Today the gospel crosses every border / All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace / Today the lost are found in His translation. / Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation…
Drawn from Sounding the Seasons, my cycle of sonnets for the Church Year, this is a sonnet reflecting on and celebrating the themes and readings of Pentecost. Throughout the cycle, and more widely, I have been reflecting on the traditional four elements of earth, air, water, and fire. I have been considering how each of them expresses and embodies different aspects of the Gospel and of God’s goodness, as though the four elements were, in their own way, another four evangelists. In that context, I was very struck by the way Scripture expresses the presence of the Holy Spirit through the three most dynamic of the four elements, the air (a mighty rushing wind, but also the breath of the spirit), water (the waters of baptism, the river of life, the fountain springing up to eternal life promised by Jesus), and, of course, fire (the tongues of flame at Pentecost). Three out of four aren’t bad, but I was wondering, where is the fourth? Where is earth? And then I realized that we ourselves are earth, the “Adam” made of the red clay, and we become living beings, fully alive, when the Holy Spirit, clothed in the three other elements comes upon us and becomes a part of who we are. So something of that reflection is embodied in the sonnet.
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Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.
Books by Malcolm Guite may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with Mr. Guite’s permission from his website. The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.