3rd October

To Work Is To Pray

Work as if you were serving the Lord, not human beings. Ephesians 6: 7

When Noel Dermot O’Donogue was a child in the south west of Ireland every step in the working day had a prayer to go with it. He writes ‘The seedsman is his own priest. The work is equally labour and liturgy’.

The language of this chicken farmer’s prayer song may be quaint, but we need the sentiment behind it in our work today, whatever it is we have to count up or multiply:

I will rise early on Monday morning
I will sing my rhyme
I will go sunwise with my egg bowl to the nest of my hen.
I will place my left hand to my breast, my right hand to my heart
I will seek the loving wisdom of God
Abundant in grace, in broods, and in flocks.
I will close my two eyes quickly
As in blind man’s buff, moving slowly
I will stretch my left hand over there
To the nest of my hen on the other side.
The first egg I shall bring near me
I will whisk it round behind me and place it in my bowl.
The next time I shall lift my left hand and place two eggs in the bowl.
Then I will lift my right hand, and seek the ruling of heaven’s King
And there shall be three more eggs in the bowl.
I will raise my left hand a second time
In the name of Christ, King of power,
And there shall be ten eggs in the bowl.
Thus when I have ceased
My brood will be complete
Beneath the breast of speckled hen.
In the name of the most holy Trinity
I will set the eggs on Thursday
And the glad brood will come on Friday.
Carmina Gadelica

Lord, show me how to pray like this over my work
and teach me not to count my chickens until they are hatched