At the beginning of March in 1633, sorrow came to the people of Bemerton on the outskirts of Salisbury. Their rector George Herbert, a committed pastor who had not yet reached his 40th birthday, died of consumption.
Today, Herbert is remembered as one of the greatest devotional poets in the English language. Some of his verses (such as ‘Teach me my God and King’) have been set to music as hymn lyrics, but there are many more. Poetry was how Herbert expressed his faith and talked to God. His poems can be used as prayers in much the same way as the Psalms can.
This little poem – with its three stanzas focusing on Creator, Redeemer and Inspirer, has the title ‘Trinity Sunday’. But it is also a poem of penitence and longing to do better with God’s help. So it is equally appropriate for reading during Lent.
Lord, who hast formed me out of mud,
And hast redeemed me through thy blood,
And sanctified me to do good;
Purge all my sins done heretofore:
For I confess my heavy score,
And I will strive to sin no more.
Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charity;
That I may run, rise, rest with thee.
Herbert’s poems have helped many during times of difficulty and doubt. His earthly life was short, but his legacy is a long one.