A broken chapel in Herefordshire
The Altar by George Herbert 1593-1633.
George Herbert died before the friction between Charles I and Parliament descended into Civil War. He was a Church of England minister and Cambridge don. This was the time when the King James Bible, sponsored by Charles’ father, was becoming familiar from being read at Anglican Church services. This poem, ‘The Altar’, was written to be printed as shown to represent the silhouette of an altar like that in the Sanctuary in Jerusalem. But more than the altar was broken in the Church and Nation, and we are still looking through the damaged parts to see how best to rebuild a united church, a united nation; and how and when we can share the Eucharist at one table, one altar. May God’s grace continue to help us Christians to be ever closer to each other.
God told Moses to use only uncut stone when building an altar (Exodus 20:25).
A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears, Made of a heart and cemented with tears: Whose parts are as thy hand did frame; No workman's tool hath touch'd the same. A HEART alone Is such a stone As nothing but Thy pow'r doth cut. Wherefore each part Of my hard heart Meets in this frame, To praise thy name That if I chance to hold my peace These stones to praise thee may not cease. Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.