“A Teacher’s Prayer”

"…He will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord…" (Gen. 18:19)

     INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes the importance of teaching children to keep the way of the Lord is "A Teacher’s Prayer." The text is attributed to two authors, Norman E. Richardson and Florence I. Judson-Bradley. Norman E. Richardson was born on Oct. 15, 1878 at Bethany in Ontario, Canada. Educated at Lawrence College, Boston University School of Theology, and Boston University, he became a Methodist minister, serving in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Also, he taught at Boston University School of Theology from 1911 to 1919 and was dean of the Northfield Summer School of Religious Education from 1919 to 1924. Later he served on the faculty at Northwestern University and McCormick Theological Seminary. He died on Oct. 25, 1945, in Chicago, IL. Florence Isadora Judson-Bradley was born in 1869 at New Haven, CT.  She married Arthur Stanley Bradley in 1892, also at New Haven. The time and place of her death are not known. I have been able to find no information on the origin of the song and no further information on either of these authors. Therefore, I cannot tell whether either Richardson or Judson-Bradley wrote the original poem and the other revised it, or whether one wrote one or more stanzas and the other added to it, or whether perhaps they collaborated on it.

     Many tunes have been used with the song. One (Hesperus) by Henry Baker is most often associated in our books with "Father and Friend, Thy Life, Thy Love" by John Bowring. Another (St. Crispin) by George Job Elvey is sometimes used with "Father of Heaven, Whose Love Profound" by Edward Cooper. Still another (Maryton) by Henry Percy Smith is usually identified with "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee" by Washington Gladden.  And one other (Beloit) was composed by Karl G. Reissiger. The only one of our books to include the hymn uses a tune (Gratitude or Attitude) that was composed by Paul Ami Isaac David Bost, who was born on June 10, 1790, in Geneva, Switzerland. It is dated 1837 and may have been intended for Isaac Watts’s "My God, how endless is Thy love." I have also seen it used with Watts’s "Bless, O My Soul, the Living God," and Robert G. McCutchan says that it is sometimes used with Frances R. Havergal’s "Lord, Speak to Me." In 1841, Bost co-published Chants de Sion with Henri Abraham Cesar Malan. Bost’s death occurred on Dec. 24, 1874, at Prigonrieux in Aquitaine, France, about 45 miles east of Bordeaux.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "A Teacher’s Prayer" appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Among other books in my collection, I have seen it once with the words only and an indication to be sung to St. Cripsin or Maryton in Praise! Our Songs and Hymns edited by Norman Johnson in 1979 for Singspiration Music.

     The song asks the Lord to help one teach children the the right way.

I. The first stanza talks about teaching a child to come to God
"My Lord, I do not ask to stand As king or prince of high degree;
I only pray that hand in hand A child and I may come to Thee."
 A. While each one may serve the Lord in whatever calling he finds himself, the Christian will not ask to stand as king or prince because he knows that not many noble are called: 1 Cor. 1:26
 B. Yes, we may pray for our own needs, but we should never fail to pray for others that they might be saved: Rom. 10:1
 C. Especially we should pray that we might be able eto bring any children with whom we have contact to the Lord because Jesus said to suffer the little children to come to Him: Matt. 19:14

II. The second stanza talks about teaching a child to pray
"To teach a tender voice to pray, Two childish eyes Thy face to see,
Two feet to guide in Thy straight way–This fervently I ask of Thee."
 A. We can teach a child how to pray, just as Jesus taught His disciples how to pray: Lk. 11:1
 B. We can also teach a child’s eyes to see the Lord’s face in the sense of looking into the completed revelation of His word: 1 Cor. 13:12
 C. And we can teach the child to keep his feet in the strait and narrow way of Christ: Matt. 7:13-14

III. The third stanza talks about teaching a child the words of truth
"O grant Thy patience to impart Thy holy law, Thy words of truth;
Give, Lord, Thy grace, that my whole heart May overflow with love for youth."
 A. Surely, teaching children will require patience: Jas. 1:4
 B. But whatever we teach children, our ultimate aim should be to teach them God’s words of truth: Mk. 13:31
 C. We need God’s help so that our hearts will overflow with a desire to encourage young people to remember their Creator in the days of their youth: Eccl. 12:1

IV. The fourth stanza talks about teaching a child to find companionship with God
"As step by step we tread the way, Trusting, and confident, and free,
A child and I shall, day by day, Find sweet companionship with Thee."
 A. Learning of Christ is a step by step, day by day process: 2 Cor. 4:16
 B. But it should be our desire to help children learn to trust in the Lord: Prov. 3:1-5
 C. In so doing, we shall teach them to find sweet companionship with the Lord and abide in Him: Jn. 14:23

     CONCL.: I conclude from the scriptures that singing and praying are two separate acts of worship. Thus, when we are singing we are not necessarily praying, and praying is not the same thing as singing. However, we are to be "singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16). Therefore, there are some similiarities between praying and singing in that both may be addressed directly to the Lord, and as a result, many songs frequently have language that sounds as if one is praying. The words of this song would most certainly make an excellent prayer for all parents in addition to being "A Teacher’s Prayer."


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