I type the lyrics to our songs as a method of memorizing them. As I read over the lyrics of “Prayer of the Children” by Kurt Bestor – seeing them on the plain page as poetry – I realized what a beautiful work this is. In six emotional verses he pleads for the children caught in war. They are afraid; they long for the familiar; they know no politics and they only want peace. Violence against children is evil.
Bestor wrote the piece in response to the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Having lived in the country as an expatriate he was familiar with the beauty of the place, the warmth of friends and the simmering enmity between ethnic groups. He writes in his blog that as he watched the conflict unfold ” Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other…Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness.” As an artist he found an expression of the feelings nearing despair – the song entitled “Prayer of the Children”.
The song was not widely performed at first. Now has been sun at memorials for the Columbine shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 and the Sandy Hook CT school shootings it has gained a deserved recognition for its expression of the plight of children experiencing violence they do not comprehend.
Sadly - this song remains relevant twenty-five years later as we watch the displacement of millions of refugees from Syria and in many other countries. Masses of people seeking a peaceful place with their children in tow could be singing with us “Crying who will help me / To feel the love again in my own land / But if unknown roads lead away from home/ Give me loving arms, away from harm.”
The song ends with hope. Perhaps the hope that children can muster in their innocence needs to be the inspiration for the adults of the world in response to the prayer of the children - “When darkness clears I know you’re near bringing peace again”.
EKOSingers will be performing “Prayer of the Children” with the Mill Creek Colliery Band at their Pops and Classics event Sunday March 6, 2016, 3:00 pm. Robertson Wesley United Church, 10209 – 103 St., Edmonton, Alberta.
Tickets are available from EKOSingers, at the door, or in advance through Tix on the Square (Charge by phone 780-420-1757 or online.) Tickets for all concerts are $20 (students/seniors $15). Children 12 and under are free. Special discounts are available for groups (for special rates, please call 780-431-2437).