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George Herbert: Ash Wednesday

5 March 2014

Lent: Ash Wednesday

by George Herbert (1593-1633)

Welcome dear feast of Lent: who loves not thee,

He loves not Temperance, or Authority,

          But is composed of passion.

The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church says, now:

Give to your Mother, what you would allow

          To every Corporation.

*  *  *

It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;

Yet to go part of that religious way,

          Is better than to rest:

We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;

Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.

          In both let ‘s do our best.

Who goes in the way which Christ has gone,

Is much more sure to meet with him, than one

          Who travels the by-ways:

Perhaps my God, though he be far before,

May turn, and take me by the hand, and more

          May strengthen my decays.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast

By starving sin and taking such repast

          As may our faults control:

That ev’ry man may revel at his door,

Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,

          And among those his soul.

    George Herbert

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