Our Prayer

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"Our Prayer"
Hymn by The Beach Boys
from the album 20/20
ReleasedFebruary 10, 1969
RecordedSeptember 19 / October 4, 1966; November 17, 1968
Composer(s)Brian Wilson
Producer(s)The Beach Boys
"Our Prayer"
Hymn by The Beach Boys
from the album The Smile Sessions
ReleasedOctober 31, 2011 (2011-10-31)
RecordedSeptember 19 / October 4, 1966
Producer(s)Brian Wilson
"Our Prayer / Gee"
Brian Wilson - Our Prayer.jpg
2004 clear vinyl release of Brian Wilson "Our Prayer (Freeform Reform)" remix.
Song by Brian Wilson
from the album Brian Wilson Presents Smile
ReleasedSeptember 28, 2004 (2004-09-28)
Recorded2004, Sunset Sound Recorders
GenreHymn, doo-wop
Songwriter(s)Brian Wilson, William Davis/Morris Levy
Producer(s)Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson singles chronology
Good Vibrations
Our Prayer (Freeform Reform)
Walking Down the Path of Life / Love and Mercy

"Our Prayer" is a wordless hymn composed by Brian Wilson for American rock band the Beach Boys.[1] It was intended for the Smile album until the project was shelved. It was then released on their 1969 album 20/20 with additional production by the Beach Boys without involvement from Wilson. As a solo artist, Wilson rerecorded and released the piece on his 2004 version of Smile in medley with the 1953 doo-wop standard "Gee".

Professors John Covach and Graeme M. Boone have written: "An exquisite exercise of harmonic virtuousity, 'Our Prayer' allowed the Beach Boys once again to show off their vocal abilities and stylistic influences earlier demonstrated on such songs as 'Their Hearts Were Full of Spring'."[2]


I was sitting at my piano thinkin' about holy music. I poked around for some simple but moving chords. Later I sat down and wrote 'Our Prayer' in sections. The boys were overtaken by the arrangement. I taught it to them in sections, the way I usually do. The purity of the blending of the voices made the listeners feel spiritual. I was definitely into rock church music.

— Brian Wilson, c.1969[3]

The wordless, a cappella piece was originally supposed to be the opening track to the Smile album. As Beach Boys historian Peter Reum explained, "Brian intended for 'Our Prayer' to be the opening track, a spiritual invocation, for 'Smile'."[3] The title may be a reference to the 1939 traditional pop standard "My Prayer", written by Georges Boulanger and Jimmy Kennedy. As music journalist Paul Williams elaborates,

It's a wonderful wordless beginning for a record that for the most part uses words the same way it uses strings and keyboards—for their sounds. This is in sharp contrast to Pet Sounds where most of the songs have titles and lyrics that evoke specific situations and feelings. Smile's radicalism begins with and centers around the fact that it is abstract, whereas all previous Beach Boys records and most rock-and-roll songs are concrete in their imagery. They have words, and those words generally tell a story.

— Paul Williams, c.1993[4]

Wilson was to quickly record and get it over with as soon as possible so he could focus on recording the bulk of Smile for the January, 1967 release that he had promised Capitol Records. However, Smile was abandoned, and the track lay dormant for several months. The song was eventually released together with "Cabinessence" on their 1969 album 20/20, albeit with some added vocal overdubs. The main vocals were recorded in late 1966 with the additional vocals being recorded at Capitol Records Studios two years later.[5]

Live performances[edit]

The Beach Boys never performed the song live until their 50th anniversary reunion tour; at the June 24, 2012 show, "Our Prayer" was performed as an intro to "Heroes and Villains", however it was only performed several times.[citation needed]


The Beach Boys

Cover versions[edit]



  1. ^ Lambert 2005, p. 47.
  2. ^ Boone 1997, p. 51.
  3. ^ a b Leaf, David (1990). Friends / 20/20 (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records.
  4. ^ Williams 2010, p. 84.
  5. ^ Badman 2004, p. 387.