“But for the grace of God” is an English phrase which conveys the meaning of “but for the mercy of God”. The phrase is commonly used to express gratitude for deliverance from disaster or misfortune. It can also be used to suggest that, but for the intervention of a higher power, the speaker might have suffered a fate similar to that which befell others.
The phrase is derived from a passage in the Book of Common Prayer, which is read at Evensong on Sundays and feast days throughout the year. The relevant section reads as follows:
“We render thanks to thee, O Lord our God, for that thou hast delivered us from the perils of this night; but above all we give thee thanks, because Thou hast redeemed us from eternal death by thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ.”
The phrase “but for the grace of God” has been used by a number of individuals who have overcome significant adversity in their lives. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously used the phrase in reference to his escape from death after being thrown from a horse while out riding. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln also used the phrase on several occasions, most notably in his Second Inaugural Address, delivered shortly before his assassination.
More recently, American musician Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain used the phrase in his song “All Apologies”, which was included as part of Nirvana’s 1993 album In Utero. The lyrics of the song express Cobain’s gratitude for having been born into a stable family environment, despite being surrounded by poverty and addiction:
“What else should I be? All apologies. What else could I say? Everyone is gay.”
What is the but for the grace of god saying?
The saying is usually used when one is describing how lucky they are, for example: “I survived the car crash but for the grace of god.” It means that if it weren’t for god’s intervention, they would not be alive. The phrase can also be used to express gratitude, as in “Thank you, but for the grace of god, I would not be here today.”
The different ways but for the grace of god can be used
“But for the grace of God” can be used in a number of ways, all of which emphasise the role that God plays in our lives. One common use is to express gratitude for what we have, despite not deserving it:
Thank you for all your help – I don’t know what I would have done but for the grace of God.
In this context, “but for” means “if it were not for”. We can also use it to talk about things that could have happened, but didn’t:
I nearly missed my train this morning but for the grace of God.
The history of the but for the grace of god saying
The phrase “but for the grace of God” is a common one, but its origins are unclear. It may be derived from the Book of Common Prayer, which includes the phrase “but for thy great mercy we had not been” in one of its prayers. The saying is also found in many works of literature, including William Shakespeare’s King Lear and John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
The first known use of the phrase in English is from the early 1500s, but it is likely that it was in use before that. It is often used to express gratitude for being spared from misfortune, or to emphasize how close one came to experiencing something bad.
The impact of but for the grace of god
The phrase “but for the grace of God” is often used to express gratitude for being spared from misfortune. The phrase can be traced back to the 14th century, when it was first used in English literature. The original meaning of the phrase was “except for the mercy of God.”
Over time, the meaning of the phrase has shifted to encompass a wider range of situations. Today, it is commonly used to express gratitude for being spared from disaster, illness, or any other negative outcome.
While the phrase is often used in a religious context, it can also be used secularly to express gratitude for good fortune.
The phrase “but for the grace of God” is a very old one, dating back to at least the 13th century. It’s used to express gratitude for God’s intervention in a person’s life, especially when that intervention has resulted in a good outcome. For example, someone might say, “I was about to lose my job, but for the grace of God I was able to keep it.”
The phrase can also be used more broadly to express gratitude for any good fortune that a person has received. For example, someone might say, “I’m so grateful for my health, but for the grace of God I could be ill.”
In addition to being used as an expression of gratitude, the phrase can also be used as a reminder of how much worse things could be. For example, someone might say, “But for the grace of God, I could have been killed in that car accident.”
The phrase is often shortened to simply “but for God’s grace” or even just “but for grace.”