Quote of the Day - George Herbert on Christian Worship

Here is a section from a wonderful poem called "Easter" by the great 17th C poet George Herbert.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The CROSS taught all wood to resound his Name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched SINEWS taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high Day.
Consort both HEART and LUTE, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all Music is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy BLESSED SPIRIT bear a part
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

Here is a expository comment on the extract from pastor-theologian Gerrit Dawson.

"First Herbert addresses his wooden lute, the stringed instrument upon which he will play his [love song]. Through the metaphor of music he communicates how the entire created order has been transformed by the resurrection. All wood now becomes an emblem for the cross. The cross bore Jesus whose death [purified] us through death to new life. ... Wood can now always be a reminder of the cross ... Moreover, Christ's 'stretched SINEWS,' his outstretched limbs on the cross, are compared to the strings on the lute. Music is possible when the strings are stretched taut. ... This metaphor is shocking in its grusome image. The elongated limbs of Christ, which led to the agony of his death, have become the strings for joyful praise. ... Next, Herbert desires to bring together both heart and instrument with the Holy Spirit, who can transform our poor prayers (Romans 8:26) as well as our poor music. The mystery of music is the combination of the instrument, the player, and the score written. ... The Holy Spirit joins the transformed heart and the instrument to praise through us. Thus we participate in the very life of the Trinity. For we make our praise to the Father (the source of the song) through the Son (the instrument) in the Holy Spirit (the player who plays through us)."
Gerrit Dawson, Love Bade Me Welcome: Daily Readings with George Herbert. Lenoir: Glen Lorien Books, 1997, pp. 78-79.


Anonymous said…
Really useful!
Thank you!

Popular Posts