Let them in Peter
For they are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires
Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired by the sun
Not war-times bloody guns
May their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die
Give them things they like
Let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands not golden harps
To these our boys
Let them love Peter
For they've had no time
They should have bird songs and trees
And hills to climb
The taste of summer
And a ripened pear
And girls sweet as meadow wind
And flowing hair
And tell them how they are missed
But say not to fear
It's gonna be all right
With us down here

Lyrics submitted by spliphstar

Prayer To St. Peter song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentThis song was based on a poem that Edwin found on a WW2 field hospital desk. It pretty well speaks for itself.
    valjean77on July 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat, I did not know, but I do know that this song..I played it on repeat September 11 2001 and since then, every time I play this song, I think of the lives lost in pointless acts of war....and I hope that those that are lost find their way to safety. But hey, that's just my take on the song...
    alexandra_jadeon May 03, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was reading a news article about the shootings at Virginia Tech when this song came on my computer. It could not have been more fitting, and is my prayer to those souls lost. I came here today to see if it was written for September 11th but I agree it sounds more WWII based.
    fitzyk23on April 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought the forum would enjoy learning more about the author of "Letter to Saint Peter", Elma Grace Dean.

    This article excerpt appeared in the Sunday Edition of the Oakland Tribune on December 17, 1961, page 2S.

    "It was the summer of 1942, and things were not going well for us in the war," said Elma Dean in her quiet voice, "and so many of our sons, some of my friend's sons, were being killed. I was going around with tears in my eyes."

    Her tears for the heartbreak of other mothers were crystalized in a poem, "Letter to St. Peter, " and the tiny Oakland housewife suddenly became known around the world. Her sonnet of lament for boys so young to die, and hope that something would make up for what they missed down here, brought her letters from mothers throughout the nation, was inscribed on the wall of an American cemetery in England, was read by a United States senator at another cemetery in Europe, and found its way even into the National Geographic and the Congresssional Record.

    "It was a maybe a little sentimental," said the author "and it isn't the best poem I've done, but it was what the public liked the best. I've been in many anthologies--not the vanity kind--but I am happiest about being in Louis Untermeyer's 'Mid-Century Edition of Modern American and British Poetry"-- and it was another poem, one from the New Yorker."

    In the process or becoming a poet, winning awards and getting into anthologies, Elma also enjoyed being a wife and mother--and now grandmother. [About her husband's reaction to her poetry,] "I'm afraid he's an admirer of mine," said Elma with a gentle, hazel-eyed smile. "When I showed the St. Peter poem to him, as I always do when I think I've done something any good, he said, "this will make the readers Digest." by Kay Wahl.


    Bob Korkucon May 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA little more info on where this song came from. (Thanks Bob Korkuc).

    The song was written by John Gorka and first recorded by David Wilcox. Edwin McCain came next, and then John recorded recorded it.

    John recieved the lyrics from a friend in Akron, Ohio. The friends mother was a nurse in the Phillipines in WW-II. She found the lyrics left behind in the hospital and added them to her scrap book, under one of those pictures of a thousand white crosses. When the daughter saw the scrapbook, she copied the words and sent them to Gorka, asking him to write some music to go with the poem.

    (Source - WKSU NPR local news)
    TNMon May 24, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually, while Edwin McCain did not actually find the letter, the information from Bob, below is very accurate, and it was written during WWII. As some of you referenced, this song seems to cover the gamut. My father served as a pilot in Vietnam twice, and thank God he returned, but what he saw changed his life. War is so brutal, as are the all too familiar domestic acts of violence this song fits them all. I had a chance to talk to his guitarist about this song, it was clear the importance is not lost on this group. It is one of the first McCain songs I learned to play.
    oldtrivelyon November 05, 2015   Link

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