April 21, 2014

Poem: Love Bade Me Welcome

Love Bade Me Welcome, Yet My Soul Drew Back

Love is a poem by George Herbert (1593–1633). It was published posthumously in 1633 as part of the collection, The Temple. None of his poems were published during his lifetime and much of his other writings are believed to have been lost as a result of the English Civil War (1642–1651). In 1911, the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) published Five Mystical Songs, a setting of five of Herbert's poems from The Temple. Williams' Love Bade Me Welcome (featured in the following video), along with two other of Herbert's poems from Five Mystical Songs: The Call (Come, My Way), and Easter are included in the Hymns and Religious Poems (Eastertide) Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).

Sung by baritone, Shreyas Patel

LOVE by George Herbert, 1633 (Public Domain)

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
          Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
          From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
          If I lack'd anything.

'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here';
          Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
          I cannot look on thee.'
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
          'Who made the eyes but I?'

'Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd 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.

Reading by Edmund Matyjaszek

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