Posted by: Phoebe | April 11, 2009

“The Agony,” by George Herbert





Philosophers have measured mountains,

Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,

Walked with a staff to heav’n, and traced fountains:

But there are two vast, spacious things,

The which to measure it doth more behove:

Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.


Who would know Sin, let him repair

Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see

A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,

His skin, his garments bloody be.

Sin is that press and vice, which forceth pain

To hunt his cruel food through ev’ry vein.


Who knows not love, let him assay

And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike

Did set again abroach; then let him say

          If ever he did taste the like.

Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,

Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.


George Herbert (1593-1633)


“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8



  1. Beautiful.
    Much could be commented on, but I especially like the thought captured in these lovely words:

    “Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
    Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.”

    In our fellowship with the church, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as an “extended time” meeting each Sunday.
    I often meditate on how simple and sweet is our remembrance
    (bread and wine) in comparison to the truth of the harshness and beauty of
    His body broken and blood shed.

    “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or love compose so rich a crown?”

  2. More “food for thought”:
    One of the songs Mike and I were learning since we’ll sing it as the church Easter Sunday is “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing”. The verse has a little variation on the theme of the last two lines of “The Agony” you quoted. Just thought I’d share.
    “At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
    praise to our victorious King
    Who has washed us in the tide
    Flowing from His pierced side
    Praise we Him whose love divine
    Gives His sacred blood for wine
    Gives His body for the feast
    Christ the victim, Christ the Priest!

    (Latin hymn 6th Century–St. George’s Windsor (?) George J. Elvey 1859)

    • Wow, that is a neat song! Do you have a link where I could find it? ; )

      How was your Easter?

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