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I WAS ENJOYING this year’s BBC World Service Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, and this led me directly to high school football in the 1950s.
When I played right tackle at Cleveland East High, before each game Coach Ralston would offer us his fist, we’d scrum to touch it and say The Lord’s Prayer, ending with an adrenaline-rushed “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.”
The King’s College service includes The Lord’s Prayer, but ends with “deliver us from evil.”
So where’s the doxology? This calls for a little research.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, 6:5-13, Christ offered The Lord’s Prayer, sans doxology, in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew cites this as Christ’s teaching conciseness in prayer, as opposed to any ostentatious practice.
The “For thine is the kingdom…” doxology appeared in the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer, though toward the end of the service. It made the official Episcopal Book of Common Prayer only in 1928.
Being raised a Roman Catholic, I thought of this ending to The Lord’s Prayer as a Protestant thing. And in the late 1950s, no one questioned whether a Christian prayer was appropriate at a sporting event. In fact, I recall thinking the doxology offered something of an ecumenical spirit to it all.
Coach Louis E. Ralston died earlier this year, at age 87. Being propelled by self-centered teenage angst back then, I didn’t realize that Coach Ralston was only a scant 13 years older than me. Or that Cleveland East High was his first assignment as head coach.
Coach Ralston–and the team–did just fine, thank you. In Cleveland’s hotly contested East Senate/West Senate rivalry, the East High Blue Bombers were 4-1-1 in 1958 league play. Our tie was with Cathedral Latin, an all-male Catholic school, which went on to win the city title.
There were wonderful incongruities in those pre-PC days: “Make a Christian outta ’em!” was an encouragement for an aggressive, though fair, block or tackle. I recall Coach Raltson rolling his eyes whenever one of my teammates would yell this from the sidelines during a game against Cathedral Latin, St. Joe’s or Benedictine, or, yet more complex, Hebrew Academy.
It may seem a bit adrift of Nine Lessons & Carols, but maybe there’s a lesson here too. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016