The beloved hymn “O My Father” by Eliza R. Snow was originally called “My Father in Heaven” or “Invocation, or The Eternal Father and Mother.” While studying Eliza’s poem, I fixated on her title “Invocation, or The Eternal Father and Mother.” “Invocation, or” fascinated me. Why did she choose those words?
To me, invocation meant prayer, and specifically a prayer given at the beginning of a worship service or meeting. A quick Google search to understand additional meanings of Invocation invited interesting insight.
The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defined invocation as:
1. The act of addressing in prayer.
2. The form or act of calling for the assistance or presence of any being, particularly of some divinity; as the invocation of the muses.
The second definition of calling for the assistance or presence of divine being reminded me of mighty prayers in the Book of Mormon.
And by day have I waxed bold in mighty ; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me. (emphasis added) before him
And it came to pass that as the disciples of Jesus were journeying and were preaching the things which they had both heard and seen, and were baptizing in the name of Jesus, it came to pass that the disciples were gathered together and were and in .
And Jesus againhimself unto them, for they were praying unto the Father in his name; and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you? (emphasis added)
My thoughts turned to another word I interpreted as prayer, too—benediction. Benediction coexists with invocation in that benediction is the prayer offered at the close of a worship service or meeting.
The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defined benediction as
1. The act of blessing; a giving praise to God or rendering thanks for his favors; a blessing pronounced; hence grace before and after meals.
2. Blessing, prayer, or kind wishes, uttered in favor of any person or thing; a solemn or affectionate invocation of happiness; thanks; expression of gratitude.
3. The advantage conferred by blessing.
4. The form of instituting an abbot, answering to the consecration of a bishop.
5. The external ceremony performed by a priest in the office of matrimony is called the nuptial benediction
6. In the Romish Church, an ecclesiastical ceremony by which a thing is rendered sacred or venerable.
Do my prayers mirror the feeling and intensity these definitions demand?
Invocation and Benediction
I wondered about the differences between invocation and benediction. Someone else had, too!
As nouns the difference between invocation and benediction is that invocation is the act or form of calling for the assistance or presence of some superior being; earnest and solemn entreaty; especially, prayer offered to a divine being while benediction is blessing (some kind of divine or supernatural aid, or reward).
- The act or form of calling for the assistance or presence of some superior being; earnest and solemn entreaty; especially, prayer offered to a divine being.
A short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually after a church worship service.
* Milton So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus / Followed with benediction.
* Longfellow Homeward serenely she walked with God’s benediction upon her.\
The form of instituting an abbot, analogous to the consecration of a bishop. (Ayliffe)
A Roman Catholic rite by which bells, banners, candles, etc., are blessed with holy water and formally dedicated to God.
“The act or form of calling for the assistance or presence of some superior being; earnest and solemn entreaty; especially, prayer offered to a divine being” and then “a short invocation for divine help, blessing, and guidance, usually after a church worship service” is so beautiful!
As I read and pondered various definitions I found and wondered how I could apply what I learned, one of my favorite invocations and benedictions filled my mind.
Ah! Turn me not away,
Receive me tho’ unworthy;
Hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from thy throne
Haste Thee, Lord to mine aid,
Thy pity shew in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous thine anger,
O Lord! Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.
O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
And remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!
Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me Lord in Thy mercy;
Come and save me O Lord
Save, in the day of retribution,
From Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O Divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Saviour!
By Charles Gounod and Edward S. Breck
I can’t imagine God could hear that cry and ignore the petitioner! Our Divine Redeemer hears our cries and answers them.
An invocation and benediction implores Him to hear us.
Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.
Because He hears the words of our mouth, He promises
I will not leave you . : I will to you
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
Amen, amen, and amen.