General Terms and Conditions

Reports and musings from a seminarian at General Theological Seminary, New York City.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Come, my Way

Today is the feast day of George Herbert in the Anglican Communion. This great English poet of the early 17th century is probably as popular today as he has ever been. Here is a short biography from Wikipedia:

"George Herbert (April 3, 1593 – March 1, 1633) was a Welsh poet, orator and a priest. Being born into an artistic and wealthy family, he received a good education which led on to him holding prominent positions at Cambridge University and Parliament. In his late thirties he gave up his secular ambitions and took holy orders in the Church of England, spending the rest of his life as a rector in Bemerton, near Salisbury. Throughout his life he wrote religious poems characterized by a precision of language, a metrical versatility, and an ingenious use of imagery or conceits that was favored by the metaphysical school of poets."

We had a real Herbertfest in our Eucharist today, singing a couple of his great hymn texts (#403, "Let all the world in every corner sing," set to Hampton's "MacDougall," and #382, "King of Glory," set to a favorite tune around here, namely "General Seminary") and even hearing a sermon that compared his work to Bob Dylan and Appalachian fiddling.

But the Herbert poem that I feel most drawn to is one titled "The Call." It is a supreme example of that precise language and imagery referred to above. It is #487 in our hymnal:

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife;
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast;
such a feast as mends in length;
such as strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move;
such a love as none can part;
such a heart as joys in love.


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