Malcolm Guite: Prayer Walk – excellent poem and reflection on prayer

March 5, 2015

Malcolm Guite’s blog is one of my new discoveries thanks to Twitter, and I’m very much enjoying his Lent entries. I really appreciated his “Prayer Walk” entry yesterday, and encourage readers to go enjoy it in full.  I won’t post his poem here, but rather a portion of his reflection on how prayer walking has strengthened his prayer life.

I have noticed how often interesting footpaths and bridleways start just beyond the brambles at the end of tarmacked roads marked ‘dead end’. And it seemed, for me at least, that is very often where prayer starts too. I am sure that prayer should be a first resort, but for me it is sometimes the last resort when I’ve tried everything else! I’ve also noticed that the places in life where I get stuck and come up as it were against a ‘dead end’ sign, are inevitably the important places, the places where there is real stuff to deal with and that is precisely why I get stuck or find it difficult to move forward. Too often one simply shies away from these personal dead-ends and goes for the first diversion (usually Facebook!) to try something easier. But when I’m walking, the opposite is true. It gives me pleasure to walk down the apparent dead-end and find the hidden path where the cars can’t go, strike out across the fields and leave the traffic behind, so I have tried to apply this to my prayer life.

The full entry is here.

It’s interesting that he mentions George Herbert’s poem “Prayer” as his inspiration for the poem he posted.  I too have been reading and reflecting on Herbert’s poem, especially since I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s excellent book on prayer.  I’m hopting I’ll find time in the next day or two to post Herbert’s poem and some of Keller’s reflections and insights about it.

Malcolm Guite on Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness

February 21, 2015

In his Feb. 19 Lenten devotional, Malcolm Guite makes a REALLY helpful point that we should not merely focus on Jesus’ overcoming temptation as some kind of example for us of how we should resist the devil:

If Jesus were simply set before me as an example of heroic human achievement I would despair. His very success in resisting temptation would just make me feel worse about my failure. But he is not just my exemplar, he is my saviour, he is the one who takes my place and stands in for me, and in the mystery of redemption he acts for me and makes up, in his resistance to evil what is lacking in mine.

Such a powerful truth!

Here’s the link for the full entry including his original sonnet “Stones into bread”.

43 Poems for Lent – a complete index of Patrick Comerford’s 2012 blog series

February 20, 2015

We continue to get many dozens of visitors at L&B who are looking for Lent poems.  Last year I posted a compilation of some Lent poems, a compilation of Holy Week poemsGood Friday poems, and Easter poems.  All four compilations are somewhat rough, and I need to update them all, since I now have additional poems by Malcolm Guite, Teresa Roberts Johnson and others to add.

As a small beginning to continue to upgrade our liturgical-year-themed poetry resources here at L&B, I thought it would be helpful if I compiled a complete index of the Rev. Patrick Comerford’s Lent 2012 series of daily Lenten poems, one of the best-ever Lenten blog series, in my opinion! It was that series that really stirred up a fresh interest for me in liturgically-themed poetry.

(Patrick Comerford is a priest in the Church of Ireland (Anglican), Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Dublin (Trinity College Dublin) and a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.)


Poems for Lent (1): ‘Ash Wednesday’, TS Eliot

Poems for Lent (2): ‘Lent,’ George Herbert

Poems for Lent (3): ‘Indifference,’ by GA Studdert Kennedy

Poems for Lent (4): ‘Lenten Thoughts of a High Anglican,’ by John Betjeman

Poems for Lent (5): ‘Marked by Ashes,’ by Walter Brueggemann

Poems for Lent (6): ‘The Retreat,’ by Henry Vaughan

Poems for Lent (7): ‘Lent’ by Christina Rossetti

Poems for Lent (8): ‘Amen,’ by Leonard Cohen

Poems for Lent (9): ‘Sunday Morning, King’s Cambridge,’ by John Betjeman

Poems for Lent (10): ‘The Absence,’ by RS Thomas

Poems for Lent (11): ‘Untitled (The Fallen Angels left all there),’ by Patrick Kavanagh

Poems for Lent (12): ‘Forest Song,’ by Sir Shane Leslie

Poems for Lent (13): ‘Evensong,’ by CS Lewis

Poems for Lent (14): ‘In the Street,’ by Winifred M Letts

Poems for Lent (15): ‘Desert Places,’ by Robert Frost

Poems for Lent (16): ‘Lenten Communion,’ by Katharine Tynan

Poem for Lent (17): ‘Autobiography,’ by Louis MacNeice

Poems for Lent (18): ‘Christians and Pagans,’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Poems for Lent (19): ‘Confession’ (‘O What a cunning guest’), by George Herbert

Poems for Lent (20): ‘Christ’s Bloody Sweat’ by Robert Southwell

Poems for Lent (21): ‘Holy Cross,’ by Sir Shane Leslie

Poems for Lent (22): ‘St Patrick’s Day with Neil,’ by Thomas McCarthy

Poem for Lent (23): ‘Sunday Morning,’ by Louis MacNeice

Poems for Lent (24): ‘Man of the House,’ by Katherine Tynan

Poems for Lent (25): ‘The Snowdrop Monument (in Lichfield Cathedral)’ by Jean Ingelow

Poems for Lent (26): ‘Mid-Lent,’ by Christina Rossetti

Poems for Lent (27): ‘I saw the Sun at Midnight,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poems for Lent (28): ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Poems for Lent (29): ‘Here It Is,’ by Leonard Cohen

Poems for Lent (30): ‘Fifth Sunday In Lent’ by John Keble

Poems for Lent (31): ‘Annunciation,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (32): ‘What the Thunder said,’ from ‘The Waste Land’ by TS Eliot

Poems for Lent (33): ‘Affliction’ by George Herbert

Poems for Lent (34): ‘Julian at the Mysteries’ by CP Cavafy

Poems for Lent (35): ‘It is a thing most wonderful,’ by William Walsham How

Poems for Lent (36): ‘Batter my heart, three person’d God’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (37): ‘The Donkey,’ by GK Chesterton

Poems for Lent (38): ‘Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa,’ by Oscar Wilde

Poems for Lent (39): ‘All in an April Evening,’ by Katharine Tynan

Poems for Lent (40): ‘I see His Blood Upon the Rose,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poems for Lent (41): ‘The Last Supper,’ by Ranier Maria Rilke

Poems for Lent (42): ‘Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (43): ‘Sepulchre,’ by George Herbert


Note: We had previously compiled a list of 7 Easter poems posted by Patrick Comerford in 2012.

You’ll find all our Lent poem posts and resources here.  (Right now it’s a small collection, but I expect it to grow this Lent!).  I expect to soon break up the “Poems, Hymns and Songs” category into two or three separate categories to separate poetry from music.

Lent Poems – Christina Rossetti: Who Shall Deliver Me

April 8, 2014

Recently, while working on updating our compilations of poems for Holy Week and Good Friday, I came across this powerful poem by Christina Rossetti, which is very appropriate for Lenten reading and reflection.  It echos some of my own emotions and spiritual struggles of this Lent, when I have known all too well the truth of Apostle Paul’s lament in Romans 7 – leaving the good I want to do undone, and doing the evil that I do not want to do.  Thanks be to God that we have a Savior!


Who Shall Deliver Me?
God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run ! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joys

Myself, arch-traitor to myself ;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me
Break off the yoke and set me free.

— by Christina Georgina Rossetti

from here

Poems for Lent; and Links to Some Good Websites for Lent, Holy Week and Good Friday poems

April 2, 2014

During Lent we have had many many visitors coming to our site looking for poems for Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Holy Week…  I confess that posting poetry has not been my strong suit, particularly as I find that somehow poetry and the internet don’t always go together well.  Poetry is something to savor and reflect on slowly.  Blogging and the internet is often rushed.  Glance quickly, click and move on…  But since so many are eager for good poems, and since I love it when we can point people to good resources, I thought I’d try to at least round up a list of some poems we’ve posted over the years and also provide links to some other good poetry resouces.

The poems linked below mostly focus on Lenten themes.   The links listed in the second section, however, will contain many good poems for Holy week and Good Friday and Easter as well.


Here is a compilation of poems for Holy Week, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday & Holy Saturday.

Here is a compilation of poems for Good Friday.


***A brand new resource for 2015 ***43 Poems for Lent – a complete index of Patrick Comerford’s 2012 blog series


1. Poems we’ve posted here at Lent & Beyond

“The Lenten Call” – a poem by Teresa Roberts Johnson

John Donne: An excerpt from Good Friday. 1613. Riding Westward.

Bitter Herbs – A poem for Maundy Thursday

A Poem for Palm Sunday: GK Chesterton’s “The Donkey”

Miserere mei, Deus: Music and poetry for a Lenten Friday

Several Lent Poems by George Herbert

The Agony and the Sinner: Two Lenten Poems by George Herbert

The Poetry of George Herbert set to music…

First Things: two Ash Wednesday meditations on the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Christina Rossetti

George Herbert: Confession

George Herbert: On Repentance

Eden & Maundy Thursday – from the Confessing Reader blog [reflection on a section of Milton’s Paradise Lost]

Encouagement for Lent: John Donne’s Wilt Thou Forgive?

George Herbert – Lord instruct us to improve our fast

William Cowper: Jehovah Our Righteousness

Charles Wesley – Make My Heart a House of Prayer


 2. Other sites and links to find excellent poems linked to the liturgical season

The Rev. Patrick Comerford’s 2012 Lenten Poems series (He posted a poem a day throughout Lent & Holy Week.  Browse the series and you’ll find excellent poems, as well as background information and reflections on the poems.).  Here also is his general Poetry category.

A few of my favorites:

UPDATE:  We’ve now compiled an index of all 43 poems posted by Patrick Comerford in 2012 – 43 Poems for Lent – a complete index of Patrick Comerford’s 2012 blog series


=> Emily Polis Gibson’s website Barnstorming. Emily writes lots of orginial poetry and frequently quotes poems as well.  All accompanied by stunning photographs and soul-nourishing reflections.   A few favorites:


=> Teresa Robert Johnson’s website:  Angliverse

Teresa has written some excellent poems on the themes of the Liturgical year.  I’ve posted several here at L&B in past years, and expect to be posting several more in Holy Week.    Check out her categories for Lent and Holy Week


A few other links:

  • And finally, there’s always, a very well-designed site.  You can search by Poet, by Poem, or using Advanced Search, you can search by theme or key word.  Note however that there are NO options to search for poems on the themes related to Holy Week, Good Friday, the Cross, etc.   The religious poetry at this site is quite limited.

First Things: two Ash Wednesday meditations on the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Christina Rossetti

March 5, 2014

Go to First Things – NOW!  Two fantastic Ash Wednesday reflections.  I particularly appreciated the entry about Christina Rossetti and her Ash Wednesday poems.  I’d never known the history…

Christina Rossetti’s Lenten Life,a season of penitence, a season of preparation—and a season of hope

These Bones Shall Live, The Hope of T. S. Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday

Daily Lenten Poems

March 19, 2012

In my Google searching last week dedicated to beefing up our listing of explicitly ANGLICAN Lenten devotional resources, I came across a blog by a priest in the Church of Ireland, the Rev. Patrick Comerford, canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

For Lent 2012, he has been posting daily poems with some background details about the poems as well as some devotional reflections and prayers that tie in with the poem or the lectionary.

I’ve not read all of the 23 poems he has so far posted, but here are links to a few of my favorites:

Holy Cross, by Sir Shane Leslie

Confession (O What a cunning guest), by George Herbert


Lenten Communion by Katharine Tynan

this last poem I’ve linked is so lovely and powerful, that I can’t help but post it in full here – it seems very appropriate in mid-Lent when we might be feeling the need for rest & refreshing, just as the poet imagines our Lord needed refreshing on His journey to the Cross:

Rest in a friend’s house, Dear, I pray:
The way is long to Good Friday,
And very chill and grey the way.

No crocus with its shining cup,
Nor the gold daffodil is up, –
Nothing is here save the snowdrop.

Sit down with me and taste good cheer:
Too soon, too soon, Thy Passion’s here;
The wind is keen and the skies drear.

Sit by my fire and break my bread.
Yea, from Thy dish may I be fed,
And under Thy feet my hair spread!

Lord, in the quiet, chill and sweet,
Let me pour water for Thy feet,
While the crowd goes by in the Street.

Why wouldst Thou dream of spear or sword,
Or of the ingrate rabble, Lord?
There is no sound save the song of a bird.

Let us sit down and talk at ease
About Thy Father’s business.
(What shouts were those borne on the breeze?)

Nay, Lord, it cannot be for Thee
They raise the tallest cross of the three
On yon dark Mount of Calvary!

So soon, so soon, the hour’s flown!
The glory’s dying: Thou art gone
Out on Thy lonely way, alone.

Although I’ve posted the entire poem, if you read the full blog entry, there is more about the author and the writing of the poem, as well as some devotional thoughts.

UPDATE:  We’ve now compiled a full list of all 43 poems posted by Patrick Comerford in Lent 2012.

The Agony and the Sinner: Two Lenten Poems by George Herbert

February 18, 2010

Thanks to Phil at Deacon’s Slant blog for recently posting these two wonderful poems – they serve as wonderful Lenten meditations:

The Agony
Philosphers have measured mountains,
Fatholmed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to heaveN, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it does more behoove:
Yet few there are that sounds them, Sin and Love.
Whoever would know Sin, let him repair:
Unto mount olivet; there he shall see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice which forces pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Whoever does not know Love,
let him assayAnd taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine
Which my God feels as blood, but I as wine,

The Sinner
Lord, how I am all with fever, when I seek
What I have treasured in my memory!
Since, if my soul makes even with the week,
Every seventh note by right is due to thee.
I find there quarries of piled vanities,
But shreds of holiness, that dare not venture
to show their face, since cross to thy decrees:
There to circumference earth is, heaven center.
In so much dregs he quintessence is small.
The spirit and good extract of my heart
Comes to about the many hundreth part.
Yet, Lord, restore thine image, hear my call.
And though my hart heart scarcely can to the groan
Remember that thou once didst write in stone.

Encouagement for Lent: John Donne’s Wilt Thou Forgive?

March 20, 2009

From our archives, originally posted in March 2006.

Wilt Thou Forgive? — John Donne

Filed under: Repentance, Adoration, Lent 2006, Anglican Bloggers Lenten Devotionals, Illustrated Devotionals, Poems, Hymns & Songs

Matt Kennedy’s wonderful meditation on Romans 8:1 so encouraged me last night. And then, shortly afterwards, I came across this wonderful poem / hymn by John Donne while browsing online. For those frustrated by their sins this Lent, feeling powerless, wondering how God can forgive yet again, be reminded “He hast done” and be encouraged by following truths and promises of Scripture and the beautiful hymn of John Donne.

Eph 1:7-8
In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Col 1:13-14, 21-22
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. […] Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…

Heb 9:28
… so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

I Jn 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

by John Donne

The tune for the following hymn is here. Several versions of the hymn are also available for download at iTunes or Amazon, for instance this version at iTunes from the album Harmonia Sacra & Divine Anthems.


WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,   prodigal-son
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
And having done that, Thou hast done ;
I fear no more.

Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 213.

— art credit: Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1669 – from the web gallery of art

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