O God, our true life, to serve you is freedom, and to know you is unending joy. We worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory. Abide with us, reign in us, and make this world into a fit habitation for your divine majesty, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
It is a lovely prayer. What interests us is its origin.
Gail Ramshaw, in a very helpful index to ELW, identifies it as the work of St. Augustine, as found in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, edited by Dorothy M. Stewart. She adds two asterisks, her shorthand for prayers that have been altered significantly for republication, as well as the warning that all the prayers have a long textual history.
A bit of detective work -- okay, googling -- suggests that the attribution to Augustine, while centuries old, is likely mistaken.
The prayer in question appears in a devotional book by George Stanhope, entitled Pious Beathings: Being the Meditations of St. Augustine, His Treatise of the Love of God, Soliloquies and Manual (London, 1728). Chapter 31 of the Meditations includes this passage:
That is certainly our prayer, in a rich, full form. But it is not by any means certain to be Augustine's work. The interpolation of lines form the Gloria in excelsis should raise a red flag at once: in Augustine's time, this canticle would have been used in the Greek church, but not (as widely, at least) the Latin one.O God, the true Life, of, and by, and in whom all things live, the common Source of all Good! Our Faith in thee excites, our Hope exalts, our Love unites us. Thou commandest us to seek thee, and art ready to be found; thou biddest us knock, and openest when we do so. To turn from thee, is to fall into Ruin and Death. To turn to thee, is to rise to Life and Glory. To abide in thee, is to stand fast and secure from Danger. No Man loses thee, who does not suffer himself to be deceived; no Man seeks thee, who does not submit to Instruction and Reproof; no Man finds thee, who docs not seek after thee with a clean Heart and purify’d Affections. To know thee is Life, to serve thee is Freedom, to enjoy thee is a Kingdom, to praise thee is the Joy and Happiness of the Soul. I praise, and bless, and adore thee, with Heart, and Voice, and every Faculty. I worship thee, I glorify thee, I give Thanks to thee for thy great Glory, for thy great Goodness, for thy innumerable and inestimable Mercies, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.
In fact, the so-called Meditations of St. Augustine are mostly taken from another work, the Libellus, of Jean de Fecamp, an 11th-century abbot. Here's the Latin text of the Meditations (Chapter 32, in Migne).
It appears that Stanhope took at least one modest liberty with his text. The single phrase, cui servire regnare est, literally "to serve whom is to rule," he has divided into two thoughts: "to serve thee is freedom, to enjoy thee is a kingdom." Our modern version "to serve you is freedom," seems unfairly democratized by the replacement of rule with freedom, which is a rather different idea, both in politics and in personal spirituality. To rule, even if one rules only oneself, may indeed be a kind of freedom; but it is not the kind suggested by the word freedom in post-Enlightenment discourse. Not to mention that the loss of "kingdom" is ironic in a prayer designated for Christ the King.
But we digress. Again. Here's the point: We're not sure who wrote this prayer, but -- however much we like it -- it does seem unlikely to have been the Doctor of Grace.