A Poem for Reformation Day

Prot Cross

Reformation Day (when Luther posted his Theses) is certainly a day of trajedy for Christians. Though legitimate protestations there were (and, to a lesser degree, are), the unified voice of Christ in the West was lost and, unhappily, just on the eve of the Enlightenment (which I believe to be following more from the Renaissance than the Reformation proper, which was, in some ways, more of a set-back or strange interlude than an advance) — a time when a unified church was especially needed, as today. However, the Reformation, of course, produced the Evangelical faith in which I was formed and to which much great good can be attributed, not least its literary achievement. Protestantism is rightly praised for its poetry and hymnody (Milton, Donne, Herbert, Watts, Wesley, Eliot, etc.) and, I would add, theological systems (Calvin, Dorner, Bavinck, Barth, Brunner, etc.). Look to these to find a profound love for the Son who gave his life for our sins. The free grace of God for our forgiveness and redemption, of course, is the heart of the Evangelical faith, and few poems express this better than “A Hymn to God the Father,” by John Donne (1572-1631). This is a favorite poem of mine that I continually come back to.

A Hymn to God the Father
by John Donne
WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
    Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
    And do run still, though still I do deplore?
        When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                    For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
    Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
    A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
        When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                    For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
    My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
    Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
        And having done that, Thou hast done ;
                    I fear no more.



  1. A well meaning poem, quite accurate on the principles of divine grace. But, rather I desire the concept of a unified church, where unity, is not based on only socioeconomy, but on the fundamental truths in the word: that was the goal of protesting… Unity, but in the truths of the gospel.

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