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Three Prayers

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The Three Prayers
Event
LocationNúmenor
DateSpring, midsummer, autumn
Part ofWorship of Eru
ParticipantsRuler of Númenor and his/her people
DescriptionCeremonies in which the Númenóreans ascended the Meneltarma and made offerings on its summit

The Three Prayers were religious cermonies in which the Númenóreans worshipped Eru. They were called Erukyermë ("Prayer to Eru"), Erulaitalë ("Praise of Eru"), and Eruhantalë ("Thanksgiving to Eru") and took place in the spring, midsummer, and autumn respectively. During these ceremonies, the King (or Queen) of Númenor and many of the people, clad in white and wearing garlands, would ascend the Meneltarma. The ruling King or Queen would make a fruit offering on the summit. Usually there was an utter silence in the hallow of the Meneltarma, but during the Three Prayers, the King or Queen would speak during the offering. In Númenórean thought, the rulers alone had the right to make these offerings and give speeches on the summit of the Holy Mountain, as they were descended from the Elves and the Maiar through Lúthien.

During the Three Prayers, three great Eagles would hover over the Mountain above the people. The Númenóreans called them the Witnesses of Manwë, and believed that their presence showed the Elder King's approval of their deeds.

History

The exact origins of the Three Prayers are unknown, but the Valar traditionally held celebrations at certain times of the year in Valinor, at which they gave thanks to Eru. The Darkening of Valinor occurred during one such festival, as did the arrival of Eärendil in Aman. Most likely the Númenóreans built the tradition of the Three Prayers from their knowledge of these stories that they had received from the Noldor.

During the first half of the Second Age, the Númenóreans piously attended these ceremonies at due times. They also marked generally important seasons of the year; the time in which Aldarion received the Kingship was just after the Erukyermë of 883.

In later years, however, the hostility of the Númenóreans to the Eldar and the Valar extended to the opinion of their religious ceremonies; after Tar-Ancalimon's reign, the Kings increasingly neglected the observation of the Three Prayers. Eventually, Ar-Gimilzôr the twenty-third King refused to ascend the Meneltarma at all.

After Ar-Gimilzôr's death, though, the Three Prayers were righteously observed by his son Tar-Palantir, who was of the Faithful and repented of the deeds of his fathers. This renewed piety did not last long—most of Tar-Palantir's people did not sympathize with his policies and remained in rebellion against the Valar.

When Ar-Pharazôn, the last King of Númenor, brought Sauron to his land and was seduced by him to the worship of Melkor, he made ascent of the Meneltarma punishable by death, thus bringing an end to the custom of making offerings to Eru on its summit—a tradition that had lasted some 3,000 years. Númenor was destroyed shortly thereafter, and the Faithful who survived did not continue the ritual of the Three Prayers in Middle-earth.

See also