Friday, June 15, 2007

Feast Day Of Evelyn Underhill

This is late and borrowed, but I want to take note.

From James Kiefer at the Lectionary:

Evelyn Underhill was born in 1875 and grew up in London.

Miss Underhill (Mrs. Hubert Stuart Moore) taught that the life of contemplative prayer is not just for monks and nuns, but can be the life of any Christian who is willing to undertake it. She also taught that modern psychological theory, far from being a threat to contemplation, can fruitfully be used to enhance it. In her later years, she spent a great deal of time as a lecturer and retreat director. She died on June 15, 1941.

Poetry by Underhill

To go up alone into the mountains
and come back as an ambassador to the world,
has ever been the method of humanity's best friends.

The windows of Christ's Mysteries split the [Light] up into many-coloured loveliness, disclose all of its hidden richness...make its beauty more accessible to us...And within this place we too are bathed in the light transmitted by the windows, a light which is yet the very radiance of Eternity.

The readings for the feast day are particularly beautiful. Here are excerpts:

From Psalm 96

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

From Wisdom 7

For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
For she is a breath of the power of God,
and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
For she is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.

From John 4

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’


O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all your creatures: Grant that your Church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving, and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised us by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.

I am so very pleased that the Book of Wisdom is included in the Lectionary in the Episcopal Church.


Psalm 96:7-13 or 37:3-6,32-33
Wisdom 7:24--8:1
John 4:19-24


  1. I have several of her works, including *Mysticism*; I have begun to taste them, now and again: a great pleasure.

  2. Johnieb, I have not read any of her books. Let me know if you think they're really good.


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