‘The power of life and death is in the tongue,’ Senate chaplain says in a powerful prayer calling for unity.

“We deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy.”

Those words, spoken by Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain, resounded through the government chamber in the early hours of Thursday, as he declaratively closed a joint session of Congress marred by mob violence with a prayer.

Delivered moments after President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s victory was certified by lawmakers who had worked through the night, and hours after a violent crowd of rioters urged on by President Trump had threatened to derail the process, Mr. Black’s prayer cut through the chamber with force.

He condemned the violence of the day, acknowledged divisions in the nation and called for healing and unity.

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