Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cardinal Newman and Two Queens of England

Fr. George Rutler, whose paintings we recently highlighted, wrote an article in First Things this morning, A Graceful and Elegant Beginning, where he gave his impressions of the first day of the papal visit to Britain. In that article Fr. Rutler noted that, "[i]n welcoming the pontiff, the queen mentioned the name of Newman publicly for the first time in her reign."

While that was an interesting enough tidbit for Newman devotees, it was the sentence which followed which I personally found of particular interest:

...her great-great grandmother [Queen] Victoria had Newman’s “Lead Kindly Light” recited to her as she lay dying in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

* * *

LEAD, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,

Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

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