LenTree For George Herbert

Day 33: Fifth Sunday


     Lord, how could you so much appease

Your wrath for sin as, when man's sight was dim,

And could see little, to regard his ease,

     And bring by Faith all things to him?


     Hungry I was, and had no meat:

I did conceit a most delicious feast;

I had it straight, and did as truly eat,

      As ever did a welcome guest.


      There is rare outlandish root,

Which when I could not get, I thought it here:

That apprehension cur'd so well my foot,

      That I can walk to heav'n well near.


      I owed thousands and much more:

I did believe that I did nothing owe,

And liv'd accordingly; my creditor

      Believes so too, and lets me go.


     Faith makes me any thing, or all

That I believe is in the sacred story:

And where sin places me in Adam's fall,

     Faith sets me higher in his glory.


     If I go lower in the book,

What can be lower than the common manger?

Faith puts me there with him, who sweetly took

     Our flesh and frailty, death and danger.


     If bliss had lien in art or strength,

None but the wise or strong had gained it:

Where now by Faith all arms are of a length;

     One size does all conditions fit.


     A peasant may believe as much

As a great Clerk, and reach the highest stature.

Thus do you make proud knowledge bend & crouch,

     While grace fills up uneven nature.


     When creatures had no real light

Inherent in them, you did make the sun

Impute a luster, and allow them bright;

     And in this show, what Christ has done.


     That which before was darkened clean

With bushy groves, pricking the looker's eye,

Vanished away, when Faith did change the scene:

     And then appeared a glorious sky.


     What though my body run to dust?

Faith cleaves unto it, counting ev'ry grain

With an exact and most particular trust,

     Reserving all for flesh again.

1633 Edition

Note on Stanzas 2-4:  The poem's interpretation is easier if you consider the spiritual meaning. The concrete version, as the poem "Faith" explains it, is more difficult to believe. See, of course, Matthew 17:20,21. 20And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.


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Music: J. S. Bach, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." [Editors Note: Albert Schweitzer called Bach "The Fifth Evangelist."]