I don’t watch a lot of television, but I did get pulled into Oliver Cromwell’s orbit recently with the PBS airing of “Wolf Hall”. Complexities abound in the Tudor court, no surprise, and nothing is more complex than the character of Cromwell himself it seems. Which might explain why this quote jumped out at me as I was searching for some background information on this Sunday’s anthem by 20th century British composer John Ireland, Greater Love Hath No Man. Though I couldn’t have imagined ever making this connection, following my post last week on yoga’s corpse pose and the idea of dying to live, I find myself now quoting Cromwell:
It’s a blessed thing to die daily. For what is there in this world to be accounted of! The best men according to the flesh, and things, are lighter than vanity. I find this only good, to love the Lord and his poor despised people, to do for them and to be ready to suffer with them….and he that is found worthy of this hath obtained great favour from the Lord; and he that is established in this shall (being conformed to Christ and the rest of the Body) participate in the glory of a resurrection which will answer all. Letter to Sir Thomas Fairfax (7 March 1646).
Sacrificing for those we love. We might call it being a parent, or a good citizen, or a neighbor, or a friend. But it is that part of dying to ourselves that makes our lives meaningful and rich and worthy of God’s love for us.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can the floods drown it. Love is strong as death.
Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,
That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.
Ye are washed, ye are sanctified,
ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
That ye should show forth the praises of him
who hath call’d you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God,
that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy,
acceptable unto to God, which is your reasonable service.
Sonya, maybe I misread your message, but just a reminder that Wolf Hall is about Thomas Cromwell, not Oliver Cromwell, who lived much later. Very different personalities, these two. Oliver was a self-righteous, authoritarian Puritan. Thomas was a more complex, sympathetic soul.
It’s Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor court. Oliver was later (17th century).
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Yes, I think that is correct. But to die to oneself is beauty in art and faith and love. And to love the poor and serve them is accounted righteous in Jesus.
Well, good thing I never felt the need to be the smartest person in the room!!