The following is an extract from Sir Francis Drake’s letter written from his ship ELIZABETH BONAVERTURE, lying at anchor at Cape Sakar on 17 May 1587:-

‘There must be a begynnyng of any great matter, but the contenewing unto the end untyll it be thoroughly ffynyshed yeldes the trew glory.’

In a collection of prayers of early times compiled by Eric Milner-White, Dean of York, and published by the Oxford University Press in 1941, the words of Drake were adapted to produce the following-prayer:

‘O Lord God, when thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through His for the finishing of Thy work laid down His life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.’

The official form for the National Day of Prayer in 1941 printed the prayer ‘by Sir Francis Drake’ and this mis-statement spread. Although only based on the words of his letter, the prayer became popularly known as ‘Drake’s Prayer.’


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