I ain’t much good at prayin’,
and You may not know me, Lord —
For I ain’t much seen in churches,
where they preach Thy Holy Word.
But you may have observed me
out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin’ after cattle,
feelin’ thankful when it rains.
Admirin’ Thy great handiwork.
the miracle of the grass,
Aware of Thy kind Spirit,
in the way it comes to pass
That hired men on horseback
and the livestock that we tend
Can look up at the stars at night,
and know we’ve got a Friend.
So here’s ol’ Christmas comin’ on,
remindin’ us again
Of Him whose coming brought good will
into the hearts of men.
A cowboy ain’t a preacher, Lord,
but if You’ll hear my prayer,
I’ll ask as good as we have got
for all men everywhere.
Don’t let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
Don’t let no child be cold.
Make easy the beds for them that’s sick
and them that’s weak and old.
Let kindness bless the trail we ride,
no matter what we’re after,
And sorter keep us on Your side,
in tears as well as laughter.
I’ve seen ol’ cows a-starvin’ —
and it ain’t no happy sight;
Please don’t leave no one hungry, Lord,
on Thy Good Christmas Night —
No man, no child, no woman,
and no critter on four feet
I’ll do my doggone best
to help you find ’em chuck to eat.
I’m just a sinful cowpoke, Lord —
ain’t got no business prayin’
But still I hope you’ll ketch a word
or two, of what I’m sayin’:
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord—
I reckon You’ll agree —
There ain’t no Merry Christmas
for nobody that ain’t free!
So one thing more I ask You,
Lord: just help us what You can
To save some seeds of freedom
for the future Sons of Man!
– S. Omar Barker
About the Poet Laurette of New Mexico
It’s been written that S. Omar Barker earned more from the publication and uses of his “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer” than from any other poem. He was born in the rugged high country of central New Mexico, and lived there his entire life. He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman magazine. Well-known as an original character, he even enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB.”
So respected was Barker as a cowboy poet that Tennessee Ernie Ford and sausage king-country singer Jimmy Dean read this poem on national television, and it has been reprinted more than 100 times in collections of Barker’s works, in magazines and on Christmas cards.
In December 2013, the estate of S. Omar Barker placed this poem in the public domain as a gift for all of us to enjoy.
As we approach Christmas, my prayer for you
Christmas is fast approaching, and for Christians, this is a time for us to celebrate the miracle of birth of a baby Jesus Christ by exchanging the gift of love and spending time with those people who are truly important in our lives.
Even for those of other faiths, Christmas is a time to celebrate peace on Earth as we would want it to be every day. So, to my family and friends here in the US, in Canada, and in all places far and wide, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noël. And, to my friends of any faith (and even those who do not follow a religion), wherever you are on Christmas Day, may peace be with you on this day and throughout the coming year.
Until next time, mis amigos, happy trails! ★