CLSG Conference 2018

The Rhetoric of Prayer

Select bibliography

Numerous Biblical prayers including:
Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8.
The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus’ ‘high priestly’ prayer in John 17.
The Psalms, especially in The Book of Common Prayer (1549), being the version by Miles Coverdale in The Great Bible (1539); The Whole Psalter Translated into English Metre (Matthew Parker), 1567; A Paraphrase of the Psalms of David (1667); The Scottish Metrical Psalter etc.
The Sidney Psalter (MS late 16C, printed 1823).

Collects and other liturgical prayers in The Book of Common Prayer

Hymns as prayers

Prayers/psalms/poems by
Julian of Norwich
Margery Kempe

Anne Locke, c.f. Isabella Whitney, Lady Mary Wroth, Katherine Philips
Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke
Edmund Spenser
John Donne
George Herbert
John Bunyan
Henry King
Thomas Traherne
John Milton
Robert Herrick
Henry Vaughan
John and Charles Wesley
Joseph Addison
Isaac Watts
Samuel Johnson
Christopher Smart

S.T. Coleridge
G.M. Hopkins
Coventry Patmore
Christina Rossetti
Francis Thompson
Emily Dickinson
Alice Meynell

T.S. Eliot
R.S. Thomas
Donald Davie
Elizabeth Jennings
Denise Levertov
Thomas Merton
Geoffrey Hill


Tertullian, On Prayer.
Martin Luther, A Simple Way to Pray (reportedly written at request of his barber).
John Bunyan, I Will Pray with the Spirit (1662), reprinted in George Offor’s three volume edition and in the Oxford Miscellaneous Works of John Bunyan, vol. II.
Robert Burns, ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ (parody of a hypocritical prayer).
Hesba Stretton, Jessica’s First Prayer, Religious Tract Society, 1867. Bestselling Victorian tract.
Louis Macniece, ‘Prayer Before Birth’.
Judy Blume, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970)
Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982) – epistolary novel which begins with letters to God.
Carol Ann Duffy, ‘Prayer’
Kei Miller, ‘Speaking in Tongues’.

Discussions etc.

Lancelot Andrews, Holy Devotions: With Directions to Pray (contains, ‘Directions to Pray’, ‘The Lord’s Prayer Analysed’ etc.) (1630) 1655.
Augustine, Confessions, (passim).
Frances Beer, Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages, Woodbridge, 1992.
Ian Bradley, ed., The Penguin Book of Hymns, 1989
Lori Branch, Rituals of Spontaneity: Sentiment and Secularism from Free Prayer to Wordsworth, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2006.
Susan Boynton, ‘Prayer as Liturgical Performance in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Monastic Psalters’, Speculum 82, 2007, pp. 896-931.
Michelle P. Brown, ed., The Book of Cerne: Prayer, Patronage and Power in Ninth-Century England, London, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Clark and Herbert Richardson, eds., Women and Religion: The Original Source-book of Women in Christian Thought, New York 1977, new edn. 1996.
John D. Cox, ‘Shakespeare’s Prayers’, in Patrick Gray and John D. Cox eds., Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics, Cambridge UP, 2014, pp. 123–38.
David Curzon, ed., Modern Poems on the [OT] Bible: An Anthology, 1994.
Laura Dabundo,‘”The Redemption of the World”: The Rhetoric of Jane Austen’s Prayers’ in Laura Dabundo, The Marriage of Faith: Christianity in Jane Austen and William Wordsworth, Mercer U.P., 2012
Donald Davie, A Gathered Church: The Literature of the English Dissenting Interest, 1700-1930, 1978.  
Donald Davie, ed., The Psalms in English, 1996.
John Donne, The Prayers Selected and Edited from the Earliest Sources, with an Essay on Donne’s Idea of Prayer, ed. Herbert Umbach, NY 1951.
Stanley Fish, Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth Century Literature, 1972.
Cynthia Garrett, ‘The Rhetoric of Supplication: Prayer Theory in Seventeenth-Century England’, Renaissance Quarterly vol 46 No 2 (1993), 328-57.
David Gay, ‘The Nameless Instrument: Bunyan’s Representation of Prayer in The Holy War’, Bunyan Studies 12 (2006/2007): 88–104
Richard Griffiths, Poetry and Prayer, 2005.
B. GŁnzel, ed., ∆lfwine’s Prayerbook, 1993.
Hannibal Hamlin, Psalm Culture and Early Modern English Literature, 2004.
Hannibal Hamlin, The Bible in Shakespeare, 2013..
George Herbert, The Poems of George Herbert, OUP World’s Classics, 1961.
Pieter W. Van der Horst, ‘Silent Prayer in Antiquity’, Numen, vol. 41, no. 1, 1994, pp. 1–25.
David Jasper, The Language of Liturgy: A Ritual Poetics, SCM, 2018.
Samuel Johnson, Prayers and Meditations, 1784.
Francesca Bugliani Knox and John Took, eds., Poetry and Prayer: The Power of the Word II, 2015.
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, 1958.
C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 1964
William J. McGill, Poets’ Meeting: George Herbert, R.S. Thomas, and the Argument with God, 2004.
Roger Nash, The Poetry of Prayer, (1994), 2004.
William Thomas Noon, Poetry and Prayer, Rutgers, 1967.
A.D. Nuttall, Overheard by God: Fiction and Prayer in Herbert, Milton, Dante and St John, 1980.
Walter Schindler, Voice and Crisis: Invocation in Milton’s Poetry, 1984.
Timothy Rosendale, Liturgy and Literature in the Making of Protestant England, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Edward Shillito, Poetry and Prayer, 1931
Terry G. Sherwood. Herbert’s Prayerful Art, University of Toronto Press. 1989..
Christopher Stokes,. ‘Coleridge’s Philosophy of Prayer: Responsibility, Parergon, and Catachresis’, The Journal of Religion, vol. 89, no. 4, 2009, pp. 541–563
Sonia Suman, ‘Transformative Rhetoric and the Performance of Prayer in Shakespeare’s Henry V’, Shakespeare Survey 149 (2013): 88–103
Ramie Targoff, ‘The Performance of Prayer: Sincerity and Theatricality in Early Modern England’, Representations 60 (Autumn, 1997), 49–69.
R.S. Thomas, ed., The Penguin Book of Religious Verse, 1963.
Elton Trueblood, ed., Doctor Johnson’s Prayers, 1947.
Robert Waldron, Poetry as Prayer: The Hound of Heaven, Boston, 1999.
J.R. Watson, The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study, 1997


The Christian Literary Studies Group in association with the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship