Books

Well Drest

George Herbert (1593-1633)


One of my favorite poems by George Herbert is called "Aaron." It is a profound reflection on the gospel built around the the imagery of the garb of a high priest described in Exodus 28. 

The first verse describes the holiness God requires of me, if I am to be one of God's priestly people. 
 
HOLINESS on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons drest.

The second verse describes how I have fallen from this standard in my sin. 

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest:
Poor priest! thus am I drest.
 
The third verse describes my need for a substitute. 

Only another head
I have another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest:
In Him I am well drest.
 
The fourth verse shows that Christ is that substitute. 

Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e'en dead;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in Him new drest.
 
And the fifth verse exults in being newly dressed in Christ's righteous and priestly garments.

So holy in my Head,
Perfect and light in my dear Breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come, people; Aaron's drest.

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