Strange that the psalm today is all about not having a hard heart, and having no debts save love and George Herbert’s poem is about a hard heart melting before an altar.
I visited the church of Bremerton near Salisbury where George Herbert (1593-1663) was the vicar for a time.
How wonderful in such a tiny church to find out about a man who left such wonderful hymns and poetry.
by George Herbert
A broken ALTAR, Lord thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch’d the same
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctifie this ALTAR to be thine.
I was still worrying in the night about bills and lack of any political influence when by chance I happened on the funeral mass in Westminster Cathedral of Father Alan James Fudge, the parish priest of the Catholic Church on Ogle Street. To be honest, I did not know him but he was obviously a marvellous man. The Cathedral was packed with two-thousand people.
Here was a simple parish priest. He had no money, no “power”, no influence, except on the many, many people he went and helped. A true Curé d’Ars. Apparently he was a marvellous preacher, but also a much loved confessor who, like the Curé d’Ars, spent hours listening to and advising people, so for him he avoided all debt save love.