Tag Archives: George Herbert

Having the Son of God

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)

What does it mean to “have” the Son?

Does it mean saying particular things about Jesus? Reciting particular creeds of the Church?

Does it mean arguing about religion? Imposing religious laws on people?

Does it mean wearing certain Christian t-shirts? Wearing certain ecclesiastical robes? Having a certain hairstyle? Wearing a certain hat?

Does it mean reading special prayers? Making up special prayers? Singing special music?

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What might it mean to “have” life?

Might it mean owning up to our own faults? Admitting our own mistakes?

Might it mean praising God for the way things are? Thanking God for what is?

Might it mean receiving forgiveness? Giving forgiveness?

Might it mean serving God? Might it mean being served by God?

Love (III)

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

-George Herbert

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Seven whole days

Praise (II)Tres Riches Heures - July - Limbourg Bros
George Herbert
From The Temple (1633)

King of Glorie, King of Peace,
I will love thee:
And that love may never cease,
I will move thee.

Thou hast granted my request,
Thou hast heard me:
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou hast spar’d me.

Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing thee,
And the cream of all my heart
I will bring thee.

Though my sinnes against me cried,
Thou didst cleare me;
And alone, when they replied,
Thou didst heare me.

Sev’n whole dayes, not one in seven,
I will praise thee.
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise thee.

Thou grew’st soft and moist with tears,
Thou relentedst:
And when Justice call’d for fears,
Thou disentedst.

Small it is, in this poore sort
To enroll thee:
Ev’n eternitie is to short
To extoll thee.

Seven times a day will I praise you

When I read the verse from Psalm 119 this morning (164), the word “seven” reminded me of a favorite hymn — King of Glory, King of Peace — with words by George Herbert:

Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise thee;
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise thee

Small it is, in this poor sort
To enroll thee;
E’en eternity’s too short
To extol thee.

-George Herbert

And here’s a video of the hymn being sung at Washington National Cathedral.

George Herbert

From the notes on his feast day in Lesser Feasts and Fasts:

Lines from his poem on prayer have moved many readers:

Prayer, the Church’s banquet, Angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, the heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth.

Herbert was unselfish in his devotion and service to others. Izaak Walton writes that many of the parishioners “let their plow rest when Mr. Herbert’s saints-bell rung to prayers, that they might also offer their devotion to God with him.

George Herbert was a parson in the Church of England in a very different age, one that was much less mobile than ours. When he rang his “saints-bell” to announce the saying of the Offices, his parishioners would all have been within earshot of the church.

How much more fragmented our congregations are today, but how much we still need to “let our plows rest” and “offer our devotion” with each other.

I hope these reflections ring a saints-bell in your daily routine, however far away you may be, and that you will find a way to pause and pray before returning to your work.