RINITY Sunday is a splendid occasion for adoring the goodness of God and admiring the mystery of the divine nature. Many good hymns stand ready to assist us in the task of praising the Trinity. There is also one poem, in particular, which might contribute to our prayer on this feast.
Written by the great Welsh poet and Anglican priest, George Herbert (1593-1633), this poem is entitled simply Trinity Sunday.
Like many other of Herbert’s poems (e.g., The Altar, Easter Wings, and Man), this one is carefully crafted in order to communicate not only through its words, but also through its form. The result is something at once creative, thought-provoking, and deeply spiritual.
First the poem, then a few brief observations about it.
Lord, who hast form’d me out of mud,
And hast redeem’d me through thy blood,
And sanctifi’d me to do good;
Purge all my sins done heretofore:
For I confess my heavy score,
And I will strive to sin no more.
Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charity;
That I may run, rise, rest with thee. 1
HIS poem consists of three stanzas, each composed of three lines. The first stanza, moreover, turns on the use of three parallel verbs (“form’d” | “redeem’d” | “sanctifi’d”). The second stanza showcases the three principal tenses (“heretofore,” past | “I confess,” present | “sin no more,” future). Finally, the third stanza presents a unique triad in each of its three lines (line 1, “heart, mouth, hands” | line 2, “faith . . . hope . . . charity” | line 3, “run, rise, rest”).
Herbert’s poem helps us to recognize that all of human experience—indeed, all of creation—is suffused with Trinitarian patterns. Like the text and form of his poem, today’s feast invites us to celebrate traces of the Trinity wherever they are found.
On this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, may all glory truly be given to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the God who was and who is and who is to come, in whom we live and move and have our being!
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 George Herbert, “Trinity Sunday,” in George Herbert: The Complete English Works, ed. Ann Pasternak Slater, Everyman’s Library (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 65.