Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Night thoughts 2

Of late, I've been using the "Simple Office" from the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield to supplement my prayers. Tonight, the hymn was "Lead, kindly light" and the Blessed John Henry was a great comfort. His words are sublime:

Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
lead thou me on;
The night is dark and I am far from home,
lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus,
nor prayed that thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path
but now lead thou me on.
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long thy power hath blessed me,
sure it will still lead thou me on.
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent,
till the night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Newman underwent profound change and indeed torment: he has always been my personal favourite of all the "Oxford Apostles" as Geoffrey Faber called them. Pusey was too skewed by scruple and grief for my taste and I never quite understood why so capable a scholar turned his back on German Biblical criticism which he had studied and became so profoundly conservative. It was something of a disaster for Catholic Anglicanism, which it has never fully recovered from. Keble was too much the Tory Country parson for me and I never did quite get into his poetry (although I am hugely proud he was made a Canon of Cumbrae). Hurrell Froude was just a silly wee boy, but Newman had the power of mind, the beauty of soul and the dignity and grace under trial that has always spoken deeply to me. So I am quietly commending myself and all who seek after truth and suffer to the intercession of the Servant of God John Henry Newman tonight.

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