Many people have found hope in these words. Many people have also been misled.
St. Paul's Church mentions "legend has it that the Desiderata was inscribed on a wall at Old St. Paul’s Church in the late 17th century. In reality, it was written in 1927 by Max Ehrman, an Indiana attorney, poet, and author. Old St. Paul’s is in no way accountable for the poem."
This excerpt is taken directly from a publication made directly from Old St. Paul's Church:
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” So begins the popular poem known as Desiderata, which has comforted and inspired millions of people throughout the world. Known for its words of reassurance, Desiderata has been reprinted in national magazines such as Reader’s Digest, been recited at countless weddings and funerals, and was recorded as a hit pop song in 1972.
Over the years, the source of this well-loved poem has been shrouded in mystery. Legend has it that the Desiderata was inscribed on a wall at Old St. Paul’s Church in the late 17th century. In reality, it was written in 1927 by Max Ehrman, an Indiana attorney, poet, and author. Old St. Paul’s is in no way accountable for the poem.
So how did Desiderata become associated with Old St. Paul’s? To find the answer we must trace back to the season of Lent in Baltimore in the mid 1950’s. The Reverend Frederick W. Kates, rector of Old St. Paul’s from 1956 to 1961, plays a key role in this story. During Lent it was Father Kates’ custom to distribute inspirational poems and quotations to his parishioners. One particular Sunday he placed Desiderata in the pews on parish letterhead, which contained the church’s founding date of 1692. One can only surmise a visitor then copied the poem, along with the misleading credit line, and distribution began in earnest. Even today it is rare to find a copy of Desiderata that fails to include the line “Found in Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, Dated 1692.”
The parish has received inquiries on this piece of poetry from every state in the Union and from countries throughout the world. Desiderata’s popularity endures and so does its mistaken association with Old St. Paul’s.
Further inquiries regarding the Desiderata should be made to:
The Chrysler Building 405 Lexington Avenue New York NY 10174-1299
tel: 212-554-7800 fax: 212-554-7700