam near her,

Or else thou kens thy servant true

Wad never steer her.


May be thou lets this fleshly thorn

Beset thy servant e'en and morn

Lest he owre high and proud should turn,

That he's sae gifted;

If sae, thy hand maun e'en be borne,

Until thou lift it.


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

An' public shame.


Lord, mind Gawn Hamilton's deserts,

He drinks, an' swears, an' plays at cartes,

Yet has sae mony takin arts

Wi' great an' sma',

Frae God's ain priest the people's hearts

He steals awa'.


An' when we chastened him therefor,

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 an' pray'r,

Against that presbytery o' Ayr;

Thy strong right hand, Lord, make it bare

Upo' their heads;

Lord, weigh it down, and dinna spare,

For their misdeeds.


0 Lord my God, that glib-tongued Aiken,

My very heart and soul are quakin',

To think how we stood sweatin, shakin,

An' pissed wi' dread,

While he, wi' hingin' lips and snakin,o

Held up his head.



Lord in the day of vengeance try him;

Lord, visit them wha did employ him,

And pass not in thy mercy by them,

Nor hear their pray'r:

But, for thy people's sake, destroy them,

And dinna spare.


But, Lord, remember me and mine

Wi' mercies temp'ral and divine,

That I for gear and grace may shine

Excelled by nane,

And a' the glory shall be thine,

Amen, Amen!