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Slide 1

Tonight we will hear of two people who could


have followed a path to great fame and wealth, but
instead were called to serve God and did so faithfully in
their own unique ways.
The Temple

George Herbert (poetry 1633)

Slide 2
During his brief life, George Herbert never
published a single poem. Shortly before he died, sensing
that his time was near, this pastor of a small country
church gave a fellow pastor who was visiting him a small
volume to put into the hands of his close friend, Nicholas
Ferrar.
Sir, I pray deliver this little book to my dear brother
Ferrar, and tell him he shall find in it a picture of the
many spiritual conflicts that have passed between
God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the
will of Jesus my masterif he think it may turn to the
advantage of any dejected poor soul, let it be made
public; if not, let him burn it; for I and it are the least
of Gods mercies.
Slide 3
The little book was a collection of 167 poems
chronicling the ups and down, struggles and triumphs, of
Herberts walk with God. Though Ferrar was not himself
an expert in poetry, he understood the beauty and value
in these poems and saw that they were published in
1633 under the title The Temple These poems have
been a treasure for Christians ever since, and are some
of the most honest and searching poems ever composed
on the life of faith. They give evidence of a deep and

profound belief as seen through the eyes of an


intelligent man who struggled at times with doubts
about his own worthiness and who embraced without
reservation the grace of Jesus Christ.
Slide 4
Perhaps the best known of these poems is
Love (III) in which he records an interrogation with
God, who invites him to sit down to supper with him, but
Herbert responds to that invitation by drawing back. He
is the awkward guest who feels out of place at the table
with God, but his Lord is not willing to take no for an
answer. The debate continues, with Herbert sure of his
own unworthiness and God trying to help him
understand that Love has borne the sin and shameand
inviting him into intimacy.
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
Slide 5
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Slide 6
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:


So I did sit and eat.

Slide 7
This poem is an example from a collection that
can be read and reread over the course of a lifetime.
Whatever place one is at in ones own walk with God,
there is comfort and wisdom and challenge to be found
in these verses.
Slide 8
George Herbert was born April 3, 1593 in
Wales, the seventh of ten children. He was an
outstanding student,
Slide 9 went to Cambridge, graduated second in his
class, earned a Master of Arts, and became a fellow at
the university, then was elected to the prestigious
position of public orator for Cambridge. You would
imagine that he would have felt he had arrived, but
none of his accomplishments fulfilled the deeper
spiritual call that was building within him.
A battle raged within his soul over the direction of his
future, which only found its resolution when he was
ordained first as a deacon in the Church of England in
1626, then as a priest in 1630.
Slide 10
He purposely did not seek a prestigious
parish but rather accepted a call to a small country
church in Bemerton. Throughout the time of his ministry
there, the congregation never numbered more than one
hundred people, but those who were the objects of his
sermons and pastoral care thought him a humble and

saintly man and were impressed by his character, his


charity, and his gentle holiness. It is unlikely that many
of them even knew he was a poet, though his poems are
now generally considered among the greatest religious
poems in the English language.
Herbert struggled with his health throughout his adult
life, and after three years in the ministry he died of
tuberculosis at age thirty-nine.
Slide 11
Herbert referred to his poems as the record of
his conflict with God, and they have an intimacy about
them deriving from the fact that most of them are
directly addressed to God and as such he was not shy
about expressing the nature of his own struggles. In his
poems we witness first-hand the battle of his will against
Gods, and his struggle with his sense of unworthiness
toward being Gods servant, and the peace he found
when he finally surrendered to the God of grace and
love.
A great deal of the religious poetry written through the
centuries suffers from being overly sentimental and
often feels insincere, as though it is expressing what the
poet wished to be feeling, or thought he or she should be
feeling, rather than what he or she was actually feeling.
The strength of Herbert as a religious poet is that he was
not afraid to tell the truth about his struggles and
doubts, and about the difficulties of the spiritual path.
But he always ended with affirmation and hope. It was
hope hard won, but more transformative because of the
struggle.
We move now to 1963

Slide 13
On August 28, 1963, tens of thousands of
people gathered on the National Mall for the culmination
of the March on Washington, a public demonstration
calling for civil rights legislation to curb racial inequality
and injustice in the United States. Mahalia Jackson, an
ardent supporter of the struggle for equality for African
Americans, had been asked by Martin Luther King Jr. to
sing both before and after his speech at the end.
Midway through his speech, Mahalia shouted, Tell them
about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!
Startled, King hesitated only a moment before pushing
aside his notes and beginning to speak
extemporaneously. The result of Jacksons spontaneous
shout of encouragement was spellbinding and historic,
one of the most moving speeches in history.
Mahalia Jackson (recording I Will Move on up a
Little Higher 1947)
Slide 14
By the time of this historic event, the name
Mahalia Jackson had become synonymous with gospel
music, as she was the first artist to bring traditional
gospel music to the attention of the masses, to listeners
both black and white. Her personal story was one of
struggle and false starts, but she finally broke through
when she recorded a song with a small record label
called Apollo and it became an overnight sensation.
Slide 15
I will move on up a little higher, a gospel
song written by prodigious black composer W. Herbert
Brewster, was recorded on September 12, 1947 with a
simple piano and organ accompaniment, but Jacksons

thrilling vocal stylings overcame the sparse production.


She starts near the lowest region of her vocal register
and, over the course of the song, she moves to her top
register as she celebrates coming over hills and
mountains on her way to an everlasting life. As the
song unfolds, Jacksons voice goes higher and higher.
Just when you think she has surely reached the peak of
her range and dynamics, she pushes it even further. The
result is scintillating, and I will move on up a little
higher , the recording sold 50,000 copies in four weeks
and became her signature song.
(Play song)
Slide 16
Born in New Orleans, in 1911, Mahalia
Jackson was raised in a three-room house that was home
to 13 people, suffering together through economic
deprivation and racial prejudice. Her mother died when
she was very young, and she was largely raised by her
aunt. At age fourteen she had a vision that she
interpreted as a call from God to sing for him.
Slide 17 The next year Jackson moved to Chicago to
pursue training in nursing and joined the Greater Salem
Baptist church. On the very first Sunday with them,
someone heard her singing and asked her to join the
church choir. She began to sing for her congregation
and also for other congregations in the area.
Slide 18 When famous song writer Thomas Dorsey,
whose most well-known song was Precious Lord, Take
my hand, visited her church and heard her sing, he
knew he had found the perfect person to sing his songs.
She soon joined him as they traveled all over the United

States and she began her slow climb to becoming the


Queen of Gospel.
Slide 19 Jacksons voice was a powerful instrument for
proclaiming her love for God. Throughout her career she
sang nothing except gospel songs, hymns, and spirituals.
Though she was offered a lot of money to record popular
music, jazz or blues, she always declined. Jacksons
voice was big, powerful, and passionate, and when she
performed she wore her heart on her sleeve, which
showed in her voice.
Slide 20 The emotion she pulled out of herself and
invested in her songs was unquestionably authentic, her
eyes often closed in prayer as she sang. She clearly felt
every word. Sometimes a tear would trickle down. She
was not just singing her songs; she was preaching them,
lifting her audience to exultation.
Slide 21 Mahalia Jackson was known for her warmth
and generosity, her authenticity, and her unwavering
faith in God. She could have been one of the great blues
singers, but she chose to sing for God alone. I sing
Gods music, she said, because it makes me feel free.
It gives me hope.
Slide 22 Other Mahalia
Jackson songs
Adapted from: 75 Masterpieces Every Christian
Should Know by Terry Glaspey