To Live More Nearly As We Pray

SAY, ye celestial guards, who wait
In Bethlehem, round the Saviour’s palace gate,
Say, who are these on golden wings,
That hover o’er the new-born King of kings,
Their palms and garlands telling plain
That they are of the glorious martyr-train,
Next to yourselves ordain’d to praise
His Name, and brighten as on Him they gaze?

But where their spoils and trophies? where
The glorious dint a martyr’s shield should bear?
How chance no cheek among them wears
The deep-worn trace of penitential tears,
But all is bright and smiling love,
As if, fresh-borne from Eden’s happy grove,
They had flown here, their King to see,
Nor ever had been heirs of dark mortality?

Ask, and some angel will reply,
“These, like yourselves, were born to sin and die,
But ere the poison root was grown,
God set His seal, and mark’d them for His own.
Baptiz’d in blood for Jesus’ sake,
Now underneath the Cross their bed they make,
Not to be scar’d from that sure rest
By frighten’d mother’s shriek, or warrior’s waving crest.”

Mindful of these, the first-fruits sweet
Borne by the suffering Church her Lord to greet;
Bless’d Jesus ever lov’d to trace
The “innocent brightness” of an infant’s face.
He rais’d them in His holy arms,
He bless’d them from the world and all its harms:
Heirs though they were of sin and shame,
He bless’d them in His own and in His Father’s Name.

Then, as each fond unconscious child
On th’ everlasting Parent sweetly smil’d,
(Like infants sporting on the shore,
That tremble not at Ocean’s boundless roar,)
Were they not present to Thy thought,
All souls, that in their cradles Thou hast bought?
But chiefly these, who died for Thee,
That Thou might’st live for them a sadder death to see.

And next to these, Thy gracious word
Was as a pledge of benediction, stor’d
For Christian mothers, while they moan
Their treasur’d hopes, just born, baptiz’d, and gone.
Oh, joy for Rachel’s broken heart!
She and her babes shall meet no more to part;
So dear to Christ her pious haste
To trust them in His arms for ever safe embrac’d.

She dares not grudge to leave them there,
Where to behold them was her heart’s first prayer;
She dares not grieve—but she must weep,
As her pale placid martyr sinks to sleep,
Teaching so well and silently
How, at the shepherd’s call, the lamb should die:
How happier far than life the end
Of souls that infant-like beneath their burthen bend.

The Holy Innocents by John Keble

John Keble was born on this day, April 25th in 1792, the son of a country vicar.  At fourteen, he won a scholarship to Oxford and graduated in 1811 with highest honors. He served the University in several capacities, including ten years as Professor of Poetry. After ordination in 1816 he had a series of rural curacies, and finally settled in 1836 into a thirty-year pastorate at the village of Hursley, near Winchester.

A father of the Oxford Movement, Keble was a champion of the Church and especially of the humble, common man.  Today’s poem by Keble invokes the biblical story of slaughter of the innocents by Herod, extending the theme broadly. This holocaust of innocents at the alter of inconvenience is almost incomprehensible to modern sensibilities, yet it is far from ancient.  We have grown accustomed to the nightly news of atrocities in war-torn countries, and genocide has touched every generation.  We also grimly acknowledge the normalcy with which abortion is now considered.

Keble saw beauty in all of creation, but his life was center on the Creator, and it was there he found his perspective. Reflecting on Jesus’ discourse on the Lilies of the Field in the Gospel of Matthew he saw “Sweet nurslings of the vernal skies,” but he laments that

Alas! of thousand bosoms kind,
That daily court you, and caress,
How few the happy secret find
Of your calm loveliness!
“Live for today!” tomorrow’s light
Tomorrow’s cares shall bring to sight.

Which aspect of creation helps you better understand the Creator?



Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


D I G  D E E P E R

John Keble

(1792–1866), *Tractarian leader and author of The *Christian Year (q.v.). He was the son of John p 926 Keble, Vicar of Coln St Aldwyn, a priest of the High Church school. Born at Fairford, after a brilliant career at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he was elected in 1811 at the age of 19 to one of the much-coveted Fellowships of Oriel. In 1815 he was ordained deacon and in 1816 priest. In 1817 he became a tutor at Oriel, but resigned in 1823 to assist his father in his country cure in the Cotswolds. There he composed the poems which, at the insistence of close friends, he published in 1827 as The Christian Year. In 1831 he was elected professor of poetry at Oxford in succession to H. H. *Milman. With many of his friends there and elsewhere (J. H. *Newman, I. *Williams, R. H. *Froude, E. B. *Pusey, W. *Palmer of Worcester College, J. B. *Mozley, H. J. *Rose), he became increasingly conscious of the dangers threatening the C of E from the reforming and liberal movements, and on 14 July 1833 preached before the University an assize sermon on *National Apostasy (q.v.), directed esp. against the proposed suppression of ten Irish bishoprics. From now on he took a leading part in the *Oxford Movement. He co-operated with Newman in the issue of the *Tracts for the Times, to which he himself contributed nos. 4, 13, 40, 52, 54, 57, 60, and 89. No. 4, which bore the title ‘Adherence to the Apostolical Succession the Safest Course’, was a brief but forceful appeal to the clergy to take a high view of their privileges and duties. In 1836 he issued a learned edition of R. *Hooker’s Works and in 1838, with Newman and Pusey, he became one of the editors of the ‘*Library of the Fathers’, to which he himself contributed the translation of St *Irenaeus (pub. posthumously, 1872). His publication, with Newman, of the Remains (1838–9) of their close friend R. H. Froude (q.v.) provoked a storm. His tract no. 89, ‘On the Mysticism attributed to the Early Fathers of the Church’ (1840–1), a defence of Alexandrian theology and religious ‘reserve’, also met with a very hostile reception. After the cessation of the Tracts, he continued the close friend and adviser of Newman until Newman’s secession in 1845.

After 1845 Keble remained the firm associate of Pusey and co-operated with him in keeping the High Church movement steadily attached to the C of E. In 1857 he published two pamphlets against the Divorce Act, as well as a treatise On Eucharistical Adoration, defending the doctrine of the *Real Presence from its attack in the G. A. *Denison case. In 1863 he issued a Life of T. *Wilson, Bp. of Sodor and Man (d. 1755). His later poetry included contributions to the Lyra Apostolica (1836), an English rendering of the Psalter (1839) and Lyra Innocentium (1846).

Meanwhile, since 1836, Keble had been Vicar of Hursley, near Winchester. He was never offered (and never wished for) preferment, remaining at Hursley, a devoted parish priest, for the rest of his life. He died at Bournemouth on 29 Mar. 1866. His beauty of character impressed all who came into contact with him, and his advice on spiritual matters, always given with great diffidence, was widely sought after. In 1870 Keble College, Oxford, was founded in his memory, with E. S. *Talbot as the first warden. Feast day in some parts of the Anglican Communion, 29 Mar.; 14 July in CW.

A set of Letters of Spiritual Counsel and Guidance (Oxford, 1870) was ed. by R. J. Wilson. Memoir, with many extracts from letters, by Sir J. T. Coleridge (ibid., 1869). C. M. *Yonge, Musings over the ‘Christian Year’ and ‘Lyra Innocentium’, together with a few Gleanings of Recollections of the Rev. John Keble, gathered by several friends (1871). Lives by W. Lock (London, 1893); E. F. L. Wood, later Lord Halifax (ibid., 1909); K. Ingram (ibid., 1933); and G. Battiscombe (ibid., 1963). B. W. Martin, John Keble: Priest, Professor and Poet [1976]. J. R. Griffin, John Keble: Saint of Anglicanism (Macon, Ga. [1987]). W. J. A. M. Beek, John Keble’s Literary and Religious Contribution to the Oxford Movement (Nijmegen, 1959). R. S. Edgecombe, Two Poets of the Oxford Movement (1996), pp. 15–167. R. W. *Church, The Oxford Movement (1890), ch. 2. S. L. Ollard in DECH (3rd edn.), pp. 314–16.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 925–926.

The Oxford Movement

Oxford Movement. The movement (1833–45) within the C of E, centred at Oxford, which aimed at restoring the *High Church ideals of the 17th cent. Several causes contributed to its growth. The progressive decline of Church life and the spread of ‘Liberalism’ in theology were causing grave misgivings among Churchmen; on the other hand, the works of C. *Lloyd and others, coupled with the Romantic Movement, had led to a new interest in many elements in primitive and medieval Christianity. Among the more immediate causes was the question of Anglican identity raised by the removal of religious tests for state office and by the modification of the confessional state signalled by the Roman *Catholic Relief Act 1829. The anxiety was increased by the passing of the Reform Bill (1832) and the plan to suppress ten Irish bishoprics. The latter proposal evoked from J. *Keble on 14 July 1833 a sermon delivered in the University pulpit at Oxford on ‘*National Apostasy’, which is usually regarded as the beginning of the Movement.

Its chief object was the defence of the C of E as a Divine institution, of the doctrine of the *apostolic succession, and of the BCP as a rule of faith. These aims were realized esp. through the famous *Tracts for the Times, begun by J. H. *Newman in 1833. The Movement, whose acknowledged p 1213 leaders were Keble, Newman, and E. B. *Pusey, soon gained many articulate and able supporters, among them R. H. *Froude, R. W. *Church, R. I. *Wilberforce, C. *Marriott, and I. *Williams. The liberal party in the University and the bishops, however, soon began to attack it; among its early opponents were T. *Arnold, R. *Whately, and R. D. *Hampden. Within the Movement itself there gradually arose a party which found its inspiration in contemporary RCism rather than in the Church of the early centuries. In 1841 Newman published his famous Tract 90, which was condemned by many bishops, and in 1842 he retired to Littlemore.

After W. G. *Ward’s book, The Ideal of a Christian Church (1844), had been censured by the Convocation of Oxford on 13 Feb. 1845, Ward, F. W. *Faber, and several of their circle were received into the Church of Rome, as was Newman in the autumn of the same year. But the majority remained in the C of E, and their views began to gain ground. In 1850 the *Gorham Case (q.v.) again brought about a number of conversions to RCism, among them being those of H. E. *Manning and R. I. Wilberforce. The Movement, however, continued to spread despite the hostility of the press and of the government, which chose the majority of bishops from the ranks of its opponents. Its influence was exercised esp. in the sphere of worship and ceremonial, which came to play a much larger part in the life of the C of E than in the 18th and early 19th cents. At the same time the dignity and responsibility of the ministry were emphasized, not only in the directly religious but also in the social sphere, the slum settlements being among its most notable achievements. The revival of monastic orders and religious community life (see RELIGIOUS ORDERS) in the C of E was a further expression of the Oxford Movement. As a movement with close associations with a university it made considerable contributions to scholarship. In 1836 Keble, Newman, and Pusey began to edit the *Library of the Fathers, and a few years later the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology was begun as a corpus of *Caroline theology. The principles of the Movement, esp. its concern for a higher standard of worship, gradually influenced not only all groups within the C of E but even many Nonconformists, and had a decisive effect on the pattern of Church life in Britain and beyond.

There is an immense lit. Besides the writings, tracts, and innumerable controversial pamphlets of the leaders and their opponents, the biographies supply much primary material. The three fundamental historical sources are J. H. Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864); H. P. *Liddon, Life of E. B. Pusey (4 vols., 1893–7); and R. W. Church, The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years, 1833–45 (1891). A contemporary account (partly written in self-defence) is W. *Palmer, A Narrative of Events connected with the Publication of Tracts for the Times (1843).

Collections of contemporary material by E. R. Fairweather (ed.), The Oxford Movement (New York, 1964) and E. Jay (ed.), The Evangelical and Oxford Movements (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 106–202, with notes pp. 209–15. Further studies include S. Baring-Gould, The Church Revival (1914); S. L. Ollard, A Short History of the Oxford Movement (1915); E. A. *Knox, The Tractarian Movement (1933). P. Thureau-Dangin, La Renaissance catholique en Angleterre an XIXe siècle (3 vols., 1899–1906; Eng. tr., 2 vols., 1914); C. P. S. Clarke, The Oxford Movement and After (1932); C. Dawson, The Spirit of the Oxford Movement (1933; repr., with introd. by P. [B.] Nockles, 2001). A. Härdelin, The Tractarian Understanding of the Eucharist (Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Studia Historico-Ecclesiastica Upsaliensia, 8; 1965); D. [H.] Newsome, The Parting of Friends: A Study of the Wilberforces and Henry Manning [1966]; P. Toon, Evangelical Theology, 1833–1856: A Response to Tractarianism (1979); [D.] G. Rowell, The Vision Glorious: Themes and Personalities of the Catholic Revival in Anglicanism (Oxford, 1983); id. (ed.), Tradition Renewed: The Oxford Movement Conference Papers (1986); [W.] O. Chadwick, The Spirit of the Oxford Movement: Tractarian Essays (Cambridge, 1990); P. B. Nockles, The Oxford Movement in Context: Anglican High Churchmanship, 1760–1857 (Cambridge, 1994); N. Yates, Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain 1830–1910 (Oxford, 1999); C. B. Faught, The Oxford Movement: A Thematic History of the Tractarians and Their Times (University Park, Pa. [2003]). L. N. Crumb, The Oxford Movement and its Leaders: A Bibliography of Secondary and Lesser Primary Sources (ATLA Bibliography Series, 24; 1988; with supplement, 1993).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1212–1213.

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Rick Wilcox

Rick is voraciously interested in the holistic transformation of people individually and in an organizational context - enabled by technology, educated continuously through multi-channel systems and informed by the wisdom of history's greatest thinkers. He is a Ph.D. student at Faulkner University, focusing on the appearance of the Logos in English Literature. He earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Science in Management from Sam Houston State University. His undergraduate studies earned a BA with double majors in Sociology and Theology from Houston Baptist University. Rick is an ordained minister who leads the Parenting Teens Adult Community at Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands Texas.