Prayer of the Children

Prayer for the Children, Fiber art by Susan Wei, Ashland, NH

As I do occasionally, I was wandering through youtube in search of Croatian music.  I don't know how many people know of the proliferation of choirs that come out of Croatia and other republics of the former Yugoslavia, but there are many.  While on my journey I found this offering by Kurt Bestor, the Prayer of the Children.  What a powerful piece.  Here is a little information about Bestor and how he came to write the piece.  It is performed below byt the Baylor University Men's Choir.

Prayer of the Children is a song for a four-part men's choir, with words and music written by Kurt Bestor and arranged by Andrea S. Klouse. 

Bestor served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Serbia during the 1970s. He lived with many different races and religions of people in this war torn country; Serbians, Muslims, Croatians, etc. At one point, he was working in a hospital caring for the children who had been devastated by the war that was not theirs. While retrieving supplies from a neighboring town, this hospital was bombed. Bestor came back to find it destroyed and all the innocent little children he had come to care for dead. When he returned to the US, he was inspired to write a song in tribute to the children, the innocent, who were the ones most suffering from the war. Bestor described how he came to write the song:

Having lived in this war-torn country back in the late 1970's, I grew to love the people with whom I lived. It didn't matter to me their ethnic origin - Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian - they were all just happy fun people to me and I counted as friends people from each region. Of course, I was always aware of the bigotry and ethnic differences that bubbled just below the surface, but I always hoped that the peace this rich country enjoyed would continue indefinitely. Obviously that didn't happen. When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened - civil war. Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn't talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness. Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words....Can you hear....? Can you feel......? I started with these feelings - sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song.

He told Meridian Magazine:

"Those children didn't hate anybody," he said. "They didn't care about who owned the land, or who had the power or the money. These are adult neuroses. They just wanted to have a mom and dad and a place to play."


Can you hear the prayer of the children
on bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room?
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
turning heavenward toward the light.
Crying," Jesus, help me
to see the morning light of one more day,
but if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take."
Can you feel the hearts of the children
aching for home, for something of their very own.
Reaching hands with nothing to hold onto
but hope for a better day, a better day.
Crying," Jesus, help me
to feel the love again in my own land,
but if unknown roads lead away from home,
give me loving arms, 'way from harm."
(oooooo la la la la etc etc.)
Can you hear the voice of the children
softly pleading for silence in their shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
blood of the innocent on their hands.
Crying," Jesus, help me
to feel the sun again upon my face?
For when darkness clears, I know you're near,
bringing peace again."

Dali čujete sve dječje molitve?

Can you hear the prayer of the children?

Source: Wikipedia,