Ordinary Saints: a new website with poetry, painting and music

Self-Portrait by Bruce Herman

I am delighted to announce that a project on which I have been working over the last few months together with the artist Bruce Herman and the composer JAC Redford has come to fruition at last.

Over the last few years I have collaborated with Bruce and JAC on a sequence called Ordinary Saints which had its premiere in a live performance at Laity Lodge in Texas. It consisted of a series of powerful portraits by Bruce Herman of ‘ordinary’ people; family and friends, but with the aim of showing that as CS Lewis said, ‘There are no ‘ordinary’ people! I have written a series of poems responding to these portraits, and JAC has composed music responding to both the poems and the portraits. Our aim, throughout the project, was to explore what it means to be truly face to face with one another, how we might discern the image of God in our fellow human beings, and how that discernment might ready us for the time when, as we are promised, we will no longer see ‘through a glass darkly’ but really see God and one another face to face in the all-revealing, and all-healing light of Heaven. We had planned to take this exhibition and its accompanying music and poetry on tour and it was scheduled for Oxford this summer, but that has had to be cancelled because of Covid. So over the last few months we have worked together with an excellent web designer to create a website which should give you as close an experience as we can of that lost exhibition. After an introductory video you click ‘next’ and go to a ‘program’ page on which you can see all the paintings and hear all the music and recitations in the order we intended, and also, as you listen, zoom in on detail on any of the paintings. There are also tabs for you to click if you just want to focus on any one of the three art forms. The website is completely free, and you can find it by clicking Here. 

Bruce’s portrait of JAC

Bruce’s portrait of me made during the project


Filed under Music, paintings, Poems

20 responses to “Ordinary Saints: a new website with poetry, painting and music

  1. Maureen Young

    Thank you so much for this. I shall take my time in listening and pondering and gazing. Blessings upon all those involved.

    Revd. Maureen Young Associate Priest Benefice of Bishops Lydeard 01984 667472

  2. lynndmorrissey

    Thank you, Malcolm! I am sooo excited about this project, about which I just recently learned via something here on your blog, and now in After Prayer (which I am loving, btw). How wonderful that you are finding a way to let us see this now. I dream of the day of returning to England and seeing it in person, and Oxford is one of my favorite cities. I have been on a journey of seeing the sacred in each person, each person who is of course created in God’s image. Would that we would but see that each person is sacred and extraordinary; then so many evils would abate, such as racism for one. Also, of course, all arts are integrated. I write and sing (Bach mostly), and they are intertwined. I love including artmaking (collage) in my sacred journaling classes as well. Anyway… sorry to wax on, but this sounds like such a meaningful project on so many levels. Thank you for your time, prayer, and effort in creating it!

  3. bscotford755btinternetcom

    How absolutely brilliant an idea. I’m excited already to explore and enjoy the three strands – art, poetry – music, interwoven. It might turn out to be heaven on earth, I’ll let you know. But in advance – THANK YOU!


    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  4. This collaboration touches my soul, Malcolm. I am grateful to bear witness to something so profoundly meaningful.

    You are likely aware of this typo, so just gloss over this if it’s already been pointed out. Your first name on the cover page of the website is missing the second ‘l’.

    Continued blessings on this creative and life-giving work,

  5. eleanor h prugh

    Oh! your portrait!! So much more than a photograph!!! (I’m not knocking photography.) I can hardly wait too delve into this new trove. Thank you. (But first, breakfast.)

  6. Thank you for allowing us “into” these creations which otherwise I might never have seen, heard, etc.

  7. Wow such beauty, such wonder here, thanks for sharing this I’m very moved. . Interestingly I have been musing a while over ‘the seeing in a glass dimly’ wondering if I’ll ever get the time to portray this in my own pieces or ever be able to portray it as you all have done so amazingly here. Praise God for beauty and the gifting he has bestowed upon you all and for the love of sharing so we may be a part. 🔥💗🕯🎨🎼✒📜

  8. Pingback: With Thee Is The Well Of Life: A Response To Psalm 36 | Malcolm Guite

  9. Malcolm, what a rich, rich gift from all of you to all of us. Truly when one door (or window) closes, another opens. We can’t be in Oxford, but we can enjoy this beauty online. I look forward to relishing this experience.

  10. Janet Thorpe

    Thank you so very much to you all for giving us such beauty in all its forms.

  11. Hello, Malcolm. I have just been to Ordinary Saints and am overcome. A year ago we lost my husband’s mom at the grand age of 95 (only 1 month away from 96). She had become so dear to me over the 40 years of our marriage and I grieve her still. When I read these words –

    Remember how we turned To look at them, and they looked back? That full- -eyed love unselved us, and we turned around, Unready for the wrench and reach of grace. But one day we will see them face to face.

    They brought back a moment as she lay dying. I entered the room to find no-one else there, which was unusual as all the family had gathered. She lay on her side facing me, asleep. I was about to retreat when her eyes opened and such love poured out it took my breath away. She reached for me and said, simply, “Hello dear,” then closed her eyes again. That brief moment, when I was ‘unselved’ will live in me forever. I am weeping now, but joyful too, knowing I will see her once again, face to face, and hear those two brief words again, spoken with such love.

    Thank you!

    Marcia Laycock

    • malcolmguite

      Thank you so much Marcia for this moving account. What you experienced was just the very thing I was writing that poem

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