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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

George Herbert's Prayer for Preachers

George Herbert (1593-1633) was a poet of the English Renaissance. He was born into the wealthy aristocracy and promised a lucrative career in politics. He chose to forego a life of fame and fortune in order to serve as the pastor of a small church in an obscure place. He wrote the poetic prayer below for preachers. What meaning do you derive from Herbert's thoughtful words?

Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?

                He is brittle, crazy glass:

Yet in thy temple though doest him afford

                This glorious and transcendent place,

                To be a window through the grace.

But when thou doest anneal in glass thy story,

                Making thy life to shine within

The holy preacher’s, then thy light and glory

                More reverend grows, and more doeth win,

                Which else shows waterish, bleak, and thin.

Doctrine and life, colors and light in one,

                When they combine and mingle, bring

A strong regard and awe; but speech alone

                Doeth vanish like a flaming thing,

                And in the ear, not conscience, ring.


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