[The Temple, Detail of Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶    Sunday.

                  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.

                  Sundaies 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 Sundaies of mans life,
Thredded together on times string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternall glorious King.
On Sunday 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!

General Notes on Herbert's musical ability:
  1. The Sunday before his death, he [George Herbert] rose suddenly from his bed or couch, called for use of his instruments, took it into his hand and said,
    My God, my God,
    My music shall find thee,
       And every string
       Shall have his attribute to sing.*
    And having tuned it, he played and sung:
    The Sundays of man’s life,
    Threaded together on time’s string,
    Make bracelets to adorn the wife
    Of the eternal glorious King:
    On Sundays Heaven’s door stands ope,
        More plentiful than hope.
    quoted in Isaac Walton, "The Life of Mr. George Herbert." (1670)

    * from "The Thanksgiving." [Return]

  2. On the poems as lyrics for his own music:
    When he [Herbert] was first married he lived a yeare or better at Dantesey house. H. Allen, of Dantesey, was well acquainted with him, who has told me that he had a very good hand on the lute, and that he sett his own lyricks or sacred poems. 'Tis an honour to the place, to have had the heavenly and ingeniose contemplation of this good man, who was pious even to prophesie -- John Aubrey, 1669-96, Brief Lives, ed. Clark, vol. I, pp. 309, 310. [From Moulton's Library of Criticism.]

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