The Portal July 2018 - Page 4

THE P RTAL July 2018 Destinations visited by Joanna Bogle A Railway Stations, Public Libraries, 19 th Century Verse, and Evangelism Page 4 few years ago, a new trend began at railway stations: you na wri tes can put your used books there, the ones for which you have no room at home, the ones you don’t want to read again or never wanted to read, the old battered ones or the almost new but unreadable ones...and you can browse among the other books left there and pick up something that looks intriguing.    It all began, I think, with libraries turning out old books  -  something which is, of itself, a rather bad thing. Some public libraries are now bereft of many important books, and have shelves filled with footballers’ ghost-written biographies and bleak, politically-correct stories for children with a vague feel of belonging to Eastern Europe in the 1950s. And the other books went to railway stations or, one suspects, to the local municipal dump.  did so in a particularly English way, with reference to that extraordinary beauty of our landscape and to the long centuries of our history. And all of this is important – in fact central – to the Ordinariate. for it is all part of a longing to reconnect with the roots of English Christianity, a longing reflected in a sort of confusion about when and how the country came to receive the Gospel. There is a sense in which it all looks back beyond the events of However, it does mean that you can sometimes find the 16 th century to the idea of centuries and centuries gems at railway stations. And I found one the other of faith and prayer.   day at a suburban junction while waiting for a train to Kingston. It’s John Keble’s The Christian Year, published Of course this book wouldn’t work as an evangelistic in 1827 and reprinted in 1977 with an introduction by tool today. A best-seller from its first publication, it ran Dr Sheridan Gilley.  to 95 editions. It was on bookshelves across the land, in rectories and schools and thousands and thousands of John Keble was not really a very good poet: after a homes Today, many (most?) people in Britain would while (quite a short while, actually) the lines of verse find it hard to read. But thumbing through it brings begin to grate. They chunter on and on, something for sudden challenges that speak to our era. Here, for every single Sunday and feast-day in the Church’s year, example, are lines for the Tuesday in Whitsun Week with rhymes that vary from the dreadfully predictable “Addressed to Candidates for Ordination”. They begin to the dreadful. But oh, the pleasure of the book! The with an imagined conversation with a tired clergyman reassuring certainty of its layout: poems for saints’ who laments: days, for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, - and “Lord, in Thy field I work all day the fifteenth and the sixteenth and so on - for King “I read, I teach, I warn, I pray Charles the Martyr, for Matrimony, for Visitation and “And yet these wilful wandering sheep Communion of the Sick, and more, and more…  “Within Thy fold I cannot keep”. This book was, as Gilley points out, a sort of And it goes on to speak sternly of Christ of on the precursor to the Oxford Movement, and a fruit of Cross: the Evangelical revival that preceded it. The poems “How couldst thou hang upon the Cross spoke to dry, thirsty souls longing for something with To whom a weary hour is loss? which to be nourished. It celebrated the notion of a Or how the thorns and scourging brook daily round of prayer, something specific for morning Who shrinkest from a scornful look?” and evening, something special for each Sunday, something that marked the feasts and seasons – and ... continued at the foot of the page 6 Ø