Archive for the ‘George Herbert’ Tag

Feast of Thomas Traherne (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS TRAHERNE (CIRCA 1637-SEPTEMBER 27, 1674)

Anglican Priest, Poet, and Spiritual Writer

Also known as Thomas Trahern

Feast Day in The Episcopal Church = September 27

Feast Day in The Church of England = October 10

Thomas Traherne comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England and The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church, my chosen denomination, has two calendars of saints, oddly.  The main one is Lesser Feasts and Fasts, most recently updated in 2018.  Traherne is not on that calendar.  Or is it?  My copy of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is a PDF.  It lists Traherne on the calendar at the front of the document yet omits his profile, collects, and assigned readings.  These are present, however, on the side calendar, created at the General Convention of 2009, present in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), expanded at the General Convention of 2015, and published in the revised A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).

Traherne was one of the metaphysical poets, along with George Herbert (1593-1633), also an Anglican priest.  However, his poetry remained unpublished until 1903.  His prose was in print, starting in 1673, though.

Traherne, born circa 1637 in Hereford, England, was apparently a son of a shoemaker.  A wealthy and generous relative financed our saint’s education at Brasenose College, Oxford (B.A., 1656; M.A., 1661; B.D., 1669).  Traherne, ordained to the diaconate in The Church of England in 1656 and to the priesthood in 1660, served as the Rector of Credenhill, December 1657-1667).  He became the private chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, the First Baronet of Great Lever, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, in 1667.  Our saint held this position until he died in Teddington, Middlesex, England, on September 27, 1674.  He was about 37 years old.  The date of his burial was October 10, 1674.

Traherne was, by all accounts, a devout and bookish man who had a pleasant disposition and led a simple lifestyle.  The largest category of his possessions was books.  He was a minor figure and a relatively obscure man during his lifetime.  Only one of his books, Roman Forgeries (1673), was in print before he died.  Christian Ethics (1675) appeared posthumously.  A Serious and Patheticall Contemplation of the Mercies of God (1699) listed the author as anonymous.

Traherne’s literary legacy nearly wound up (literally) on the scrap heap of history.  Yet The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne (1903) and Centuries of Meditation (1908) started a period of republication, reconsideration, and discovery.  Identification of other works by Traherns continued through the late 1990s.

Traherne, being a metaphysical poet, had a way of writing in a less-than-direct manner.  Many intelligent and well-educated people have read texts from these poets, understood every word of a passage and not understood what that passage meant.  Others have argued about the meanings of selected passages.

Traherne was an Anglican.  As one, he affirmed the compatibility of faith and reason.  In his case, Christian Neoplatonism fed a particular variety of mysticism.  And, in the wake of the Restoration (1660), he was sharply critical of both Puritanism and Roman Catholicism.  Traherne also affirmed the will of God as the proper basis of human ethics, Hell as the loss of love for God, and Heaven as the “sight and possession” of love for God.  Furthermore, our saint delighted in nature and retained childlike joy regarding it.

Twentieth-century saints who drew influence from Traherne included Thomas Merton (1915-1968), C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), and Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957).  Traherne’s renaissance, although delayed, was worthwhile.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH RUNDLE CHARLES, ANGLICAN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Creator of wonder and mystery, you inspired your post Thomas Traherne

with mystical insight to see your glory

in the natural world and in the faces of men and women around us:

Help us to know you in your creation and in our neighbors,

and to understand our obligations to both,

that we may ever grow into the people you have created us to be;

through our Saviour Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in everlasting light.  Amen.

Jeremiah 20:7-9

Psalm 119:129-136

Revelation 19:1-5

John 3:1-8

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 609

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Feast of Nicholas Ferrar, George Herbert, and All Saintly Parish Priests (February 27)   1 comment

Flag of England

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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NICHOLAS FERRAR (FEBRUARY 22, 1592-DECEMBER 4, 1637)

Anglican Deacon and Founder of Little Gidding

His feast transferred from December 1 (in The Episcopal Church) and December 4 (in The Church of England)

friend of

GEORGE HERBERT (APRIL 3, 1593-MARCH 1, 1633)

Anglican Priest and Metaphysical Poet

His feast (Anglican) = February 27

His feast (Lutheran) = March 1

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A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) lists February 27 as the feast of “George Herbert, 1633, and all saintly Parish Priests.”

george-herbert

Above:  George Herbert

Image in the Public Domain

George Herbert, born at Montgomery, Wales, on April 3, 1593, came from a distinguished family.  His older brother was Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648), poet, ambassador, and proto-Deist philosopher.  Our saint, educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, became the Public Orator at Cambridge in 1620.  This position was usually a stepping stone to political advancement.  Herbert, a Member of Parliament in 1624 and 1625, found himself on the wrong side of royal politics, for he was an ally of John Williams (1582-1650), the Bishop of Lincoln, whom King Charles I (reigned 1625-1649) did not like.  (Eventually, after Herbert’s death, Williams regained royal flavor and became Archbishop of York in 1641.)

Herbert, ordained a priest in 1629, married Jane Danvers.  He also became the Rector of Bemerton, where he was a fish out of water.  The rectory was barely habitable, the church building was in terrible condition, and the congregation was poor.  The former Cambridge don was an excellent priest to his congregation.  On March 1, 1633, about a month short of his fortieth birthday, Herbert died of tuberculosis.  He seemed to have been a failure.

On his deathbed Herbert entrusted The Temple, his collected poems, to his friend, Nicholas Ferrar, who lived at Little Gidding, just down the road.  Ferrar had the book published; he wrote the preface.  Among the more famous texts as “Love Bade Me Welcome.”  Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) set five of Herbert’s poems to music as the Five Mystical Songs (link #1, link #2).

Nicholas Ferrar, born at London, England, on February 22, 1592, studied at Clare Hall, Cambridge, then became a fellow there.  Bad health became a fellow there.  Bad health forced him to leave Cambridge in 1613.  For five years Ferrar traveled in Europe.  In 1618 our saint returned to England and went to work for its Deputy Treasurer.  In 1624, after the dissolution of the Virginia Company, Ferrar became a Member of Parliament.  He left Parliament two years later, became an Anglican deacon, and founded the community of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire.  The community, which grew to about 40 people, included some of Ferrar’s relatives.  Members of the community lived simply, helped poor people, meditated, fasted, recited the Book of Psalms daily, and observed a regimen of of daily prayer dictated by The Book of Common Prayer (1559).

Ferrar died at Little Gidding on December 4, 1637.  He was 45 years old.  The community did not survive Ferrar for long, for a Puritan raid in 1646 destroyed Little Gidding, allegedly the “Arminian Nunnery” that was part of a plot to spread Roman Catholic practices throughout England.

I do not like Puritans, puritans, or Puritanism.

As for “All Saintly Parish Priests,” I write as the son of a United Methodist minister.  My formative experiences have given me a grasp of the difference between the clergy and the laity that many of my fellow parishioners who lack the background of a preacher’s kid can never understand.  George Herbert, I perceive, performed a variety of mundane and important pastoral tasks and administered sacraments.  Nobody should underestimate the value of such work, which is seldom the stuff of extended accounts in reference works and biographies, on par with the deeds of political and military leaders.  I also know that the clergy live in proverbial glass houses a variety in which others–including politicians–do not.  All saintly parish priests deserve prayers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF BLESSED KAZIMIERZ TOMAS SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Good Shepherd, king of love, accept our thanks and praise for the love and care we have received

and for your servants Nicholas Ferrar and George Herbert.

May our care for each other grow constantly more reverent and more discerning.  Amen.

Ezekiel 3:16-21

Psalm 15 or 99

2 Corinthians 4:1-10

John 10:11-16

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 681-682

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C   Leave a comment

Above:  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image Source = Library of Congress

Rejecting Agape

FEBRUARY 3, 2019

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Jeremiah 1:1-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.  The word of the LORD came to him in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah son of Judah, when Jerusalem went into exile in the fifth month.

The word of the LORD came to me:

Before I created you in the womb, I selected you;

Before you were born, I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations.

I replied:

Ah, Lord GOD!

I don’t know how to speak,

For I am still a boy.

And the LORD said to me:

Do not say, “I am still a boy,”

But go wherever I send you

And speak whatever I command you.

Have no fear of them,

For I am with you to deliver them

–declares the LORD.

The LORD put out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:

Herewith I put My words into your mouth.

See, I appoint you this day

Over nations and kingdoms:

To uproot and to pull down,

To destroy and to overthrow,

To build and to plant.

Psalm 71:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;

let me never be ashamed.

2  In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;

incline your ear to me and save me.

3  Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;

you are my crag and my stronghold.

4  Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

5  For you are my hope, O Lord GOD,

my confidence since I was young.

6  I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;

from my mother’s womb you have been my strength;

my praise shall be always of you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (New American Bible):

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.   It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.  If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.  For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.  At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.  At present, I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am known.  So faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Luke 4:21-30 (The Jerusalem Bible):

And he [Jesus] won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.

They said,

This is Joseph’s son, surely?

But he replied,

No doubt you will quote the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”

And he went on,

I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of those; he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town.  And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.  They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-epiphany/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-epiphany/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/forgive-our-lack-of-love-prayer-of-confession-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-epiphan/

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Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quickeyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lacked anything.

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“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?”

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“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 (1633)

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The love in 1 Corinthians 13 is agape.  There are four types of love in the New Testament, with agape being the highest form.  For a description of agape I turn to Volume X (1953), page 167 of The Interpreter’s Bible:

Agape is another kind of love which roots in the undeserved goodness men have received in Christ.

Agape is a type of love which extends to one’s enemies, looks past mutual interests, and is not merely sentimental.  It is the love which God has for us.  Thusagape is crucial, greater even than faith and hope, which are also commendable and of God.

This was the love which qualified Jeremiah and kept him company on his difficult vocation, one fraught with rejection.  And this was the love which Jesus, also rejected, embodied in a unique way.  This was the love those who tried to kill him at Nazareth lacked.

Agape is hard for many people to practice, for we are flawed.  This statement applies to me.  But I like agape; I seek to come nearer to living it.  One poetic expression of the essence of agape is the George Herbert poem I have quoted in this post.  My choir at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, has sung the Ralph Vaughan Williams setting of it.  The text speaks to me of what I have received and continue to receive from God.  I can do better, by grace, and I am.  And I have much room for improvement.

Agape is also intolerable for many people.  They seek to destroy it.  The reason for this, I suppose, is that it reminds them of their shortcomings.  And, instead of admitting those failings, some people react defensively and fearfully.  Thus violent people have, throughout history and into the present day, persecuted pacifists, from Quakers to Anabaptists to Mohandas Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr.  New England Puritans hanged Quakers in colonial times.  Anabaptists in Europe and elsewhere have attracted a host of foes.  There was, for example, state-sanctioned persecution of Amish and Mennonite conscientious objectors in the United States during World War I.  And Gandhi and King became victims of assassins.  Before King’s death many of his self-identified conservative coreligionists condemned his stances on civil rights and the Vietnam War.  (I have notecards full of citations, quotes, and summaries from back issues of The Presbyterian Journal, which midwifed the Presbyterian Church in America in the early 1970s.  The Journal, publishing immediately after King’s death, continued to condemn him.)

Our human intolerance for agape has caused quite a body count to accumulate.  May God forgive us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 11, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY NEYROT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN, ANGLICAN PRIMATE OF NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF KRAKOW

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