The Praise Of Christ In English Devotional Poetry -- By: Donald T. Williams

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 09:1 (Jun 2011)
Article: The Praise Of Christ In English Devotional Poetry
Author: Donald T. Williams

The Praise Of Christ In English Devotional Poetry

Donald T. Williams

Toccoa Falls College

Toccoa Falls, Ga. 30598

Donald T. Williams holds a BA in English from Taylor University, an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a PhD in Medieval and Renaissance Literature from the University of Georgia. He is the author of six books: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Broadman, 1994), Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters (Toccoa Falls College Press, 1996), The Disciple's Prayer (Christian Publications, 1999), Mere Humanity: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition (Broadman, 2006), Credo: An Exposition of the Nicene Creed (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2007), and The Devil’s Dictionary of the Christian Faith (Chalice Press, 2008). He has also contributed essays, poems, and reviews to such journals as National Review, Christianity Today, Touchstone, The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Philosophia Christi, Theology Today, Christianity and Literature, Christian Scholar's Review, Mythlore, SEVEN, Christian Educator's Journal, Preaching, and Christian Research Journal. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Free Church of America with many years of pastoral experience, he has spent several summers in Africa training local pastors for Church Planting International, and currently serves as Professor of English and Director of the School of Arts and Sciences at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia. More material on the Inklings and other topics can be found at his website,

Abstract. English poetry began with the praise of Christ (“Caedmon’s Hymn”), and it remained a major theme in English verse for most of its history. Though Christ was eclipsed by his mother in the Middle English period, the Reformation returned a more Christocentric focus to poetry for the common people through metrical psalters and raised that theme to heights as yet unseen, both spiritual and artistic, in Sidney and Spenser. The Seventeenth Century was the great age of Protestant devotional poetry in Donne, Vaughan, and Herbert. After the Endarkenment of the Eighteenth Century, the praise of Christ retreated from public letters into church hymnody, but was kept alive in the public square by isolated writers like Hopkins and Eliot. The writers surveyed here remain an untapped resource for reflection and devotion.

He who would try to cover English devotional poetry in praise of Christ in a paper that can be read at one sitting in a learned journal undertakes a task no less absurd than the attempt to pour the ocean into a teacup. This is especially so when he is taking “devotional poetry” to mean poetry that can be used for devotional ...

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