1. The first scripture reading at the St. Boniface 10:00 a.m. Eucharist this morning was from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel (Ch 34 v 11-16 and 20-24).
I made certain to seek out the Lector (reader) right after the service to thank her. She had read the passage so beautifully, with perfect intonation, tone and pace. Her reading made the scripture “come alive”.
2. The hymn before the reading of the Gospel was “King of Glory, King of peace”. This was written not as a hymn but as a poem, by the fabulous Welsh poet George Herbert (1593-1633).
George Herbert was from a prosperous family in what used to be the County of Montgomeryshire in Wales (now part of the Welsh region called Powys).
He had been a Member of Parliament from the County Town, but in about 1630 he was ordained as a priest in the Church of England, and became the Rector of Bemerton (near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England). There he blossomed as a poet.
But it was a brief flowering. For George Herbert was suffering from tuberculosis. He died at age 40.
His poem/hymn is one of my favourites.
In the U.K. we sang it to a very fine Welsh Tune by one J.D.Jones (1827-1870) – a tune called “Gwalchmai”.
In the American Episcopal Church since 1982 we have sung George Herbert’s poem/hymn to a “new” tune. The tune is named “General Seminary” and was written by one David Charles Walker (b 1938).
It is a fabulous and lyrical unison tune. The music and the words seem to be made for each other.
I know the words by heart. So I disdained the use of a hymn book this morning. I closed my eyes, and I sang with verve, with conviction, and with joy. Ere long my eyes filled with tears.
This was because I had entered into that place in which words and music combine to bring about a sense of bliss, of joy, and yes – even an entry into the adoration of G-d.