Briefly: Yale librarian recants doubts of “Serenity Prayer” authorship

Yale librarian Fred Shapiro, who last year questioned whether Reinhold Niebuhr ’14 GRD ’15 truly authored the Serenity Prayer, has been persuaded to retain Niebuhr as the author in the next edition of The Yale Book of Quotations, which Shapiro edits. The decision came after a researcher at the Duke University library found a Christian student newsletter from 1937 that explicitly cites Niebuhr as the writer of the prayer. Shapiro first suggested that Niebuhr was not the author after finding newspaper articles and pamphlets that cited the prayer as early as 1936, while Niebuhr’s family said he wrote the Serenity Prayer in 1943.

Comments

  • http://theantiyale.blogspot.com

    Here’s one time authorship is almost irrelevant (except to the Niebuhr family) since plagiarism made this the second most famous prayer in the Christian world, one which is even used by atheists and agnostics by simply omitting the first word and starting with “Grant”. The “Grantor” could be “Cosmic Tranquillity” or any number of acceptable non anthropomorphic , non-deistic amorphous “forces”

    NB: Agnostics accomplish the same end with the first and most famous prayer in Christendom by turning the “Lord’s prayer” into two question: Our Father? Who art in Heaven?

    PK