This is a reprint of 2 devotionals, "The New Christian Year" (1941) and "The Passion of Christ: Being the Gospel Narrative of the Passion with Short Passages Taken from the Saints and Doctors of the Church" (1939), both chosen by Charles Williams, an English poet, novelist, theologian, literary critic, and teacher. Charles Walter Stansby Williams was most often associated with the Inklings (a group of christian writers including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis), Williams was also cited as a major influence on W.H. Auden's conversion to christianity and he was a peer and friend of T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers and Evelyn Underhill. These devotionals collect writings from throughout the history of christian thought. His choices were novel at the time, referencing Kierkegaard just as his translations were appearing in english print (Williams helped edit the first translations in England) and drawing upon the little known sermons of the poet John Donne.
For each day of the Church year (starting in Advent), quotes will be posted as they appeared in the 1941 edition of "The New Christian Year". They are categorized by the source on the left, so that readers can read more from each author. I will also add links to websites about each source.
During lent the "The New Christian Year" will be supplemented by quotes from "The Passion of the Christ". This text has passages from the Gospel accounts of the passion supplemented by quotes from the "Saints and Doctors of the Church".
Thou canst not stand still, because thou livest in the perpetual
workings of temporal and eternal nature; if thou workest not with the
good, the evil that is in nature carries thee along with it: thou hast
the height and depth of eternity in thee, and therefore be doing what
thou wilt, either in the closet, the field, the shop or the church,
thou art sowing that which grows, and must be reaped in eternity.
Nothing of thine can vanish away, but every thought, motion, and desire
of thy heart has its effect either in the height of Heaven or the depth
of hell: and as time is upon the wing, to put an end to the strife of
good and evil, and bring about the last great separation of all things
into their eternal state, with such speed art thou making haste either
to be wholly an angel, or wholly a devil.
God which moveth mere natural agents as an efficient only, doth
likewise move intellectual creatures, and especially his holy angels:
for beholding the face of God, in admiration of so great excellency
they all adore him; and being rapt with the love of his beauty, they
cleave inseparably for ever unto him. Desire to resemble him in
goodness maketh them unweariable and even unsatiable in their longing
to do by all means all manner good unto all the creatures of God, but
especially unto the children of men: in the countenance of whose
nature, looking downward, they behold themselves beneath themselves;
even as upward, in God, beneath whom themselves are, they see that
character which is nowhere but in themselves and us resembled.
In the beginning truly of my conversion and singular purpose, I
thought I would be like the little bird that for love of her lover
longs, but in her longing she is gladdened when he comes that she
loves. And joying she sings, and singing she longs, but in sweetness
and heat. It is said the nightingale to song and melody all night is
given, that she may please him to whom she is joined. How muckle more
with greatest sweetness to Christ my Jesu should I sing, that is spouse
of my soul by all this present life, that is night in regard of
clearness to come.
Happy then that soul, who in the lucid intervals of a wounded
conscience can praise God for the same. Music is sweetest near, or
over rivers, where the echo thereof is best resounded by the water.
Praise for pensiveness, thanks for tears, and blessing God over the
floods of affliction, makes the most melodious music in the ear of
There is no other righteousness save that of the man who sets
himself under judgement, of the man who is terrified and hopes. He
shall live. He has the expectation of true life, for, recognizing that
this life is naught, he is never without the reflection of the true
life in this life, never without the prospect of incorruption in that
which is passing to corruption. The great impossibility has announced
to him the end and goal of every trivial impossibility. He shall live
of the faithfulness of God.
God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its
proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but
permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.
If thou hast broken a vow, tie a knot on it to make it hold together
again. It is a spiritual thrift, and no misbecoming baseness, to piece
and join thy neglected promises with fresh ones. So shall thy vow in
effect be not broken when new mended: and remain the same, though not
by one entire continuation, yet by a constant successive renovation.