To start the day right or wind down in peace, many of us rely on rituals, whether physical or spiritual. We’d say they could be mental, too, but for us it’s morning and we haven’t had our coffee yet. Ahem, Professor Engert.

A graceful beginning

Bob Hurlbut ’59 was 8 years old when he first came to the Memorial Church, for a service for his father, killed in World War II. Later, as a Harvard freshman, he began attending Morning Prayers, and the habit grew into a ritual that has lasted 69 years.

“It is a very calming and inspiring part of my day,” Hurlbut says. “It’s nice to hear speakers of all persuasions who keep me informed about the College, and the music is incomparable.”

The prayers are a ritual not only for Hurlbut but also for Memorial Church itself, where they have been heard every morning since 1636. The prayers are said between 8:30 and 8:45, “identical in its form,” he says. Hurlbut finds comfort in this, as do a handful of regulars. He is now one of the few, however, who will see his father’s name on a wall as he leaves the church.

Midday at the museum

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