Their craft is their prayer

Daily Reading for August 5 • Albrecht Dürer, 1528, Matthias Grünewald, 1529, and Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1553, Artists

One of the most monstrous offences against religion is to regard Christianity as utterly unrelated to present-day life or as something eccentric and peculiar, or to regard the Church either as a hot-house or a prison. They are its worst foes who keep Christianity apart from Science, apart from Art, or apart from all manner of social and political life. They are the enemies of the Church who place a barrier between it and music, drama, poetry, sculpture, painting, or forbid any traffic with philosophy and modern thought. A wise old writer in the Apocrypha, describing the occupation of working men in most vivid language, ends up with these words: “They will maintain the fabric of the world, and in the handiwork of their craft is their prayer.” For my part I whole-heartedly believe that the serious exercise of a man’s art is itself an act of worship, and that the offering of the very best that is in him, be it poem, picture or sculpture, nobly conceived and wrought, or whatever mighty work of the inspired imagination, is a song of praise and thanksgiving, or maybe a poem of intercession for God’s creatures. It is for the Church, as I believe, to welcome the artist, to rejoice in his inspiration as springing from God, from Whom cometh every good and every perfect gift.

From “Christmas Broadcast” by George Kennedy Allen Bell, in The Listener (December 25, 1929).

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