Thursday, October 17, 2013

Evening Prayer

"Laurent Drelincourt [(1626-1681)], pastor of the Église Réformée in Niort and author of the Sonnets Chrétiens (first edition 1677) was the last major French Calvinist poet to be published before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 scattered the Huguenots to the four corners of the earth. His collection of 160 sonnets was immediately and lastingly popular." So says, Jane McKee, "A Passion for the Scriptures: The Biblical Sonnets of Laurent Drelincourt," in Graham Gargett, ed., Heroism and Passion in Literature: Studies in Honour of Moya Longstaffe, p. 67. The son of Charles Drelincourt (1595-1669), French Huguenot divine, Laurent's poetry, while well-regarded among men of letters and men of faith, has only slightly been translated into English. At my request, one of his sonnets (as well as Drelincourt's associated footnotes) has been translated for this blog by the Rev. Thomas G. Reid, Jr., Assistant Professor, Librarian and Registrar at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife also kindly assisting in the translation. The source text is derived from Sonnets chrétiens sur divers sujets (1766 ed.), p. 133:

Evening Prayer

Indeed, concerning work, your Fatherly goodnesses
cause the Light to reign over our earthly sojourn.
And, by your holy laws, the night comes, in its turn,
to bring rest, under the shadow of its wings.

But, when black sleep must cover my eyelids, 5
open upon me, my God, the eyes of Your love,
dismiss my sins, be my star and my day,
and let your holy angels be my faithful protectors.

The day, constantly swallowed up by the night,
Incessantly instructs me about the end of my life, 10
and I must, day and night, accept it in holiness.

May death, for me, not be anything but a sweet sleep,
where I, my soul between your arms, and my body in the dust,
await the reviving of the eternal morning.

5. “Sleep is the state between life and death” (Aristotle).
7. “By sin, we are shadows, and sin rings in our souls at night, which keeps us from seeing God,” St. Augustine says.
12. “Pagans call sleep the brother of death. And ancient Christians term death ‘sleep,’ in the peace of God and His Christ."
14. “Death is the night, and the resurrection will be the morning” (St. Augustine).

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