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Waiting on the Word

4.66  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation in which the waiting itself is strangely rich and fulfilling. Poetry can help us fathom the depths of Advent's many paradoxes: dark and light, emptiness and fulfilment, ancient and ever new.
For every day from Advent Sunday to Christmas Day and beyond, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Canterbury Press
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Average rating 4.66  · 
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Cindy Rollins
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread, 2018, 2019
The subtitle of this book is A Poem a Day for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. What a pleasant surprise. I am not generally a fan of books that 'explain' poems. I am much happier just reading and rereading a poem. I often distrust poetry analysis. Malcolm Guite expertly explains each poem, yes, but his analysis leads to love. Rather than discuss them academically, he makes you feel that you are just sitting around the Christmas tree discussing things you love. It was really that brilliant. His o ...more
(3.5) Guite chooses well-known poems (by Christina Rossetti, John Donne, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge et al.) as well as more obscure contemporary ones as daily devotional reading between the start of Advent and Epiphany; I especially liked his sonnet sequence in response to the seven “O Antiphons.” His commentary is learned and insightful, and even if at times I thought he goes into too much in-depth analysis rather than letting the poems speak for themselves, this remains a ve ...more
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book for the last few years during the Advent/Christmas season. And every time I am so inspired. 5 stars once again .


I don't normally read a lot of poetry. I think I'm going to change that habit this year. As long as I can have access to writers like Malcolm Guite. In this wonderful book, Guite includes a wonderful 1-2 page analysis with each daily reading/poem. There are poems from old greats, such as George Herbert,
Jen H
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Malcolm Guite, in his Waiting on the Word devotional did for my understanding of poetry what rich, creamy butter does to a piece of dry toast. Can't say enough good about this tasty morsel of literary fare. Worth its weight in gold and then some.
Jeff Sullivan
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, christianity
A wonderfully diverse anthology of poems, all meaningfully selected and commented on by a great poet himself. The reflections are brief but substantial, balancing the discussion of meaning with poetic form and effect.
Justin Wiggins
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yesterday I finished reading this powerful book by Malcolm Guite, which is an amazing devotional for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Thanks for writing this book Malcom! I do hope to enjoy a pint with you in Oxford or Cambridge someday.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
My youngest sister and I share a love for books and our tastes are fairly similar, so we love sharing recommendations with each other as we discover new treasures. Charity surprised me with this title in December after having heard an interview with the author.

Guite has assembled a series of daily readings to go from Advent Epiphany on January 6th. Each entry begins with a poem (including some of his own), which is then followed by his exposition on the poem.

I enjoy poetry, and I was intrigued
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a selection of poems with explanatory essays by Malcolm Guite for the season of Advent and Christmas through to Epiphany.
There are some great poems by Rossetti , Donne, Coleridge and Herbert. But there are also contemporary poems by Guite himself, as well as Grevel Lindop and Luci Shaw.

An excellent resource for advent season.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this anthology (and the accompanying one for Lent.) What a beautiful way to slow down and reflect in Advent. The author includes his own poems and some by other poets. It's brought to me new ways of reading and appreciating poetry, new ways to think about Advent and the Christmas story; it's stirred my heart and stretched my mind. Bring on Lent.
Mary Reilly
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent devotional for Advent through Epiphany. Enjoyed the poetry and was so good for this non poetry girl to have the author walk me through the poems and make connections that while I enjoyed the words I didn’t see.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Having never read a great deal of poetry, I loved getting introduced to several poets and poems that caused me to think and ponder. I will definitely want to reread this for next Advent! Review to come
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Do not take the time I took to finally finish reading this as any indication of how good this books is. Do give it a chance! I think what you find will be worth it, as it is for me.
Shannon Maddox
Please see my review here:

Kelly Barker
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this walk through poetry for the Advent season. Guite did a great job at holding my hand when I wasn’t quite sure what the poet was trying to say. Definitely a book I will use each advent season as a time to be ever watching for the light.
Kelly Sauskojus
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best advent devotional I've ever encountered. Maybe I just actually like poetry?
Harry Allagree
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shortly before Christmas recently I'd kept running into the name of Malcolm Guite, never having encountered him or his poetry. This book was an absolute "gift" this Christmas, not only with the wonderful writing, poems and insights of Guite himself, but with those of a number of other poets, classical and contemporary, which he includes. The poem which struck me most forcefully, perhaps, was Scott Cairns's contribution, "Nativity" (p. 109), which by happenstance I was able to share with a gather ...more
Laurel Hicks
An excellent anthology of poetry selected and annotated by Malcolm Guite for the days of Advent. Guite has an outstanding ability to show how the poets of the ages speak to one another, and his own poetry is exquisite. I’ll be reading this again next December.

Thirty-seven poems expertly chosen and brilliantly annotated by Malcolm Guite to span the days from the Annunciation to Christmas to the coming of the Magi. This is a treasure to read many times over. George Herbert, John Donne,
Diana Glyer
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Even though the spell of Christmastime starts earlier and earlier each year, the meaning of Christmas gets swallowed up in sale prices and the noise of Black Friday Specials. This little book has the power to change all that. A poem a day and a bit of commentary: a gentle, grounding experience to start each day of December, a companion that changes the holiday season from one of hurry to one of hope. Simple? yes. Powerful? utterly. Redemptive? absolutely. This book is brilliant.
Jordan Carlson
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book in so many ways. A poem a day through Advent, Christmas and Epiphany - this book was an essential element of my understanding, observing and celebrating this season. The O Antiphons were particularly moving to me, and Guite’s responsive sonnets were very, very good. I appreciated his short analysis/response that felt so worshipful and devotional in nature and helped me to see many things that I would otherwise have missed in the poetry. The variety of old and new, sacred and s ...more
Joshua D.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Far and away the best Advent/Christmas/Epiphany devotional I have ever read. Guite himself is a best-selling poet, but his curation of great poems is on display here. And his analysis of each poem is phenomenal. I can't remember a time I have learned so much from a book. Highly recommended.

Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation in which the waiting itself is strangely rich and fulfilling. Poetry can help us fathom the depths of Advent's many paradoxes: dark and light, emptiness and fu
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, church, christmas
Like The Word in the Wilderness, this collection has a poem a day for a specific season in the church year--in this case, it's seasons, and it's the Advent and Christmas seasons, plus one for Epiphany. We have really loved reading this with our kids--our older 3 took turns reading a poem at breakfast (I missed out on most of these, but was able to join in on the weekends and read on my own the rest of the time). As an adult, I find Guite's commentary on the different poems just as useful and int ...more
Tammy Glaser
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my hopes is to become a better reader of poetry. I know I should read poetry regularly and like reading it. Perhaps I don't know what to do with it and that is at the heart of the matter. Moreover, I'm not a reader of devotionals because so many are shallow and insipid.

This book is wonderful! It is a helpful guide in processing poetry selected to suit an Advent mood. Guite helped me see the layers upon layers upon which poetry is sometimes build, much like a watercolor. Poetry draws idea
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
I super love this book! I have really enjoyed using it during Advent and up to Epiphany. I also discovered Malcolm Guite’s blog, which featured him reading aloud the poem for the day and art that corresponded with the poem, each day. I was kind of sad when it was finished, so I am going to have to look for some more Malcolm Guite books to enjoy this year. It has really made me think and ponder and I valued that process during Christmas time, when it can get a little crazy and if you are not care ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never been a poetry fan but having been utterly charmed by Malcolm Guite at a conference I bought this. I have loved this book almost more than any I have ever read for Advent - oh my goodness it is beautiful. Malcolm writes clear and perceptive explanations about the poems he chooses, including why he has chosen them. This book is such a treat that most of my Christian friends are going to get it for Christmas next year (early enough so they can use it for Advent) Treat yoursel
Jan 01, 2020 added it
I am not a natural with poetry. I have long wanted to be, but I don’t typically understand the meaning in the poems. Each day has a poem or a piece of a poem. Guite unpacks the poetry, which was usually very helpful and often brought insight and inspiration! Some of the poems moved me magnificently. I honestly did not get much out of the book, but when I did it was deep and profound. I’m very glad I read the book and I’d like to give it a try in a future year.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked up Waiting on the Word on a recommendation by Cindy Rollins. I knew nothing of the author, but was all in favor of another book of advent poetry.

But at first, I was turned off by what the author's seeming arrogance. Who is he to place his own work among that of Milton and Herbert and Tennyson and Donne? But I grew to appreciate his commentary and his poetic contributions to the season.

This book will definitely be part of my advent traditions in future years.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection of poetry surrounding Advent from various poets throughout the last few centuries was such a gift. Guite opens each daily poem up for explanation and reflection, which was so helpful for a poetry novice like me. His collection creates a better experience of celebrating not just the wait from long ago and the future that we await, but also encourages us to pay attention to places and moments where the divine comes now.
Sally Ewan
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lovely selection of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany poems that provided a delightful season of devotions. Guite chose both old and more contemporary poems to include, and his thoughtful commentary really opened them up and gave them greater depth and meaning.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful collection of poems - classical and modern. There is one a day during Advent through the twelve days of Christmas and Epiphany. Each poem is presented and the author gives a brief explanation and devotional about the poem and how it relates to the season.
Jane Ellen
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fully enjoyed this book as an Advent companion. The poems are thoughtfully chosen, and Guite's reflections are lovely and devotional. They make the poems accessible, as well, for those not so keen on poetry!
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“Advent falls in winter, at the end of the year, in the dark and cold, but its focus is on the coming of light and life, when the Ancient of Days becomes a young child and says, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Perhaps only poetry can help us fathom the depths and inhabit the tensions of these paradoxes.” 2 likes
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