Thinking allowed

John Keble

John Keble’s litur­gic­al impact, like that of Bene­dict, is indir­ect but sig­ni­fic­ant. It was on this day in 1833 that Keble preached a ser­mon at the Uni­ver­sity Church in Oxford. It was a fairly obscure ser­mon to the Assize Judges on what we might regard as an obscure top­ic (the sup­pres­sion of a num­ber of Irish bish­op­rics by Par­lia­ment), but it was regarded by John New­man as the begin­ning of the Oxford Move­ment — a recov­ery of the sense that the Church exists inde­pend­ently of the State. That Move­ment was sub­sequently respons­ible for a con­sid­er­able litur­gic­al enrich­ment and diver­si­fic­a­tion of the life of the Church of Eng­land, lead­ing to a renew­al of the Euchar­ist­ic life of the Church and an increased aware­ness of ritu­al and sym­bol­ism. Keble did not play a sig­ni­fic­ant part in these later devel­op­ments, liv­ing instead the life of a coun­try par­son, schol­ar and poet. His poetry con­tin­ues to be greatly val­ued and sev­er­al of his poems are still sung as hymns.

Keble was born in 1792, the son of a priest, and stud­ied at Oxford where he became a Fel­low of Ori­el Col­lege at the age of nine­teen. His col­lec­tion of poems, The Chris­ti­an Year, was publsi­hed in 1827, and he was elec­ted Pro­fess­or of Poetry at Oxford in 1831. In 1836 he left Oxford to became a par­ish priest at Hurs­ley near Winchester, and he served there until his death in 1866. In his memory, his friends and sup­port­ers foun­ded Keble Col­lege, Oxford.

Fath­er of the etern­al Word,
in whose encom­passing love
all things in peace and order move:
grant that, as your ser­vant John Keble
adored you in all creation,
so we may have a humble heart of love
for the mys­ter­ies of your Church
and know your love to be new every morning,
in Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

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