Sunday, November 02, 2008

For Country Parsons everywhere ...

I read this the other day, an extract from A Country Parson by George Herbert. I thought it might be an amusing reminder to the incumbent of our own country charge. Plus ├ža change .. and all that.

The Country Parson hath a special care of his church that all things there be decent and befitting his Name by which it is called. Therefore first he takes order that all things be in good repair; as walls plastered, windows glazed, floor paved, seats whole, firm and uniform, especially that the pulpit, and desk, and communion table and font be as they ought, for those great duties that are performed in them.

Secondly, that the church be swept and kept clean without dust of cobwebs, and at great festivals strawed and stuck with boughs and perfumed with incense.

Thirdly, that there be fit and proper texts of Scripture everywhere painted, and that all the painting be grave and reverend, not with light colours or foolish antics.

Fourthly, that all the books appointed by authority be there, and those not torn or fouled, but whole and clean and well bound; and that there be a fitting and sightly communion cloth of fine linen, with an handsome and seemly carpet of good and costly stuff or cloth, and all kept sweet and clean in a strong and decent chest with a chalice and cover, and a stoop or flagon; and a basin for alms and offerings, besides which he hath a poor-man’s box conveniently sited to receive the charity of well-minded people, and to lay up treasure for the sick and needy.

And all this he doth, not as out of necessity, but as desiring to keep the middle way between superstition and slovenliness.


  1. Anonymous7:57 AM

    As much as I love Herbert, I refuse to believe that the maintenance of the property is the priest's job. That that the priest shouldn't join in, but...

    (of course, It would give me the perfect excuse to empty that bookshelf by the door.)

  2. Kimberly's right - the Canon's are clear. Property is the Vestry's responsibility. Just stck to making sire the Church is perfumed with boughs and incense on greater festivals! Much more fun!

  3. I agree with the canons here. But I also have been in parishes where it took the rector/vicar/pastor's pointing it out to the laity that such things needed repair. It is all too easy for us clerics to ignore the basic needs that Herbert was pointing out.

    Once again I am a Country Parson and am loving it. There is nothing like the folk in the country to remain centered on the important things in life, like community and serving one another. Doesn't pay much, but then again I didn't get into this business for the money.

  4. Don't you think this is redolent of the time when the parson trod an autocratic but essentially solitary path in his calling? And of course, it only applied to men - so that lets you off the hook anyway, kimberly!

  5. Oops - just realised it's only frdougal here who's in any danger of having to sweep the cobwebs away...