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Make a Habit of the Praises: Tolkien's Prayer Recommendations

Make a Habit of the Praises: Tolkien's Prayer Recommendations

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, a compilation of letters written by Tolkien to different members of his family, his friends, editors, colleagues, and fans offers a glimpse into Tolkien’s writing process, his personal life, and in particular — his faith.

Today I wanted to share a passage from one of these letters in which he recommends several prayers to his son Christopher:

"If you don't do so already, make a habit of the 'praises'. I use them much (in Latin): the Gloria Patri, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Laudate Dominum; the Laudate Pueri Dominum (of which I am specially fond), and one of the Sunday psalms; and the Magnificat; and also the Litany of Loretto (with the prayer Sub tuum praesidium). If you have these by heart you never need words of joy. It is also a good and admirable thing to know by heart the Canon of the Mass, for you can say this in your heart if ever hard circumstances keep you from hearing Mass..."

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 54 to his son Christopher

Tolkien’s Catholic faith steeped his imagination and shone through in nearly everything he wrote, doubtless due to his well-formed prayer life. I’ve been working on incorporating these into my own prayer routine so I thought I’d share them here as well. I’m including them in both Latin & English since Tolkien recommended the Latin (having a love for the traditions of Catholicism as well as language itself), but I know we might not all be fluent yet (I am certainly not).

The Gloria Patri

Latin: "Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum”

English: "Glory (be) to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

The Gloria in Excelsis

Latin: Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis; qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen

English: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will. We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You, we give You thanks for Your great glory. Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Receive our prayer.  You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The Laudate Dominum

Latin: Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum, omnes populi. Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia eius et veritas Domini manet in aeternum. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English: Praise the Lord, all nations; Praise Him, all people. For He has bestowed His mercy upon us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

The Laudate Pueri Dominum

Latin: Laudate, pueri, Dominum; laudate nomen Domini. Sit nomen Domini benedictum ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum. A solis ortu usque ad occasum laudabile nomen Domini. Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus, et super caelos gloria ejus. Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster, qui in altis habitat, et humilia respicit in caelo et in terra Suscitans a terra inopem, et de stercore erigens pauperem: ut collocet eum cum principibus, cum principibus populi sui. Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo, matrem filiorum laetantem.

English: Praise the Lord, ye servants: O praise the Name of the Lord. Blessed be the Name of the Lord: from this time forth for evermore. The Lord's Name is praised: from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same. The Lord is high above all heathen: and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the Lord our God, that hath his dwelling so high: 
  and yet humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth? He taketh up the simple out of the dust: and lifteth the poor out of the mire; That he may set him with the princes: even with the princes of his people. He maketh the barren woman to keep house: and to be a joyful mother of children

The Magnificat

Latin: Magnificat anima mea Dominum; Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo, Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes. Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus, Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum. Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo; Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui. Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles. Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes. Suscepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae, Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semini ejus in saecula. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,: sicut erat in principio, Et nunc, et semper: et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English: My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations to them that fear Him. He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers; to Abraham and his seed forever. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Litany of Loretto

The Litany of Loretto is actually quite long so I’m just going to link to it here, available in both English and Latin side-by-side.

Sub Tuum Praesidium: traditionally prayed before the Litany of Loretto

Latin: Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

English: We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Recommended Reading

Note: I hope I did an alright job with the Latin & English translations — please let me know if any of them are incorrect so I can fix them!

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