Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

* George Herbert *


My ever-generous Lord, you have given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart. Not thankful, when it pleases me; as if your blessings had spare days: but such a heart, whose pulse may be your praise. Amen.

( George Herbert )


Come, my way, my truth, my life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as will kill death.

Come, my light, my feast, my strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my joy, my love, my heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.

( George Herbert )

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

George Herbert: faithful in small things and large

Today Saint Laika’s remembers George Herbert, priest and servant of Christ, a poet and one who shaped the life of the clergy in post-Reformation England.

George Herbert was born in 1593, and later attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and became the Public Orator of the University, responsible for giving speeches of welcome in Latin to famous visitors, and writing letters of thanks, also in Latin, to acknowledge gifts of books for the University Library. This brought him to the attention of King James I, who had him in mind for a career in the king’s court. However, when the King died in 1625, he returned to his first desire, holy orders, and was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1626.

Herbert was devoted to his parish ministry. He was a good visitor, regularly visiting his parishioners, bringing holy communion if they were ill, and food and clothing if they were in need. Instead of reading morning and evening prayer privately, as many priests did, he read them in church and invited his parishioners to attend. He would also ring the church bell at the hour of prayer so that those unable to attend might at least pause in their day to offer their own prayer. He was an example of Christian compassion and charity, very edifying to his parishioners.

He set down his thoughts on the parish ministry in a book entitled “A Priest in the Temple: the Country Parson.” It was very influential in shaping the practice of ministry in post-Reformation England. He was also a poet and some of his poems have found their way into English hymnody. Of his poems, Herbert said they were:
“a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could submit mine to the will of Jesus my Master; in whose service I have found perfect freedom.”

George Herbert died on this day in 1633.

Scripture: In the fourth chapter of "Philippians," at verses eight and nine we read:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Saint Andrew's Church, Bemerton ( circa 1860 )


Let us now call to mind our sin and the infinite mercy of God.

God the Father, have mercy upon us.
God the Son, have mercy upon us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us.
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, have mercy upon us.

From all evil and mischief; from pride, vanity, and hypocrisy;
from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all evil intent,
good Lord, deliver us.

From sloth, worldliness and love of money;
from hardness of heart and contempt for your word and your laws,
good Lord, deliver us.

From sins of body and mind;
from the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil,
good Lord, deliver us.

In all times of sorrow; in all times of joy;
in the hour of death, and at the day of judgement,
good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of your holy incarnation;
by your birth, childhood and obedience;
by your baptism, fasting and temptation,
good Lord, deliver us.

By your ministry in word and work;
by your mighty acts of power;
and by your preaching of the kingdom,
good Lord, deliver us.

By your agony and trial;
by your cross and passion;
and by your precious death and burial,
good Lord, deliver us.

By your mighty resurrection;
by your glorious ascension;
and by your sending of the Holy Spirit,
good Lord, deliver us.

Give us true repentance; forgive us our sins of negligence and ignorance and our deliberate sins; and grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to your holy word.

Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.
Make our hearts clean, O God; and renew a right spirit within us.

We pray...

... for peace in the world.

... that the clergy of our churches may lead by being a good example, practice what they preach and carry out the full duties of their calling; that we may also be full-time practitioners of our faith and the earthly conduits of God's love to others.

... for hymn writers and poets.

... for parish priests and ministers of the local church.

... for those who work for and those who support non-government organisations. DETAILS

... for the people of the Dominican Republic who celebrate their national day today.

... for those who have been sexually exploited by charity and aid workers; in particular, at this time, women victims in Syria. DETAILS

... for those who have died recently 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 in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.


From “The Country Parson” by George Herbert:

The country parson on weekday afternoons takes occasion sometimes to visit in person, now one quarter of his parish, now another. For there he shall find his flock most naturally as they are, wallowing in the midst of their affairs: whereas on Sundays it is easy for them to compose themselves to order, which they put on as their holy-day clothes, and come to church in the right frame of mind, but commonly the next day put off both.

When he comes to any house, first he blesses it and then as he finds the persons of the house employed so he forms his discourse. Those that he finds religiously employed, he both commends them much and encourages them to continue their employment when he is gone; if he finds them reading, he furnishes them with good books; if curing poor people, he supplies them with receipts, and instructs them further in that skill, showing them how acceptable such works are to God, and wishing them ever to do the cures with their own hands and not to put them over to servants. Those that he finds busy in the works of their calling, he commends them also: for it is a good and just thing for everyone to do their own business. But then he admonishes them of two things; first, that they dive not too deep into worldly affairs, plunging themselves over head and ears into carking (causing distress or worry) and caring; but that they so labour, as neither to labour anxiously, nor distrustfully, nor profanely. Then they labour anxiously, when they overdo it, to the loss of their quiet, and health: then distrustfully, when they doubt Gods providence, thinking that their own labour is the cause of their thriving, as if it were in their own hands to thrive, or not to thrive. Then they labour profanely, when they set themselves to work like brute beasts, never raising their thoughts to God, nor sanctifying their labour with daily prayer; when on the Lords day they do unnecessary servile work, or in time of divine service on other holy days, except in the cases of extreme poverty, and in the seasons of seed-time, and harvest. Secondly, he advises them so to labour for wealth and maintenance, as that they make not that the end of their labour, but that they may have the wherewithal to serve God the better, and to do good deeds.

After these discourses, if they are poor and needy, whom he thus finds labouring, he gives them somewhat; and opens not only his mouth, but his purse to their relief, that so they go on more cheerfully in their vocation, and himself be ever the more welcome to them.

Those that the parson finds idle, or ill employed, he chides not at first, for that were neither civil, nor profitable; but always in the close, before he departs from them: yet in this he distinguishes; for if he be a plain countryman, he reproves him plainly; for they are not sensible of finesse: if they be of higher quality, they commonly are quick, and sensible, and very tender of reproof: and therefore he lays his discourse so, that he comes to the point very leisurely, and oftentimes, as Nathan did, in the person of another, making them to reprove themselves. However, one way or other, he ever reproves them, that he may keep himself pure, and not be entangled in the sins of others. Neither in this doth he forbear, though there be company by: for as when the offence is particular, and against me, I am to follow our Saviour's rule, and to take my brother aside, and reprove him; so when the offence is public and against God, I am then to follow the Apostle's rule, (1 Timothy 5: 20) and to rebuke openly that which is done openly.

Besides these occasional discourses, the parson questions what order is kept in the house, as about prayers morning and evening on their knees, reading of scripture, catechising, singing of Psalms at their work and on holy days; who can read, who not; and sometimes he hears the children read himself and blesses them, encouraging also the servants to learn to read, and offering to have them taught on holy-days by his servants.

If the parson is ashamed of particularising in these things, he is not fit to be a parson. He holds the rule, that nothing is little in God's service for, if it once has the honour of that Name, it grows great instantly. Therefore, he does not disdain to enter into the poorest cottage, though he even creep into it, and though it smells loathsome. For God is there also, and those for whom God died: and so much the rather he does so, as his access to the poor is more comfortable than to the rich; and in regard of himself, it is more humiliation.

These are the parson's general aims in his circuit; but with these, he mingles other discourses for conversation sake and to make his higher purposes slip the more easily.


Our God and King, you called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honours to be a pastor of souls, a poet and a priest in your temple: give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; 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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