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Mar 02

The Prayer of the Children

choraleIn January, the Freed-Hardeman Chorale toured North Texas during their Winter Tour. I was blessed to hear them sing most every night of the 12 day tour, and one of my favorite songs they sang was written by Kurt Bestor. In 2005, he shared the background for the song and how it was born from his frustration over the horrendous civil war and ethnic cleansing that was taking place in the former country of Yugoslavia. Having lived in this war-torn country during the 70’s, he grew up loving the people with whom he lived and served. The following is a portion of his explanation behind “Prayer of the Children…”

“When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened – civil war. Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn’t talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness.

Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words….Can you hear….? Can you feel……? I started prayer of the childrenwith these feelings – sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song.

I took a long night to finish the song and I sang it for my wife and family, but that was about it. I put it away for awhile never thinking to sing it publicly. Then one night, as I struggled to fill a 2-hour concert, I decided to sing “Prayer of the Children.”¬† I’m not sure, but I think it was 1994. The song had an immediate reaction on those in attendance and I was surprised at the almost hushed sound as I sang.”

The interpretation (signing) is being done by my daughter, Emili Bruce. She is a junior, Arts & Humanities Major at Freed-Hardeman University.

Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward toward the light

Crying Jesus*, help me
To see the morning light-of one more day
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take

Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day a better day

Crying Jesus*, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm

Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands

Crying Jesus*, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you’re near,
Bringing peace again

Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?
(Croatian translation: ‘Can you hear all the children’s prayers?’)
Can you hear the prayer of the children?

 

1 comment

  1. Donna Holloway

    This is beautiful, it gives me chills! Emili does such a wonderful job. I’m thankful we got to see her do this with the chorale in person at Waterview.

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