Easter by George Herbert

The Resurrection of Christ by Peter Paul Rubens, 1611 – 1612, Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
    Without delays,
    Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
    With him mayst rise.
    That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,
    His life may make thee gold, and much more just.
   
    Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
    With all thy art.
    The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
    Who bore the same.
    His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
    Is best to celebrate this most high day.
   
    Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
    Pleasant and long:
    Or since all music is but three parts vied
    And multiplied;
    O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
    And make up our defects with his sweet art.
   
    I got me flowers to straw thy way:
    I got me boughs off many a tree:
    But thou wast up by break of day,
    And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.
   
    The Sun arising in the East,
    Though he give light, and th’East perfume;
    If they should offer to contest
    With thy arising, they presume.
   
    Can there be any day but this,
    Though many suns to shine endeavour?
    We count three hundred, but we miss:
    There is but one, and that one ever.

Hear Malcolm Guite Read Today’s Poem

HE IS RISEN

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


Today is Easter Sunday!  The day we celebrate is unique in history because it is the only day God the Son was raised from the dead.  For Christians, it is the Lord’s Day and we celebrate not only at Easter but on every Sunday of the year.  It represents the gift of everlasting life which is offered freely by Jesus to everyone in the world.

The Bible says in John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

We come now to an end and a beginning.  Our journey through Lent is complete and we stand with Jesus, celebrating life to the glory of God.  Jesus’ death paid for your sins and by grace gives you right standing with God.  His resurrection is the promise of your complete restoration for eternity.

Writing in The Word in the Wilderness, Malcom Guite says:

We have been travelling together in this book through forty eight days together, but if George Herbert is right it has only been one day! From now on there is just the single, eternal day of resurrection and by its light we can look back over our long pilgrimage and see the glory of this day, hidden once, but shining now, in all we have been through.

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

 

 

 

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page. You can read more about him on this Interviews Page

He is the author of numerous books including

Parable and Paradox: Sonnets on the Sayings of Jesus and Other Poems Canterbury Press 2016

Waiting on the Word; a poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Canterbury Press 2015

The Singing Bowl Canterbury Press 2013

Sounding the Seasons Canterbury Press 2012

Faith Hope and Poetry  Ashgate  2010 and 2012.

What Do Christians Believe?  Granta 2006

Photo courtesy of Lancia Smith.

 

 

The Agony by George Herbert

If all the tears were sweet Chicote CFC Original Title: Por Si Todas Las Lágrimas Fueran Dulces Date: 2015; Spain

 

Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states and kings;
Walk’d with a staff to heav’n and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious thins,
The which to measure it doth more behove;
Yet few there are that sound them, ‒ Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A Man so wrung with pains, that all His hair,
His skin, His garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through ev’ry vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice which, on the cross, a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like,
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood, but I as wine.

Hear Malcolm Guite read today’s poem


How are we to understand the agony of Christ in Gethsemane where the Bible says He sweat great drops of blood in prayer? We must certainly begin with the resignation that we cannot plumb its depth. At its least it rightfully informs us of the horror of sin in separating us from the Father, but at best it reveals the unspeakable love of God.  Only eternity will show how far Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Writing in The Word in the Wilderness, Malcom Guite says:

In Isaiah the wine crushed from the grapes symbolizes blood, in the radical Christian reading of that passage, the garments dipped in blood presage Christ’s gift of his own blood as wine. And all this symbolic background is focused, and expressed (in every sense of that term) in the concentrated imagery of the poem; the sign of wrath becomes the sign of redemption as ‘Sin’ is transmuted by ‘Love’ and from this ‘press’ flows the wine which will be the life of the communicant church. So in his third and final stanza Herbert moves from the contemplation in Christ of ‘sin’ to contemplation in Christ of that ‘love’ which redeems sin. He who trod the wine-press alone becomes the cask of wine to be pierced, ‘set abroach,’ opened, to refresh his people.

What does Christ’s agony mean to you?

Isaiah 63:3

I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes.

Dig Deeper: Literature & Liturgy

George Herbert by Malcolm Guite

George Herbert
George Herbert

On February 27th the Church of England keeps the feast and celebrates the memory of George Herbert, the gentle poet priest whose book the Temple, published posthumously in 1633 by his friend Nicholas Ferrar has done so much to help and inspire Christians ever since. In an earlier blog post I gave a talk on George Herbert and the Insights of Prayer.  I offer this sonnet, part of a sequence called ‘Clouds of Witness” in my most recent poetry book The Singing Bowl. The sequence is a celebration of the saints, intended to complement my sequence Sounding the Seasons.

You can get this book in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon, and I am vey happy to say that both books are now available in North America from Steve Bell who has a good supply in stock. His page for my books is HERE

Read and hear Malcolm Guite’s A Sonnet for George Herbert HERE

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith

 

51vg-xoskvl-_sy346_For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.

Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.

Prayer by George Herbert

 

old-man-in-prayer-exlrg
Old Man in Prayer by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606–1669), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.

Malcolm Guite reads today’s poem

Matthew 7:7–8

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.


RickOur pilgrimage on earth is a companioned journey.  We are not alone.  Beyond the fellowship of fellow believers, scripture says we are cheered on by saints who have gone before us.  Most importantly, because of Christ we have access to our Father who welcomes the prayers of His children.

George Herbert’s poem today is a magnificent celebration of that glad fact.  As Malcom Guite points out in The Word in the Wilderness, “Its richly laden 14 lines contain no fewer than 27 images or reflections of what prayer might be for us.”  Here we see poetry at its finest.  As Malcolm wrote:

Our first impression is of the sheer wealth, almost over-abundance, of beautiful images contained in striking and memorable phrases we are being offered. This is not the honing and concentration on the single vision, but a kind of rainbow refraction of many insights, a scattering of broadcast seeds. For each of these images is in its own way a little poem, or the seed of a poem, ready to grow and unfold in the reader’s mind.

Do you have a testimony of the power of prayer?

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE 

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

 

 

D I G  D E E P E R


George Herbert by Malcolm Guite

George Herbert
George Herbert

On February 27th the Church of England keeps the feast and celebrates the memory of George Herbert, the gentle poet priest whose book the Temple, published posthumously in 1633 by his friend Nicholas Ferrar has done so much to help and inspire Christians ever since. In an earlier blog post I gave a talk on George Herbert and the Insights of Prayer.  I offer this sonnet, part of a sequence called ‘Clouds of Witness” in my most recent poetry book The Singing Bowl. The sequence is a celebration of the saints, intended to complement my sequence Sounding the Seasons.

You can get this book in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon, and I am vey happy to say that both books are now available in North America from Steve Bell who has a good supply in stock. His page for my books is HERE

Read and hear Malcolm Guite’s A Sonnet for George Herbert HERE

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith

 

51vg-xoskvl-_sy346_For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.

Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.

The Pilgrimage by George Herbert

3299e55d97d1745b1a97ba44ba0a8f5e
George Herbert (1593-1633) at Bemerton” (William Dyce, 1860)

I travell’d on, seeing the hill, where lay
My expectation.
A long it was and weary way.
The gloomy cave of Desperation
I left on th’ one, and on the other side
The rock of Pride.

And so I came to fancy’s meadow strow’d
With many a flower:
Fain would I here have made abode,
But I was quicken’d by my hour.
So to care’s copse I came, and there got through
With much ado.

That led me to the wild of Passion, which
Some call the wold;
A wasted place, but sometimes rich.
Here I was robb’d of all my gold,
Save one good Angell, which a friend had ti’d
Close to my side.

At length I got unto the gladsome hill,
Where lay my hope,
Where lay my heart; and climbing still,
When I had gain’d the brow and top,
A lake of brackish waters on the ground
Was all I found.

With that abash’d and struck with many a sting
Of swarming fears,
I fell, and cry’d, Alas my King!
Can both the way and end be tears?
Yet taking heart I rose, and then perceiv’d
I was deceiv’d:

My hill was further: so I flung away,
Yet heard a crie
Just as I went, None goes that way
And lives: If that be all, said I,
After so foul a journey death is fair,
And but a chair.

Malcolm Guite reads today’s poem

George Herbert’s The Pilgrimage describes a journey which may have been the inspiration for John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  It speaks of our pilgrimage as one of stops and starts with empathy toward us, his fellow travelers.  Referring to other great champions of faith, Patrick Comerford said “Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of Herbert’s diction that “Nothing can be more pure, manly, or unaffected.” The poet laureate WH Auden wrote of him: “His poetry is the counterpart of Jeremy Taylor’s prose: together they are the finest expressions of Anglican piety at its best.”

In The Word in the Wilderness, Malcolm Guite thoughtfully guides his reader though the poem and says

I love this poem by George Herbert; it makes me feel that when I’m tired and disoriented he has been in that place too, so at least I am in good company!

Though our Lenten journey is likewise one of purposeful challenge, its goal is to guide us to a destination of unity with God.

How does today’s poem speak to your own pilgrimage?

IMG_01812 Kings 2:11

Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Dig Deeper: Literature & Liturgy

George Herbert by Malcolm Guite

George Herbert
George Herbert

On February 27th the Church of England keeps the feast and celebrates the memory of George Herbert, the gentle poet priest whose book the Temple, published posthumously in 1633 by his friend Nicholas Ferrar has done so much to help and inspire Christians ever since. In an earlier blog post I gave a talk on George Herbert and the Insights of Prayer.  I offer this sonnet, part of a sequence called ‘Clouds of Witness” in my most recent poetry book The Singing Bowl. The sequence is a celebration of the saints, intended to complement my sequence Sounding the Seasons.

You can get this book in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon, and I am vey happy to say that both books are now available in North America from Steve Bell who has a good supply in stock. His page for my books is HERE

Read and hear Malcolm Guite’s A Sonnet for George Herbert HERE

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith

 

51vg-xoskvl-_sy346_For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.

Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.

And Shall I Silent Be?

govert_flinck_-_angels_announcing_the_birth_of_christ_to_the_shepherds_-_wga07928Christmas
by George Herbert

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul’s a shepherd too: a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy Word; the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then we will chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay till we have done—
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then we will sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay;
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine
Till ev’n His beams sing, and my music shine.


In this playful poem, George Herbert presents himself as a shepherd. His flock is made up of his own thoughts, which he feeds in the pasture of God’s word and waters with God’s grace. He offers this to explain why he, too, can join in the shepherds’ Christmas music. Then he complains that the winter sun doesn’t shine long or bright enough for their concert. He’ll have to find a more reliable sun. Perhaps it is Jesus himself he hopes to find—“a willing shiner” who will never set and who will ultimately join us in the musical celebration of his own birth.

At the last, one will no longer be able to distinguish between the light and the music.

IMG_0181

Luke 2: 8-20

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

 

Dig Deeper

Art: Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds, by Govert Flinck (1615-1660)

For further reading see L. William Countryman, Run, Shepherds, Run: Poems for Advent and Christmas (New York; Harrisburg, PA; Denver: Morehouse Publishing, 2005), 59.