Pure Grace

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed 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, 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.

— George Herbert (1593-1632)


The Great Exchange

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
– cast off that I might be brought in,
– trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend,
– surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best,
– stripped that I might be clothed,
– wounded that I might be healed,
– athirst that I might drink,
– tormented that I might be comforted,
– made a shame that I might inherit glory,
– entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
– groaned that I might have endless song,
– endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
– bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
– bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
– experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
– closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
– expired that I might for ever live.

–from The Valley of Vision