BY John MacDuff, 1885

Prayer for the last night of the year

O Lord, we adore You as the God of times and seasons, of days, and of years. You alone are without any variableness or shadow of turning. You inhabited the glories of eternity, before the birth of time or of worlds. You had no beginning of days. You can know no end of years. Amidst fleeting moments and revolving seasons, the past and present and future are, to You, one ever-present "Now." A thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. It is our comfort to know, amid so much that is transient in a fleeting world, that You are the same—that Your Throne has the pillars of immutability to rest upon—that though all is changing and hastening to decay and dissolution, "Your dominion endures throughout all generations."

We desire, on this the last day of another year, to bow at Your footstool, and to take a solemn retrospect of all the year's mercies. We have indeed good reason this night to set up our Ebenezer, and to say, "The Lord has helped us!" It is a retrospect of love. We may well write as our motto on its waning hours, "We have received at the Lord's hands, grace upon grace." From how many unseen dangers have You delivered us! From how many temptations, which we had no strength of our own to resist, have You rescued us! How many during this last year have been wasted with sickness, or racked with pain, or stretched on beds of languishing; yet You have mercifully protected us. How many households have been darkened with the shadows of death—the hallowed circle broken—and yet we are all still among the living to praise You. How many thousands of our fellow-men, since the year began, have passed into eternity; but we, unworthy cumberers, are yet spared; the axe has not been laid to the root of the tree; we are preserved another year longer. Night after night we laid ourselves down and slept because the Lord sustained us, and we are still the objects of Your unceasing watchfulness and tender care.

O God, when we think of Your great mercies, what shall we say of the retrospect of our past sins? Our record of the past year is now ascending to Your Throne; alas! it is the record of abused kindness, and despised warnings, and misimproved providences, and lukewarm hearts, and careless, thankless lives! Were we to be judged by the duties and doings—the sins and shortcomings of any one day of the passing year—we would be righteously condemned. Oh, before the record has passed upwards to Your Great Book, do wash out every stain in the blood of Immanuel! We have no hope but in Him. We desire this night to hear His own blessed words of consolation and mercy, "Son, daughter, be of good cheer, your sins are all forgiven you."

We lament, O God, how little we have been affected by all that He has done for us. Lead us to repentance. Bring us more and more to realize the depth of obligation under which we are laid—to You who have loved us with an everlasting love. We would mourn the past, and seek for "more grace" for the future. Come, Lord, search us and try us, and see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the everlasting way. May the lives which You have, during another year, prolonged and preserved by Your bounty, be willingly consecrated as thank-offerings to Your praise.

We desire, at this time more particularly, to commend to Your Fatherly care and goodness all in whom we are interested. May our absent friends meet us this night in spirit around the Throne of the heavenly grace—each commending us, as we now desire to commend them, to Your care and love. Make them the objects of Your providential bounty, and the subjects of Your heavenly grace and kingdom. May they also be brought to bewail the sins of the past, and seek for new grace in entering on a new period of existence. Oh, when this rapid flight of years and seasons shall have come to an end, may we all be found in the regions of everlasting day, to unite together in singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb.

Pity all in affliction; may the bereaved be comforted—may the dying be prepared for their great change—may the living know that they too must die. We desire to retire to rest under the solemnizing impression that we are a year nearer eternity—that a year more of our probation time is fled—that a year less of grace and opportunity and privilege belongs to us. Lord, take the charge of us; and if You are pleased to spare us to see the light of a new day and a new year, may it be to us the emblem of a better morning and a nobler term of being, when earth's shadows and darkness shall have forever fled, and when we shall be satisfied, awaking in Your likeness. And all we ask is for the adorable Redeemer's sake. Amen.