¶ To all Angels and Saints.
OH glorious spirits, who after all your bands See the smooth face of God without a frown Or strict commands; Where evry one is king, and hath his crown, If not upon his head, yet in his hands: Not out of envie or maliciousnesse So I forbear to crave your speciall aid: I would addresse My vows to thee most gladly, Blessed Maid, And Mother of my God, in my distresse. Thou art the holy mine, whence came the gold, The great restorative for all decay In young and old; Thou art the cabinet where the jewell lay: Chiefly to thee would I my soul unfold: But now, alas, I dare not; for our King, Whom we do all joyntly adore and praise, Bids no such thing: And where his pleasure no injunction layes, (Tis your own case) ye never move a wing. All worship is prerogative, and a flower Of his rich crown, from whom lyes no appeal At the last houre: Therefore we dare not from his garland steal, To make a posie of inferiour power. Although then others court you, if ye know Whats done on earth, we shall not fare the worse, Who do not so; Since we are ever ready to disburse, If any one our Masters hand can show.
Editors note: While Herbert was writing, The English Church opposed the Roman Church regarding the veneration of Mary and the saints. Praying to the angels, e.g. Michael, and other saints fell into disrepute during the Reformation. The roster of saints was noticeably reduced because it was limited to scriptural references. [The Elizabethan Book of Common Prayer added Saints of the Church Fathers in 1561. Contemporary Saints were added by Charles II, after the British Civil War.] Herberts poem clearly illustrates the English view. There is a difference between praying to God or Christ for other people and praying to Mary, the Angels and Saints to intercede for them; the Protestant and English Reformation maintained that the only mediator is Christ. The British Church, Calvinists and Anabaptists, were against prayers to Mary, the Angels and Saints as not scriptural. Roman Catholics prayed to them for centuries.
Richard Hooker, the Anglican Theologian, took the position that "to pray for others is to bless them. There can be nothing wrong with that." [All Christians accept prayer as part of the relationship with God. See "Prayer (I)" and "Prayer (II)."
Theologian's Note: Angels, as a higher being and closer to God in nature and service, are mentioned first; Saints, second. Angels are a separate "genus" from humans, even saints. [See also "Antiphon (II)"] Saints do not become angels or guardian angels when they die, contrary to popular television programs and movies. They are always saints, examples to the rest of us.
Music: William Byrd. "Kyrie." Byrd, one of the few, tolerated, Roman Catholic composers during the Elizabethan Age, composed Anglican, Catholic and secular works. Click to open music in another window.
Optional Music: Thomas Campion (1567-1620), "Follow Your Saint."
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