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Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Poetry has always been a central element of Christian spirituality and is increasingly used in worship, in pastoral services and guided meditation. In Sounding the Seasons, Cambridge poet, priest and singer-songwriter Malcolm Guite transforms seventy lectionary readings into lucid, inspiring poems, for use in regular worship, seasonal services, meditative reading or on ret ...more
Paperback, 82 pages
Published 2012 by Canterbury Press
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Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here's my review: I couldn't bear to bring it back to the library, so I had to buy it. These sonnets are deceptively simple, often hearkening back to familiar metaphors about light and wine and birth but always imbuing these symbols with new touches of meaning while upholding their full meaning as revealed in scripture. It is rare to read a poet who stirs the imagination with such fresh understandings of familiar truths. I've never been so moved by any depiction of Christ's crucifixion as I was ...more
John Thieme
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Guite's poems in "Sounding the Seasons" and in "The Singing Bowl" are exquisitely nuanced and subtle moments at the intersection of faith and captivating beauty. They are deeply insightful and his lines seem almost to sing aloud (I enjoy listening to the cadence and kindness in Guite's voice when I come across the audio of his reading these poems and comments on his blog). This is poetry in that holy moment of stillness and mindful quietude, the words resonate throughout the day and (with a nod ...more
M. Todd Webster
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, christianity
Sonnets celebrating the Christian year go back at least to John Donne's "La Corona". Guite's cycle of meditative, celebratory poems owes much to Donne, to Herbert, and to the examples of other great Christian poets. I recommend this collection to anyone who likes traditional verse on Christian themes, or who aspires to write in sonnet form. It has the potential to teach much about writing poetry, to enhance private devotion, and to enrich public liturgy. ...more
Kyle McFerren
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's nice to know there are still Christians who know how to make art. In Sounding the Seasons, Guite, an Anglican priest, has written sonnets for various holidays and occasions throughout the church year, including deeper reflections on the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday, and the O Antiphons for Advent. They reminded me a lot of a modern John Donne or George Herbert, and he says he was greatly influenced by both of them. I read this short collection in a few sittings, but I think it woul ...more
Christy Whitsell
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have liked his advent and lent volumes, and have done better reading those since they have specific seasons they align with. Not following a liturgical calendar, I didn’t have a clue when some of these in this Volume were supposed to be read, and thus lost track of the book for a while. I picked it back up w h reading daily and ignoring whether it aligned or not. Having said that, he has some great insights and beautifully expressed ideas in his poetry, and I will continue to read his books.
Jeremy Johnston
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a magnificent series of sonnets, which follows the traditional church calendar. I read these sonnets as part of my morning meditation, prayer, and Bible readings, and I found them to be enriching and inspiring during these brief moments of contemplation and devotion. Guite's poems are a gift to the contemporary church, helping to bridge tradition, truth, and the concerns of our time. ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful idea to incorporate little bits of literature within the church. He works with opposites and paradoxes to create a rich display of words, definitely exploring the doctrines of Christianity. Malcolm's words seem to flow forth easily, while still retaining a sense of mystery and meaning. He is definitely a gifted poet. ...more
Allan Dickinson
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
These sonnets are excellent - well-written and thoughts provoking.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of beautiful Christian sonnets, that correspond with the liturgical calendar. I’ve read most of them through twice, trying to savor them in their appropriate time of year. Each poem is both convicting and encouraging, and I think there’s more that I could get out of them than I have. But this is what I’ve learned about poetry: you have to take your time and savor the words, examine and study them, maybe even memorize them. I think that’s why I memorized so much poetry when I was y ...more
Harry Allagree
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm officially announcing that I'm addicted to the poetry of Malcolm Guite! This is a lovely, short book of sonnets for the various Christian liturgical seasons of the year. I recommend it especially to my colleagues who are Episcopal clergy. Fraser Watts, a member of the St. Edward King & Martyr in Cambridge, UK where Guite serves as Assistant Chaplain, adds a helpful article, "The sonnets and liturgy", in Appendix B.

It's worth sharing the first lines of his "Prologue: Sounding the seasons":

Tamara Murphy
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apostles-reads, 2018
I refer to Malcolm Guite’s sonnets as closely as I do to any other theologian I read and was delighted to introduce his work to our church’s reading group last year. In the collection Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year, Guite turns 70 lectionary readings into beautiful, poignant spiritual reflections. We read through this book as a companion to all our reading during 2018, reading several aloud each time we gathered. As a bonus, we grew in our understanding and apprecia ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church
This book is a collection of sonnets that are tied to various points of the year. I read them all in one sitting. I think they would be better read a few at a time with time spent meditating on them.

The end of the book had an interesting discussion on reading non-Bible passages in a worship service. It discussed the "not in the Bible" and shouldn't be read viewpoint vs. reading spiritual works.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity, poetry
Sounding the Seasons offers us seventy sonnets (short, 14-line poems) that cover the happenings of the Christian liturgical year. As someone relatively new to reading poetry, I found these enjoyable and accessible. Initially I read through the collection as a whole, but I plan to keep this little volume accessible for devotional usage. There is a helpful index in the back that ties the poems to passages in scripture.
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a very moving and beautiful collection of sonnets based on the main days in the liturgical calendar. I am deeply impressed by Guite's ability to communicate profound theological truths in such few words. These poems would be especially useful for being read aloud in a church service or for personal contemplation and devotions throughout the year. I originally borrowed this one from the library, but I plan to buy it and return again to each sonnet at its proper time. ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As someone who just does not understand or like poetry usually, I would like to recommend this book highly. Malcolm came to our conference and read some of his poems; most of them leaving me in tears they are so beautiful.

Read them. Pray them and you can live with them throughout the day. Beauty on the page!
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lovely sonnets arranged to follow the liturgical year, including sonnets for the church itself, the Gospel writers, and various saint and feast days. An entire series for both Advent and Lent.

Although a quick but enjoyable read, something I will return to again. A keeper.
Krystie Herndon
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Though some of the poems in this sonnet cycle seem to come from a more traditionally "high church" Roman Catholic worldview than I follow, I appreciate the general call to reflection and repentance that the author makes for all of us. ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book of poetry
Aaron Smith
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful deep and worshipful
Kay Mcgriff
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This collection of exquisite sonnets journeys through the liturgical calendar. I have savored one each day and might just start all over again.
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Simple, yet immensely rich and deep sonnet meditations following the church calendar. Guite turns memorable phrases to craft words and sounds for the service of the sonnet's theme.

Amy Harris
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Holy, evocative, beautiful. Guite's mastery of the sonnet form, combined with the subject matter of holy days throughout the liturgical calendar, is powerful. ...more
His Stations of the Cross sequence is brilliant--definitely worth the price of admission just for that. The rest vary for me, but it's nice to have a collection of poems for the church holidays. He also posts most of them on his blog along with audio of him reading it, so be sure to check that out too. ...more
Timothy Bartel
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
A fine attempt at a sonnet sequence in an age almost devoid of such attempts.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Moving and beautiful poems. To be read and reread.
Oct 06, 2019 is currently reading it
Shelves: spirituality
If you love sonnets ...I couldn't get enough of this book. ...more
rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2017
Marion Hitchins
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Nov 26, 2016
Kenneth Malott
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