For those who remember your English Lit classes, George Herbert was from an aristocratic family. At Cambridge he was marked out as a rising star and was directed toward service at the royal court. He decided for the church instead and was ordained and became the country priest of the little hamlet named Bemerton near Salisbury. The picture with this post shows Bemerton church where Herbert is buried. Across the street you can still see the Vicarage where he lived.
Five Mystical Songs is a wonderful piece of music in which Ralph Vaughn Williams set five of Herbert’s poems to music for baritone and choir. One of them Love Bade Me Welcome is here.
It was George Herbert’s life that inspired me to become an English country priest, and God allowed me to fulfill that dream. I became the vicar of two beautiful parishes on the Isle of Wight before taking the step into the Catholic Church.
Take a moment to also meditate on Herbert’s poem Prayer
PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ;
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.