Category : Church History

Greenough White–Jackson Kemper: An Apostle of the Western Church

In the same report a “Catholic feature” of the mission is noted,–classes of adult catechumens, conducted by the brethren; and an intention of having weekly communions, “according to primitive practice,” is recorded. To this end the brothers had sought to secure the services of the good missionary priest, Richard Cadle, and to convert him into the Father Superior of their order,–but the worthy man shied at the novel honor. With funds that Hobart had obtained at the East a beautiful tract of land was bought about Nashotah (signifying “Twin Lakes”), and thither, in August, the mission was moved. The following October, Adams and Breck were advanced to the priesthood, and the latter was made head of the religious house. A few theological students answered to the lay brothers of Vallombrosa; they supported themselves by farm work, etc., according to the primitive method at Gambier. The community rose at five o’clock, had services (lauds or prime) at six and nine in the morning, on Wednesdays and Fridays the litany and on Thursdays Holy Communion at noontide, and services at three and half-past six o’clock in the evening, answering to nones and vespers. Now at length, as Breck wrote home with glee, he began to feel that he was really in a monastery. But within a year from that hopeful start it seemed as if the community would be dissolved. Adams had a severe attack of pneumonia, felt unequal to bearing the business burdens of the house, and returned to the East; Hobart lingered a few months longer, and then followed; and Breck began to think of moving further west.

At this period Kenyon College was in such financial straits that it was in imminent danger of being lost to the church,–but a mighty effort was made, collections were taken for it on a large scale among congregations throughout the eastern dioceses, and it was saved; but the extraordinary exertion resulted in a deficit in the missionary treasury that reduced many a poor minister on the frontier to pinching poverty.

One is startled to hear that in 1843 a medical department was annexed to Kemper College and already boasted of the formidable number of seventy-five students. The attention of the church was called to this Protestant Episcopal University west of the Mississippi, which “promised a rich return for its fostering care,” and seemed destined to “hand down the name of its beloved founder to other ages.” There were but a score of students, however, in the collegiate department, at whose first commencement the bishop presided that summer.

The good example set by his young itinerants in Wisconsin moved him to urge the appointment of two or more missionaries of similar type to operate in Indiana. That diocese now made another attempt to perfect its organization, electing Thomas Atkinson of Virginia as its bishop–but he declined. Its leading presbyter, Roosevelt Johnson, waived a like offer. Missouri diocese had similar aspirations and electoral difficulties, which it solved by throwing the onus upon the general convention, entreating it to choose a bishop. In 1843, Cicero Stephens Hawks accepted a call to the rectorate of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the favor with which he was received determined the choice of the convention. On the 2oth of October, 1844, (the day of Cobbs’ consecration), and in Christ Church, Philadelphia, he was consecrated bishop of Missouri by Philander Chase, now presiding bishop, assisted by Kemper, McCoskry, Polk, and DeLancey.

With this event terminated what is in one way the most interesting period of our hero’s life,–the dawn, or morning of his episcopate, with its wide and long vistas, its freshness and promise. Wonderful indeed was the accomplishment of those nine mystic years, especially when we consider that it was before the days of railroads,–that he had to toil painfully in wagons, on horseback or afoot along wretched roads over boundless tracts that the traveler now crosses smoothly, gliding at the rate of a mile a minute in a palace car.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jackson Kemper

Lord God, in whose providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land, that by his arduous labor and travel congregations might be established in scattered settlements of the West: Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission, and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler

As the heavens declare thy glory, O God, and the firmament showeth thy handiwork, we bless thy Name for the gifts of knowledge and insight thou didst bestow upon Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler; and we pray that thou wouldst continue to advance our understanding of thy cosmos, for our good and for thy glory; through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lydia of Thyatira

Eternal God, who gives good gifts to all people, and who teaches us to have the same spirit of generosity: Give unto us, we pray thee, hearts that are always open to hear thy word, that following the example of thy servant Lydia, we may show hospitality to all who are in any need or trouble, through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Alcuin

Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age didst raise up thy deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray thee, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth thine eternal truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Eleanor Parker–An Anglo-Saxon Hymn to St Dunstan

Hail Dunstan, star and shining adornment of bishops, true light of the English nation and leader preceding it on its path to God.

You are the greatest hope of your people, and also an innermost sweetness, breathing the honey-sweet fragrance of life-giving balms.

In you, Father, we trust, we to whom nothing is more pleasing than you are. To you we stretch out our hands, to you we pour out our prayers.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History

Perspective from the Pages of History–Methodism in Oxford in 1758

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Methodist, Religion & Culture

(Church of England) Statement on IICSA report from members of House of Bishops

From there:

A statement from members of the House of Bishops in response to The Anglican Church Case Studies IICSA report:

“We write on behalf of the whole House following the publication last week of the IICSA report into the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. We recognise that the publication of this report causes most hurt and concern to survivors themselves. It reopens wounds.

“At this week’s meeting of the House of Bishops, Archbishop Justin asked every one of us to read and study the full report in detail and we are absolutely committed to this. The Church has failed survivors and the report is very clear that the Church should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors. We are ashamed of our past failures, have been working for change but recognise the deep cultural change needed takes longer than we would like to achieve.

“We welcome the recommendations.

“The report will now go to the National Safeguarding Steering Group next month so the Church can formulate a detailed response to the findings and recommendations as we approach IICSA’s wider Church hearing in July. The lead bishop for safeguarding has been asked to report back to the House and to General Synod.

“It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report and act upon them”

Bishop Paul Butler
Bishop Christine Hardman
Bishop Peter Hancock
Bishop Sarah Mullally

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

A Bp William Hobart Hare biography extract–“the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.”

In physical aspect Bishop Hare represented clearly, as any picture of him will show, what may be called the best Anglican type. The English churchman of gentle breeding, of native and acquired distinction, has rendered it familiar. Such men are born both to their appearance and to their profession. In the lineage of William Hobart Hare there was quite enough to account both for the outward and for the inward man. On each side of his parentage he was a son, immediately of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and, more remotely he sprang both from the New England Puritans and the Pennsylvania Friends whose beliefs and standards have played so important a part in the religious and political life of America.

His father, the Rev. Dr. George Emlen Hare, an eminent Biblical scholar, one of the American Old Testament Committee appointed under the direction of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1870 for the revision of the authorized version of the English Bible, was for many years a teacher in Philadelphia–first in a temporary professorship at the University of Pennsylvania; then at the head of the old Protestant Episcopal Academy for Boys, revived in 1846 by Bishop Alonzo Potter; and finally as professor of Biblical Learning and Exegesis in the Divinity School in West Philadelphia, of which he was the first dean. “From the period of his ordination,” it is written in a brief sketch of his life, “the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.” One sees him in memory, a typical figure of the scholar, formal, remote, known of those who knew him as demanding of himself the same exacting standard of industry and integrity that he demanded of his pupils.

–M.A. DeWolfe Howe, The Life and Labors of Bishop Hare: Apostle to the Sioux (New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1911), chapter one (my emphasis)

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Hobart Hare

Holy God, who didst call thy servant William Hobart Hare to proclaim the means of grace and the hope of glory to the peoples of the Great Plains: We give thanks to thee for the devotion of those who received the Good News gladly, and for the faithfulness of the generations who have succeeded them. Strengthen us with thy Holy Spirit, that we may walk in their footsteps and lead many to faith in Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Sudan

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plenteous harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Pachomius

Set us free, O God, from all false desires, vain ambitious, and all that wouldst separate us from thee, that like thy servant Pachomius we might give ourselves fully to a life of discipleship, seeking thee alone and serving those whom thou hast given us to serve. All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(TLC Covenant) George Sumner–Anglicanism Defined: Three Crises

The place to begin is with ancient Christianity in Great Britain. There is evidence it goes as far back at the second century. It contained Celtic and Roman strains. It was an integral part of Western Christendom. It is of course also a history of conflict and fractiousness — no less a figure than Wycliffe reminds us of this. But it is a continuous history nonetheless. Part of Anglican identity is looking back and remembering this fact, for example among the early Anglo-Catholics of the 19th century. Let us relate this fact, now offered as a claim, to the mark of the Church of oneness in the Creeds.

At this point I want to introduce the epistemological crisis, a concept from the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. It depends on the prior notion of a tradition, a stream of thought and practice that coheres around a shared narrative, pointed toward a shared telos and enacted by shared virtues. The idea is not necessarily religious, but works for a religious community too. Within the boundaries formed by these features a tradition is a continuing argument. Occasionally, however, a tradition runs into a major challenge to its very coherence, indeed to its existence, from without. Its truths are called into question in a basic way, and the tradition summons its collective resources to offer an answer. Christianity was such a challenge for ancient imperial pagan culture, and the latter was not up to the task.

The ancient church in the British Isles encountered three epistemological, spiritual, political, and social crises, and in response to each it had to give a continuous answer. The first was of course the Reformation, and the major artifact of the era for us as Anglicans is the Book of Common Prayer. In fact the most concise and compelling answer to the question What is an Anglican? is a prayer book Christian. Through it, British Christians heard and absorbed Reformation doctrine in a devotional mode.

In other words, using the prayer book in an ancient church is a factual, pragmatic way to say that we work out our identity between Protestant and Catholic. And of course the ensuing centuries, after the bloodletting of Henry, Mary, and Elizabeth in the 16th and Charles and the Puritans in the 17th, would reach back to retrieve or reject, to reconstrue and redefine: the great Anglo-Catholic and evangelical revivals of the 19th century are great examples. But one can still see the inheritance of this conflict amid agreement in Western Christianity in the styles of various parishes, however they recall the implications of their liturgical choices.

High and old may be the more venerable designators for Anglican churches, but the more prominent, and more conflictual, is what they make over the spiritual-epistemological crisis, since the 17th and 18th centuries, that is modernism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Church History, Ecclesiology, Philosophy

Food for Thought from G K Chesterton (in 1926!)

From there:

The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back… The roots of the new heresy, God knows, are as deep as nature itself, whose flower is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. I say that the man who cannot see this cannot see the signs of the times; cannot see even the skysigns in the street that are the new sort of signs in heaven. The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow but much more in Manhattan – but most of what was in Broadway is already in Piccadilly.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Sexuality

(Chr History) Nikolaus von Zinzendorf–“There can be no Christianity without community”

Nearly two centuries after Luther posted his 95 Theses, Protestantism had lost some of its soul. Institutions and dogma had, in many people’s minds, choked the life out of the Reformation.

Lutheran minister P.J. Spener hoped to revive the church by promoting the “practice of piety,” emphasizing prayer and Bible reading over dogma. It worked. Pietism spread quickly, reinvigorating Protestants throughout Europe””including underground Protestants in Moravia and Bohemia (modern Czechoslovakia)

The Catholic church cracked down on the dissidents, and many were forced to flee to Protestant areas of neighboring Germany. One group of families fled north to Saxony, where they settled on the lands belonging to a rich young ruler, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Other Churches, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicolaus von Zinzendorf

God of life made new in Christ, who dost call thy Church to keep on rising from the dead: We remember before thee the bold witness of thy servant Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, through whom thy Spirit moved to draw many in Europe and the American colonies to faith and conversion of life; and we pray that we, like him, may rejoice to sing thy praise, live thy love and rest secure in the safekeeping of the Lord; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich

Lord God, who in thy compassion didst grant to the Lady Julian many revelations of thy nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek thee above all things, for in giving us thyself thou givest us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Gregory Soderberg reviews John Tyson’s new book “The Great Athanasius: An Introduction to His Life and Work”

Why read Athanasius? Besides his importance for our understanding of the Christian faith, his life reads like a thriller at times, full of intrigue, last-minute escapes, and determination to follow the truth, no matter the cost. Furthermore, Athanasius (who was called the “black dwarf”) reminds us of the eminent role Africa has played in Christian history. In How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind, the late Thomas Oden argued that we need to rediscover the early African church, for our sake, and for Africa’s sake. In a time of increasing racial and national tension, we need to remember the foundational contributions of early African Christians like Athanasius.

Beyond the reasons offered here, C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful introduction to an earlier edition of Athanasius’s On the Incarnation, which has become a classic essay in itself. In the essay, C.S. Lewis defends the “reading of old books” in a masterful way, the old book in this case being Athanasius’s On the Incarnation. We often forget that masters of writing like Lewis and Tolkien were themselves inspired by the great spiritual masters of the past, like the “Great Athanasius.” The church today desperately needs to remember its past, so that we may not lose our way in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Church History

Athanasius on the Incarnation for his Feast Day

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us [Acts 17:27] before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery–lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for nought–He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father-doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord’s body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

–Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

Posted in Christology, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Athanasius

Uphold thy Church, O God of truth, as thou didst uphold thy servant Athanasius, to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition, trusting solely in the grace of thine eternal Word, who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

The Heidelberg Catechism on Easter

Q & A 45

Q. How does Christ’s resurrection
benefit us?

A. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death,
so that he might make us share in the righteousness
he obtained for us by his death.1

Second, by his power we too
are already raised to a new life.2

Third, Christ’s resurrection
is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.3

1 Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
2 Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4
3 Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21

Posted in Church History, Easter

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elisabeth Cruciger

Pour out thy Spirit upon all of thy sons and daughters, Almighty God, that like thy servant Elisabeth Cruciger our lips may praise thee, our lives may bless thee, and our worship may give thee glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Philip and Saint James

Almighty God, who didst give to thine apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A prayer for the Feast Day of Sarah Hale

Gracious God, we bless thy Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for thy many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

Posted in Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint George

Almighty God, who didst commission thy holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Martin Luther for Easter–A Sermon on the Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 – “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.

The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

John Donne–Easter Faith that Sustains

If I had a Son in Court, or married a daughter into a plentifull Fortune, I were satisfied for that son or that daughter. Shall I not be so, when the King of Heaven hath taken that sone to himselfe, and married himselfe to that daughter, for ever? I spend none of my Faith, I exercise none of my Hope, in this, that I shall have my dead raised to life againe. This is the faith that sustains me, when I lose by the death of others, and we, are now all in one Church, and at the resurrection, shall be all in one Quire.

–John Donne (1572-1631) [my emphasis]

Posted in Church History, Easter, Theology

Johnny Cash & The Carter Family for Good Friday 2019- Were You There (1960)

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

Laura Varnam–‘Abide, Ye Who Pass By’: A 14thc Poem for Good Friday

For Good Friday, I wanted to share a fourteenth-century Middle English lyric that I have been working on recently (from Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson poet. 175). It’s written in the voice of Christ in three stanzas and addresses the reader directly from the cross:

Abyde, gud men, & hald yhour pays

And here what god him-seluen says,

Hyngand on þe rode.

Man & woman þat bi me gase,

Luke vp to me & stynt þi pase,

For þe I sched my blode.

(Abide, good men, and hold your peace, / And hear what God himself says, / Hanging on the rood./ Man and woman that by me goes, / Look up to me and cease your pace, / For you I shed my blood.)

Christ accosts the man and woman who are on the point of passing by the cross and commands them to look up at him. This address constructs the reader as a viewer of the crucifixion, present at the scene, in the very manner encouraged by Nicholas Love in the popular fifteenth-century devotional text, The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ. In the meditation for the crucifixion, Love urges the reader to ‘take hede now diligently with alle þi herte’ and ‘make þe þere present in þi mynde, beholdyng alle þat shale be done a3eynus þi lorde Jesu’ (‘take heed diligently with all your heart’ and ‘make yourself present in your mind [at the crucifixion], beholding all that shall be done against your Lord Jesus’). The Rawlinson lyric is insistent that the reader/viewer do this as Christ commands:

Be-hald my body or þou gang,

And think opon my payns strang,

And styll als stane þou stand.

Biheld þi self þe soth, & se

How I am hynged here on þis tre

And nayled fute & hand.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature