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Song of Prayer

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"Elohim, God on high,
Can You hear Your people cry?"
"Deliver Us", The Prince of Egypt

A song in which the singer addresses God, the gods, or whatever deity they worship. These usually come at poignant moments in the story, often when things have turned against the heroes and they feel the need to call upon a Higher Power. It may also come at times when the character is feeling contemplative, reflecting on the nature of life and creation.

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The type of prayer can run the spectrum as well, from a sincere plea to the heavens, raging against them, or even a Silly Prayer.

It may be used to indicate the character is a devout individual, or one who has reached rock bottom and has no one else to turn to.

Keep in mind that the scriptures, teachings, and hymnals of virtually every church and religion have writings that can and have been set to music. Trying to list them all here would be overwhelming. As such, the use of any established songs of prayer or praise should be limited to when the characters in the story are singing them.

Compare God Is Love Song, Christian Rock and Not Christian Rock. Naturally, this is a staple of the Gospel Music genre. See also Holy Pipe Organ and Gospel Choirs Are Just Better.

Contrast Religion Rant Song.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, the "Song of Passage" is a popular folk song in the Far East the begs the gods in heaven for safe passage despite one's fears. Kimi makes particular use of it as part of her abilities as a Dance Battler, using the song and her dance as offerings to her Patron God to become an unstoppable fortress so long as she keeps dancing and singing.

     Film - Animated 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • "God Help the Outcasts", Esmerelda's prayer for the poor and unfortunate in the world, contrasted with the wealthy of Paris asking for wealth and power.
    • Later Frollo's Villain Song "Hellfire" has him asking St. Mary to protect him from the lustful thoughts he's been having about Esmerelda. Or let her belong to him.
  • Mulan: Near the end of "Bring Honor to us All," Hua Mulan asks her ancestors for guidance. She is shown actively praying to them in the family temple at the end of "Reflection" as well.
  • The Prince of Egypt:
    • "Deliver Us", the opening song which portrays the Hebrew slaves in Egypt crying to God to deliver them from their bondage.
    • "When You Believe" has a segment where a children's chorus begins singing in Hebrew a verse praising God for His deliverance of the Israelites.
  • Joseph: King of Dreams has "Better Than I," in which Joseph finally accepts that God gave him the ability to interpret dreams for a reason, and asks Him to help him get through.
  • Quest for Camelot: "The Prayer" is sung by Lady Juliana as her daughter Kayley is being pursued by Ruber's men into an uncertain future.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The 2006 film The Magic Flute makes "O Isis and Osiris" a Church of Saint Genericus prayer to the "Spirit of our fathers", where Sarastro and the people living in his camp/hospital/shelter pray for Tamino and Pamina and for an end of a terrible war.
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    Live Action TV 
  • Baskets: A blackly humorous version; Christine is overwhelmed by running her new rodeo with her sometimes-moronic sons Chip and Dale and follows a pastor's advice by penning a hymn as a prayer to God. When Chip's French clown friends spend Thanksgiving with her they sing it aloud to cheer her up, and we hear her asking God for guidance in the lyrics... And offering her sons as a sacrifice, Abraham-style.
  • Doctor Who: In the episode "Gridlock", the people stuck in the Motorway sing hymns as a way to keep up their spirits. After the Doctor finally releases the exits, they start singing "Abide With Me", a hymn asking the Lord to come and stay for a time.

    Mythology And Religion 
  • The Book of Psalms in The Bible is a collection of songs of prayers with instructions and breaks written down when singing.

    Theatre 
  • 1776: After storming out of Congress following "Sit Down, John", Adams pauses outside and begins singing/complaining to God about Congress, how they do nothing and if the Lord is going to put a curse on them, couldn't it be something more tolerable? Like a cataclysmic earthquake?
  • Aida (Verdi) has "Immenso Ftha", where the priest's chorus led by a priestess sings praises to the god Ptah. It has a Dark Reprise in the end of the opera, where Radames and Aida hear it after they are entombed alive.
  • In Attila, the choir of maidens and children accompanying Pope Leo the Great sing a hymn "Vieni, le menti visita", praying to God to spread peace and instill love in people's hearts, as they go to the Huns' camp in the hopes of stopping Attila from raiding Rome. Attila backs away in fear just from hearing their singing.
  • A lot of the songs in Carrie have Carrie and/or Margaret praying. From the '88 version, Carrie has "Dear Lord" (which is all a prayer for strength). Both the 2012 and '88 versions have "Open Your Heart", which begins with Margaret praying then incorporates both Carrie and Margaret's prayers, and "And Eve Was Weak", in which Margaret's last verse is a prayer about Carrie's powers, and "Evening Prayers", which has both Carrie and Margaret's prayers to God (as well as dialogue between them).
  • Fiddler on the Roof:
    • "If I Were a Rich Man" begins with Tevye asking God why he couldn't have a fortune, just a small one. He then sings a song imagining what it would be like to be rich, ending with the lyrics,
    "Lord who made the lion and the lamb
    You decreed I should be what I am
    Would it spoil some vast eternal plan
    If I were a wealthy man?"
    • It also has "Sabbath Prayer," which Tevye and his family sing as Perchik, the newcomer to the shtetl, joins them. "Sabbath Prayer" beseeches God to be loyal to his people, and for his people to stay loyal to God, and respect their traditions. Perchik reflects a more modern, revolutionary, viewpoint that threatens those traditions.
  • In Giulio Cesare in Egitto:
    • In "Svegliatevi nel core", Sextus calls to the Furies to never let him rest until he avenges his father's murder.
    • "Venere bella" is Cleopatra's prayer to Venus, begging to give her all the charms necessary to enchant Caesar.
    • In "Aure, dei, per pieta", Caesar, having just been cast ashore after almost drowning, prays to the Auras (Aura was the goddess of light breeze in Ancient Greek beliefs, but here she's in the plural due to Artistic License – Religion). He begs them to help him in his peril and to tell him if his beloved Cleopatra is safe.
  • Godspell:
    • "Save the People"is a close paraphrase of an older hymn, "When Wilt Thou Save the People?" by Ebenezer Elliot (1847), itself a parody or response to the much-more-famous "God Save the Queen." In "Godspell," it places Jesus in a firmly New Testament context, as His presence is God's response to the complaint in the title of the prayer.
    • "Day by Day": A song in which the disciples declare their desire to become better followers of Jesus each day.
  • One of the most famous pieces from Engelbert Humperdinck's opera based on Hansel and Gretel is "The Evening Prayer". In it, Hansel and Gretel express their hope that angels will guard them in their sleep.
  • Iolanta:
    • King Rene's aria "My God, if I am a sinner" is him desperately praying for his blind daughter, as he says he is ready to give up everything he has and endure any misfortune if only Iolanta is cured.
    • The opera finishes with all the characters praising God's grace in a chorus after Iolanta's operation is successful.
  • In the second act of Jenufa, Jenufa, seized by some unaccountable fear, prays for her baby son to the Mother of God, "Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy". A heartbreaking example, since the audience is aware the baby is at that moment being killed.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: "Gethsemane" has Jesus, in the calm before the storm, addressing God as he reflects on how far he's come and what he knows is still ahead, and asking for a sign to reassure him he's on the right track.
  • The song "Puzzlement" from The King and I, in which the king contrasts the black-and-white world of his youth with the shades-of-gray world he knows as a man, ends with the King praying to Buddha to show him the way.
  • In Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson's Kristina från Duvemåla, following a string of misfortunes culminating in a miscarriage, the title character sings "Du måste finnas" ("You Have to be There") in desperation to the God she feels has let her down. The song is a dramatic showstopper which became a Breakout Hit in Sweden.
  • Les Misérables: "Bring Him Home", which is actually referred to in the script as "The Prayer", has Jean Valjean praying for the safety of Marius prior to the battle at the barricade.
  • The Magic Flute has a chorus "O Isis and Osiris", in which Sarastro and the priests pray for Tamino and Pamina to succeed in their trials or, if they die on the way, to be granted a good afterlife.
  • In Giacomo Puccini's opera Sister Angelica, dying Angelica hears a choir of angels singing a hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary, Who comes to tell Angelica she is forgiven.
  • In Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Gvidon, the Swan Princess and Gvidon's mother have a small trio with chorus in the final act, "God bless us/you to live in agreement and love", in which they pray to God to grant Gvidon and the Princess a happy marriage and help them be kind and gentle with each other.

    Video Games 
  • Ar tonelico: "EXEC_METAFALICA/." Involves singing to help a goddess, and channel people's prayers, instead of directly communicating with the goddess.
  • Kirby Star Allies has "Song of Supplication" (or "Prayer song to God" in the Japanese version), which is an instrumental battle theme, but has lyrics provided in pause screen descriptions. The twist is that the singers belong to an Apocalypse Cult, and they're singing to a God of Evil, in order to fulfill their prayer of restarting the world.
    In spite of all, we sing to you! Please hear our pleas and help us too! In spite of all, sadness rose! In spite of all, yearning grows! We call to you! We dream of you! In spite of all, this all is true!
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