Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Love bade me welcome

Here is a short talk on George Herbert - 1593-1633, priest and poet - who we are asked to remember this week. (I write and deliver one every midweek Holy Communion service I am present at).  His Christian poetry is some of the best ever written and many have been turned into well known hymns e.g. "King of glory, king of peace." and "Let all the world in every corner sing" as well as "Come my way, my truth, my life."

Here is one of my favourites which never fails to move me (I want it at my funeral). It's a conversation between an unworthy sinner and a loving, seeking God:

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 lack'd anything.

'A guest,' I answer'd, '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 marr'd 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.

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