A sonnet for St. Benedict


On his  feast day I am reposting this sonnet on St. Benedict. My recent experience of diving deep into the Psalter has made me appreciate the Benedictine tradition even more deeply, for of course he made the recitation of the psalms the absolute core of his order’s liturgy and worship.

On July the 11th the Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, the gentle founder of the Benedictine order and by extension the father of Monasticism. A moderate and modest man, he would have been astonished to learn that his ‘simple school for prayer’, his ‘modest rule for beginners’ led to the foundation of communities which kept the Christian flame alight through dark times, preserved not only Christian faith, scripture, and culture,but also the best of Classical Pagan learning and culture, fed the poor, transformed societies, promoted learning and scholarship, and today provides solace, grounding, perspective and retreat not only to monks and nuns but to millions of lay people around the world.
Here is my sonnet for Benedict, drawing largely on phrases from the Rule, I dedicate it to the sisters at Turvey Abbey. It appears in my second book with Canterbury Press, The Singing Bowl 

You can also buy the book on amazon Here   But better still why not order it through a local bookshop who pay their taxes and need your support!

As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title.


You sought to start a simple school of prayer,
A modest, gentle, moderate attempt,
With nothing made too harsh or hard to bear,
No treating or retreating with contempt,
A little rule, a small obedience
That sets aside, and tills the chosen ground,
Fruitful humility, chosen innocence,
A binding by which freedom might be found

You call us all to live, and see good days,
Centre in Christ and enter in his peace,
To seek his Way amidst our many ways,
Find blessedness in blessing, peace in praise,
To clear and keep for Love a sacred space
That we might be beginners in God’s grace.

If you are enjoying these posts, you might like, on occasion, (not every time of course!) to pop in and buy me a cup of coffee. Clicking on this banner will take you to a page where you can do so, if you wish. But please do not feel any obligation!
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Filed under imagination, Poems

6 responses to “A sonnet for St. Benedict

  1. Colin David Lovell

    Thank you, Malcolm. Very appropriate for the Rochester Cathedral Chapter which starts a two day residential today as (you probably know) we are a Benedictine Foundation. Amen to your support for local bookshops.

  2. benethaughton

    Dear Malcolm I am still enjoying these poems and sonnets very much but can i make another plea for a marked gap between the end of a piece and your request for coffee ? Perhaps no one else minds but i think it makes the the reading unnecesarily awkward. Best wishes Benet Haughton.

    • malcolmguite

      The coffee is entirely voluntary. But I took early retirement and a massive drop in income in order to write and offer all these things freely to anyone who wants them. But I also have to live. I’m sorry if you begrudge me a cup of coffee. I tend to find that people who are judgemental on money matters are better off than I am and can afford to be high minded!

  3. Good Day, Father Malcolm. I love this sonnet. I noticed that you mentioned a “deep dive” into the Psalter. Would you speak more about this project? In addition to my work as an Orthodox Anglican Priest ( http:www/orthodoxanglican.us ), I am working personally on writing a devotional around the Psalm appointed for each week day (M-Sat) for Morning Prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. I began with the week following the First Sunday After Trinity and am attempting to continue with a big paragraph or so (+/-400 words) of reflective devotion on each Psalm appointed throughout the next year. I began the project because I wanted to record my thoughts and what I believe to be the insights given to me by the Holy Spirit after the reading of each Psalm. I am not a scholar, although I have studied Scripture and read around it all my adult life (I’m 61 now), so it is a personal reflection rather than a research work. If anyone finds it at all enriching ( I have begun posting it first as a voice and written blog late each night before the appointed day ), I will seek to publish it formally.
    I was curious as to what path you are taking, as I have admired and return often to everything you have written that I have found…
    Blessings, Reverend Guite
    +Fr. Bill Barrow
    Email: williambbarrow@gmail.com
    p.s.- I have been blessed to have been able to buy you several cups of coffee in the past! My only regret is that I have not been near enough to share them with you!!.. ;9).

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks for this. I wish you all the best with your psalms project. The ‘deep dive’ I was referring to was my recently published book ‘David’s Crown’ a sequence of 150 poems responding to the psalter psalm by psalm

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