john davies
notes from a small curate

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    The Role of Poetry in Worship

    published in Anvil, Volume 17 No 4, 2000

      in trying to get hold of things mysterious
      we try to invent something definite
      and mystery can never be defined
      or must always be redefined
      or better yet
      come at newly and indirectly
      through stories and things around us
      thru parables and food [1]
    In trying to define poetry, one thing is largely true - that poetry tends to use few words to express a multitude of meanings, a complex of symbols, which would require much lengthier prose to explain. In the above extract, Corita Kent expresses much of what I aim to say more expansively in this exploration of the role of poetry in worship.

    Worship could be defined as an attempt to 'get hold of things mysterious'. This phrase contains that sense in which, in worship, a congregation gathers to express the barely expressible. It addresses the aspect of worship whereby a congregation gathers to give voice to a deeply-felt faith, to reaffirm deeply-held beliefs, or to attempt to feel a tentative faith, to try to make sense of nascent beliefs. By partaking in liturgies which shape these expressions, the 'mysteries' of the faith are encountered and in some way (or various ways) understood. Our encounter with God in worship is a mystery which we attempt to 'get hold of' by 'inventing something definite', by using words in prayer, song and sermon, which clarify and inform. These doctrinal statements help the believer to find shape in their belief, but cannot express the whole experience of that belief.

    This is only partially satisfying because the mystery is too great, and God is too elusive, to ever be held too definitely. 'Mystery can never be defined', the poet writes, 'or must always be redefined / or better yet / come at newly and indirectly'; and this is the role which poetry can play in public worship [2]. Poetry provides a flexibility and distinctiveness of language which can create new possibilities for redefinition. By its very nature, as R.S. Thomas writes, poetry exists in the presence of questions and with the possibility of newness:

    'Poetry is born of the tensions set up by the poet's ability to be 'in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason'. [3]

    Poems can help worshippers address these tensions, both within themselves, emanating from their 'uncertainties' and 'doubts', and in the mysteries of faith, and thus help them to encounter God in the divine work of re-creation and renewal.

    This language comes out in the great liturgies of the church, the songs and hymns which have been sung for millennia, the proclamations of faith whose language exceeds that of what Brueggemann calls the 'prose-flattened world' [4] and instead speaks a 'language of insight' [5]. It also comes out in extra-liturgical moments, where poetry is used in its 'purest' form and poems are recited during worship to perform particular functions.

    This paper shall attend in detail to the latter, looking at four specific instances of poems being used in acts of worship, exploring them in relation to their setting so as to help 'flesh out' in some detail the particular role played by poetic language in worship. This will be preceded by a survey of different perspectives on language, outlining a variety of approaches which will help to appraise the role of poetry in worship. [6]

    Perspectives on Language in Worship

    The liturgical revisions of the 1960s and 1970s triggered much analysis and debate about the uses of language in worship, in particular the replacement of the Latin by the vernacular in Roman Catholic liturgy, the introduction of the Alternative Service Book within the Anglican church, and the widespread, continuing, development of gender-inclusive liturgical language and bible translations. A number of different perspectives on language inform this discussion: sociolinguistics, symbolism and the theological perspective.

    Sociolinguistics is a perspective on language which focusses on functions: Crystal [7] outlines six functions that liturgical language can be said to perform: the informative function which gives information which is new or unfamiliar, the identifying function which signals a personal, ethnic, regional or social identity, the expressive function which express emotions, the performative function which uses words which express a deeper reality, such as in the giving of absolution, the historical function - formal language which is concerned with record-keeping, summarising the past and preserving it, and the aesthetic function where words are used purely for their own enjoyment.

    The sociolinguistic approach pays attention to the range of factors involved in language change, and in particular to the factor of social identity. This helps our analysis of poetry in worship, as poetry is often key in introducing change or the possibility of change.

    Paul Tillich declares that 'Religious symbols ... are a representation of that which is unconditionally beyond the conceptual sphere ... Religious symbols represent the transcendent.' [8] He insists that God cannot remain God if we try to describe him by means of concepts, and that 'there is a sickness and confusion of modern consciousness stemming from the decay of images or symbols that once had vital power' [9]. Stephen Platten asserts that symbolism in liturgy seeks 'not merely to describe the divine, but to evoke the response of awe and worship'. [10] Platten is keen to encourage modern liturgists to avoid 'dying or moribund' imagery in their symbolic language, taking care to accommodate cultural relativism, appropriate images and moral concerns in their attempts to keep the 'hardy plant' of Christian language growing. This is a role which poets are particularly equipped to perform.

    Some of the above is reflected in Geoffrey Wainwright's essay ' The Language of Worship' [11]. His survey of liturgical language from a theological angle offers particular distinctive categories based on the idea that worship language is about human reciprocal communication with God. While God has spoken many times and in many ways throughout history, particularly in 'the word made flesh', our chief vocation is (according to the Westminster Catechism) 'to glorify God and to enjoy him forever' [12]. He categorises six 'subregisters' of linguistics in worship, which provide helpful headings towards a foundational theological approach. These are adoration, proclamation, thanksgiving, commitment, petition and intercession, and expectation. [13]

    Perspectives on Poetry in Worship

    Much has been written about the interface between poetic language and religious language. There seems to be widespread agreement that the two are closely linked, in various ways. Dylan Thomas goes as far as to suggest that poetry has a religious function in itself:

    'Poetry is ... a tool ... that can help us to survive, help us heal ourselves and others.' [14]

    In struggling to define poetry, Thomas suggested that:

    'All that matters is the eternal moment behind it, the vast undercurrent of human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation, or ignorance, however unlofty the intention of the poem.' [15]

    - a quote which has assisted those who have argued for Thomas being a 'Christian' poet, based largely on his later expression that 'the joy and function of poetry is, and was, the celebration of man, which is also the celebration of God' [16]. Thomas's high view of poetry comes through his appreciation of poetic language, which he expresses as a combination of 'craftsmanship' and 'the mystery of words'. At its best, such a combination reveals much more than the words on the page:

    'The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.' [17]

    By its finely-crafted nature, such heightened language demands, encourages, creates a response in the listener. For Dylan Thomas, language itself is the key, not the character or concerns of the poet. For him, the ultimate experience is 'the mystery of having been moved by words.' [18] This is a religious function without a supporting framework of beliefs. By contrast, Coleridge's high view of poetic language is closely associated with what Tillich calls 'the language of ultimate concern', ie, religious language. [19]

    The person reading or hearing scriptural stories, or participating in liturgies, does so engaged with their meaning only through their understanding of metaphor and symbol, which poetry (above any other form of language) promotes.

    Poets 'hover between images' [20], writes Coleridge, meaning that they work with words in ways that recognise that, within a frame of reference, meanings can shift over time, like 'components in a field of force that take their value from the charge of the field as a whole.' [21] Poets work with the intention of shifting words and images so as to create newness. The purpose of 'hovering between images' may be 'to reconcile opposites and qualify contradictions'. If successful, the result will be 'the substitution of a sublime feeling of the unimaginable for a mere image.' [22]

    Other poets may seek goals other than the reconciliation of opposites and qualification of contradictions, but the process will be the same. For Coleridge this process represents the primary response to language, which he calls 'fiduciary'. This means that it produces activity within the community which hears it, as that community takes on the metaphors or symbols and enacts the claims they make. [23]

    Wallace Stevens' poem It Must Be Abstract echoes Coleridge's concept of the generative power within the specialised language of poetry:
      The poem refreshes life, so that we share
      For a moment, the first idea. It satisfies
      Belief in an immaculate beginning
      And sends us, winged by an unconscious will
      To an immaculate end. We move between these points. [24]
    The creative poetic act links the recipients back to creation ('the first idea') and simultaneously enables re-creation to take place. Sallie McFague expresses this in terms of rebirth, and suggests that metaphor 'recreates the possibility for revelatory participation' [25]:

    'The goal is not simply the ³renewal² of traditional symbols but, more radically, the creation of an encounter situation which will, as Wilder says, give ³that certain shock to the imagination², helping people to say ³Yes,² not simply with their heads, but with commitment to be lived out in their entire lives. [26]

    Thus, while rejecting the idea that poetry can be of itself 'religious', we can see how poetic language, with its heightened form and use of metaphor and symbol, helps to generate imaginativeness in those who read and hear it. This is especially pertinent to its use within religious settings where respondents to energising poetic language can justifiably feel that they have been energised by the creative, imaginative, energising God. Their participation in these poetic moments can energise their creative, imaginative, life.

    Text - Source and Context

    Questions remain about the source and setting of such poetry. There is little credibility in the idea that only Christian poets can produce poetry which will function effectively in the re-creative way described above. Many Christians, despite our best intentions, can and do write very bad poetry; and conversely many who are not self consciously 'religious' nevertheless can and do write poetry which energises and engages profoundly with 'the language of ultimate concern'.

    Sallie McFague acknowledges this, but insists that the more helpful of these writers will be those 'who, although not Christian, have been deeply influenced by the parabolic mode' [27], which is her term for the symbols and metaphors employed in scriptural traditions. However, McFague insists that truly 'Christian' poetry is distinctive:
      The ³test² of a Christian poet is whether or not the reality with which he or she is dealing is the transformation or recontextualization of the ordinary by the graciousness of God. It is not impossible to separate the Christian poets who have been concerned with this process from those who merely use Christian symbols because they provide a rich tradition for their own perspective. [28]
    A 'genuine Christian poet' uses the images, symbols, and stories in Scripture as 'signposts which help us to read our way and for which the poet must provide new contexts, create new metaphors, in order that they may be read at all' [29].This is illustrated by Gerard Manley Hopkins' The Windhover, a poem which uses no religious language at all and yet succeeds in being a radically charged expression of Christ's passion. The poem is a parable, inexhaustibly offering 'the possibility of helping us to encounter the crucifixion'. [30]

    Thus, truly 'Christian' poetry need not employ any explicit 'Christian' symbols but will be founded on a profound understanding of the 'parabolic form', the inheritance of signs and symbols and poetic language from the scriptures and tradition.

    This suggests that for Christian poetry to be most effective it relies not solely on form but also on context. The reader must understand the 'parabolic form' on which the poem is founded, and the metaphors through which the 'parable' is filtered. This requires that the poem knows its context. The Windhover provides an example of this. It uses metaphors from an early morning vision (daylight, dawn, air, wind), from royalty (minion, falcon, kingdom, dauphin), and horsemanship (riding, rein). If used in a context where, for example, the language of royalty is obsolete, its metaphors fail to communicate and it loses much of its impact.

    Language works best, or perhaps only ever, in a tangible context. This is perhaps especially true for poetic language used in the context of worship. We turn now to look in turn at four particular examples of this.

    Turn Again to Life - Mary Lee Hall
    (The First Reading at the funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales, Westminster Abbey, 6 September 1997)
      If I should die and leave you here awhile,
      Be not like others, sore undone, who keep
      Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
      For my sake - turn again to life and smile,
      Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
      Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
      Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
      And I, perchance, may therein comfort you. [31]
    This poem, read by Princess Diana's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, provided a dramatic opening to the 'word' section of Diana's funeral service. After a week of saturation media comment, in which the life, times and tragic death of Diana were endlessly recycled, this service was the focus of international attention. It was intended to hold the formality of a state funeral together with a recognition of the 'informal' character of 'the people's princess'. It was designed to do justice to a woman portrayed as a 'non-establishment' figure who lived nevertheless at the heart of the establishment.

    The poem's opening had real impact following the ceremonial entrance into the cathedral of the cortege, the bidding, the national anthem and Diana's self-chosen wedding hymn I Vow to Thee My Country.

    That hymn resonated with echoes of Diana's explicit commitment to 'her' people, the fraternity she was perceived as sharing with her 'subjects', and following it the poem's opening words impacted; because this was a poem written in the first person singular. At this service it was the voice of the deceased speaking to the assembly - her voice.

    This made the major function of the poem identifying. Through the voice of Lady Sarah McCorquodale the listeners were involved in a dialogue with Diana, her voice speaking in intimate terms to each, asking them to turn from their mourning back to life, to put their hearts and hands into continuing her work, and to expect her to comfort them as they did so. Through the poem, they could feel that they were in close relationship with her.

    The poem was also performative, Diana's 'voice' serving to bring her into the ceremony, directly, seeming to cut through the 'mediated' Diana of the newsreels to the 'real' Diana. Its purpose was also perhaps intended to help perform the act of helping a nation to 'turn again to life' after a week of obsessive grieving. This is a fiduciary intention - to produce in the community of mourners the activity of completing 'those unfinished tasks of mine'. As the spoken poem transforms 'the silent dust' of a dead princess into a voice of real comfort, so the hearers are energised into 'revelatory participation' [32].

    This does beg a question about the nature of the 'revelation' encountered on this occasion, as it is not a revelation of God. This is a secular poem written by a 'religious outsider', used in this context to function as the voice of a secular 'saint'. There is no mention of God in these lines, no authority in the poem save that of the voice - Diana's. There is little to suggest that Mary Lee Hall is operating with 'the parabolic form' as her base.

    Assessing it in McFague's terms, the poem in this setting does achieve a 'transformation or recontextualisation of the ordinary'. It connects the hearer intimately to the loved, lost princess and helps them to 'turn again to life'. But rather than achieving this 'by the graciousness of God' it offers instead a somewhat cautious secular comfort: 'And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.'

    Poem for Benjamin Tomkins - John Davies
    (Funeral of Benjamin John Tomkins, Ridley Hall Chapel, 17 March 1999)
      now breathe
      great breaths of heaven
      move well
      for pain has gone
      cry joy
      and sing
      your heart beats strong now
      cherished little one
    Another funeral poem, in a very different context. Benjamin Tomkins died after merely two weeks of a life of struggle with a multiplicity of physical problems. The poem was originally written as a private expression of grief and solidarity with the parents Ian and Deborah, but they included it in the service because 'it said everything about him, and our feelings at that time'. [33]

    The service was held at Ridley Hall chapel, a service full of Anglican ordinands and their families, alongside the Tomkins family and friends; a predominantly 'believing' congregation, well familiar with McFague's 'parabolic form' and thus able to connect the largely non-religious language in this poem with its informing metaphor of the resurrection of the dead.

    This is an identifying poem linking mourners to the deceased, but in the opposite way to the Diana poem, in that here the voice is of the mourners, extending their blessing and hope to the deceased. It is also identifying because it assumes the mourners' knowledge of the baby's sufferings, and invites them to share in them. Each line describes an aspect of Benjamin's physical struggles - breathing problems, lack of movement, pain, a weak voice, the heart problems which ultimately ended his short life. These were the symbols of Benjamin's struggle with which the mourners, through these words, would identify.

    Alongside this, in the 'parabolic' context, the poem was performative: as the mourners read it, their hopes were realised:

    'The poem made real our feelings of devastation, but we also knew that he was healed. This was a way of saying it: the poem pulled the hopes and the pain together.'

    The poem performed a number of theological functions. There was an aspect of intercession to the poem in that setting; it expressed the mourners' commitment to the deceased and (in accepting the underlying faith metaphor) to God; it also voiced expectation about Benjamin's future and in so doing could also be defined as proclamatory: using the language of 'surprising hope' in what on the surface seemed a hopeless situation.

    The poem was not spoken in the service, but printed on the cover of the service sheet and suggested to the congregation as a focus for a time of silent reflection at the centre of the service. This exercise permitted a transformation to take place in the hearts of those who participated in it:

    'It gave people space and made it an extraordinarily personal time. The poem took us through Benjamin's life, death and resurrection in just a few words, and went straight to and from the heart.' [33a]

    We Walked on to Emmaus - John Davies
    (performed at Cafe Emmaus jazz worship event, Ridley Hall, 7 May 1999)
      We walked on to Emmaus
      With a man who came from nowhere
      Knowing nothing except that which he was told
      And his friendship was an excuse
      For our telling of these tales
      Which comforted us, though our hearts were cold

      We walked on to Emmaus
      Full of all the fondest memories
      And our kindling of them made us feel more bold
      For the questions that he asked us
      Were bread to feed our thoughts
      And a comfort to us, though our hearts were cold

      We walked on to Emmaus
      And we told him about Mary
      Giving some small hope to which our hearts could hold
      And we talked of resurrection
      And the strange scene in the garden
      Which comforted us, though our hearts were cold

      We walked on to Emmaus
      And were shocked by his insistence
      That all these things had been foreseen of old
      And the fire of his persistence
      Was bread which fed our souls
      A breaking fire which purged our hearts of cold
    This poem assumes in its hearers a knowledge of a particular biblical story - Luke 24.13-35, the appearance of Christ to two of his disciples on the Emmaus road. Its context was an 'experimental' act of worship 'with jazz and blues' in a 'jazz cafe' setting, with food and wine being served to the tables of the congregation.

    It is the only poem selected in this paper which explicitly references scriptural metaphors and symbols, and it was written to serve a particular liturgical purpose - to prepare a congregation who had earlier heard the biblical story and seen it enacted, for a eucharistic 'encounter' where bread would be served at their tables and broken during the singing of The Lord's Prayer.

    It is thus a poem 'in uncertainty', to use R.S. Thomas' phrase, or 'hovering between images' (Coleridge) in anticipation of an act of imaginative engagement with a 'root metaphor'. As Christ became known to the disciples (who provide the voice in this poem) in the breaking of the bread, so he may become known to the Cafe Emmaus congregation in their breaking of bread. This fulfils McFague's definition of Christian poetry in its role of recontextualising the images of the tradition, using metaphor that 'recreates the possibility for revelatory participation'. [34]

    The poem relies on a conscious use of symbol to enable this to happen. Three symbols predominate: fire (of the Holy Spirit, at work in us), passion (Christ's and ours), and particularly, bread (the bread of life, Christ - broken for us, feeding our thoughts and our souls).

    This is not performative because nothing happens here, but it anticipates a transforming moment - when the bread is broken later in the service, 'souls will be fed' and the 'breaking fire' of God 'will purge hearts of cold'. Ultimately this poem is concerned with the reconciliation of opposites - the comfortless feeling of distance from Christ and the comfort of reconnection, a 'breaking fire' of excitement in the Spirit replacing a feeling of being (out in the) cold. This is an attempt to redefine mystery by 'coming at it newly and indirectly ... thru parables and food'. [35]

    Holy City - Stewart Henderson
    ('Liverpool Celebration' service, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, 6 November 1995)
      How holy sits this city
      Blessed with people
      We, the offspring of funeral famine
      And market forces slavery
      We, the grandchildren of now-closed chapels
      And sandstone suburbs
      Here in this city of resignation and - over the water - aspiration.

      How lonely sits this city
      Bruised with people
      In England, but not of it
      Feeling ourselves punished and shamed
      Talking to the world through soap operas,
      Drag queen comics and peroxide footballers

      City in deep mourning
      Looking back, sore with nostalgia
      For our first communion
      When we were dressed pure
      And knew nothing but that moment of absolution and acceptance
      The body of Christ
      The blood of Christ
      And the ham tea afterwards

      How anxious sits this city
      Stubbed with people
      Smoking our evenings through pub quiz nights
      Swaggering home in the dark
      Having had a few
      Remembering our childhood
      And those glossy coloured plastic windmill thingys on a stick
      You could buy at West Kirby

      Sentimental city
      Not right with itself

      How holy sits this city
      Blessed with people
      Nowhere near paradise
      But not far from it
      On probation, on drugs, Honor Blackman

      That's us - a joke for every occasion
      A quip at unsuitable times
      Unruly - but helpful
      Like: broadcasting the Laughing Policeman in a mortuary to cheer everyone up

      City of philosophers
      Lacking any formal training

      Surrealists without a paintbrush
      Knowing there are too many gaps in the world
      As we pray before the bleak altar:
      'Christ flayed raw to pay our toll
      Have you ointment for our soul?'

      And though, even now,
      As happy powder changes hands
      Not far from here
      Yet still

      How holy sits this city
      Blessed with people. [36]
    'Holy City' was commissioned for a service which opened the 'Jesus in the City' UK Urban Congress, a major gathering of Christians united by their commitment to urban mission and ministry, motivated by a 'bias to the poor' ethic. The service was the first in a series during the congress in which representative groups each celebrated their home city in worship. Stewart Henderson is a Liverpool-born poet who performed this poem at the start of the service to a congregation of congress delegates and invited guests representing the 'great and good' of the city of Liverpool. It followed preliminaries including 'welcome' addresses from the Lord Mayor and Bishop of Liverpool.

    'Holy City' is a poem which seeks to identify the hearer with the subject: 'we', 'ourselves', in 'this city'. The native members of the congregation would intuitively relate to this function of the poem; the visitors may not, but would perhaps have found it functioned on an informative level, giving insight into the nature of the place and the people they were visiting.

    There is an underlying narrative at work here, about the nature of Liverpool and its people. It is mainly assumed, though it sometimes surfaces, for example in the selective socio-historical survey of the opening stanzas, and lines which make explicit certain Liverpool characteristics: 'a joke for every occasion'.

    The narrative identifies a religious basis to the city's culture. 'Our first communion' is all-embracing, suggesting that Christian faith is foundational to Liverpool people. The way the poem employs symbols suggests that this faith merges seamlessly with the more 'folksy' aspects of life in the city - 'body, blood, ham tea'.

    This is a nostalgic poem from an exiled Liverpudlian which harks back to childhood and sentimentalises the people and their historical struggle without providing any great insight into their present character or predicament. Stewart Henderson is concerned with their re-creation, recognising that a 'sentimental city' is 'not right with itself'. He sees the people as a source of blessing and in his portrayal of them as a religious people hints that their Christian faith may resource their renewal.

    The poem 'leaves holes' in a manner which satisfies Dylan Thomas' analysis - gaps which allow something not explicit in the poem to enter in. Of particular importance here, are the hole between the two words in the provocative phrase 'holy city' and the holes in the phrase 'nowhere near paradise / but not far from it'. These holes promote the suggestion that there is a latent potential, somehow rooted in Christian faith, that exists in the city.


    I think that each of these four poems has demonstrated that there is a specific role for poetry in worship. Each performs functions which other forms of liturgy or acts of symbolism could not. The 'Diana' poem brought the voice of the deceased direct to the congregation; the 'Benjamin' poem explicitly linked the pain of a baby's earthly life with a certain heavenly healing; the 'Emmaus' poem helped a congregation to anticipate in a very real way, a transforming quasi-eucharistic act; the 'Liverpool' poem suggested in wit, satire, sentimentality and in what it left unsaid a way forward for the city's people.

    Each of these poems complemented the liturgy, songs and prayers which accompanied them in each particular setting and helped to transform the perceptions of the congregation, to move them into a different place. Because of the directness, denseness or clarity of the poetic form this was achieved in each case where other linguistic forms would probably have failed.

    From all of this we can see that, when well used, poetry can heighten the experience of worship for all who hear it. This paper has been narrow in focus, but what has emerged here about the poem's potential to 'transform the ordinary by the graciousness of God' may equally apply to liturgies, prayers and songs which are consciously 'poetic' in style.

    Poetry is a language form concerned with redefinition, rooted in the tangible but aware of the mystery which coexists there. In the service of an incarnational God, with all the mystery and tangibility that suggests, it is a lasting and valuable tool, a source of challenge and change when used imaginatively in the context of worship.


    [1] Kent, C, Footnotes and Headlines: a book of play-prayers (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967), p.18, q. in McFague, S, Speaking in Parables (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), p.114 [back]

    [2] Not exclusively - besides poetry, symbolic actions, gesture and movement can also help 'redefine mystery' in new and indirect ways. Important though they are, these aspects of worship cannot be adequately addressed in an paper of such limited length, which shall maintain a focus on the specific use of poems in worship. [back]

    [3] Thomas, R.S, ed, The Penguin Book of Religious Verse (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), p.11 (quoting Keats) [back]

    [4] Brueggemann, W, Finally Comes the Poet (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), p.1 [back]

    [5] McFague, p.92 [back]

    [6] Space excludes the possibility of addressing 'poetic' liturgical writing, 'poetic' sermonising and poetry-in-song in any detail. [back]

    [7] Crystal, D, Liturgical Language in a Sociolinguistic Perspective, in Jasper, D and R.C.D (eds), Language and the Worship of the Church (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990) [back]

    [8] Tillich, P, The Religious Symbol in Hook, S (ed), Religious Experiences and Truth (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1962), p.303, quoted in Thistleton, A.C, Language, Liturgy and Meaning (Nottingham: Grove, 1975), p.22 [back]

    [9] Thistleton, p.22 [back]

    [10] Thistleton, p.4 [back]

    [11] Wainwright, G, The Language of Worship in Jones, C, et al, eds, The Study of Liturgy (London: SPCK, 1997) [back]

    [12] Wainwright, p.520-21 [back]

    [13] Wainwright, p.521-22 [back]

    [14] Norris, K, Finding a Place for Poets in the Church, The Christian Century, November 19, 1986, p.1053 [back]

    [15] Fitzgibbon, C, Life of Dylan Thomas (London: J.M. Dent, 1965), p.335 [back]

    [16] Fitzgibbon, p.336 [back]

    [17] Fitzgibbon, p.336 [back]

    [18] Fitzgibbon, p.336 [back]

    [19] Coulson, J, Newman and the Common Tradition, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1970, p.20 [back]

    [20] Coulson, p.10 [back]

    [21] Coulson, p.10 [back]

    [22] Coulson, p.11 [back]

    [23] Coulson, p.4 (my italics) [back]

    [24] Stevens, W, It Must Be Abstract, from Selected Poems (London: Faber, 1970) [back]

    [25] McFague, p.93 [back]

    [26] McFague, p.94 [back]

    [27] McFague, p.95 [back]

    [28] McFague, p.97 [back]

    [29] McFague, p.97 [back]

    [30] McFague, p.97 [back]

    [31] 'Turn Again to Life' source: [back]

    [32] McFague, p.93 [back]

    [33] This and the following quotes in this section are from Ian Tomkins, interviewed on 28 March 2000 [back]

    [33a] During Easter 2003 Benjamin's parents erected a memorial stone to Benjamin at Wanborough churchyard. They had the words of the poem inscribed on the back. See blog for December 23, 2003. [back]

    [34] McFague, p.93 [back]

    [35] McFague, p.114 [back]

    [36] 'Holy City' © 1995 Stewart Henderson. Used with the author's permission. Can not be used or reproduced in any format without written agreement from the author [back]