Monday, June 16, 2014

Gregory of Nazianus

Gregory of Nazianus (circa 325—389) was Archbishop of Constantinople. He is known today as a significant theologian for his emphasis on the Trinity. He was a prolific writer—composing, some have said, as many as 30,000 verses; if this is true most of them have been lost.

Earlier this year, when I asked Scott Cairns, who were the significant poets among the early church fathers— which he had alluded to during a question period at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan— he wrote on a slip of paper the names of Ephrem of Edessa (who I blogged about last December), Gregory of Nazianus, and Simeon the New Theologian.

It's been said, "St Gregory is one of the most open and self-revealing of the Fathers of the Church, and his poetry is remarkable for its personal character..."

Christ The Creator

Friends and fellow-workers they!
Day with night, and night with day!
Night descendeth, and the while
Thou dost call a halt to toil;
Bidding labour pause and rest,
Lulling care in weary breast.
When from rest again set free,
Sweet our work if done for Thee;
And we haste from night away,
All to hail the endless day,—
Day, most happy and most bright,
Ne'er to end in darksome night.

So bid sleep with gentle wing
O'er mine eyes her shadow fling;
Nor let dumb repose too long
Seal my tongue, nor hush my song;
Which, responsive I would raise,
To the angels' song of praise.

Thus, with holy thoughts of Thee,
Let my bed familiar be,
Lest ignoble dreams betray
The misdoings of the day ;
Lest my brain with phantoms teem,
Breeding trouble in my dream.
Rather let my soul take wing,
Free from thrall of sense, and sing:
To the Father and the Son,
And the Holy Spirit, One ;
Glory, honour, power to Thee!
Be to all eternity. Amen.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.