– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

College prayer during wartime

‘Prayer During the War’ by James Leigh Strachan-Davidson, Master of Balliol 1907-1916, for use in the College chapel during the First World War.

Copy of JLSD-04M-001
[Oxford, Balliol College, Strachan-Davidson Papers 4M.1]

O God with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, we give thee thanks for our brethren the members of this College who have willingly offered themselves, and have laid down their lives for us and for our country, and for the liberty of the world. Give us grace to follow their good example, that we may never lose heart, but may bear with patience and courage, as these have done, whatever thy Providence calls upon us to endure. Comfort the bereaved, and grant to all of us that our afflictions may purify our hearts and minds to thy glory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Strachan-Davidson’s manuscript also includes a prayer for the wounded:

We beseech thy goodness O Lord on behalf of the members of our College who are lying stricken from wounds received in battle in a righteous and holy cause, especially for [names]. Comfort each one of them when he lieth sick on his bed and grant them thy strength and grace to bear the pain and weariness of their condition, and, if it be thy will, assuage their sufferings and grant them restoration to life and health. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Strachan-Davidson himself died during the course of the war, in post as Master, on 28 March 1916, at the age of 72.

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