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Decoding cancer-addled ramblings
January 20, 2014 4:13 PM   Subscribe

In my grandmother's final days battling brain cancer, she became unable to speak and she filled dozens of index cards with random letters of the alphabet. I'm beginning to think that they are the first letters in the words of song lyrics, and would love to know what song this was. This is a crazy long shot, but I've seen Mefites pull off some pretty impressive code-breaking before!

My grandmother passed away in 1996 of a fast-spreading cancer. She was non-communicative her last two weeks, but in that time, she left at least 20 index cards with scribbled letters on them. My cousins and I were between 8-10 years old at the time, and believed she was leaving us a code. We puzzled over them for a few months trying substitution ciphers, and didn't get anywhere.

My father found one of the cards the other day and I love puzzles and want to tackle the mystery again. Based on some of the repeating segments (many lines start with PST, many end with PAGA, and TYAGF repeats often at the end), I'm thinking they may be song lyrics. She inserts lots of backwards commas, and strange breaks at various points that could indicate stanzas. The back of the card has two numbered lines that contain the same letters. The letters (with line breaks to match the card) and images of the cards are below.

Front of card (image)
PDGNHBOBVPNSNHANAOENCNANHPNCPND,NUOCP
NNPNAPNMSMDKBMLPOWP,NAP,]NEENTGBTMLS
HHSSSTMALHFFTMOFPANSTP,NIOOIPNTPNROA
NTRSANTOTTAPOD,PLUADONNOANPBOOLL,PKUA
SASIMAB,PAGA,]PMOMTAVMAJAMMSSSLLAB
APMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP,]PST
WAAHASIOLAIOW,PSTWALOJTHTPATP,PSTWA
GAOKWOCWASAPSTWADVGWAIIRARBOSAO,]
PSTWAHPPAAETWW,PSTWAHTPMAESTCWE,]
PSTAOUCOOTIOWHAMPAPSTTPDNHA,PSTWAA
HAS,PAGA,PSTWAAIEHAPSTWARIEH,]PSTTPAI
DNBTVJEOAOU,PAGA,]PSTTOUWWTLWATOUWS
LWDSWGOBS,PSTWAHSAHVASASBTATWARH
SFAOT,PSTWAHBPITNRSTNOTROUHTTBPM,]
PSTVCADAFLAFESJMPLG(the letter C is written here and later scribbled out with a different pen)BGBMBATROURSSAS
FOHP,]PSTWAGAVWWOA,PAGA]PSTEIFFAWAU.]
TYAGFPFG,TYAGFLTMPAAT,TYAGFE,A-TYAGFE,AAA

Back of card (image)
1. OFWAIHHBTNTKCTWBDOEAIIIHFUTDODBAFUOT
AWFTWTAUALUNITBDUFEFTITKTPATGFAEA
2. OFWAIHHBTNTKCTWBDOEAIIIHFUTDODBAFUOT
AWFTWTAUALUNITBDUFEFTITKTPATGFAEA

In case it's relevant:
-My grandmother was alive from 1927-1996and lived in Minnesota.
-Her three children were born in the 50s and most music in the house would have played in the 50s, 60s and early 70s.
-I do not have any of her other index cards, but my aunts may have some. None of them match each other.
-The card does not include anything that her husband recognized, there are no family member initials, etc.
-The letters Z, X and Q never appear. Y only appears in the last line.

Does anyone have ideas about whether or not these are song lyrics, and if so, any ideas about what song it might be? Or, can you point me towards some magical lyric database that is searchable by the first letter of each word? My family would love to find answers to some of her old puzzles.
posted by JannaK to Grab Bag (151 answers total) 294 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did she ever sing songs to your dad? My first thoughts would be that these are songs that she would have sung over and over, maybe at bed time. Ask him what songs she sung at bed time and see if they match up.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:25 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Was she a religious woman? The last As, as well as the AAA combo, make me think of "Amen, amen, amen." So extrapolating -- TYAGF = "Thank you Almighty God for..."

It would make sense to end with "Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen - Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen, Amen, Amen."
posted by harperpitt at 4:25 PM on January 20 [19 favorites]


Was she religious? I was poking around and found the phrase from the back of the card--OFWAIHHB--is someone's username on plentyoffish and also on YouTube, so I wonder if it's something that might be ... something that a lot of people knew and I also saw what harperpitt saw, amens.
posted by jessamyn at 4:26 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


AGH, YES! Sorry for the double post, but:

OFWAIHHBTNTKCTWBDOEAIIIHFUTDODBAFUOT
AWFTWTAUALUNITBDUFEFTITKTPATGFAEA

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name... etc etc etc
posted by harperpitt at 4:26 PM on January 20 [239 favorites]


Holy cow! 14 minutes to solve the back of the card that has been bugging my family for 20 years! That is amazing!

I never thought of her as super religious, but we did grow up in a Lutheran household, so that makes sense. Any further insights on the front of the card?
posted by JannaK at 4:30 PM on January 20 [19 favorites]


Going on the Lord's Prayer, I wonder if there are other prayers or hymns in the Lutheran faith that might match some of the repeating elements on the other side. Alternately, a favored story she knew, or something she could recite from memory?
posted by absquatulate at 4:35 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


Had the same thought and am perusing Lutheran prayer book online.

The "OBS" combo makes me think "only begotten son."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:37 PM on January 20


Now that we're thinking this is religious, the A's at the end could also be Alleluia. I just don't know my prayers and hymns as well as I should to recognize anything specific.
posted by JannaK at 4:39 PM on January 20


I know you said you didn't find family initials, but were you looking for strings of all three at once (e.g., RJS = Robert John Smith) AND strings of first initials tied together (e.g., RAAD = Robert, Annie and Dave)? I'm starting to think that the front of the card is actually a personal prayer -- something she's asking God for in her last days. Can you share some relevant initials of kids, grandkids, etc.?

If we're assuming "AG" is often "Almighty God," then "PAGA" could be "Please, Almighty God, Amen" (or "Alleluia" as the case may be.)

I think the easiest nut to crack might be those last few lines: TYAGFPFG, TAGFLTMPAAT. If we assume "Thank you Almighty God for..." then we can maybe puzzle out what PFG and LTMPAAT were based on what you know about her life.

This is such a cool thing to share -- thank you for letting us in on a piece of your life. :)
posted by harperpitt at 4:46 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


A guess for TYAGFLTMPAAT: "Thank you Almighty God for listening to my prayers and answering them"
posted by Aquinas at 4:52 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I don't know enough bible verses to know what it stands for, but I noticed that PSTWA appears repeatedly in the text, usually followed by strings of other letters. I'd venture that perhaps the P is for please - perhaps a wish that God will take care of particular people/places etc?
posted by embrangled at 4:58 PM on January 20


Wow. Thank you all for helping me tackle this. I'm in awe that so many of you are taking time to look into this with me. I'm guessing the front may be a personal prayer, and thus much trickier to decipher.

Per harperpitt's questions, no one's string of three or two initials shows up. As for first initials, my family's show up in one string (TVJE is my parents, myself and my brother), but no one else seems to. Her husband's initial was L, but he goes by a nickname starting with B. Her children are G, T and J. Her daughter G is unmarried with no children. Her son T is married to V and has J & E as children. And her daughter J is married to M and has L & E as children.

I'm wondering if the PST is something like "Please see that....", followed by her various desires.
posted by JannaK at 5:04 PM on January 20


PKUA
SASIMAB

Please keep us all safe and sound...?

PSTWA

Please see that we are?
posted by embrangled at 5:13 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Expanding on that, here's some possibilities:

....PSTWAA
HAS,PAGA...

Please see that we are all happy (or healthy) and safe, praise almighty god amen

...PST
WAAHASIOLAIOW...

Please see that we are all happy and safe in our L(something) and in our W(something)

I also notice that there are several repetitions of PST(letters)APST(letters) - Please see that X and please see that Y, maybe
posted by heyforfour at 5:20 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Yes!


Please see that we are all happy and safe in our L(something) and in our W(something)


In our lives and in our work?
posted by embrangled at 5:22 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


I was just coming back to add that - I'm just going off of echos from my Episcopalian upbringing, and either "in our lives and in our works" or "in our lives and in our words" rings a bell.
posted by heyforfour at 5:23 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


PKUA
SASIMAB

Safe and sound in mind and body?

(And another thanks to JannaK for letting us help you work on this...)
posted by heyforfour at 5:26 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


PAGA is probably something like "Praise And Glory Always" or "Praise And Glory Amen." I think the brackety thing marks the end of a prayer each time it appears.

I think this is:
TYAGFPFG,TYAGFLTMPAAT,TYAGFE,A-TYAGFE,AAA

To You All Glory For Ever, Amen - To You All Glory For Ever - Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia (or Amen Amen Amen)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:27 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


This is maybe not interesting at all, but there's an F where I'd expect a G:
FUTDODB
Feed(?) us this day our daily bread

All the published variants of the Lord's Prayer that I've seen use "give us this day...".

Lutherans are towards the more-liturgical end of the protestant spectrum, so I'd expect this phrasing to be important. If it's an error, she made the exact same error the second time.
posted by sportbucket at 6:01 PM on January 20


(Sportbucket, that was my own error in typing up the message, now that I look at the card again. Oops!).

Based on comments above and a few of my own guesses, I've gotten it to the following (broken up to be easier to read). Any additional insights would be great, but I've already gotten so much more from you all than I ever expected. Thank you! (I called my dad about the Lord's Prayer portion and he was amazed at the skills of "the internet people").

Please dear God NHBOBVPNSNHANAOENCNANHPNCPND,
NUOCPNNPNAPNMSMDKBMLPOWP, NAP.
NEENTGBTMLSHHSSSTMALHFFTMOFPANSTP,
NIOOIPNTPNROANTRSANTOTTAPOD,
PLUADONNOANPBOOLL,
Please keep us all safe and sound in mind and body, praise and glory Amen.
Please MOMTAVMAJAMMSSSLLABAPMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP.
Please see that we are all happy and safe in our lives and in our work,
Please see that we ALOJTHTPATP,
Please see that we AGAOKWOCWAS and please see that we ADVGWAIIRARBOSAO,
Please see that we AHPPAAETWW,
Please see that we AHTPMAESTCWE.
Please see that all of us COOTIOWH all my prayers and please see that the pain does not hurt anymore,
Please see that we are all happy and safe, praise and glory Amen,
Please see that we are all in excellent health and please see that WARIEH.
Please see that TPAIDNBTVJEO any of us, praise and glory Amen.
Please see that TOUWWTLWATOUWSLWDSWGOBS,
Please see that we are HSAHVASASBTATWARHSFAOT,
Please see that we all HBPITNR see that none of the rest of us have to TBPM.
Please see that VCADAFLAFESJMPLGBGBMBA the rest of us RSSASFOHP.
Please see that WAGAVWWOA, praise and glory Amen.
Please see that EIFFAWAU.

Thank you Almighty God for PFG.
Thank you Almighty God for listening to my prayers and answering them.
Thank you Almighty God for everything, Amen.
Thank you Almighty God for everything, Amen Amen Amen
posted by JannaK at 6:03 PM on January 20 [14 favorites]


I took a copy of the King James Bible and stripped the text, leaving just the acronyms.

Acronym version
Full version

Maybe it can help us find the missing parts.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:10 PM on January 20 [25 favorites]


Please see that EIFFAWAU.

Everyone is free from all worries and unhappiness (?)
posted by belladonna at 6:25 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


WARIEH: we all remain in excellent health.
posted by kjs4 at 6:31 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


WARIEH

We are reunited in eternal Heaven?
posted by embrangled at 6:53 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


I didn't find many matches with the acronyms directly from the bible, but doing the same thing with this 1979 book of common prayers does show more promise.

Prayers - acronyms
Prayers - full

For it to be useful you need to save the files and open them in a text editor that will show you the line numbers, so that you can match the lines in each version of the document.

This suggests for example, that WARIEH may also be We Are Reborn In Eternal Heaven. (on preview, 2nding embrangled)

Without wanting to turn this into a programming excercise, but if this useful, and someone else wants to do the same thing with another file, I used the command line : sed 's/\B\w*//g;s/\s//g' full_file.txt > acronym_file.txt to produce the above.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:55 PM on January 20 [20 favorites]


HBPITNR see that none of the rest of us have to TBPM

ITNR = In the next realm?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 6:56 PM on January 20



ITNR = In the next realm?


HBPITNR

Have bodily perfection in the next realm?
posted by embrangled at 7:01 PM on January 20


TPAIDNBTVJEO = "Please see that [T] pain and illness does not befall [your family's initials] or any of us"?
posted by snarkout at 7:29 PM on January 20


Also, possibly: "Please see that we all have blood pressure in the normal range & see that none of the rest of us have to take blood pressure medication."
posted by snarkout at 7:34 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


Please see that TOUW WTLWATOUWSLWDS WGOBS,

Please see that those of us who WTLWATOUWSLWDS with God's only begotten son?
posted by embrangled at 7:59 PM on January 20


Please see that TPAIDNBTVJEO any of us

Please see that trouble, pain and injury does not befall T, V, J, E, or any of us.

Please see that EIFFAWAU

I suspect "WAU" is "wisdom and understanding". "Please see that everyone is FFA wisdom and understanding"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:06 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


(My money is on all of those A's after "we" being "all"s, and "PLUA" being "please let us all (or always")
posted by gingerest at 8:07 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Please see that EIFFAWAU

Alternatively could be Please See That Everyone Is Free From AW and U.
posted by Neale at 8:15 PM on January 20


embrangled, there's another TOUW in there: "Please see that those of us who WTLW and those of us who SLWDSW God's only begotten Son."

Walk through life with/without?
posted by gingerest at 8:24 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Hmm, WTL comes up repeatedly in Gomez_in_the_South's acronym list as "worship the Lord". But what would the extra W stand for?

(In case anyone else finds themselves without a text editor that does line numbers, I had success with pasting the two files into different columns of an Excel file. Thanks Gomez for posting them).

And thanks, JannaK, for sharing your grandmother's messages. Many of us enjoy solving mysteries for their own sake, but it's a real honour to help you decipher something so lovely as your grandmother's final good wishes for you and your family.
posted by embrangled at 8:43 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]



Alternatively could be Please See That Everyone Is Free From AW and U.


Please see that everyone is free from all worries and unhappiness?
posted by embrangled at 8:44 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


PLUA= Please let us all (?)
posted by Miko at 8:49 PM on January 20


"Free from all wants" seems a possibility for FFAW.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:15 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


NUOC = None of us can (?)
posted by Miko at 9:18 PM on January 20


There are several lines beginning with "N" which might argue for a "None/No one/Never" repeating construction.

The other dense pattern is the number of Ps, particularly in combination with N and A.
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on January 20


> WTL comes up repeatedly in Gomez_in_the_South's acronym list as "worship the Lord". But what would the extra W stand for?

We? "We worship the lord" would be how the pastor would say it.
posted by desuetude at 9:38 PM on January 20


Please see that all of us COOTIOWH all my prayers

Strongly suspect the end at least of this string is "one who hears" all my prayers or some variation on this.

TOUWWTLWATOUWSLWDSWGOBS

This may end in "our blessed savior".
posted by Sequence at 9:41 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


We? "We worship the lord" would be how the pastor would say it

The W is at the other end - "Those of us who worship the Lord W----. (Well? Wisely? Neither rolls off the tongue)

I noticed another string of family initials in this line:

Please MOMTAVMAJAMMSSSLLABAPMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP

"Please MOM T and V, M and J..."

(Sorry about the multiple posts. I keep moving on to other tasks but brings me back!).
posted by embrangled at 9:44 PM on January 20


The one ending PFG could be something like "Thank you Almighty God for Protection From Grief."

Please see that TOUWWTLWATOUWSLWDSWGOBS,

The best sense I can make of that would be something like "Please See That Those Of Us Who Worship the Lord With Those Of Us Whose Suffering Lingers Will Dwell Safely With God Our Blessed Savior"
posted by Miko at 9:45 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Please see that we all HBPITNR see that none of the rest of us have to TBPM.

Please see that we all have bodily perfection in the next realm
See that none of the rest of us have to bear painful memories?
posted by embrangled at 10:21 PM on January 20


("Please see that" is a funny construction for prayer - a bit peremptory, like a boss leaving a note for an employee.)
So what we've got (with the understanding it might be wrong and I picked and chose)

Please dear God NHBOBVPNSNHANAOENCNANHPNCPND,
NUOCPNNPNAPNMSMDKBMLPOWP, NAP.
NEENTGBTMLSHHSSSTMALHFFTMOFPANSTP,
NIOOIPNTPNROANTRSANTOTTAPOD,
Please let us all (or always) DONNOANPBOOLL,
Please keep us all safe and sound in mind and body, praise and glory Amen.
Please MOM T and V, M and J AMMSSSLLABAPMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP.
Please see that we are all happy and safe in our lives and in our work,
Please see that we all LOJTHTPATP,
Please see that we all GAOKWOCWAS and please see that we ADVGWAIIRARBOSAO,
Please see that we all HPPAAETWW,
Please see that we all HTPMAESTCWE.
Please see that all of us COOTI One Who hears all my prayers and please see that the pain does not hurt anymore,
Please see that we are all happy and safe, praise and glory Amen,
Please see that we are all in excellent health and please see that we are reunited in Heaven.
Please see that trouble, pain and injury (or illness) do not befall T, V, J, E, or any of us, praise and glory Amen.
Please see that those of us who worship the Lord with those of us whose suffering lingers will dwell safely with God our Blessed Savior,
Please see that we are HSAHVASASBTATWARHSFAOT,
Please see that we all have bodily perfection in the next realm, see that none of the rest of us have to bear painful memories
{OR Please see that we all have blood pressure in the normal range & see that none of the rest of us have to take blood pressure medication}
Please see that VCADAFLAFESJMPLGBGBMBA the rest of us RSSASFOHP.
Please see that WAGAVWWOA, praise and glory Amen.
Please see that everyone is free from all wants/worries and unhappiness.

Thank you Almighty God for protection from grief.
Thank you Almighty God for listening to my prayers and answering them.
Thank you Almighty God for everything, Amen.
Thank you Almighty God for everything, Amen Amen Amen
posted by gingerest at 11:22 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


We are reunited in eternal Heaven?


Perhaps "We are remembered in eternal|everlasting Heaven"
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:20 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Did you grandmother speak any other languages, or come from an immigrant family?
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:37 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Random possibilities

HF Heavenly Father
HS Holy Spirit
J Jesus
MOM Mother of Mercy
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:51 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


"Please see that we are HSAHVA" -> his servants and his vessels and?

I've converted the King James Bible to the first letters of each word and am looking for the most common occurrences/likely matches using nltk. I'm sure someone could go all Norvig on it with more time.

bible_text = [w.lower() for w in nltk.corpus.gutenberg.words('bible-kjv.txt') if is_alpha(w)]
bible_ngrams = nltk.ngrams(bible_text, 4)
cfdist = nltk.ConditionalFreqDist()
for ngram in bible_ngrams:
  initials = ''.join(zip(*ngram)[0])
  cfdist[initials].inc(ngram)

pprint.pprint(cfist['ahva'].items())
#[(('all', 'his', 'vessels', 'and'), 4),
# (('all', 'his', 'vows', 'and'), 1),
# (('and', 'his', 'vessels', 'and'), 1),
# (('and', 'his', 'voice', 'as'), 1),
# (('appointed', 'him', 'victuals', 'and'), 1)]

posted by jjwiseman at 2:45 AM on January 21 [15 favorites]


Wow. Waking up this morning, I'm yet again amazed at you all. So many wonderful thoughts and insights into this little family puzzle.

To answer Celsius1414, no, my grandmother did not speak any other languages, she was born in the US, and she never left the country (scared of airplanes). :-). She was a stay-at-home wife and often took care of my cousins and me. Most of my memories are around her awesome collection of coloring books, so it's nice to have this little puzzle to help me paint a fuller picture of her and some things that may have mattered to her. Thank you!
posted by JannaK at 3:18 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


COOTI One Who hears all my prayers: "the ineffable"?
posted by rongorongo at 3:51 AM on January 21


Hmm, WTL comes up repeatedly in Gomez_in_the_South's acronym list as "worship the Lord". But what would the extra W stand for?

Wholly or Wholesomely or similar?
posted by Rock Steady at 4:52 AM on January 21


Please see that we all HPPAAETWW,

Have Perfect Peace And An End To World War?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:05 AM on January 21


Do Lutherans use the King James? I kind of thought Luther got away from that.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


OBV = Our Blessed Virgin (more common in Catholic circles, but maybe?)
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on January 21


The popularity of this thread has become a bit shocking, but it has inspired some renewed interest by my family. My aunt and grandfather are attempting to find other cards that she left, and I've learned more about my grandmother today than I have in years.

In case it helps for anyone still trying to decode, my grandmother apparently grew up Catholic, only becoming Lutheran when she got married in the late 1940s. My aunt always believed she was copying text from a book. My father believes that as her memory was failing, she was creating "cheat sheets" to remember favorite prayers and/or verses (like the Lord's Prayer code).
posted by JannaK at 8:45 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


jjwiseman, your approach looks great, but maybe you should use a different corpus. Most daily prayers aren't taken directly from the bible but are written later. I'm not a Lutheran (sorry, Swedish ancestors), but is there a standard book of daily/common prayers that might contain more likely matches?
posted by benito.strauss at 8:52 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


If she grew up Catholic, then OBV would be the BVM, yes.
posted by alloneword at 8:57 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Lutheran Book of Prayer?

It's an amazing story. Even if she was writing from memory or copying, one marvels at the intent to communicate important thoughts in a difficult circumstance.
posted by Miko at 8:58 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


There aren't previews of the recent editions of the Lutheran Book of Prayer on Google Books, but there is an 1860 edition, and a book on Sunday School Prayer, among other things that could be helpful with phraseology.

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=lutheran+book+of+prayer+
posted by Miko at 9:01 AM on January 21


My father believes that as her memory was failing, she was creating "cheat sheets" to remember favorite prayers and/or verses (like the Lord's Prayer code).

She could have using them as prayers. Rather than say the words out loud (which she could no longer do), writing the letters out or working through them (say, by pointing with a finger or pen) would count as reciting the prayer.
posted by Thing at 9:11 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


Do Lutherans use the King James? I kind of thought Luther got away from that.

Luther couldn't have had any opinion about the King James Version of the Bible, because he died in 1546. The King James translation was completed in 1611.

Anyway, Luther was all about abandoning the Latin translation of the Bible used by the Roman Catholic church and switching to vernacular translations understandable by common people. I think Luther would probably have approved of using the KJV in English-speaking churches. Its English is rather elevated in style and diction, but it would have been much more intelligible to an average Englishman of the 17th century than Latin.
posted by my favorite orange at 9:40 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


(oh, and at least some Lutheran churches do use the KJV today)
posted by my favorite orange at 9:40 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Luther couldn't have had any opinion about the King James Version of the Bible, because he died in 1546. The King James translation was completed in 1611.

That would be a bit of a sticking point, yeah! Thanks. I just wondered about that and think I must have been thinking about the use of the vernacular and confusing that with James.

I'm surprised that the KJV is still in use in Lutheran churches, as most other mainline churches are using a more modern translation. I know that Lutheranism is complicated by the governance which means that there is a fair amount of diversity in practices (including perhaps choice of Bible translation) around the country/world, but know very little other than that as it's not a religion much represented where I live.
posted by Miko at 9:44 AM on January 21


[I know this thread is getting a lot of attention, but can we stick to mostly question-answering comments please?]
posted by jessamyn at 9:54 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I do intend my comment to be directed toward question-answering -- if the OP's grandmother didn't use the KJV Bible it won't be too productive to search for text strings in it, so I was hoping someone could identify other translations or other prayer sources likely to be in use by Lutherans.
posted by Miko at 9:57 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


FYI, this has been picked up by On The Media, which I actually saw on the front page of Digg.
posted by carter at 10:09 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


I'm not an expert, but "Mother Of Mercy" doesn't seem very Lutheran? I would lean toward "May/Make Our Minds"... True And Virtuous?

Miko: even though the KJV might not be used for reasons of theology or readability, songs still often draw from the language because it's very poetic. The most popular modern translations I can think of (NKJV, NIV, NAS[B]) were all published in the 1970-80 range, so they're probably not relevant. You might try the American Standard Version? Here is the full text http://www.ebible.org/asv/
posted by sean.palmer at 10:10 AM on January 21


I suspect the first few lines are prayers of praise rather than petitions. Maybe something along the lines of "Praise Divine God's Name. Hallelujah! By Our Blessed Virgin's Precious Name . . ." or "Praise Divine God's Name. Holy Be Our Blessed Virgin's Presence (or Prayers) . . . "

There are a whole lot of Ns, and in particular PNs, in the first two lines that I can't figure out. Precious Name or Personal Needs are the only things I can think of for those. Name and Precious Name would fit with it being a prayer of praise, but it's odd that there wouldn't be any references to Jesus, or other common names for Jesus (Prince of Peace, Bread of Life, Lamb of God, etc.) - although there is a CN (Christ's Name?) and a couple of CPNs (Christ's Precious Name?). It also seems like it might have been mixed up with a few HNs (Holy Name) or DNs (Divine Name), or NO___s (Name Of ___?).

If it's Needs and Personal Needs, it seems like there would be some Os in front (Our Needs), and I can't imagine a context in which a prayer would repeat Personal Needs that many times.

The only other likely Ns I can come up with are Never, None, or Now, but I can't make any sense of anything with those. I think the Ns are the key to figuring out those two lines.


Later on, Please MOM T and V, M and J AMMSSSLLABAPMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP seems likely to be a prayer for marriages or parents since it leaves out the initial of the unmarried daughter.

SSS - Should Stay Strong?

TTCTCCATF - Teach Their Children To (CCA) The Faith?
posted by Dojie at 10:16 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


[Slightly adjusted birth/death years per OP request.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:17 AM on January 21


I would be curious if your family still has in possession any particular prayer books that belonged to her. If they are trying to dig up the other cards, this might be something to look for--she could be working with some kind of idiosyncratic book of prayers or small edition kind of pamphlet thing.
posted by Tesseractive at 11:38 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


If she was raised Catholic, is it possible she learned Latin prayers by rote at school? The first few lines seem so different from the rest that I'm beginning to wonder if they're in English. Could PN could be Pater Noster (our Father)? The Ns, perhaps
Nomine (in nomine, in the name of). Any Catholics (or Latin speakers) know whether leaving off the 'in' is a likely error for someone reciting by rote?
posted by embrangled at 11:48 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Just as a data point, this isn't the Catholic version of the Lord's prayer, but the Lutheran version of the Lord's prayer.

Would a wiki page for this help, highlighting the unknown sections?
posted by Pronoiac at 1:42 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Hm, interesting idea re:Latin

ND = Nomine Domini
PN = Pro Nobis (for us); Patre Natum
SS = Spiritu Sanctu; Saecula Saeculorum
DN = Dominus Nostrum

This doesn't give me a lot of confidence, though. I've taken a look at the most commonly recited Catholic prayers in Latin, and though these phrases do occure, they don't occur in order, nor are they surrounded by the right other words. The fact that there are no Qs means there's no "qui," which is a much-needed word. And other phrases you would really expect from a Catholic person recallng prayer (like, "now and at the hour of our death," etc) don't seem to be included. I don't think this will end up being helpful - or maybe these just aren't the texts.
posted by Miko at 1:46 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


This is somewhat peripheral to the code breaking, but do you happen to know in what area(s) of the brain her tumor(s) were located? I ask because that information could shed some light on whether these prayers were from memory or were spontaneously generated.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:45 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Dojie, I've been struggling with those Ns too. And dephlogisticated, I'm really not sure where her tumor was, but that's an interesting thought.

Seriously, thank you all for taking time to look at this. My family and I are a bit overwhelmed that this story is showing up so many places and are grateful that you all took time to lend your thoughts and ideas. At this point, figuring out every last word and phrase doesn't seem so necessary - it's nice just to know that she was likely scribbling prayers and wishing us well.
posted by JannaK at 2:52 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


NHB: "No Human Being"?
posted by GolfZJS at 3:07 PM on January 21


WAGA: "We are given a"
posted by GolfZJS at 3:10 PM on January 21


PLU "Please Love Us" or "Please Let us"
posted by GolfZJS at 3:14 PM on January 21


Really interesting thread. As a Catholic and someone who likes codes, this was irresistable.

Since no one has done this yet, I will. Here is a complete decoding of the "Our Father". There is one letter, however, that doesn't match up. In the sequence that should be "give us this day", she wrote "FUTD". Either that F should be a G or she was thinking of a different word.


OFWAIHHBTNTKCTWBDOEAIIIH

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.

FUTDODBAFUOT
F? us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses

AWFTWTAUALUNITBDUFE

as we forgive those who tresspass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

FTITKTPATGFAEA

For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen
posted by imageryan at 4:08 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Congrats, this was featured on Slate.
posted by omar.a at 4:32 PM on January 21


So what's the state of deciphered versus still unknown?
posted by wenestvedt at 5:03 PM on January 21


[Folks, be sure that you're not repeating something that's already been clearly attested in the thread, e.g. the Lord's Prayer being the back-side bit.]
posted by cortex at 6:10 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


My guess on "FUTD" would be "Feed Us This Day" (our daily bread, etc.)
posted by erebor at 6:36 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Right now, the state is that the back has been deciphered completely (as the Lord's Prayer repeated). And the front could be any number of things, but gingerest posted the latest guesses earlier today. At this point, I don't think much more can or should be deciphered. People made educated and interesting guesses, and we have ideas for what much of this is trying to convey. I'm okay leaving a little mystery with this one.

On behalf of my family and I, thanks for all the ideas. As cortex mentioned, there's no need to repeat earlier posts, and I don't think we need to keep decoding at this point, but thank you all so much for being part of the adventure! I love seeing Metafilter tackle questions like this and it was fun to be a part of this one!
posted by JannaK at 6:39 PM on January 21 [13 favorites]


Not sure if this helps... but I found that SSS is the abbreviation for the Religious Order "Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament"

SST stands for "Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle"

Could some of these abbreviations be to Groups that she participated in?

http://www.mycatholicsource.com/mcs/pc/vocations/religious_order_initials_men.htm
posted by walkintank at 6:42 PM on January 21


Could "NAP" mean "Now AT Peace"?
posted by walkintank at 6:57 PM on January 21


Give Us This Day. It is "G" not "F" on the original card
posted by gripfast at 7:22 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


HTP may be "have the patience"
posted by catslair at 8:54 PM on January 21


I've written Python code that uses the Viterbi algorithm and a bigram language model to come up with the most likely sequence of words from a series of letters. It can even take into account errors in the input. It might be a helpful tool for this problem.

It needs a seed body of text to make its statistical guesses. Currently I feed it the King James Bible, a general prayer book from 1914, and a hymn and prayer book from 1795. These are just some things that seemed more or less relevant, had decent full text available, and that I had access to. It's easy to use more or different text.

When I feed it "OBV", it outputs "o blessed virgin". It is unoptimized python code, so giving it more than 3 or 4 or 5 characters will take a long time.

Other guesses:

NAP = non accepit panem
HTP = him to pass

Code is at https://github.com/wiseman/finalletters. If you have questions about it or problems with it, please email or memail me or open an issue on github; Don't post in this thread.
posted by jjwiseman at 9:20 PM on January 21 [12 favorites]


Please see that WAGAVWWOA, praise and glory Amen.


Please see that we are given a very warm welcome on arrival, praise and glory Amen.
posted by pdprong at 9:24 PM on January 21


Please see that we ALOJTHTPATP

Thinking ....

Please Strengthen those who are Leaning on Jesus to have true peace and true patience.

also thinking....

Please save those who are Leaning on Jesus to hear their prayers and their praises.
posted by pdprong at 10:08 PM on January 21


When I read WARIEH, I thought it might mean, "We are redeemed in eternal heaven"
posted by JayEdgar at 5:28 AM on January 22


MOM may be Mercy on Me.
posted by murieladdams at 6:10 AM on January 22


The only context I can think of for "Mercy on Me" is "Have Mercy on Me" ... but that doesn't fit because the letter preceding MOM is P, not H.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:40 AM on January 22


FUTDODBAFUOT

I would suggest that the F is Forgive but as in,

forGive us this day our daily bread.

It is an easy mistake to make even with no organic brain issues as it fits with the theme of the prayer and contains the word intended.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 7:50 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Just one last idea that may be of help.

I was raised as a Lutheran and we recited the Apostle's Creed every Sunday (I still remember it 20-some years later). Since your household was Lutheran, one of the cards the family owns might contain the first letters of the apostles creed. I've added periods for ease of following.

IBIGTFAMOHAE.
IBIJCHOSOLWWCBTHSBOTVMSUPPWCDAWB.HDIH.TTDHRAFTD.HAIHAISATRHOGTFA.FTHWCTJTLATD.
IBITHSTHCCTCOSTFOSTROTBATLE.A.

We also recited the Nicene creed which is a bit longer. I haven't taken the first letters but it's easy enough if you're interested. One of these statements of faith may be somewhere amongst the cards. Catholic prayers/phraseology, I believe, are a wild goose chase. Good luck!
posted by sm00 at 8:19 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I saw this on facebook and just scanned through and believe I found an error, so I signed up to post.

Line 15: last letters were WARIEH.

Currently it shows as "Please see that we are all in excellent health and please see that we are reunited in Heaven."

This decoding omits an "E", and I believe this line should read:

Please see that we are all in excellent health and please see that We All Remain In Excellent Health

just my 2c! Good luck, I'll probably be in and out of this thread over the next few days!
posted by Headswim at 9:05 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


WAGAVWWOA

We All Get Along Very Well With One Another
posted by stealthychalupa at 9:09 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Here are a couple software-generated guesses based on The Lutheran Hymnal, the Order of Morning service, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. They might not be quite right, but maybe they'll jog someone's memory:

PMOM = peace may overtake me
TVMAJ = the virgin mother and jesus
LOJ = lamb of jesus
posted by jjwiseman at 9:12 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Please see that we all LOJTHTPATP,

Could be

Please see that we all LOJ that has the patience and the power
Please see that we all LOJ to have true patience and true peace
posted by stealthychalupa at 9:48 AM on January 22


Please see that we all HPPAAETWW, ->
Please see that we all have PPA and everything that we want,

Please see that we all HTPMAESTCWE. ->
Please see that we all have the peace, mercy and everlasting salvation that christ WE
or
Please see that we all have the PM and ES to CWE.
posted by stealthychalupa at 10:01 AM on January 22


Please see that VCADAFLAFESJMPLGBGBMBA the rest of us RSSASFOHP. ->
Please see that VCADAFLAFESJMPLGBGBMB and the rest of us receive safety, security and salvation from our human problems.
or
Please see that VCADAFLAFESJMPLGBGBMB and the rest of us remain secure, safe and sound from our human problems.
posted by stealthychalupa at 10:13 AM on January 22


Please see that we all LOJ that has the patience and the power
Please see that we all LOJ to have true patience and true peace

Could LOJ be Love our Jesus???
posted by tpaphil at 10:46 AM on January 22


Please let us all/always DONNOANPBOOLL, ->
Please let us all/always DONNO and not/never place blame on our loving Lord,
posted by stealthychalupa at 11:32 AM on January 22


Please see that all of us COOTIOWHAMP and please see that the pain does not hurt anymore,

Please see that all of us can overcome our troubles in our world, home, and many places and please see that the pain does not hurt anymore,
posted by stealthychalupa at 12:02 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Please see that WAGAVWWOA, praise and glory Amen.

My Guess: "We all get along very well with one another".
posted by phimuskapsi at 1:35 PM on January 22


I'm a life-long [LCMS] Lutheran and I'm thinking this might either be a hymn, Psalm or part of the liturgy. The brackets could indicate stanzas/verses/refrains... might want to look through the Lutheran hymnal and through the settings of the Divine Service. If she was a "scholastic" Lutheran, she might have been versed in the Book of Concord and maybe some of Luther's prayers.

Just some thoughts...
posted by bswearer at 2:56 PM on January 22


Passing this along to my Lutheran (also LCMS) father to see if it rings a bell for him.

Holy cow, he's already seen it. It's a most-viewed item on our local FOX affiliate's home page.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 4:43 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Tiny observation, if this was a self-designed prayer to God it seems strange that "Y" ("you", "your") doesn't appear until the end. I would expect things like "in your infinite mercy/wisdom" and "your will be done" (though of course it's likely that would be "thy will be done") to appear sooner, as they are common terms in all forms of prayer.

"J" of course would most likely be "Jesus", which doesn't appear very often either.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:02 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


PSTWAGAVWWOA.
This could be:
Please see that we are given a very warm welcome on arrival.
:-)

This story is being discussed on the Guardian btw
posted by Twitterhead at 6:18 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


This wonderful story has made its way to New Orleans daily news online.
posted by Anitanola at 7:48 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


turbid dahlia, I agree with you that there seems to be an absence of much of the typical prayer language one might expect. It makes me think that we may have gotten off on the wrong track with a fair amount of the content - that perhaps, it is more personal, perhaps more list-like...
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on January 22


[A couple of comments deleted. We know it can be a bit confusing with all the answers, but let's try not to repeat the same guesses that have already been posted – thanks, everyone. (Also, folks may want to note JannaK's earlier comment.)]
posted by taz at 4:16 AM on January 23


Please see that TPAIDNBTVJEO any of us, praise and glory Amen.
Perhaps it is : The Pain and Indignity Does Not Bar The Victory Jesus Extends Over ... any of us.

and

Please see that we AHPPAAETWW,

could be please see that we All Have Peace, Prosperity And An Eternity To Work With?

Still working on this ... PTL
posted by Bill316 at 10:03 AM on January 23


I could be way off, or someone may have already debunked this, but the opener seems like:

Please dear God now help Bob? Is Bob significant as a person?
or

Please dear God now in Heaven, be our bread.
posted by citywolfe at 2:26 PM on January 23


Just an idea (just joined to give my two pence worth) which stood out as a possibility:

Please see that we all LOJTHTPATP,

Learn Of (or Live Out) Jesus' Teachings Here To Progress (or Pass) Along Thy Path?

I would not describe myself as religious so I have no basis for this thinking, it is a pure guess. Fascinating discussion. Thanks to the poster for sharing this puzzle.
posted by iknownothing at 2:54 PM on January 23


Another thought, based on:

Please see that we all LOJTHTPATP,
Please see that we all GAOKWOCWAS and please see that we ADVGWAIIRARBOSAO,
Please see that we all HPPAAETWW,
Please see that we all HTPMAESTCWE.

Assuming "Please see that we...." is always correct for PSTW and that there are correctly identified instances where it continues "...are all..." - in some cases the "all"s identified in the above could sometimes simply be "are" instead. Though I still like the top one as "all", owing to the fact that it makes my previous post a plausible solution for that line.
posted by iknownothing at 3:26 PM on January 23


jjwiseman: "I've written Python code that uses the Viterbi algorithm and a bigram language model to come up with the most likely sequence of words from a series of letters. It can even take into account errors in the input. It might be a helpful tool for this problem.

It needs a seed body of text to make its statistical guesses. Currently I feed it the King James Bible, a general prayer book from 1914, and a hymn and prayer book from 1795. These are just some things that seemed more or less relevant, had decent full text available, and that I had access to. It's easy to use more or different text.
"

I created another github repository that has text versions of the English and Latin Catholic Bibles to help with this script. I created them using pdftotext from public domain PDF files from the web. https://github.com/shirlston/bibles_pdf_to_text_for_ngram. Feel free to copy them them into the /corpora directory of his script.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:28 PM on January 23


As I read this thread, one thing popped out at me. If Grandma grew up Catholic, the Mass was said in Latin when she was a child and many of the prayers were also in Latin. She may have recalled some of the old Gregorian Chants.
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 9:48 PM on January 23


Please see that we all LOJ to have true patience and true peace

I think this may be
Live/Learn O Jesus
posted by gryftir at 1:42 AM on January 24


Please see that we all HPPAAETWW
Please see that we all HPPAAE that we want/wish
Please see that we all have PP and E that we want/wish
posted by gryftir at 2:02 AM on January 24


Oh and this may be helpful in picking out, least to most frequent of first letters in words.
Z X Q K J V U Y R G E N P D L C F M B O I W H S A T
posted by gryftir at 2:20 AM on January 24


Please see that we AHTPMAESTCWE
all have the power, might and everlasting strength to cope with everything/eternity


Bill <><
posted by Bill316 at 3:01 AM on January 24


Another possibility for AAA = Amen And Alleluia which is common in many prayers.
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 6:07 AM on January 24


LOJ love of Jesus?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:00 AM on January 24


Seems like if you had the full text of the KJV you could pull it in to Excel and run a search and replace on all spaces to insert a tab. Then reimport the now tab delimited sheet into Excel so that each word is it's own cell - then finally run a =Left function to grab the 1st letter of each word to create a searchable codex.

Don't really have time to work on it today but maybe this weekend.
posted by smellyfed at 8:13 AM on January 24


LOJ - Lean on Jesus
posted by sc martin at 9:07 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Beautiful work, metafilter.
posted by lacunacabal at 9:41 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


[Heya, for folks wanting to mention stuff about e.g. where this thread/situation has been mentioned in the media, it'd be best to do that over in the Metatalk thread rather than here in Ask Metafilter.]
posted by cortex at 10:53 AM on January 24


Last line of side 1 - Thank You Almighty God For Past Favors Granted.
posted by corgiman at 12:27 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I suspect your grandmother did this for her own memorization - much like freemasons in some states create a monitor of their ritual work that contains the first letter of each word. It's a way of reminding yourself what the next word is without actually looking at the next word.

Anyway - I created a searchable CODEX of the KJV Bible. The 1st column contains the 1st word in each verse. The next column contains the actual verse. Both columns are searchable for any strings - probably the shorter the string the better. There's some punctuation and so forth in here that makes this codex less than perfect.

Hope it's helpful - this is a 9.5mb download.

http://authentic-campaigner.com/codex/kjv-codex.xls
posted by smellyfed at 5:11 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


PSTWA -> Please save those who are .....
posted by akuaa at 5:59 PM on January 24


Hi, I just came across all of your posts and responses. I haven't had time to read the entire thing so forgive me if someone has already suggested this but... I recall , at our church, the word understanding (U) being used a lot and also the book of common prayer as well as my other versions that W could also be referring to "The Word" or " His Word".

I want to thank you too for letting all of us in on such a private family issue. I hope you will get the entire card(s) decoded soon!! My grandmother also passed in 1996 and we were very close.
posted by momslove05 at 9:49 PM on January 24


Please see that we all have PP and E that we want/wish

peace, prosperity (patience?)...everything
posted by achompas at 1:02 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Hey, something occurred to me as I was reading this post. It is possible that instead of "please see that," she was instead asking God to: "please show them," meaning those she left behind. That would make more sense in places like: "please show them we all have bodily perfection in the next realm, show them none of the rest of us have to bear painful memories," etc. I don't know, just a thought.
posted by pkh at 1:19 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Possible Line 1: 'CNA' may be Christ's Name Amen

Line 1: PDGNHBOBVPNSNHAN APAOEN CNA NHPNCPND,NUOCP
Please Dear God Now Heal/Help 'B' (husband's nickname) O Blessed Virgin Please See No Harm And No APAOEN Christ's Name Amen NHPNCPND,NUOCP
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 9:24 AM on January 25


Perhaps LABAP - end of line 5 and start of line 6: Lord Almighty Bless And Protect

I also noticed I left out an "N" in Line 1 of my previous post.:
Please Dear God Now Heal/Help 'B' (husband's nickname) O Blessed Virgin Please Now See No Harm And No APAOEN Christ's Name Amen NHPNCPND,NUOCP
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 11:04 AM on January 25


A triple post: Sorry...

End of Line 5:
SASIMAB,PAGA,]PMOMTAVMAJAMMSSSL Lord Almighty Bless

Line 6:
APMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP,]PST
And Protect Me Under Thy Tender Care That Can Cure ATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP,]PST
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 11:31 AM on January 25


Again apologies:

The more I think about line 6, it would read better this way:
And Place Me Under Thy Tender Care That Can Cure ATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP,]PST

Another possibility may be "Protect 'M'(J's husband)" but that may be a stretch unless there are found references to her other in-laws.
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 12:36 PM on January 25


WARIEH we are reunited (rewarded) in eternal heaven
COOTIOWH COOTIOwill hear (all my prayers)
WAGAVWWOA we all get a very warm welcome on arrival
posted by katebuggie28 at 1:58 PM on January 25


,NAP. Now at peace
posted by katebuggie28 at 2:29 PM on January 25


Does this hold a clue to the structure of the prayer and the brackets ] in the prayer?
See http://www.graceofav.org/index.php?page=prayer
In searching Lutherans, prayer and MN I came across how one can structure a prayer across one's fingers to get unstuck and also remember all those who must be remembered. If she was a Catholic first, then a Lutheran, perhaps this was part of a simple learning exercise to get started in the faith.
Rather than thinking of this code as a "lines" structure, perhaps think of these strings as 10 "fingers" separated by the 9 brackets. When one is near the very end of life, this may be the last way to one-by-one count across one's fingers to repeat and repeat a prayer and be sure not to leave anyone out.
Excerpt from the site:
Five Finger Prayer
If you ever have trouble thinking of something to say when you begin prayer? When that happens, this “Five Finger Prayer” will help you get started.
1. Our thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember.
2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
3. The next finger is the tallest finger. Pray for leaders in business, police and fire departments, military personnel, and local, state and federal government.
4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain.
5. And lastly comes our little finger - the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
posted by everlearn at 8:08 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


From the end of line 5: Lord Almighty Bless

Line 6: APMUTTCTCCATFGSHHILANRNPHTAOLP,]PST
And Place Me Under Thy Tender Care That Can Cure All Things(.) Father Grant(Give) Strength(Special) Health(Healing) Hope(Help) In Love(Learning) And NRN Praise Him That(The) All(Almighty) Our Love(Lord) Pleases(Praise),]PST

I'm stuck on NRN?
posted by MDSBigPaPa at 7:32 AM on January 26


For where you used this line: "Please see that those of us who worship the Lord with those of us whose suffering lingers will dwell safely with God our Blessed Savior,"

I believe you missed an A. "PSTTOUWWTLW *A* TOUWS
LWDSWGOBS"

Perhaps it could be:
Please see that those who worship the Lord wholeheartedly *and* those of us whose suffering lingers will dwell safely with God our Blessed Savior.
posted by Artsychick76 at 7:43 AM on January 30


I'm late to this question, and don't have a possible translation to add. I did want to say, though, that my mom used to do this sort of thing all the time.

She would write the first letter of each word of a prayer on a piece of paper or a card and keep it with her so the prayer would be answered.

She called it a "prayer egg." I'm not sure where she got the idea or the term - googling it wasn't a lot of help, most links are about actual eggs (???).

She was born in in 1938 in Mississippi, and she was Baptist all her life.

Maybe, even if you can't decipher them all, you can think of her spending her last days writing down prayers for you and your family to be well and happy.
posted by kythuen at 1:00 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


JannaK I hope you see this, I just joined Metafilter to contribute to this post as it's so engaging! My best guess at one part:

"Please see that we all HBPITNR see that none of the rest of us have to TBPM."

Could be "Have B P In The Next Realm"

It seems logical it's Have as all the other lines here do, and In The Next Realm fits with the context, still thinking about B P sorry.
posted by Bilbo at 2:58 PM on April 17


Blessed Peace
posted by double block and bleed at 10:52 PM on April 17


//Please see that we all LOJTHTPATP,//

Please see that we all love our job to help the poor and the persecuted,
posted by darrinrasberry at 1:45 AM on May 18


//Please see that all of us COOTIOWH all my prayers and please see that the pain does not hurt anymore, //

Please see that all of us can overcome our troubles in our world. Hear all my prayers and please see that the pain does not hurt anymore.
posted by darrinrasberry at 1:52 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


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