Wednesday, 14 April 2010

John Keble

Ever since I was a teenager I have had an interest in John Keble. It started when I was given a most beautiful book, The Christian Year by John Keble, which had been presented to my Great Grandfather when he left the Parish of Hursley where he had been the School Master and the Organist of Hursley Parish Church. The book has wooden covers with lithographs of Winchester Cathedral and Hursley Church.
Keble a son of the Vicarage was born on 25th April 1792. Following home tuition he was admitted as an undergraduate of Corpus Christi College at 14 years of age. After a brilliant academic career he was elected a Fellow of Oriel College where he was a tutor and examiner. He was ordained deacon in 1815 and priest the next year. A curate first to his father he was later appointed to a curacy at Eastleach in Gloucestershire. The Christian Year was published in 1827 and resulted in him being appointed as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. He also published another book of poetry called the Lyra Innocentium. Some of the words from the Christian Year are used as hymns including:-
Blessed are the pure in heart.
New every morning is the love
When God of old came down from heaven
Glory to Thee my God this night
John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey were the originators of the Tractarians or as it came to be known the Oxford Movement. It started with Keble’s famous Assize sermon on National Apostasy. Keble didn’t follow Newman when he departed to Rome and instead became the Vicar of the little country parish of Hursley. The money that accrued from his poetry helped build churches for the parishes of Otterbourne and Ampfield and also the rebuilding of Hursley Church itself.
Just before he died, Keble and Pusey were reunited with Newman who went to Hursley Vicarage to see Keble not aware that Pusey was there. John Keble was Dr Pusey’s confessor. After his death, Keble College was founded in his memory.
With the forthcoming canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman it is a pity that we have no way of recognising saintliness in the Church of England. I am very pleased that Cardinal Newman is to be canonised but regret that both John Keble and Edward Pusey won’t have the same recognition as Saints of God’s church.
Whether my ancestor ever knew Keble I’m not certain but I like to think that he did. Great Grandfather went from Hursley to Titchfield where he was appointed as Head of the School and Organist of the parish Church.

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