A Sonnet for Ascension Day

The experience of writing Sonnets for Advent and for The Stations of the Cross has encouraged me to go a little further and to write a more extended sequence that will touch on the major moments and turning points of the church year, and so on the central mysteries of our faith.

So here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, which falls this year n the 17th of May. The mystery of this feast is the paradox whereby in one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven ,but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. His humanity is taken into heaven so our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours.  The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

I’m grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above, the image below was taken as we launched rockets to celebrate Ascension day at Girton College:

We have lift off!


We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .


Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

25 responses to “A Sonnet for Ascension Day

  1. I really do love your writing style Malcolm. 🙂

  2. Mary Mueller

    Thank you for blessing (in advance) my observance of Ascension Day. Your sonnet fills me with light and hope.
    I like the rockets, too!

  3. No more sermon needed! lovely, lively, and “missional” to boot!

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Martha, These were written so that they could be read as a brief meditation 9 possibly in lieu of sermon) at contemplative eucharists. glad you liked it.

  4. love “sing the waning darkness into light.” Amen
    Reading your book Faith Hope and Poetry; taking lots of notes;-)

  5. I love the plain ol’ Jesus. `Smatter with that?

  6. I quoted your Ascension sonnet in a sermon this morning, because it spoke so powerfully to me. Otherwise were touched by it too. I also quoted it on my blog on Ascension Day, with a link to your post. Thank you so much. You have a great gift for sonnet writing – you express such deep theology in so few and such beautiful words.

  7. Dear Malcolm, Our mutual friend Rachel Blanchflower just sent me this poem as a kind of gift after we baptised our daughter on Ascension Sunday. I read John Donne’s take from La Corona to open the service. Next year I shall read this. It gave me goosebumps, I can’t stop rereading it and hearing more echoes, like the metaphysical poets of old, but new. Please do keep working on the church year cycle, it would be so useful. All God’s blessings, Rev. Matt Williams St James’ Old Cathedral Melbourne, Australia

    • malcolmguite

      Great to hear from you Mathew, so glad Rachel put you in touch. As you will see Donne’s La corona has been an inspiration to me in this whole series. The chur h year cycle, a sequence of sonnets, is now complete, and I had the good news just this week that it will be published this year by Canterbury Press, hopefully in time for Advent. Do please feel free to make use of any of the sonnets from this sequence on my blog in your church services and to print them off for people in orders of service or whatever, they were written to be of service to the church.

  8. Pingback: Celebrating and Singing the Ascension of Jesus Christ | Cardiphonia

  9. Pingback: Margot Krebs Neale And Diana Pavlac Glyer | Lancia E. Smith

  10. Alfred Krebs

    This is really quite nice and inspiring! Thank you.

  11. Rosie Greenhalgh

    Thank you so much for this sonnet, Malcolm. I’ve been looking for something to use at a service focusing on the Ascension, and this really fits the bill; you put across so many wonderful thoughts.

  12. Tamar

    What a wonderful sonnet! May I have permission to use it in my church newsletter? Ascension Thursday falls on June 9th this year for Orthodox Christians. 🙂

  13. Pingback: The Mystery of Godliness | The e-Word in Season

  14. Pingback: Nine Days of Prayer from Ascension to Pentecost – Christ Church Cathedral

  15. Deverell

    Great Poem Fr Malcom
    Met you at St K’s over brekkers

  16. Dear Malcolm,
    This comes rather late in the day, but we are doing a Zoom service for the congregation of our little village of Haenertsburg in South Africa and I would dearly love to open it with your sonnet. It really speaks to me and I hope it will to our congregation.
    Blessings and peace
    Rev Jonathan Meintjes
    St Paul’s United Church
    Limpopo South Africa

  17. Pingback: Ascension Devotional - Trinity Presbyterian Asheville

  18. Pingback: Prayers, Litanies and History for Ascension Day by Paul Neeley – Godspacelight

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.