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Three Verses from Hallel:
Out of the Narrow Place

By Jacqueline Osherow Essay

From the narrow place, I called out to God; He answered me from the wideness of God. I OFFER THIS SOMEWHAT HOMELY, literal translation of Psalm 118, verse 5, because it seems to me—in its beautiful Hebrew, if not this clunky English version—to encapsulate what poetry is (or, at least, what it can be) more…

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The Image Turns Back

By Lauren Winner Essay

A POEM HAS CHANGED MY MIND about the Eucharist. For the better part of two decades—since I was baptized in a Cambridge college chapel, inaugurating my life not just as a Christian, but as a Christian of the Anglican-Episcopal sort—I have been mildly irked at my churches’ habit of using those small round wafers during…

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The Poetry of Liturgy

By W. David O. Taylor Essay

I TELL THE STUDENTS in my theology classes that every choice of art in worship opens up and closes down possibilities for the formation of our humanity. Art is never neutral. It does things. The sixteenth-century poetry of Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer does something to our brains, if neuroscientists are to be believed,…

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Stand By Me

By Emmett G. Price Essay

I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I heard—really heard—the refrain “Stand by me,” sung by a member of the choir at Saint Peter’s Baptist Church in the village of Allen in Clarke County, Alabama. The song had no ingrained meaning to me then. I recognized the hymn, but I did not know its power. I was…

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Each Breath is Borrowed Air

By Thomas H. Troeger Essay

THE PROSPECTUS FOR THIS SERIES of essays requests that I write about “some aspect of the way poetry and hymnody feed and nurture each other.” For someone whose mother often recited poetry and sang and played hymns to him, who has read poetry and sung hymns ever since, and has now been creating hymn texts…

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This Is the Night

By Timothy P. O'Malley Essay

IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT. Darkness creeps upon the city as folks rush about to parties and dinners. On one street corner, a group of worshippers gathers around a recently lit fire. Strange words are uttered over a colossal candle that will soon illuminate a pitch-black church. The worshippers shuffle in off the street, professing that Christ…

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A Conversation with Margaret Gibson

By Edward A. Dougherty Interview

Margaret Gibson is the author of eleven collections of poetry, most recently Broken Cup, and a memoir, The Prodigal Daughter. Her second book, Long Walks in the Afternoon, was a Lamont Selection (now the James Laughlin Award) of the Academy of American Poets in 1982, and Memories of the Future in 1986 was co-winner of…

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On the Border of East and West:
Searching for Icons in Lviv

By John A. Kohan Essay

ALONG THE ROAD INTO TOWN from the sleek new glass-sheathed terminal of Lviv International Airport, a finger-wagging Uncle Sam recruits residents for a high-end housing complex with the Cyrillic-lettered appeal, AMERICA AWAITS YOU. On other signs, long-legged models hugging pink pool inflatables remind you of the seemingly self-evident truth (in English) SHOPPING IS FUN. In…

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Fierce Mercy:
The Theater Art of Karin Coonrod

By John Skillen Essay

Tables covered with flying white cloths and laden with food appear out of nowhere for a crowd of several hundred in a piazza at the edge of the cliff, in the oldest part of this old city. Strings of dazzling lights stretch across the square as a dove flies up and the bells of the…

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Adiáphora

By Scott Cairns Poetry

Of a misty, low-sky morning pressed ——–upon the north sound islands there, just beyond our glassy cove, one might draw ——–yet another sip from the steaming mug and find that, yes, there is so little ——–to be known, so much to be supposed. There beyond the concrete breakwater, ——–the seiner’s skiff begins drawing out the…

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