Thursday, February 27, 2014

George Herbert - King of glory, King of peace

I'm giving thanks for priest and poet George Herbert tonight and praising God in his words.  We sang a hymn at Evening Prayer tonight the text of which is a poem of his (music video and text below).  I remember reading his poetry along with John Donne's in a seminary course, Classical Anglican Theologians.

Not that he intended to be a classical Anglican theologian or a metaphysical poet.  He wrote a book for priests on parish ministry, and his poetry was only published after his death because he sent them to a friend to look over in case it should encourage others.  Mostly he was a parish priest, and a caring, compassionate one.  I'd like to be like that - actually, we could all stand to be a bit more like him, I suspect.  Here's a good description (and the most recent source for the information above, since I didn't trust my memory for it):

He served faithfully as a parish priest, diligently visiting his parishioners and bringing them the sacraments when they were ill, and food and clothing when they were in want. He read Morning and Evening Prayer daily in the church, encouraging the congregation to join him when possible, and ringing the church bell before each service so that those who could not come might hear it and pause in their work to join their prayers with his. He used to go once a week to Salisbury to hear Evening Prayer sung there in the cathedral. On one occasion he was late because he had met a man whose horse had fallen with a heavy load, and he stopped, took off his coat, and helped the man to unload the cart, get the horse back on its feet, and then reload the cart. His spontaneous generosity and good will won him the affection of his parishioners.

Here is more:

Herbert spent the rest of his life as rector in Bemerton near Salisbury. While there, he preached, wrote poetry, and helped rebuild the church out of his own funds.

Herbert's practical manual to country parsons, A Priest to the Temple (1652), exhibits the intelligent devotion he showed to his parishoners. On his deathbed, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to his close friend, Nicholas Ferrar, asking him to publish the poems only if he thought they might do good to "any dejected poor soul." He died of consumption in 1633 at the age of forty and the book was published in the same year. The Temple met with enormous popular acclaim—it had been reprinted twenty times by 1680.

Herbert's poems have been characterized by a deep religious devotion, linguistic precision, metrical agility, and ingenious use of conceit. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of Herbert's diction that "Nothing can be more pure, manly, or unaffected," and he is ranked with Donne as one of the great Metaphysical poets.
- See more at:

Collect for George Herbert:

Our God and King, you called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in your temple: Give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

King of glory, 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 spared me.
Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing thee;
and the cream of all my heart,
I will bring thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
thou didst clear me;
and alone, when they replied,
thou didst hear me.
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.

You can listen to more of his poetry here:

Here are links to the online texts of his work:
...and to the lessons and prayer to remember him today:


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