An anthem in Westminster Abbey

Early this summer I went to an evensong service at Westminster Abbey. I always maintain that although Westminster Abbey is the beautiful and historic site of such events as Kate and William’s royal wedding- it’s surely the dustiest building in all of England. You’d think they could run a mop around with the number of donations they rake in from tourists every day.

Cleanliness aside, an anthem was shared that I remembered from studying at university, and it brought me a lot of comfort and perspective. I have since thought of the poem often, when I’ve counselled with women who may share with me that they don’t necessarily feel deserving of God’s love, or worthy of His time. Always in those quiet moments, I think desperately that I feel the same of myself, and isn’t that the plight of most of us on the path of discipleship, just trying to be better each day? The good news, as I’m reminded by George Herbert here, is that our Saviour is merciful and His message and sacrifice for us holds so much promise for us.

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back.

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lack’d any thing.
A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:

Love said, You shall be he.

I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes but I?
Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.

George Herbert (1593-1633)

 

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