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The Senate Chaplain Presides And Abides

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Senate impeachment hearings begin every day with a slow, sonorous voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARRY BLACK: Eliminate discordant static with the music of your wisdom.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Barry Black - he's served as Senate chaplain since 2003. He leads the Senate in a daily prayer. And during the impeachment trial, he has often used the opportunity to advise senators to be humble and thoughtful.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLACK: Help them remember that patriots reside on both sides of the aisle, that words have consequences and that how something is said can be as important as what is said.

CHANG: On the day after Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash, Black incorporated that tragedy into his opening prayer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLACK: As millions mourn the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and those who died with them, we think about life's brevity, uncertainty and legacy.

KELLY: Back in 2010, Black told our co-host Audie Cornish how he thinks about his job.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BLACK: A senator needs wisdom. A senator needs to be guided - supernaturally guided, many times - on these issues. I mean, senators will even come to me and ask me, you know, what do you think I should do on this thing?

CHANG: Sometimes, he offers not-so-veiled critiques, like in 2013 during a prolonged government shutdown.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLACK: Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable. Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown.

KELLY: Black told C-SPAN at the time he saves this kind of sermon only for dire situations, and the senators seem to recognize this, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLACK: They know that when I go off-script (laughter) - when I go rogue, they know this must be very important.

CHANG: Throughout the impeachment trial, Black has often prayed for reason.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLACK: Made they understand that you created them with cognitive capabilities and moral discernment to be used for your glory.

KELLY: As the trial comes to a close, Black has been able to witness a rare, historic moment, and he told C-SPAN that's his favorite part of the job.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLACK: Anyone who has a front-row seat to human history can shuffle off this mortal coil absolutely certain that he or she has truly lived.

(SOUNDBITE OF COTTON JONES SONG, "SOMEHOW KEEP IT GOING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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