New every morning
A celebration of John Keble
In the Church's calendar this week we celebrated the life and work of Rev Professor John Keble (1792-1866). John Keble is the writer of this well known hymn, below, and a founder of what became the Oxford Movement. Keble College is named in his honour. A brilliant scholar, John Keble graduated very young from Oriole College Oxford, was ordained, and later became professor of poetry.
He wrote a challenging sermon in 1833 titled "National Apostasy" which you can find here http://anglicanhistory.org/keble/keble1.html In this he set out his concerns that if the state set up systems of values that were other than those centered on God, the nation would flounder. He based this on the story of Samuel, who criticised the Israelite nation for wanting to have a king just to be like all the neighboring nations, thereby interposing human values between God and his people. It would all end in tears, and indeed the story of the kings reminds us just how awful it can get. The readings at morning prayer on weekdays are currently on the story of Samuel.
What would John Keble make of our world today? One imagines that he would be critical of our delegation of moral values to market forces or popular appeal, or even a well intentioned political correctness. Our present catastrophe over climate, pandemic and inequality between people is linked to our "National Apostasy".
Like Samuel, John Keble prophetically stated his case but then turned to a very humble life of prayer for his wayward nation. He served the rest of his life in a rural parish just outside Winchester. He leaves a legacy of poetry and hymns. We are at a turning point in all our lives and have this opportunity to re-set our values both public and private. This hymn that we used in Morning Prayer during the week captures Keble's message and deserves to be reflected on as we are changed by circumstances, and importantly by our Creator.
New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.
New mercies, each returning day,
hover around us while we pray;
new perils past, new sins forgiven,
new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.
If on our daily course our mind
be set to hallow all we find,
new treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.
The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we need to ask,
room to deny ourselves, a road
to bring us daily nearer God.
Only, O Lord, in thy dear love
fit us for perfect rest above;
and help us, this and every day,
to live more nearly as we pray.