Jacob Duche


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Duche, JACOB, clergyman; born in Philadelphia, in 1737; educated at the University of Pennsylvania; and became an eloquent Episcopalian. A descendant of a Huguenot, he naturally loved freedom. He was invited by the Continental Congress of 1774 to open their proceedings with prayer. In 1775 he became rector of Christ Church, and espoused the patriot cause. Of a timid nature, Duche, when the British took possession of Philadelphia (1777), alarmed by the gloomy outlook, forsook the Americans, and, in a letter to Washington, urged him to do likewise. This letter was transmitted to Congress, and Duche fled to England, where he became a popular preacher. His estate was confiscated, and he was banished as a traitor. In 1790 Duche returned to Philadelphia, where he died Jan. 3, 1798.

First Prayer in Congress.

—The following is the text of Dr. Duche's first prayer in Congress:

0 Lord, our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, Who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers of the earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrollable over the kingdoms, empires, and governments, look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection. Desiring to be henceforth only dependent on Thee, to Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause: to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care: give them wisdom in council and valor in the field. Defeat the malicious designs of our adversaries, convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause; and, if they still persist in their sanguinary purpose, oh ! let the voice of Thy unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war in their unnerved hands in the day of battle. Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation, that the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony, and peace may be restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and flourish among the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and the vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they represent such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with ever-lasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior. Amen.



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