Teach me my God and King

George Herbert was a poet and clergyman of great devotional depth. Shortly before he died in 1633 at the age of 39 he sent his poems to a little religious community in Little Gidding in the hope that they might be of help to 'any dejected poor soul' otherwise they were to be burnt. When  they realised how good his poetry was it was published as THE TEMPLE but he died before he saw it in print.

His work is amongst the finest devotional poetry in the English language and continues to this day to touch, encourage and inspire many who come across it.


'The Elixir' is an example of how simple and yet rich with spiritual insight his poetry can be. The elixir was the philosophers' stone which in medieval legend was said to be able to turn base metals into gold. In the poem God is said to be like the philosophers' stone that can turn anything into gold. So a servant who has to sweep rooms can do so as an act of worship thus making the menial task something that brings gladness. Indeed, any task or any one touched by the love and grace of God is turned into something grace-filled, bright and clean.


The Elixir

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

A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, "for thy sake,"
will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.

Lord and Father,

through the Lord Jesus

your Presence can touch and heal, forgive and restore.

When we are weary, down or dejected

you can make  the dreary gladness

and turn drudgery divine.

Teach us, Lord, how to look and learn;

to see through and find you

in anything.