A New Year’s prayer
On Dec. 10, 1866, the wife of Alan Hudson Sr. of Pouch Cove gave birth to a child. The woman’s name is unknown at this late remove, but the boy was his father’s namesake and a brother for Julia.
Years later, the boy’s biographer wrote, “When but a week old, he was taken so critically ill that the old family doctor said the baby could not live.
“But the feeble father said, ‘Yes, he will live and will become a minister of righteousness.’ Then, taking the helpless infant in his arms, he blessed him, and, lifting a prayer to Almighty God, dedicated the child to the church.”
Eight weeks later, the senior man, who had been the owner of a general store, a successful ship captain, a teacher of navigation, and a faithful member of his church, passed peacefully away.
His young son would indeed live, leaving his own distinctive mark as a poet, novelist, dramatist and clergyman.
As an adult, Alan Jr. recalled one childhood experience in particular.
“One of the most wonderful experiences of my childhood was a sledge ride across Cape St. Francis to St. John’s,” he said. “Behind eight magnificent, great Newfoundland dogs.
“Long before day came the hasty breakfast by candlelight, the careful packing of grocery boxes and bundles on the sledge, a basket of lunch for ourselves, a basket of corncake and scraps for our steeds.
“Last but not least, the stowing in of my dumpy little figure, tucked to the chin in warm wolf robes beside the driver, then a swish and a snap of his long, lashed whip; a wild leap, a chorus of glad barks from those splendid dogs, and away we flew, under the morning starlight, into trackless fields of snow, or seemingly so to my wondering young eyes.
“The music of the bells on the dogs, their joyous cries as they strained their wiry muscles to their task, their curly, glistening, black and white coats, their long, silky ears and plumy tails swept backward in the morning wind, thrilled my childish imagination with that sense of motion and wild adventure.
“The vast expanse of white, untrodden snow-fields, the deep blue sky arching over us, lit by a thousand glistening lamps, our onward dash toward the sparkling horizon, all come back to me like some glorious flight toward the stars!”
When, in the spring of 1896, Rev. Alan Hudson Jr. received a call to the First Congregational Church, in Brockton, Massachusetts, he said to his wife, Ella, “God help me to fill my dying father’s prophecy.”
On Jan. 1, 1905, Hudson composed a prayer for the new year. It is a prayer that can be prayed by both the religious and irreligious. Though written by a Protestant minister, it contains no reference to God per se.
The author of the prose poem, “Desiderata,” encourages readers to “be at peace with God, whatever you conceive (God) to be.” So perhaps, regardless of our religious or irreligious predilection, we can pray this practical prayer as we stand on the cusp of a brand new year.
“Help me to face the future bravely; not with regret for wrongs I cannot righten, but with resolve for new and nobler doing.
“Help me to love my brother man whate’er his colour, creed or race. Teach me to know that love is greater than creed, that noble deeds outlive the accident of birth.
“Help me to be kind to the poor, loyal to my friends, and fair to me enemies; slow to believe wrong of another, and quick to believe the right; not prone to suspicion, weakness or littleness of soul, but charitable in judgment to rich and poor alike.
“Give me courage to see the wrong in myself, and forgive it in others; to do good without thought of praise or reward; to give the word of hope to those who sorrow, and the shoulder of strength to those who carry burdens.
“Help me to go with cheer to my daily task and do it well, and when it’s done to live in joy with those I love at home. Give me the gift of health that I may work and rest, and on the morrow face my duties bravely like a man. Amen.”
In 1912, Hudson would write a well-received novel, “A Heritage of Honour.” Interestingly, he dedicated it to two women in his life, “my mother, a gentle lady of the old school, (and) my wife, a sweet lady of the new, in whose tender eyes of brown and blue I see as in a mirror a familiar face.”