Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Evelyn Underhill Discovery!

Regular readers of the blog know that every now and then I post something from the writings of Evelyn Underhill, that wonderful 20th century Anglican spiritual director. Indeed, since my teens I have been nourished by the collection made shortly after her death, An Anthology of the Love of God. Each chapter of this collection begins with a poem, many of which come from Immanence, published by Underhill in 1912. Today a friend drew my attention to the fact that Immamence is available FREE for downloading from the internet. Here, from that book, is a particularly moving burst of praise to the Lord: 


Once in an Abbey-church, the whiles we prayed 
All silent at the lifting of the Host, 
A little bird through some high window strayed ; 
And to and fro 
Like a wee angel lost 
That on a sudden finds its heaven below, 
It went the morning long. 
And made our Eucharist more glad with song. 

It sang, it sang ! and as the quiet priest 
Far off about the lighted altar moved, 
The awful substance of the mystic feast 
All hushed before, 
It, like a thing that loved 
Yet loved in liberty, would plunge and soar 
Beneath the vault in play 
And thence toss down the oblation of its lay. 

The walls that went our sanctuary around 
Did, as of old, to that sweet summons yield. 
New scents and sounds within our gates were found ; 
The cry of kine. 
The fragrance of the field, 
All woodland whispers, hastened to the shrine : 
The country side was come 
Eager and joyful, to its spirit's home. 

Far-stretched I saw the cornfield and the plough, 
The scudding cloud, the cleanly-running brook, 
The humble, kindly turf, the tossing bough 
That all their light 
From Love's own furnace took — 
This altar, where one angel brownly bright 
Proclaimed the sylvan creed. 
And sang the Benedictus of the mead. 

All earth was lifted to communion then. 
All lovely life was there to meet its King ; 
Ah, not the little arid souls of men 
But sun and wind 
And all desirous thing 
The ground of their beseeching here did find ; 
All with one self-same bread. 
And all by one eternal priest, were fed.


Alice C. Linsley said...

WOW! I am so excited.

Have you seen Underhill's little book Eucharistic Prayers from the Ancient Liturgies? Very nourishing.

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