Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 25, 2005

Transfigured Things in a Noble Light

Reading the P. T. Forsyth quotations over at Blue Goldfish caused me to rummage through the catalog of my local academic library, where I found Forsyth's little book on prayer, first published in 1916, called The Soul of Prayer. Forsyth was an Englishman, and he writes like one. Have you ever noticed the wonderful natural elegance that seems to pervade the prose of so many English authors? Writing in the dark days of World War I, even the dedication is a thing of beauty. Forsyth describes a winding path in the hills, and a small chapel along the way, "a wayside hermitage." It is a quiet place apart, and it is Forsyth's symbolic picture of the place of prayer:

So in our soul let us make a cornice road for God to come when He will, and walk upon our high places. And a little lodge and shelter let us have on it, of sacred stones, a shrine of ancient writ and churchly memories. Let us make an eyrie there of large vision and humane, a retreat of rest and refitting for a dreadful world. May He show us, up there apart, transfigured things in a noble light. May He prepare us for the sorrows of the valley by a glorious peace, and for the action of life by a fellowship gracious, warm, and noble (as even earthly friendship may be). So may we face all the harsh realisms of Time in the reality, power, and kindness of the Eternal, whose Mercy is as His Majesty for ever.
Well, I love that sonorous tone. This musty little book is no doubt seldom read these days. We moderns (and post-moderns) are all for the new, and we think we're living in very unique and unprecedented times. Well, maybe so. But probably not. God give me grace to hear the old voices speaking from musty books such words of wisdom and hope as may stand firm even when the foundations of this world are shaken.


Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I've found that writers of Forsyth's generation, particularly the scholarly ones, were at once the most sonorous and naturally conversational at the same time. World War I seems to have changed things in that regard, however.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I like the comment you made about how we think we are living in unprecedented times. I think if we study history long enough we really see the truth that there is nothing new under the sun.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Milton, I agree. This tone, which for me is almost the epitome of English-ness, even shows itself in some of the great English children's literature, like Wind in the Willows. And Kim, you're right on the money. But we don't really want to hear it, do we? We'd much rather think of ourselves as unique!

7:28 AM  
Blogger Broken Messenger said...


This beautiful and encouraging...thank you for dusting this one off for us.


12:41 AM  
Blogger heirophantshelp said...

Hello there.
Yes Forsyth is an excellent writer and theologian. He said one should 'think in centuries', and true to his own prophecy, his writings are coming into their own, a century later. Not all his books are dusty either.
Reprints are happening.
In Australia try:


9:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home