Friday, January 12, 2007

The Lord's Day

O Day most calm, most bright,
The fruit of this, the next worlds bud,
Th’ indorsement of supreme delight,
Writ by a friend, and with his bloud;
The couch of time; cares balm and bay:
The week were dark, but for thy light:
Thy torch doth show the way.

The other dayes and thou
Make up one man; whose face thou art,
Knocking at heaven with thy brow:
The worky-daies are the back-part;
The burden of the week lies there,
Making the whole to stoup and bow,
Till thy release appeare.

Man had straight forward gone
To endlesse death: but thou dost pull
And turn us round to look on one,
Whom, if we were not very dull,
We could not choose but look on still;
Since there is no place so alone,
The which he doth not fill.

Sabbaths the pillars are,
On which heav’ns palace arched lies:
The other dayes fill up the spare
And hollow room with vanities.
They are the fruitfull beds and borders
In Gods rich garden: that is bare,
Which parts their ranks and orders.

The Sabbaths of mans life,
Thredded together on times string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternall glorious King.
On Sabbath heavens gate stands ope:
Blessings are plentifull and rife,
More plentifull then hope.

This day my Saviour rose,
And did inclose this light for his:
That, as each beast his manger knows,
Man might not of his fodder misse.
Christ hath took in this piece of ground,
And made a garden there for those
Who want herbs for their wound.

The rest of our Creation
Our great Redeemer did remove
With the same shake, which at his passion
Did th’ earth and all things with it move.
As Sampson bore the doores away,
Christs hands, though nail’d, wrought our salvation,
And did unhinge that day.

The brightnesse of that day
We sullied by our foul offence:
Wherefore that robe we cast away,
Having a new at his expence,
Whose drops of bloud paid the full price,
That was requir’d to make us gay,
And fit for Paradise.

Thou art a day of mirth:
And where the Week-dayes trail on ground,
Thy flight is higher, as thy birth.
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from sev’n to sev’n,
Till that we both, being toss’d from earth,
Flie hand in hand to heav’n!

This is a poem written by the early 17th century Anglican minister and poet George Herbert(1593–1633). Herbert was a classical Calvinist episcopalian. Herbert is said to have described his book of poems as ‘a picture of the many spiritual Conflicts that have past betwixt God and my Soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus my Master’.

The original title of the poem above is "Sunday" and I have taken the liberty of amending Sunday to Sabbath in the poem. I appreciate that this detracts from the way that Herbert plays on the word sun but I still think it best to avoid the connection with the pagan name and give the day a biblical name where possible . Sometimes Herbert is obscure in his poetry but this poem is very clear and bright with the spirit of rejoicing in the day of resurrection, which inaugurated in a special way the New Creation that Christ's redemption opened up for His people. Herbert shows here how the Christian sabbath replaces the Old Testament sabbath which was connected with the broken Covenant of Works. He makes Samson a type of Christ in his physical removing of the gates of Gaza (Judges 16:3).