Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything,
to do it as for thee.
All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, “for thy sake,”
will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.
This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.
George Herbert (1593-1633)
George Herbert, the early 17th century Anglican priest and poet, was a friend of Nicholas Ferrar. On Herbert’s deathbed he sent Ferrar the manuscript of his collection of poems entitled The Temple, telling Ferrar to publish the poems if he thought they might “turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul” and otherwise to burn them. By 1690, The Temple: Sacred poems and private ejaculations, edited by Ferrar, had gone through eight editions. This poem is from that collection.