November 19, 2007

“Our Father, We Art in Heaven…”

Every morning, before the clinic opens and pre-school begins, we have a short morning prayer service. I don’t understand many of the prayers but I really enjoy listening to the singing.

The pre-school teachers use the prayers as an opportunity to teach the children a bit of English. Before the prayer, the children are told, “Fold your arms” and they reply, “I am folding my arms.” Then they are told, “Close your eyes” and they reply, “I am closing my eyes.” Some seem to get the message but not all of them.
The children also know a few prayers in English. One pre-school teacher always has them repeat this prayer after her: “Dear Lord, for these three things I pray: to love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly, day by day, Amen.” They always forget the third part of the prayer – know thee more clearly! I am figuring out how best to delicately inform the teachers of the whole prayer.

My favourite English prayer, though, is the Lord’s prayer, which the children have evidently learned only phonetically as it always begins, “Our Father, we art in heaven…,” which strikes me as a theological alteration to the poem that is not quite called for. In any event, the prayer is too long for them to remember all at once so when they sing it, by the middle of the prayer it has descended into an anarchic cacophony of various bits and pieces that concludes with, “forever and ever, Amen!” always said with great gusto.