A godly meditation, written by Sir Thomas More Knight while he was prisoner in the Tower of London in the year of our Lord 1534.1
Give me Thy grace, good Lord,
To set the world at nought;2
To set my mind fast3 upon Thee,
And not to hang upon the blast4 of men’s mouths;
To be content to be solitary;
Not to long for worldly company;
Little and little utterly to cast off the world,
And rid my mind of all the business5 thereof;
Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
But that the hearing of worldly fantasies6
may be to me displeasant;7
Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for His help;
To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labor to love Him;
To know mine own vility8 and wretchedness,
To humble and meeken myself
under the mighty hand of God;
To bewail my sins passed;
For the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;
Gladly to bear my purgatory here;
To be joyful of tribulations;
To walk the narrow way that leadeth to life,
To bear the cross with Christ;
To have the last thing9 in remembrance,
To have ever afore10 mine eye
my death that is ever at hand;
To make death no stranger to me,
To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;
To pray for pardon before the judge come,
To have continually in mind the passion
that Christ suffered for me;
For His benefits uncessantly11 to give Him thanks,
To buy12 the time again that I before have lost;
To abstain from vain confabulations13
To eschew light14 foolish mirth and gladness;
Recreations15 not necessary — to cut off;
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all,
to set the loss at right nought16
for the winning17 of Christ:
To think my most18 enemies my best friends;
For the brethren of Joseph* could never have done
him so much good with their love and favor
as they did him with their malice and hatred.
These minds19 are more to be desired of every man
than all the treasure of all the princes and kings,
Christian and heathen, were it gathered and
laid together all upon one heap.
1. This heading is from the 1557 English Works, but the
text of the prayer given here is taken directly from More’s handwritten
version in the margins of a book of hours he had with him in the Tower.
2. set… naught: have no esteem for the world.
9. last thing: last judgment.
15. pleasurable employments.
16. right nought: absolutely nothing.
The Tower Works: Devotional Writings, pp. 301ff
footnotes by editor Gary Haupt
* brethren of Joseph: Genesis 37-50.
St. Thomas More was beheaded 480 years ago today, July 6, 1535. He is the patron saint of politicians and statesmen. Ora pro nobis.