George Herbert-Lectionary Poem for the Second Sunday After Pentecost

Throughout this church year, The Englewood Review of Books has been curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Second Sunday after Pentecost – More poems for this Sunday can be found here)

 

Grace
George Herbert

 (to accompany the lectionary reading: Romans 5:1-8)

MY stock lies dead, and no increase
Doth my dull husbandrie improve:
O let thy graces without cease
               Drop from above!

If still the sunne should hide his face,
Thy house would but a dungeon prove,
Thy works nights captives: O let grace
               Drop from above!

The dew doth ev’ry morning fall;
And shall the dew out-strip thy Dove?
The dew, for which grasse cannot call,
               Drop from above.

Death is still working like a mole,
And digs my grave at each remove:
Let grace work too, and on my soul
               Drop from above.

Sinne is still hammering my heart
Unto a hardnesse, void of love:
Let suppling grace, to crosse his art,
               Drop from above.

O come! for thou dost know the way:
Or if to me thou wilt not move,
Remove me, where I need not say,
               Drop from above.

*** This poem is in the public domain,
  and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.

George Herbert (3 April 1593 – 1 March 1633) was a Welsh-born poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. His poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognised as “one of the foremost British devotional lyricists.” He was born into an artistic and wealthy family and largely raised in England. He gave up his secular ambitions in his mid-thirties and took holy orders in the Church of England, spending the rest of his life as the rector of the little parish of St Andrew’s Church, Lower Bemerton, Salisbury. He was noted for unfailing care for his parishioners, bringing the sacraments to them when they were ill and providing food and clothing for those in need. He was never a healthy man and died of consumption at age 39.  (bio via Wikipedia)

Why World Communion Sunday Is a Bad Idea

The origins of this Protestant observance reveal the best of intentions. But for at least three reasons, continuing to set aside the first Sunday in October to highlight the Church’s signature rite is not a good idea.

One: Observing something called “World Communion Sunday” one day of the year communicates the idea that the Eucharist is special. But if Holy Communion really is the Church’s signature rite, if it is indeed that which makes the Church what it is, then “special” is exactly what it is not. We don’t think of the air we breathe as “special,” the breakfast we eat as “special.” These things are gifts, of course–breath and food–but it is in their givenness, their ordinariness that they are the means for life and health.

In Clyde, Missouri, the Benedictine Sisters
of Perpetual Adoration cut unleavened bread
into communion wafers and gather them
in plastic bags folded, stapled, and later packed
in boxes.

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