Preachers sometimes tie themselves in knots on Trinity Sunday, celebrated in June each year. How do you explain a doctrine that the Christian God is one yet is also three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Here, Herbert doesn’t try to explain – he simply illustrates. The poem is a delight: both the sight of it and the sound of it.
Three verses, three lines and all sorts of threesomes are woven together in a poem which is playful yet serious in its understanding of the relationship between the Christian and God.
The first verse is addressed to the one Lord, who is creator, redeemer, and sanctifier – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The many ds such as form’d, mud, bloud thud out the message to follow.
Herbert sees sin as a strong force. In another threesome, past present and future sin needs to be dealt with. So if the first verse centres upon the creator God, the Father, so the second verse has the redeemer, Jesus Christ, as its focus.
It is no surprise that the third verse both addresses the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, and is laden with more triplets. The whole of the believer needs to find focus in God. Body, mind and spirit are woven together in faithful trust and service, living out the virtues of faith, hope and charity. The three lines of the third verse end in the lighter e/ie sound, taking us back to the Trinitie of the title.
The final picture has a dance like movement to it. The Christian soul can run because of a Creator God, rise with the risen Christ, and rest, day by day and eternally, in the Spirit of God.
Back to Our Archives