“Here, as broken, is presented”

The Banquet

by George Herbert (1633)

Welcome sweet and sacred cheer,

Welcome deare;

With me, in me, live and dwell:

For thy neatnesse passeth sight,

Thy delight

Passeth tongue to taste or tell.

O what sweetnesse from the bowl

Fills my soul,

Such as is, and makes divine!

Is some starre (fled from the sphere)

Melted there,

As we sugar melt in wine ?

Or hath sweetnesse in the bread

Made a head

To subdue the smell of sinne;

Flowers, and gummes, and powders giving

All their living,

Lest the Enemy should winne ?

Doubtlese, neither starre nor flower

Hath the power

Such a sweetnesse to impart:

Onely God, who gives perfumes,

Flesh assumes,

And with it perfumes my heart.

But as Pomanders and wood

Still are good,

Yet being bruis’d are better scented:

God, to show how farre his love

Could improve,

Here, as broken, is presented.

When I had forgot my birth,

And on earth

In delights of earth was drown’d;

God took bloud, and needs would be

Spilt with me,

And so found me on the ground.

Having rais’d me to look up,

In a cup

Sweetly he doth meet my taste.

But I still being low and short,

Farre from court,

Wine becomes a wing at last.

For with it alone I flie

To the skie:

Where I wipe mine eyes, and see

What I seek, for what I sue;

Him I view,

Who hath done so much for me

Let the wonder of his pitie

Be my dittie,

And take up my lines and life:

Hearken under pain of death,

Hands and breath;

Strive in this, and love the strife.

via George Herbert: The Banquet (1633).

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jonathan

    I like it. I am curious about this part:

    “But I still being low and short,/Farre from court,/Wine becomes a wing at last./For with it alone I flie/To the skie:/Where I wipe mine /eyes, and see/What I seek, for what I sue;/Him I view,/Who hath done so much for me

    I was with him earlier on about the real presence coming to/for me until that part where the wine is winging me up to heaven to see Him where He’s really at? Maybe I’m just not getting that part right it.

  • Jonathan

    I like it. I am curious about this part:

    “But I still being low and short,/Farre from court,/Wine becomes a wing at last./For with it alone I flie/To the skie:/Where I wipe mine /eyes, and see/What I seek, for what I sue;/Him I view,/Who hath done so much for me

    I was with him earlier on about the real presence coming to/for me until that part where the wine is winging me up to heaven to see Him where He’s really at? Maybe I’m just not getting that part right it.

  • fws

    Jonathan. I could be wrong but I took this to mean the Holy Supper. Actually it seems to be for him, THE banquet that brings us the Banquet of what Jesus has done for us…

    It would be great to hear from Dr Vieth on this point.

  • fws

    Jonathan. I could be wrong but I took this to mean the Holy Supper. Actually it seems to be for him, THE banquet that brings us the Banquet of what Jesus has done for us…

    It would be great to hear from Dr Vieth on this point.

  • Jonathan

    Maybe it’s referring to the communion of the saints aspect of the Supper he’s on about in those passages? Our participation in the blood-wine connects us to all believers here in time and to those above with Christ who’ve gone before, perhaps? I just think Lutherans tend to be a little acrophobic whenever we hear terms that sound a little like us ascending to meet Jesus in heaven in the Supper.

  • Jonathan

    Maybe it’s referring to the communion of the saints aspect of the Supper he’s on about in those passages? Our participation in the blood-wine connects us to all believers here in time and to those above with Christ who’ve gone before, perhaps? I just think Lutherans tend to be a little acrophobic whenever we hear terms that sound a little like us ascending to meet Jesus in heaven in the Supper.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    With it he flies to the sky–that is, goes to Heaven–as opposed to being on the ground, earthly, etc., as he says earlier. I took “Him I view” to mean not that he will view Jesus in Heaven, but that He views him in the sacrament. That picks up on the other senses that he refers to that are engaged as he takes the Sacrament and that bring Christ to him–taste, smell, etc.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    With it he flies to the sky–that is, goes to Heaven–as opposed to being on the ground, earthly, etc., as he says earlier. I took “Him I view” to mean not that he will view Jesus in Heaven, but that He views him in the sacrament. That picks up on the other senses that he refers to that are engaged as he takes the Sacrament and that bring Christ to him–taste, smell, etc.

  • fws

    Yeah dear dr veith> I caught that too. this is the calvinistic view of the real presence isn´t it?

  • fws

    Yeah dear dr veith> I caught that too. this is the calvinistic view of the real presence isn´t it?

  • JonSLC

    Lutherans do affirm that spiritual eating is a part of the Lord’s Supper, but they’re quick to add that it’s not the only type of eating that occurs. Adolf Hoenecke reflected this understanding: “Spiritual eating… is indeed ALSO relevant in the Lord’s Supper, though it is not the ONLY kind of eating there.”

    That could explain that when a spiritual eating is referred to (as I read the text above), Lutherans may get a little nervous, thinking, “Yes, I am united with Christ by faith when I receive the Sacrament, but I’m also united with him by receiving his body and blood.” Or something like that.

    At any rate, thanks for the opportunity to ponder the Supper!

  • JonSLC

    Lutherans do affirm that spiritual eating is a part of the Lord’s Supper, but they’re quick to add that it’s not the only type of eating that occurs. Adolf Hoenecke reflected this understanding: “Spiritual eating… is indeed ALSO relevant in the Lord’s Supper, though it is not the ONLY kind of eating there.”

    That could explain that when a spiritual eating is referred to (as I read the text above), Lutherans may get a little nervous, thinking, “Yes, I am united with Christ by faith when I receive the Sacrament, but I’m also united with him by receiving his body and blood.” Or something like that.

    At any rate, thanks for the opportunity to ponder the Supper!


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