ARCHIVES: Readers Urge Sunset Prayer, Street Processions

October, 1918 was the most severe month of the Spanish flu pandemic in the United States as well as the final month of World War I. The two following letters to the editor appeared in the October 26, 1918 issue of The Living Church.


To the Editor of The Living Church:

It may help others to realize that during the present epidemic which has claimed so many victims the following was found helpful:

The rector of Stockbridge, Mass., when all churches were ordered closed, sent postals to his people asking them to pray (daily preferably at sunset time)-

  1. That the present epidemic may abate;
  2. That it may make us all realize the shortness and uncertainty of life;
  3. That it may bring the vision of the Saviour to the sick and suffering;
  4. That it may renew the devotion and consecration of Christians all over our country.
  5. That the Church may spread throughout the world;
  6. That God may and forth laborers into His harvest;
  7. That He may bless our boys, chaplains, and bishops, across the seas, and that the present conflict may soon end;
  8. Lastly, pray for the clergy of the parish and for the Church’s organizations, schools, hospitals, etc., here and elsewhere.

Sincerely yours, GEORGE GRENVILLE MERRILL, Rector, Stockbridge, Mass., October 12th.


To the Editor of The Living Church:

FOR the first time in the lives of most of us, because of great sickness and mortality, the order for closed churches has been in effect in parts of New England for three Sundays. No one can appreciate the forlorn emptiness of a churchless Sunday without experiencing it. It seems the irony of fate that at the very time when there should be a wave of prayer going up before our altars as effective as a curtain of fire between right and wrong, our churches should have to be closed…

Cardinal O’Connell advocates open air masses. Has any one suggested a revival of processional Litanies through our streets and highways in keeping with their first intention? Florence Converse, in The House of Prayer, gives a vivid picture. Parades may not be advisable; processions might be allowed. The one might be called a showing off, the other a showing forth. On the Sundays of no Church school, children would love it, and some one has spoken of “the terrible artillery” of little children’s prayers.

Since Christmas candles and processions of carolers have been generally accepted, would there not be a welcome in these days of battle and murder, sickness and sudden death, for processions of penitents sending up prayers to God. John Oxenham writes:

Only through Me can come the great awakening;
Wrong cannot right the wrongs that Wrong hath done.

Only through Me all other gods forsaking
Can ye attain the heights that must be won.”



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