Independence Day and the Episcopal Church

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of
freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in
righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for
ever and ever. Amen.
(Prayer for Independence Day from the Book of Common Prayer.)
Did you know that Independence Day is a major feast of the Episcopal Church? Psalms, Scripture
Readings, and Prayers were first appointed for this national observance in the Proposed Prayer Book of 1786.
They were deleted, however, by the General Convention of 1789, primarily as a result of the intervention of
Bishop William White. Though himself a supporter of the American Revolution, he felt that the required
observance was inappropriate, since the majority of the Church’s clergy had, in fact, been loyal to the British
crown.
You might be surprised to know that July 4 wasn’t a major feast before the 1979 Prayer Book was
approved. At the time of the American Revolution, there was no American edition of the Book of Common
Prayer until 1789 after the war, as mentioned above.
It is interesting to note that in 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a
challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work was entitled The Psalm of Joy.
Amidst the typical observances of Independence Day, such as cookouts and fireworks, celebrate July 4 by
including thanksgiving and prayer for the freedom we all enjoy in this land of liberty and justice for all.
Faithfully yours,
Fr. Frank