London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1915. Early printing. Original red cloth (6 7/8 inches tall), gilt spine and front board, top edge gilt. Small stain to mildly toned spine, gilt bright, corners sharp. A near-fine copy. Item #1360
"YE HOLY ANGELS, WHO STAND ALWAYS BEFORE GOD IN HEAVEN, DEFEND US IN BATTLE"
First edition, second impression of Robert Hugh Benson's pocketbook of Prayers for the Great War. Published posthumously after Benson's death with a frontispiece illustrations of the Crucifixion, complete with its tissue-guard..
First published in the fall of 1914, the Preface had to be written for Benson by Bishop Louis Charles Casartelli ("St. Bede's College / 22 Oct. 1914") while Benson "was dying on my own bed in my room at Bishop's House, Salford itself," unable to revise the final proofs of this book. Benson died on October 19, 1914 at age 42 and "there are passages in Vexilla Regis that might have been written for [Benson] himself." Divided into two sections: Part I. Forms of Prayer for every Day of the Week, and Part II. Devotions: General and Particular. The prayers—including many petitions—have "followed more or less the lines indicated by the Office of the Church." Benson, believing as he did, that "England and her allies are fighting for the cause of justice and liberty...has not scrupled to insert petitions that entreat, outright, for victory from the God of Battles." Printed on laid paper with a publisher's list of Benson's other books ("By the Same Author"). The book was reprinted (with a preface by Benson's biographer, C.C. Martindale, S.J.) when the Second World War broke out in 1939. Approbations. Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief.