There aren’t any. At least, none that I was prepared to use when I led the service this morning.
There are people around who distinctly don’t like Hallowe’en. I’m not one of them – or rather I am, but only because I find it irritating to be dragged down two flights of stairs to find a group of munchkins demanding trick or treat with menaces. I don’t have a problem with the supernatural aspects. (I remember Giles in Buffy revealing that supernatural activity on October 31 is decidedly down because the vampires all find it rather vulgar and embarrassing.) But there are people who have deeper issues with it and chances are good some of them are in the same congregation. So I did some searching for a good prayer.
First category: the type I couldn’t say with a straight face. Only one that I found actually falls into this category, the traditional Scottish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
Anyway, the only thing that goes bump in the night around here is an extremely non-supernatural teenager stumbling sleepily to the bathroom. Though I will grant he falls into the long-leggedy camp.
Second category: the, let’s say, trans-Tiber camp, which I might be tempted to say at Christ Church on Long Furlong just to see the reactions, especially when invoking or addressing Michael the Archangel. Some good All Hallows Eve examples here
. But a good chance I wouldn’t be asked back, so maybe not.
Third category: okay, straightforward prayers against the powers of darkness etc, all much closer to the Thames than the Tiber but still … No. If I say a prayer, I have to believe it first. If I don’t then I keep quiet. If I could find a prayer against crassness, commercialism, creeping Americanisation of our culture then I’d say it: but there’s nothing about powers of darkness on this day of the year that isn’t equally valid on any other.
So I redefined the problem and looked ahead to tomorrow. All Saints Day! What could go wrong with that? The Collect for All Saints Day goes:
who hast knit together thine elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of Your Son, Christ our Lord:
Give us grace so to follow Your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living,
that we may come
to those ineffable joys
that thou hast prepared for those
who unfeignedly love thee;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen
(Book of Common Prayer, 1979)
And if you can’t see at least two mines in that particular field then you haven’t been around.
1. Saints? Saints?? We’re Protestants, Godda- I mean, God bless it. We’ll have none of your papist-deriving-from-Roman-paganism saints, thank you very much.
2. “All virtuous and godly living?” We’re Protestants, etc. etc. and it’s all about grace, thank you very much, mutter, grumble, where’s my hammer I need to nail some theses to a door somewhere ….
And so on.
So in the end I settled on the Collect for Grace, which I’ve always liked anyway and which surely can’t upset anyone:
O Lord our heavenly Father,
almighty and everlasting God,
who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day;
defend us in the same with thy mighty power;
and grant that this day we fall into no sin,
neither run into any kind of danger,
but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance,
to do always that is righteous in thy sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen, and so there.