Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Song

Joe Wise’s wonderful song, Lord, Teach Us to Pray, is the one that I have probably placed in liturgies I've written and sung as a solo, accompanied by my guitar, more often in worship services during my years of ministry than any other. With my mobility rather restricted today, I took my guitar out of its case and began playing and singing. Suddenly I found myself so drawn to the message and music of Lord, Teach Us to Pray that I must have played and sung it a dozen times in a row.

Joe Wise lived in Louisville for about 55 years, most of the time not too far from where I now live. He is a folk singer of my generation, song writer, artist (painter) and one of the first Catholic writers and singers of “contemporary” Christian music. He has earned four degrees in Philosophy, Theology, Education, and Counseling and Guidance. About 12 or so years ago he relocated to Arizona, where he now lives. I urge you to visit Joe at his web site and learn more about this most remarkable man.

During those dozen or so times I played and sang Lord, Teach Us to Pray, I recorded myself using the handy built in microphone on my notebook computer. I actually didn’t sound to bad after all these years of not playing and singing in public. So I thought about sharing the recording of me in this blog post; however, I can’t figure out how to do so!

Still, I want to share with you the message of this moving song, so here are the lyrics:

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Lyrics & Music


Joseph Wise


Lord, teach us to pray,

It's been a long and cold December kind of day,

with our hearts and hands all busy in our private little wars.

We stand and watch each other now from separate shores;

we lose the way.

I need to know today the way things should be in my head;

I need to know for once now the things that should be said.

I've got to learn to walk around as if I were not dead;

I've got to find a way to learn to live.


I still get so distracted by the color of my skin;

I still get so upset now when I find that I don't win.

I meet so many strangers; I'm so slow to take them in

I've got to find a way to really live.


I stand so safe and sterile as I watch someone fall flat;

I'm silent with a person who'd like to know just where I'm at.

With the aged and the lonely I can barely tip my hat;

I need to see the sin in "I don't care."


I stand so smug and sure before the people I've out-guessed;

to let them all be who they are I still see as a test.

And when it all comes down to "must," I'm sure my way is best.

I've got to find what "room" means in my heart.


I walk and fall, myself alone, can't tolerate a guide.

And when the camps split up I'm sure to put you on my side

and dare someone to challenge me and swear I will not hide.

I've got to find a better way to live.


I mouth so many things, take so little time to weigh;

I've let it all slip by in the sweep of yesterday.

I can't believe you mean it all to grace me on my way;

I've got to find a way to really live.

Lord, teach us to pray.

We still believe that we can find a better way.

Teach us to pray.

We lose the way.

Teach us to pray.

You can listen to or down Joe singing at least a portion of Lord, Teach Us to Pray and some of his other songs here.


  1. I can remember singing that song at Mass at the Catholic high school I went to. Thanks for posting the lyrics. I'd forgotten all about that song.

    It's much more meaningful to me as an adult than it was to me as a teenager.

  2. Nick, bless you. You've provided the absolute right prayer for me today, for "these" days:

    "I need to know today the way things should be in my head;

    I need to know for once now the things that should be said.

    I've got to learn to walk around as if I were not dead;

    I've got to find a way to learn to live."

    That's precisely where I am. Thanks, Nick.

  3. I must say, your Sunday song is quite different than mine. LOL.

  4. I remember the song and Joe Wise. I used to love to hear him play and sing. Until today I didn't know he'd moved to Arizona from Louisville.

  5. What a lovely post, Nick. So you're a musician? You seem to be quite a talented chap...and every now and then you let us into another of your secrets :-)

  6. Thanks for posting the lyrics, Nick - what a thoughtful prayer...

    Liked his site & artwork, too - nice watercolors!

    & if you post a recording, I'm posting a link to it! :)

  7. Wow! I reverberate to that song.

  8. I remember Joes Wise and his music well. I still have at least a couple of his LPs. I did not know that he had also moved to Arizona.

  9. I have tried to play this song but am not sure I am getting all the chords right. Would you consider uploading the chords, too?