Friday August 17th 3pm
The Anglican Tradition of Poetry
a lecture by Gordon Graham, with poetry selections read by members of St Vincent's Chapel.
organized in conjunction with Cornerstone Bookshop Edinburgh
The Church of England split from Rome in 1536 on a legal, not a doctrinal issue. Its distinctive identity, established without any confessional statement, grew out of two literary texts intended for use in worship. Thomas Cranmer’s compilation of a new Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549, gave worshippers a rich resource for prayer and praise in their own language. Fifty years later, King James VI and I commissioned a team of Anglican scholars to produce a new translation of the Bible. Finally published in 1611, the Authorized Version had a profound and enduring influence, not only on the language of worship, but on the English language as a whole.
This event is organized around the idea that it was this foundation in religious literature, rather than any uniform theological basis, that subsequently shaped the worldwide Anglican Communion. A long tradition of devotional poetry stretching over several centuries and countries arose, and continues into the present. The list of Anglican poets, many of whom were ordained as priests and bishops, is very striking. It includes such luminaries as John Donne, George Herbert, Charles Wesley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, T S Eliot, John Betjeman and R S Thomas.
This talk will identify the distinguishing marks of that tradition, highlighting both famous and less famous poets and poems, with selections read by readers drawn from the congregation of St Vincent’s Chapel.
Until June 2018 Gordon Graham was Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary, and from 1995-2005 was Regius Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He has lectured and published extensively on a wide range of topics in religion and the arts. His book Philosophy, Art and Religion: understanding faith and creativity was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.
In association with this event, an extensive range of books on Anglican poetry and poets, icons and iconography, and the theology of sacred art will be available for purchase, both at the venue on the day, and throughout the week at Cornerstone Bookshop, St John’s Church Terrace, Princes Street, Edinburgh.
Admission to this event is free.