This article from The New York Times cites the recent discovery of archival clippings which suggest that Reinhold Niebuhr was not the composer of the famous Serenity Prayer (i.e. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change…”). Questions raised in the article include who first uttered the words, who actually wrote them down and was there some cross-pollination without attribution.
What is not widely known is that the Serenity Prayer that has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous was an adaptation of a sermon Niebuhr gave back in 1943. That specific year and sermon is attributed in the article to his daughter, Elisabeth Sifton. Following is widely believed to be Niebuhr’s composition:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
If only Reinie had a blog back then, but then again maybe that would not have helped, either.