Monday, April 14, 2008

My Favourite Anglicans: George Herbert (1593-1633)

George Herbert
Robert White

I picked up a copy of Ralph Vaughan Williams "5 Mystical Songs" on CD from the library. It was a complete fluke that I saw it, even more so that it had the author of the texts prominently showing: George Herbert.

The music itself is fine. Very RVW Choral sound, and unfortunately, spirit. I don't get any sense of religious awe, or mystery from his works. I do however enjoy his 3rd Symphony; a very nature mystic work.

Listening to the work, I started reading through Herbert's The Country Parson. I picked this up last year, and loved it immediately.

It is very hard to dislike George. The book is full of great information concerning marriage, one's library, how to keep your Church clean, as well as general mood.
After explaining that a country Parson as being "generally sad" he goes on to suggest:
nature will not bear everlasting droopings,
and that pleasantnesse of disposition is a great key to do good;
not onely because all men shun the company of perpetuall severity,
but also for that when they are in company,
instructions seasoned with pleasantnesse,
both enter sooner, and roote deeper.
Wherefore he condescends to humane frailties both in himseife and others
The Country Parson, Chap27, The Parson in Mirth

His language is beautiful, his heart is honest and pure, his spirituality soars. All that in a book about how to manage your country Parish, and yourself as a Priest.

George Herbert was ordained in 1630, at the age of 37. He was known for his devotion to his flock, bringing the sacraments to them when they were ill, and providing food and clothing for those in need.

He died three years later of tuberculosus. On his deathbed, he handed his manuscript of all his writings to a friend, telling him he should publish them if he thought they may "turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul"

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