William Shakespeare 400: A Prayer



On the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare on 23rd April 1616, a prayer which follows the Seven Ages in ‘As you like it’.

There is also a reference to the text on his gravestone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, “Good Friend for Jesus sake forebeare to digg the dust enclosed heare…”.

From one son of Stratford to another.





Through all our ages on this stage of life,

your loving hand O God

guides and redeems us in our many parts.

From infancy and childhood’s learning,

in loving and struggle

towards justice and wisdom’s insights,

and if time permits

restful age to reducing vigour,

in your mercy we return to your embrace,

our source and goal, entrance and exit.

For Jesus’ sake, our true ‘good friend’,

bring us to rejoice in your eternity;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


© Ian Black 2016


About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough, Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral and Rural Dean of Peterborough. He previously served for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian is married with two sons. He is the author of three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His latest book is 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus' (Sacristy Press 2017). He has been writing online since the mid 1990s.
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1 Response to William Shakespeare 400: A Prayer

  1. Ann Eaves says:

    Lovely prayer for a great man. I once had to give a lecture on the seven ages. In the preparation for that some fascinating and thought provoking facts emerged.


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