[Herod's Gate, Jerusalem]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 1: Morning


The Dedication
Lord, my first fruits present themselves to thee;

Yet not mine neither: for from thee they came,

And must return. Accept of them and me,

And make us strive, who shall sing best thy name.

   Turn their eyes hither, who shall make a gain:

   Theirs, who shall hurt themselves or me, refrain.

[1633 Title Page]          These are the first fruits, the only book of poems that George Herbert wrote. Many have been reworked, added to or amended throughout his life. The poems are George Herbert's life's work and offering to God. The poems, as he sees them, are not his own creation but are inspirations of God given to him who rightfully returns them to God from whom they came. This is The Dedication. The poems and the poet are two offerings, two dedications. Each separately striving to praise God. Each separately competing with the other to sing out His name. By extension each poem proclaims a separate song, another praise, another offering, in a chorus of praise.

          The dedication is also our dedication, our offering and presentation of our gifts, talents and accomplishments. Was it easier for Herbert to believe that all he did was God's gift, loaned to him, like the parable of the talents, to be returned with increase to the Master who gave them?

You who seek to gain something from reading, look here at these stanzas, but those who would hurt themselves by reading these or degrade the author with their derision, refrain from reading. He calls the motive of the reader into evaluation. Why do we read any work? Do we seek to criticize or belittle the writer? Do we seek pleasure or our own guilt? Or, on the other hand, do we hope to improve ourselves, our relationship with those we deal with and our spiritual life?

Optional Music: "Dedication" arranged to Orlando Gibbon's "Song 24," 1623 To open music in another window. © 1997 J. R. Arner

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