Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Calvin's "Prayer on preparing to go to school [(Oraison pour dire devant qu'estudier sa leçon a l'eschole | CUM or QUUM ADEUNDA EST SCHOLA)]"

"Ps. cxix. 9.  Wherein shall a young man establish his way? If he wisely conduct himself according to thy word. With my heart have I sought thee, allow me not to err from thy precepts.
     "O Lord, who art the fountain of all wisdom and learning, since thou of thy special goodness hast granted that my youth is instructed in good arts which may assist me to honest and holy living, grant also, by enlightening my mind, which otherwise labours under blindness, that I may be fit to acquire knowledge; strengthen my memory faithfully to retain what I may have learned: and govern my heart, that I may be willing and even eager to profit, lest the opportunity which thou now givest me be lost through my sluggishness. Be pleased therefore to infuse thy Spirit into me, the Spirit of understanding, of truth, judgment, and prudence, lest my study be without success, and the labour of my teacher be in vain.
     "In whatever kind of study I engage, enable me to remember to keep its proper end in view, namely, to know thee in Christ Jesus thy Son; and may every thing that I learn assist me to observe the right rule of godliness. And seeing thou promisest that thou wilt bestow wisdom on babes, and such as are humble, and the knowledge of thyself on the upright in heart, while thou declarest that thou wilt cast down the wicked and the proud, so that they will fade away in their ways, I entreat that thou wouldst be pleased to turn me to true humility, that thus I may show myself teachable and obedient first of all to thyself, and then to those also who by thy authority are placed over me. Be pleased at the same time to root out all vicious desires from my heart, and inspire it with an earnest desire of seeking thee. Finally, let the only end at which I aim be so to qualify myself in early life, that when I grow up I may serve thee in whatever station thou mayest assign me. Amen.
"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will make known his covenant unto them. (Ps. xxv. 14.)"
     John Calvin, Tracts and treatises on the doctrine and worship of the church, translated from the original Latin and French by Henry Beveridge, historical notes added to the present edition by Thomas Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958 [1849]), vol. 2, pp. 96-97.  Original:  CO 6, cols. 137-140 (French and Latin); COS 2, 146-147 (Latin only, though in the apparatus some of the French appears).  Le catéchisme de l'église de Genève (Catechismus ecclesiae Genevensis), written in November of 1541, appeared first in French in early 1542 (Wulfert de Greef, Writings of John Calvin:  an introductory guide, expanded ed., trans. Lyle D. Bierma (Louisville, KY:  Westminster-John Knox Press, 2008), 116-117).  “No original copy of this catechism has survived, but the content is the same as the Latin edition of 1545.”  Though I haven't yet verified this, this and the other prayers often later appended may (?) derive from L'ABC françois of 1551, much of which was composed by Calvin (117).
     Thanks to Jarad Bivins for alerting me to this (in the form of the following translation):
O Lord, who is the fountain of all wisdom and learning, you have given me the years of my youth to learn the arts and skills necessary for an honest and holy life.  Enlighten my mind, that I may acquire knowledge.  Strengthen my memory that I may retain what I have learnt.  Govern my heart, that I may always be eager and diligent in my studies.  And let your Spirit of truth, judgement and prudence guide my understanding, that I may perceive how everything I learn fits into your holy plan for the world. 
     The HarperCollins book of prayers:  a treasury of prayers through the ages, compiled by Robert Van de Weyer (San Francisco:  HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993) =The Fount book of prayer (HarperCollins, 1993), 68.  Van de Weyer (on p. 401) cites John Calvin:  the Christian life, ed. (he says trans.) John H. Leith (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, Publishers), 80, but Leith reproduces the Beveridge translation (above).

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