The Business and Professional Women's Club (BPW)
The Collect was written by Mary Stewart, in 1904, as a prayer for the day, not for any particular person or group. She published it as a ‘Collect for Club Women’ because she felt that women working together with wide interests toward important ends was new, and that a special meditation of their own would give them a sense of unity. The Collect was soon adopted among working women throughout the world.
The first printing of the Collect was an obscure paragraph in a column of club notes in the Delineator. Copies were later printed locally. In 1909, Paul Elder and Company, San Francisco, printed it as a wall card, and it has since been printed in many other forms and in many other publications around the world.
Mary Stewart, who until 1910 signed the Collect with her pen name, “Mary Stuart”, remained involved in BPW until her death in 1943.
The Collect was officially adopted by National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs meeting at their second convention in 1920, in St. Paul. It was read into the printed records of the Congress of the United States by Senator Tobey of New Hampshire, at the closing session in 1949.
Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.
Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face —
without self-pity and without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous.
Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene, gentle.
Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straightforward and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences,
that in the big things of life we are at one.
And may we strive to touch and to know the great common human heart of us all,
and, O Lord God, let us forget not to be kind!
— Mary Stewart, April 1904