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George Herbert

In a programme of music and verse, Mark Tully discusses the relevance today of 17th-century poet George Herbert, one of whose poems provided Something Understood with its title.

George Herbert provided the series Something Understood with its title and so is, in a sense, the programme's literary patron. Mark Tully presents a celebration of the seventeenth century metaphysical poet's life and work in conversation with his latest biographer John Drury, and discusses the relevance Herbert can still have for us today.

There are readings of Herbert's work and the music his verse has inspired. The featured authors and composers include Vikram Seth, T S Eliot, Alec Roth, Sandy Denny and Vaughan Williams.

The readers are Jane Whittenshaw, David Westhead and Francis Cadder.

Produced by Frank Stirling
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Music Played

  • Alec Roth and Vikram Seth


    Performer: Samuel Boden. Performer: Grace Davidson. Performer: Ex Cathedra Choir. Performer: Philippe Honoré. Performer: Martha McLorinan. Performer: Jeffrey Skidmore. Performer: Katie Trethewey. Performer: Susannah Vango.
    • Shared Ground.
    • Signum Classics.
  • William Lawes

    William Lawes: Ton de stefken - Jigg VdGS 357

    Performer: Jonathan Dunford.
    • Lawes - Suites Pour 1 Et 3 Lyra Violes.
    • Ades.
  • Anon

    Vicar of Bray

    Performer: Owen Brannigan. Performer: Hendon Grammar School Choir. Performer: Charles Mackerras.
    • Hearts Of Oak: Songs Of The British Isles.
    • Classics For Pleasure.
  • George Herbert and Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Antiphon ("Let all the world")

    Performer: Halifax Choral Society. Performer: John Pryce-Jones.
    • Five Mystical Songs.
    • Naxos.
  • George Herbert and Kenneth Leighton

    Let All The World In Every Corner Sing

    Performer: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Performer: Philip Ledger.
    • Music for Holy Week.
    • EMI Music Distribution.
  • George Herbert and Vaughan Williams

    Let All The World In Every Corner Sing

    Performer: Choir of Westminster Abbey. Performer: Martin Neary.
    • The Royal Golden Wedding.
    • Griffin.
  • Hilary Davan Wetton

    Love III

    • Five Tudor Portraits; Five Mystical Songs.
    • Hyperion.


Title: Prayer (1)

Author: George Herbert

Published: George Herbert - The Complete English Poems (Penguin Classics)

Synopsis: The author expresses his belief that that prayer settles the mind



Title: George Herbert (Writers & Their Work)

Author: T.S. Eliot

Published: Northcote House Publishers Ltd

Synopsis: Eliot argues that Herbert’s relevance is not limited to Christians.

Title: The Life Of George Herbert  
Author: Izaak Walton
Published in:  The Lives of - John Donne - Sir Henry Wotton - Richard Hooker - George Herbert & Robert Sanderson –
Published by: Pomona Press
Synopsis: A description of Herbert finding happiness as a country priest. 


Title: Affliction (1) 

Author: George Herbert

Published in:  George Herbert - The Complete English Poems (Penguin Classics)
Published by: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (7 Oct 2004)

Synopsis: The poet gives form to his disillusion with academic life.