Lectionary Poetry – Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Each week we carefully curate a collection of  poems that resonate with the lectionary readings for that week (Narrative Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary).

*** Revised Common Lectionary ***

Lectionary Reading: John 1:6-8, 19-28



Vox Clamantis
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

John the Baptist.—REPENT! repent! repent!
For the kingdom of God is at hand,
And all the land
Full of the knowledge of the Lord shall be
As the waters cover the sea,
And encircle the continent!
Repent! Repent! Repent!
For lo, the hour appointed,
The hour so long foretold
By the Prophets of old,
Of the coming of the Anointed,
The Messiah, the Paraclete,
The Desire of the Nations, is nigh!
He shall not strive nor cry,
Nor His voice be heard in the street;
Nor the bruised reed shall He break,
Nor quench the smoking flax;
And many of them that sleep
In the dust of earth shall awake,
On that great and terrible day,
And the wicked shall wail and weep,
And be blown like a smoke away,
And be melted away like wax.
Repent! repent! repent!
O Priest, and Pharisee,
Who hath warned you to flee
From the wrath that is to be?
From the coming anguish and ire?
The axe is laid at the root
Of the trees, and every tree
That bringeth not forth good fruit
Is hewn down and cast into the fire!
Ye Scribes, why come ye hither?
In the hour that is uncertain,
In the day of anguish and trouble,
He that stretcheth the heavens as a curtain
And spreadeth them out as a tent,
Shall blow upon you, and ye shall wither,
And the whirlwind shall take you away as stubble!
Repent! repent! repent!
Priest.—Who art thou, O man of prayer!
In raiment of camel’s hair,
Begirt with leathern thong,
That here in the wilderness,
With a cry as of one in distress,
Preachest unto this throng?
Art thou the Christ?
John.—Priest of Jerusalem,
In meekness and humbleness,
I deny not, I confess
I am not the Christ!
Priest.—What shall we say unto them
That sent us here? Reveal
Thy name, and nought conceal!
Art thou Elias?
Priest.—Art thou that Prophet, then,
Of lamentation and woe,
Who, as a symbol and sign
Of impending wrath divine
Upon unbelieving men,
Shattered the vessel of clay
In the Valley of Slaughter?
I am not he thou namest!
Priest.—Who art thou, and what is the word
That here thou proclaimest?
John.—I am the voice of one
Crying in the wilderness alone:
Prepare ye the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight,
In the land that is desolate!
Priest.—If thou be not the Christ,
Nor yet Elias, nor He
That, in sign of the things to be,
Shattered the vessel of clay
In the Valley of Slaughter,
Then declare unto us, and say
By what authority now
Baptizest thou?
John.—I indeed baptize you with water
Unto repentance; but He,
That cometh after me,
Is mightier than I and higher;
The latchet of whose shoes
I am not worthy to unloose;
He shall baptize you with fire,
And with the Holy Ghost!
Whose fan is in His hand;
He will purge to the uttermost
His floor, and garner His wheat,
But will burn the chaff in the brand
And fire of unquenchable heat!
Repent! repent! repent!

*** This poem is in the public domain,
  and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.



St. John the Baptist
Sonnet 2 – Baptism
Malcolm Guite


Love’s hidden thread has drawn us to the font,
A wide womb floating on the breath of God,
Feathered with seraph wings, lit with the swift
Lightening of praise …



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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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