Malcolm Guite, “Our Mother-tongue Is Love” – A Sonnet for Pentecost

Here is Malcolm Guite’s poem for Pentecost Sunday, “Our Mother-tongue is Love.” This sonnet is taken from Guite’s book Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year. Malcolm Guite is an Anglican priest, poet, and songwriter, who served as a Life Fellow and chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge.


Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire,air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.


You can hear a recording of Malcolm Guite reading this poem here.

The Chaos of Joy: Remembering Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Your presence breaks over the hills like a rising sun.
Zechariah’s words echo through the atmosphere,
mingled with the rustle of feet and whisper
of palm branches laid down before You. Then
the first voice rings out, “Hosanna!”, and then
another replies, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name
of the Lord!” Then more voices resound, “Hosanna!”
The journey from the Mount of Olives to the gates
of Jerusalem assumes the momentum of an avalanche
as the crowd grows to a commotion of
great celebration. “He is here,” they seem to say.
“The One who we have waited for all our lives.”

The Beginning of the End: a poem for resurrection

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Three Marys at the Tomb, sketch; c. 1655.

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'”

Shadows stretched long and deep from the sunrise
on that day,
tracing the rough-hewn stone edge of the tomb.
On that day,
Mary’s somber footsteps shivered with surprise
in the way
the Savior’s silent tomb became a womb,
in the way
the angel’s earthquake language shook her life
on that day.
The death grip rescinded, new life subsumed
on that day
grief and joy, loss and gain. All revivified
in the way
Jesus struck death down in dying at noon;
in the way
divine power enfleshed, emerges alive
on that day.
No words from Mary’s lips, her vision trued
in the way
the beginning and the end were circumscribed
on that day
in flesh and bone through heaven’s glorious wound.

Martin Luther King, Jr. – a prayer

Atlanta, Georgia, USA — Martin Luther King Jr. listens at a meeting of the SCLC, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, at a restaurant in Atlanta. The SCLC is a civil rights organization formed by Martin Luther King after the success of the Montgomery bus boycott. — Image by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS

Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Langston Hughes – “I Dream a World”

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!