The Poetry and Hymnody of George Herbert

James Bos

Within the religious life and musical expression of Anglican Christians leading up to the English Civil War, George Herbert (1593-1633) stands out as a remarkable example of faith and musical output for those interested in hymn study.[1]  Acclaimed as one of the foremost “metaphysical” poets of the early 17th century, he is credited with composing hundreds of poems and at least ninety-five well-known and respected hymn texts.[2]  Herbert was a uniquely eclectic individual who served as a pastor, wrote numerous prose works, played musical instruments and also composed tunes for his songs and hymn texts while playing the lute.  Herbert’s songs and hymns did not gain widespread attention during his lifetime, but they were of such importance that when John and Charles Wesley discovered his work they were happy to adapt many of his texts for use in Methodist church life and widely promoted the musical output of this Anglican minister who they esteemed so much.

George Herbert was born into a wealthy and powerful Welsh family in Montgomery, Powys, Wales in 1593.  His family was politically accomplished, but simultaneously took a significant interest in the arts.  While his father Richard Herbert maintained a position in Parliament and a country estate, his mother was a kindred friend of the poet John Donne, as well as other lesser-known writers, and a few artists who must have made a great impression upon the young George.  Indeed, Margaret Herbert was very careful about the manner in which she raised her children, intentionally immersing them in the cultural epicenters of England by taking them to numerous events, such as masques and plays at the Banqueting House in London, William Shakespeare at the Globe theater, great sermons at Whitehall Chapel, and concerts at Westminster Abbey.  She was a socially talented woman and even enjoyed the likes of famous composers as John Bull and William Byrd at her dining table. Thus, aside from formal educational pursuits, young George was very well educated simply through the interesting people with which his family came in contact.

At the age of twelve Herbert was formally enrolled in Westminster School.  Notably he was to study under the tutelage of the headmaster, Lancelot Andrewes, who was an outspoken Anglican apologist and pastor who would eventually play a major role in the translation and production of the King James Bible.  After studying at Westminster, Herbert was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge where he attained both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  He was academically gifted so that upon graduation the university appointed him as a reader in rhetoric.  He served faithfully in this role until he was once again promoted to the position of the University’s public orator.  This unique position put him in a place of responsibility for all relations with nobility and official public correspondence, inevitably affording him the attention of many noteworthy patrons, including the Duke of Richmond, the Marquis of Hamilton, and even King James himself.[3]

Eventually his public connections would lead him to a seat in parliament.  However, he would only serve in this capacity for a year as a lifelong compulsion to enter the ministry finally gained the upper hand and he gave into his calling despite his own feelings of unworthiness, which were a real and recurrent element in his long resistance to this endeavor.[4]  In 1624 he was ordained and took on minor priestly duties, and in 1629 he married Jane Danvers.[5]   Much more could be said of his remarkable life up to this point, but for the sake of this essay, biographical exploration will be confined to his final years of ministry and the historical context shaping his convictions, before turning to his poems and hymn texts themselves.

It seems odd that a man so accustomed to the complexities of the political, literary, and religious landscape of England would turn to pastoring in a rural parish outside the cultural epicenters of London and Cambridge, yet that is exactly what George Herbert did.  This intentional, yet cataclysmically divergent change to his state in the social hierarchy can be partially explained by considering Herbert’s own deeply introspective nature, which is revealed in his letters and personal poems.  Herbert had intended to enter sacred orders since the age of seventeen, yet his talents and connections had led him into the public eye with much success.  This inevitably delayed his pursuit of ministry, but in his conscience he often wrestled with fears that his life had been spent in vain and sinful ambition, worrying his decision to seek favor at court had compromised his calling.  His surrender to the priesthood was thus his final act of relenting to what he had by now come to believe was God’s will, no matter how lowly it may have seemed to the public eye.  Consequently, in 1630 when he was offered the position of rector for the small country parish of Fugglestone with Bemerton, he accepted and wholeheartedly embraced this transition with all its incumbent responsibilities.

The parish at Bemerton was mostly a rustic one adjacent to the roads leading out of Salisbury.  Parish registers indicate that sixty-nine adult male inhabitants lived in its community, a figure that put estimates of the number of inhabitants at around 200 people.[6]  As the abode of two landed gentry and a small village, the majority of families made their living as farmers, millers, dairymen, or cloth-makers working with the agricultural bounty of cattle, sheep, pigs, corn, and dairy products. There is evidence that a few well-to-do inhabitants had migrated out of Salisbury to escape a plague and subsequently made Bemerton a more permanent place of residence.  While such folk were far beneath the class and station of Herbert, his manner of interacting with these new parishioners and the actions he took on their behalf clearly demonstrate his character and genuine concern for their spiritual well-being. Even though he had established himself as one of the foremost religious poets of England, these actions prove that he did not think of himself mainly as a poet, but as a shepherd whose primary concern was tending to the needs of his rural flock in preaching the Gospel, calling people to repentance for their sins, and visiting the sick to pray and care for them with whatever limited medical means he might provide.

Thankfully for posterity, historians can learn much about Herbert’s ministry at Bemerton through his famous prose work: The Country Parson.[7]  This book, with parallel intent to Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor, is a detailed manual for the conduct of rural Anglican priests and meticulously records Herbert’s own practices and insights into parish ministry. Even the briefest examination of this work put’s Herbert’s humility and selfless nature on display, as demonstrated by excerpts such as the following: “Wherefore neither disdaineth he to enter into the poorest cottage, though he even creep into it, and though it smell never so loathsomely; for both God is there also, and those for whom God died.”[8] Likewise, he also used this manual to instruct rural ministers to, “condescend(s) even to the knowledge of tillage, and pastorage, and makes great use of them in teaching, because people by what they understand, are best led to what they understand not.”[9]

Thus, the Cambridge-educated, former member of Parliament who had performed oratory for his own king did not feel it beneath him that he should adapt the simple rustic, colloquial language of even the most impoverished and uneducated among his flock.  If such humility would win their souls or comfort them in affliction, then it was a pastor’s duty to learn about their needs and livelihoods, no matter how mean or dirty such must be.  This knowledge of nature and common people is a significant key to understanding his poetry and the hymns which would be made from them.

There is one other element that must be considered before analysis of his hymns can proceed.  This is a cursory understanding of his polemic verse titled: Musae Responsoriae, which was written in response to a 200-line poem by the Puritan Reformer, Andrew Melville, attacking church tradition as embodied in the Anglican liturgy. Herbert felt Melville had gone too far in comparing its “set liturgy to the magic wheel of incantation, the priest’s words at infant baptism to the noises of a screech-owl, and church music to the clash of Phrygian cymbals.”[10]  Herbert did not feel it his duty to respond to Melville simply because of his strong Calvinist leanings, but rather because those leanings were adamantly interested in erasing any component of religious life which could not be explained by rational discourse in light of Reformed theories of salvation.  Thus, the whole of liturgy, episcopacy, ornament, music, and mystery surrounding Anglican worship was suspect to Puritans of Melville’s generation, and accordingly many Reformed Christians who were politically involved tried to squelch and even outlaw its expressions in the English Church.  They were, on the whole, not successful until the English Civil War and the establishment of the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell sometime after Herbert’s death.

Gary Kuchar writes, “Driven by religious and social insecurity, Elizabethan Puritans had made assurance of salvation the center of devotional life.”[11]  In the process, they made very intricate and highly systematized theological theories of conversion which explained in minute detail how God was believed to work in the life of His elect.  Mystery and ambiguity were elements that they did not permit, with the former seeming dangerously close to popery as it was permitted in the Church of England’s rites. Only the Word of God as illuminated by the Holy Spirit was deemed necessary to them for spiritual edification, while all other things were sin and idolatry, which could have no place in a world concerned with spiritual certainty.  To a person like Herbert, who loved the beauty, musical expression, and ritual of his church and ascribed to a historically orthodox view of scripture in line with a close reading of the doctors of the Church, such a perspective was at risk for trespassing God’s inscrutability as laid out in Romans 11 and elaborated in Augustine’s later writing.[12]   In doing so, such teaching also destroyed things Herbert felt were essential to the edification of the Body of Christ in its worship.

A close examination of Herbert’s only polemical defense of such things against Puritans reveals that it would be wrong to say that he was anti-Calvinist, since many of his patrons in later years practiced a moderate form of Calvinism.  After all, the Musae Responsoriae itself praises major Reformed leaders including John Calvin, Martin Bucer, and Theodore Beza.  It would also be wrong to conclude that Herbert found doctrine irrelevant.  He never defended any rite of the church as divinely inspired, but instead intuitively seemed to grasp how symbolism and shared rituals brought a unifying power to the liturgy of the Church of England.[13]  Thus, in his poetic defense against the aggression of Andrew Melville, Herbert was very careful to point out how he agreed with Melville’s conclusions about the sovereignty of God, while also responding with a statement of the reasonableness of careful order and symbol in the church, as God has created both order and symbols for his creation to benefit by.  Herbert’s witticisms then extend to mock how the Puritans seemed to fear the very things that God created, as the Puritans of his day were “as much afraid of the sign of the cross as are demons,” while the cross is a natural sign that the apostles felt it most evil to be ashamed of this symbol.[14] Much of the argument that follows this is best summarized in stating that beauty and discipline are naturally desirable aspects of Christian worship insofar as they create unity among the worshipers in a church, while communicating transcendent principles of divine order.  Herbert did not wish to alienate Calvinists in this respect, but instead desired to reason with them about the goodness of church tradition.  From these observations it is clear he needed to walk a middle road, theologically.  Doctrine was very important to him as a pastor, yet he did not get caught up in the extremes of asceticism espoused by Reformed Christians, just as he did not get caught up in the equally dogmatic, unreasoning mysticism of certain elements within his own Anglican church.

Herbert’s care and caution in threading this needle of dispute helped those who would understand him see just how careful and intentional he was with his words.  It is fair to conclude from his nuanced handling of this theological dispute that he was equally careful in his religious poetry, including those verses which were eventually set to become devotional songs.  In searching for the theological qualities in Herbert’s lyrics, Gary Kuchar of the University of Victoria says,

Rather than being a statement of faith, a Herbert poem is a complex aesthetic process consisting of an implied backstory, a beginning, a middle, and an end, all of which are mediated by voice, form, figure, and allusion.  And although the application of doctrine to life is often a crucial feature of Herbert’s spiritual aesthetic, it constitutes part of the poetic experience rather than being its ultimate, synchronically translatable result… On the one hand, then, Herbert’s generous ambiguity is a function of his attention to poetic form and the experience that particular lyric forms represent and generate.  As a first-rate critical theorist, Herbert recognized that a lyric poem is an event in the participating consciousness of the reader as well as a representation of an unfolding experience on the part of the speaker.[15]


In other words, while doctrine was central to what Herbert conveyed, it is not presented in the sense of merely representing a propositional truth, but rather for the process of dynamic poetic experience whereby the reader or listener can participate with the doctrine for a more existential grasp.  Thus, he was painstakingly mindful of the words and figures of speech which he chose.  With this key, and the aforementioned necessity of understanding how his affinity for nature and common people guided his ministry, it is now possible to examine Herbert’s hymns.

The commencement of this hymn exploration begins with understanding what a hymn is from a hymnological perspective.  In the present usage, the word hymn is used to denote both tune and text.  Unfortunately, this is a misconception.  Hymnology refers to hymns meaning the text alone, while the melodic and harmonic settings often applied to these texts are studied separately as “tunes.”  And yet, the two often seem inseparable.  In this respect it is important to note that Herbert is credited with authoring some 95 texts (which will henceforth be referred to as hymns).  While he was a very musical person who played the lute and performed on a weekly basis with musicians at the cathedral in Salisbury near his home, any tunes that he created for these hymns are no longer in existence and most were likely created for private poetic devotion.  Thus, though there is plenty of evidence that Herbert was a remarkably musical person – his contemporary Charles Cotton said his was a “soul composed of harmonies” – and his legacy today is in the lyrical poems now used as hymns.[16]  We will now look with special attention at four of these hymns.

In choosing these four hymns, it is significant to know that many of his texts now used for church music were not even circulated in his lifetime and come from his most personal private reflections as a poet by using verse to explore his own inner wrestlings as a Christian.  Music and poetry were central to his life even to the end and in his final sickness he was said to have risen against the suffering to play his lute and make music in worship.  On his deathbed he was very concerned with the proper use of the poems he had written and subsequently decided to entrust his “little book of poems” to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, founder of a nearby religious community, commending Nicholas that, “If he can think it may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul, let it be made public; if not, let him burn it, for I and it are the least of God’s mercies.”[17] When Nicholas received this gift he was overwhelmed by the quality and devotion of the work and submitted it to be published with the title The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations.  Several poems from this compilation were subsequently adapted by later composers and spiritual leaders to be used as hymns for congregational worship.  Of these Let All the World in Every Corner Sing, The God of Love My Shepherd Is, and Teach Me, My God and King stand out as especially prominent though there are several others which this paper will now explore as more popular examples of his work.

In searching for those hymn texts that have left the deepest impression on Christian worship, not only in the 17th century, but up to the present: it was helpful to consult hymnary.org.   This webpage lists Herbert’s songs ranked by the number of appearances they have made in hymnals.  To further the purposes of studying Herbert’s hymnody it will suffice to select the most popularly recurring texts as relevant examples of his poetic style and the content which concerned his devotional lyrics.  The hymns that recur the most are Teach Me, My God and King, In All Things Thee to See; Let All the World in Every Corner Sing; and Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life at 240, 147, and 59 appearances in various hymnals respectively.  The other hymn that has thus far been mentioned is one that is currently more popular among choirs, The God of Love my Shepherd Is, appears in hymnals 30 times.  Taken together in all of their respective settings, these four hymns provide plenty of content to commence an analysis.  The entirety of each hymn will be examined, but for the sake of space and brevity, only the first stanza of each writing shall be included in this essay.


Teach Me, My God and King, In All Things Thee to See

The first hymn, Teach Me, My God and King, In All Things Thee to See is a poem of six stanzas, with four lines each and is sometimes also known by the name, The Elixir.  It is Herbert’s most enduring devotional poem and was published posthumously in The Temple.[19] The hymn has a meter of and has been set to varying tunes including: SANDYS, ST. ANDREW, and MORNINGTON.  The first stanza of this hymn goes thus:

Teach me, my God and King,
in all things Thee to see,
and what I do in anything,
to do it as for Thee.[20]


When the 7th edition for this poem was published there was a reference to a tincture, also known to his contemporaries as a Philosopher’s Stone, which was subsequently translated by the Wesley brothers as an Elixir before being omitted nearly altogether by later generations.  This is important as the terms tincture and elixir originally added another layer of poetic meaning to the text, although they no longer mean exactly what they did in 17th-century England.  In Herbert’s original intent these terms conveyed allusions to the practice of alchemy by which something ordinary or base could be transformed into pure gold.  Thus, the original hymn possesses the added meaning of the person’s senses being changed as they attend to the will of God such that the world around them would undergo a kind of alchemy.  Such an alchemy would allow the simplicity of everyday life to become divine.  The third and fourth stanzas essentially sums up this meaning with the lines:

All may of Thee partake;
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture for Thy sake
Will not grow bright and clean.

If done to obey thy laws,
even servile labors shine,
hallowed is toil if this the cause,
the meanest work divine.


Much has clearly been lost to modern readers who have no context for such medieval metaphors, but this dimension of symbolic appeal definitely reveals the poetic powers by which Herbert showed the beauty of simple Christian living.  Not only does this poem paint Christian obedience in such an original allusion, but it also makes clear connection to the two scriptural messages of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” and Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”[21]

In addition, as a posthumously published poem likely finalized in his last years as a country pastor among the toils and needs of simple folk, it reveals the joy that he found outside of courtly life.  By surrendering to the call of God to shepherd a small church and abandoning his worldly ambition, it is more than likely that the alchemy of perception here alluded to was an alchemy he had experienced in his own senses amidst his rural parishioners.  Grasping the context of 17th-century language here is essential, but otherwise thanks to the meter and simple loveliness of each stanza this hymn remains one of his most popular works.


Let All the World in Every Corner Sing

Let All the World in Every Corner Sing is Herbert’s second most prominent hymn and is an example of an antiphon in only two verses, which in Western musical tradition is a call and response form between two or more groups, or possibly a soloist or cantor and a group.  Metrically this hymn follows a pattern with an intermittent refrain and the text has been set to the tunes LUCKINGTON and ALL THE WORLD.  The first stanza of this hymn goes thus:

Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”
The heav’ns are not too high,
God’s praise may thither fly;
the earth is not too low,
God’s praises there may grow.
Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”


This hymn is another one that first appeared in The Temple in 1633 shortly after Herbert’s death.  Its basic message is how nothing can keep God’s praises from getting to Him, and how the church has a responsibility to sing them from the heart.  As such it is definitely a “call to worship” and the kind of hymn that might be usefully sung at the opening of a church gathering.  In addition, its antiphonal structure is uniquely contrasted to the strophic formula of most hymns sung in church so that when it is performed there is a natural emphasis placed on the response provided in the congregant’s singing.  As one professor of English literature has pointed out, in this hymn we see the author’s special interest in the human heart.[22]  As the lyrics convey, the congregation may and should sing or shout God’s praises in the public assembly, but it is the heart which “must bear the longest part,” i.e., continue praising God even when the church service has concluded.  This is a very beautiful hymn and the musical settings in which it is typically performed have done it much justice, however, some of the language in the original text is very antiquated.  Thus, it is not likely that modern churches will perform this hymn unless they make use of revised language.


Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life is also from The Temple where it appeared under the author’s intended heading of THE CALL.  This hymn consists of a structure of three stanzas of four lines each, and has the metric structure of  When sung it is set to a tune composed in 1911 by Ralph Vaughan Williams known as THE CALL, for the purpose of setting Herbert’s text to music.[23]  Its first stanza proceeds as follows:

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 killeth death.


The text has an interesting poetic structure with each stanza’s first line introducing three new metaphors for Christ.[24]  Following this first line, the remaining three lines of each stanza provide elucidation on each metaphor one-by-one, connecting the ideas and showing briefly how Christ fulfills each idea.  Herein, Christ is seen as nine different things for the believer showing that in all, He is their way, truth, life, light, feast, strength, joy, love, and heart.  Clearly, the first set of three metaphors alludes to John 14:6 where Jesus explicitly said he was the “Way, Truth, and the Life,” while the second set of metaphors seems to point to a wedding feast.  It seems possible that Herbert was thinking of the parable of the wedding feast in either Matthew 22 or Luke 12, or the wedding feast in Revelation 19.  The message of the third stanza is not so clear, though so it has been conjectured by noted Herbert scholar, John Drury that:

In the last verse this inherent dialogue between poet and Jesus melts into identity as the happiest feelings of the human heart are also the qualities of its indwelling divinity, Jesus. The reader has reached the heart of things—of everything—for Herbert, and the progression of the poem is revealed as a homecoming.[25]


Whatever the originating idea for this final stanza, it is quite evident that Herbert is displaying his ardent love for his Savior as all the previous metaphors are replaced with naming Jesus his love and his joy.  Owing to its favor among the Methodists for many generations and the wonderful new melody of its 20th-century tune by Vaughan Williams, this hymn is still enjoyable to contemporary audiences and is not likely to go out of use among hymn singing congregations.


The God of Love my Shepherd Is

The God of Love my Shepherd Is consists of five stanzas with four lines each and an meter.  It is most frequently sung to the tune of UNIVERSITY, but it has also been set to the tune of the Gaelic melody, ST. COLUMBA.[26] Its first stanza goes:

The God of love my shepherd is,
and he that doth me feed;
while he is mine and I am his,
what can I want or need?


As is obvious without explanation, this hymn is based upon Psalm 23.  The first, second, fourth, and fifth stanzas seem to take their ideas from the movement of the Psalm itself.  What is especially interesting with this hymn is how its third stanza maintains the theme of a shepherd and its sheep, while alluding to the parable of the lost sheep which Jesus shares in the Gospels, “Or if I stray, he doth convert, and bring my mind in frame”.  In this parable Jesus speaks of a shepherd leaving his herd behind to find and rescue one lost sheep who has gone astray, providing a comforting metaphor for his listeners to discern what God is like in His redemptive mercy.  Thus, the third stanza of this hymn is fascinating because though Psalm 23 does not mention a sheep going astray, Herbert suggests that he is the sheep who might stray even as far as the valley of the shadow of death.  In placing himself in the action of the Psalm, he contends that God would still pursue his mind to convert him back though Herbert has done nothing to deserve this kindness.  The final two stanzas essentially return to the ideas of Psalm 23, and the hymn concludes on an upward note, commending how God, the shepherd, is always there to guide and protect him so that God’s love will always be present in his life. Herbert concludes that since God’s love never ceases, neither will his praises cease response.  There have been many versions and revisions to this hymn and depending on the arrangement, it could be difficult for the average congregation.  For instance, in many newer versions of the hymn, the word ‘God’ has been changed to ‘King’ in the first line.  Despite this, it remains in popularity as a choral arrangement and its beautiful message is definitely worth the effort for any who would wish to incorporate it into Sunday worship.

In looking at these hymns it should be clear how much a master of rhetoric and single-minded saint George Herbert the pastor had become.  With all the talents of a Cambridge-educated poet and public speaker, he did not seek a literary career for himself like his contemporaries John Donne, William Shakespeare, or John Milton.  Instead, aside from The Country Parson and Musae Responsoriae his writings are mostly personal and introspective in nature.  In his lyrics he is fond of expounding the goodness of God, which to his mind were self-evident everywhere.  Moreover, these lyrics were always his joy to create, but always only of second-most importance in his desire to fully submit to God and love him with all of his heart.  Fascinatingly, while his choice to join the pastorate meant that he died in relative obscurity, his friends and the admiration of posterity have not left his memory so.  He remains a landmark figure in hymn-writing and a much-loved English poet to this day, often considered one of the premier metaphysical poets alongside John Donne.  Neither have his hymns and devotional lyrics gone out of use.  Although linguistically quite different than modern speech patterns, and occasionally requiring slight revisions for the singer, his poems have gained much utility as hymns and lyrics for choral arrangements.  John Wesley wrote admiringly of Herbert in his Letters and Journal, and both he and his brother Charles famously adapted forty-nine Herbert poems for use as hymns among the early Methodist Societies.[27]  In later years at the beginning of the 20th century, Ralph Vaughan Williams then fell in love with the story and poetry of Herbert, choosing five of his poems for choral settings in the collection of Five Mystical Songs for Voice and Piano for which he composed some special new tunes.

There are many other remarkable individuals who have also been touched by his work and the honesty with which he desired to worship; too many to enumerate here.  Perhaps one reason was his authenticity.  In an age obsessed with certainty, much like our own, Herbert remained humble about his own shortcomings and spiritual doubts, while seeking earnestly the grace of God in the midst of many personal imperfections. Herbert described his poetry as “a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed between God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus, my Master, in whose service I have now found perfect freedom.”[28] As John Drury has written, Herbert was “lost in a humble way,” yet so confident in God’s grace to rescue him.[29]  Accordingly, he spent much of his life in personal devotion trying to express his thanks through his words and his hymns, and is thus an extraordinary example of vital Christian faith in the 17th century.



Anonymous. Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life. https://hymnary.org/text/come_my_way_my_truth_my_life. (accessed April 6, 2020).

_____. George Herbert. https://hymnary.org/person/Herbert_G. (Accessed April 1, 2020)

_____. Let All the World in Every Corner Sing.  https://hymnary.org/text/let_all_the_world_in_every_corner_sing.  (accessed April 5, 2020).

_____. Teach me, my God and King.  https://hymnary.org/text/teach_me_my_god_and_king_in_all_thi. (accessed April 5, 2020).

_____. The God of Love My Shepherd Is. https://hymnary.org/text/the_god_of_love_my_shepherd_is_and_he. (accessed April 6, 2020).

Chute, Marchette.  Two Gentle Men; the Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick.  New York, Dutton, 1959.

Drury, John. Music at Midnight. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014.

 Ebner, Benjamin Todd.  A Soul Composed of Harmonies: George Herbert’s Life, Writings, and Choral Settings of His English Poetry. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 2014.

Fenner, Chris. Come, my way, my truth, my life with THE CALL.  https://www.hymnologyarchive.com/come-my-way-my-truth-my-life. (accessed April 6, 2020).

_____. The Elixir: Teach me, my God and King with SANDYS (A child this day is born). https://www.hymnologyarchive.com/teach-me-my-god-and-king. (accessed April 5, 2020).

Hawn, Michael C. and Michelle M. Corazao. History of Hymns: “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing” https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-all-the-world-in-every-corner-sing. (accessed April 6, 2020).

Herbert, George. The Country Parson. London: Printed by T. Maxey for T. Garthwait at the Little North Door of St. Paul’s, 1652.

_____.  The Works of George Herbert.  New York: Lovell, Publisher, c1881.

Hodgkins, Christopher, ed. George Herbert’s Pastoral. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2010.

Kuchar, Gary. George Herbert and the Mystery of the Word: Poetry and Scripture in Seventeenth-Century England, 2nd ed.  Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Leach, Elsie A. “John Wesley’s Use of George Herbert.” The Huntington Library Quarterly: 16, 2 (1953), 183-202.

 McGill, William J. Poet’s Meeting: George Herbert, R.S. Thomas, and the Argument with God.  Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, 2004.

Schoenfeldt, Michael Carl.  Prayer and Power: George Herbert and Renaissance Courtship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Stein, Arnold SidneyGeorge Herbert’s Lyrics [by] Arnold Stein. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1968.

Summers, Joseph H. George Herbert: His Religion and Art. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968.

Tuve, Rosemond. A Reading of George Herbert. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952.



[1] This article originated as a term paper for the course Studies in Hymnology at Campbellsville University.

[2] Anonymous, hymnary.org, George Herbert, https://hymnary.org/person/Herbert_G, (Accessed April 1, 2020).

[3] William J. McGill, Poet’s Meeting: George Herbert, R.S. Thomas, and the Argument with God (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2004), 16.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Joseph H. Summers, George Herbert: His Religion and His Art (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968), 35.

[6] Christopher Hodgkins, ed., and John Chandler, George Herbert’s Pastoral: The Country Parson’s Flock (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2010), 162.

[7] George Herbert, The Country Parson (London: Printed by T. Maxey for T. Garthwait at the Little North Door of St. Paul’s, 1652).

[8] Hodgkins, loc. cit.

[9] Ibid., 170.

[10] Summers, op. cit., 55-57.

[11] Gary Kuchar, George Herbert and the Mystery of the Word (Victoria, British Columbia: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017), 12-14.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Summers, op. cit., 56.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Kuchar, op. cit., 21.

[16] Benjamin Todd Ebner, A Soul Composed of Harmonies: George Herbert’s Life, Writings, and Choral Settings of His English Poetry (Columbia: University of South Carolina, 2014), 15.

[17] John Drury, Music at Midnight (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014), 251.

[18] This website, which is hosted by Calvin College, details information on over a million hymn tunes and texts with all the relevant information on hymnists and the hymnals wherein these hymns can be found.  By looking at his page, interested parties can find lists of texts as well as major biographical and compositional information about Herbert.

[19] Chris Fenner, The Elixir: Teach me, my God and King with SANDYS (A child this day is born),

https://www.hymnologyarchive.com/teach-me-my-god-and-king (accessed April 5, 2020).

[20] Anonymous, hymnary.org. Teach me, my God and King, https://hymnary.org/text/teach_me_my_god_and_king_in_all_thi (accessed April 5, 2020).

[21] Fenner, loc. cit.

[22] Michael C. Hawn, and Michelle M. Corazao, History of Hymns: “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing” https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-all-the-world-in-every-corner-sing, (accessed April 6, 2020).

[23] Anonymous, hymnary.org, Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life, https://hymnary.org/text/come_my_way_my_truth_my_life, (accessed April 6, 2020).

[24] Chris Fenner, Come, my way, my truth, my life with THE CALL, https://www.hymnologyarchive.com/come-my-way-my-truth-my-life, (accessed April 6, 2020).

[25] Ibid.

[26] Anonymous, hymnary.org. The God of Love My Shepherd Is, https://hymnary.org/text/the_god_of_love_my_shepherd_is_and_he, (accessed April 6, 2020).

[27] Elsie A. Leach, “John Wesley’s Use of George Herbert,” The Huntington Library Quarterly: 16 (1953), 183-202.

[28] John Drury, Music at Midnight (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014), 251.

[29] Ibid., 155-202.