Great Christian Prayers by Stephen Redmond SJ (Dublin, Columba Press, 2001, 111pp, RRP $22.00. Available from AD Books (03) 9326 5757)
Fr Stephen Redmond, an Irish Jesuit, has compiled a charming and informative treasury of Christian prayers, together with historical accounts of how they came into being and of their common usage.
These great Christian prayers include the prayers of Jesus, e.g., the "Our Father", the prayers of Mary, including the Magnificat, prayers of Simeon, Elizabeth, Zachary, of Peter and the disciples, and the prayers of supplication addressed by people to Jesus.
Among the interesting facts discussed is that use of the sign of the cross was documented by the early Church fathers, that the Te Deum was written as a response to the Arian heresy of the 4th Century, and that the words of the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass, "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation ..." are taken from the Jewish book of rabbinic instruction, emphasising the Jewish foundations of Christianity.
The Hail Mary, as we know, is of ancient origin, combining the Angel Gabriel's words to Mary, with St Elizabeth's greeting, and a medieval prayer of petition, which parallels the prayer of petition in the Our Father.
Many lesser known prayers are also documented, including prayers of John Henry Newman, Franz Jurstutter (an Austrian peasant martyred by the Nazis in World War II) and King Bauduoin of Belgium.
The book concludes with the author's musical settings of several of the greatest hymns.
Peter Westmore is President of the National Civic Council and the Publisher of 'AD2000.'