We Remember, John Keble, Priest March 29th
New ev'ry morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove:
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.
These words of John Keble are from his cycle of poems entitled The Christian Year (1827), which he wrote to restore among Anglicans a deep feeling for the Church Year. The work went through ninety-five editions, but this was not the fame he sought. Keble's desire was to be a faithful pastor to those who find fulfillment in daily services, confirmation classes, visits to village schools, and a voluminous correspondence with those seeking spiritual guidance and counsel.
Keble, born in 1792, received his early education in his father's vicarage. At fourteen, he won a scholarship to Oxford and graduated in 1811. He then served the University in several capacities, including 10 years as Professor of Poetry. After he was ordained in 1816 he had a series of rural cures, and finally settled in 1836 into a thirty-year pastorate at the village of Hursley near Winchester.
England, going through turbulent change and reform from rural to an industrial and urban society, Parliament acted to abolish ten bishoprics in Ireland. Keble attacked this action as undermining the independence of the Church.
Keble's Assize Sermon of 1833 was most likely the spark that ignited the Oxford Movement. Those drawn to the movement began to publish tracts, hence the name "Tractarians" which sought to recall the church to its ancient sacramental heritage. This was what we would call "High" Church Anglicans and Episcopalians. Two others, joined Keble in this movement, John Henry Newman, and Edwards Bouverie Pusey.
Though bitterly attacked, his loyalty to the Church did not waver. A college bearing Keble's name was established at Oxford "to give education in strict fidelity to the Church of England."
Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and regns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.