Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

* John Donne and Thomas Traherne *


We beseech you, O Lord, make us subject to you with a ready will, and evermore stir up our wills to make supplication to you. Amen.

by John Donne

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
and do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
for I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
a year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
for I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
my last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
but swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
and, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

John Donne and Thomas Traherne: poets and servants of Christ

The Church’s influence on the arts of the cultures in which it lives has always been significant, and so today, Saint Laika’s remembers John Donne and Thomas Traherne, two priests and poets who used their mastery of the English language to bring the riches of Christ to people.

John Donne is by far the more famous of the two. He brought many images into the heart of English culture, for example: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for thee.”

In his own time, John Donne was the best-known preacher in the Church of England. He came to that eminence by a tortuous path. Born into a wealthy and pious Roman Catholic family in 1573, he was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge, and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn. Some time later he became an Anglican and embarked upon a promising political career of service to the state. The revelation of his secret marriage in 1601 to the niece of his employer, brought his public career to an end. In 1615, he was persuaded by King James I and others to receive ordination.

Donne became Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 1622, a post he held until his death. He drew great throngs to the cathedral and to Paul’s Cross, a nearby open-air pulpit. His sermons reflect the wide range of learning. He brought the passionate intensity of his poetic genius. His words were always grounded by his profound devotion to Christ. He earned a reputation as an eloquent preacher and one hundred and sixty of his sermons have survived. He died on this day in 1631.

Thomas Traherne was born a few years later in 1636. He was caught up in the religious controversies which led to Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, which delayed his ordination until 1660. He died of smallpox in 1673. Most of his literary work remained unknown in his lifetime. His works were rediscovered in the early days of the twentieth century, where they have remained popular ever since. Traherne's writings frequently explore the glory of creation and what he perceived as his intimate relationship with God. His writing conveys an ardent, almost childlike love of God. His love for the natural world is frequently expressed in his works by a treatment of nature that evokes romanticism.

Scripture. In "Psalm Twenty-Seven," eleven to twelve we read…

"You speak in my heart and say, 'Seek my face.'

"Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor turn away your servant in displeasure."


We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... for poets and devotional writers.

... for preachers.

... for the people of Malta, the United States Virgin Isles and Florida who celebrate national days today.

... for the people of South Africa experiencing a period of political uncertainty. DETAILS

... for the Palestinian people as Israel approves construction of another settlement in the West Bank. DETAILS

... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.

... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

... for ourselves.


Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.


From "Centuries of Meditations" by Thomas Traherne:

I will not by the noise of bloody wars and the dethroning of kings advance you to glory: but by the gentle ways of peace and love. As a deep friendship meditates and intends the deepest designs for the advancement of its objects, so does it show itself in choosing the sweetest and most delightful methods, whereby not to weary but please the person it desires to advance. Where love administers physic, its tenderness is expressed in balms and cordials. It hates corrosives and is rich in its administrations. Even so, God designing to show his love in exalting you has chosen the ways of ease and repose by which you should ascend. And I after his similitude will lead you into paths plain and familiar, where all envy, rapine, bloodshed, complaint and malice shall be far removed; and nothing appear but contentment and thanksgiving. Yet shall the end be so glorious that angels will not dare hope for so great a one till they have seen it.


Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: open our eyes to see, with your servants John Donne and Thomas Traherne, that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold you; through Jesus Christ our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


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