Sign In
Forgot Password? Register - AS/A2 English Literature Study Guides - texts in context.


George Herbert: Poem analysis » Redemption » Synopsis of Redemption

In The Temple, the great sequence of his poems Herbert had arranged before his death, Redemption occurs in a sequence on Easter, following a poem called Good Friday. As the poem deals symbolically with the death of Christ, this fits well.

More on Redemption: literally means ‘a buying back'. In the Bible, the term has the sense of a transaction which is necessary before human beings can be saved from God's condemnation for sin and disbelief. In the Old Testament (or Old Covenant), sacrifices were made which symbolised this transaction. The New Testament claims that the death of Jesus on the cross was sufficient to pay for the sins of all humankind. This concept is central to Herbert's beliefs.

A parable

Parable of the tenantsHerbert was used to preaching in a rural parish, and here he uses a parable which describes a scenario with which his congregation might well have been familiar: going to a rich landowner to discuss the fact that his lease requires him to pay more than he can afford. As in a number of parables in the Bible, God is presented as the landowner and humankind as the tenant. Jesus is shown telling the parable of the tenants of the vineyard, who eventually killed the owner's son rather than pay their rent.

Investigating Redemption
  • In Redemption it is the tenant goes searching for the landlord, not vive versa
    • How does that affect the feel of the poem?
  • Would you ever naturally use the word ‘redeem' or ‘redemption'? in what contexts?
The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and the oldest and greatest festival of the Christian Church.
In literature, something that is chosen to take on a particular meaning by the writer, e.g. clouds as symbols of mutability.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.
The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament scriptures inherited from Judaism, together with the New Testament, drawn from writings produced from c.40-125CE, which describe the life of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian church.
The Bible describes God as the unique supreme being, creator and ruler of the universe.
Disobedience to the known will of God. According to Christian theology human beings have displayed a pre-disposition to sin since the Fall of Humankind.
A 'testament' is a covenant or binding agreement and is a term used in the Bible of God's relationship with his people). The sacred writings of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible). These also form the first part of the Christian Bible.
Term used in the New Testament to describe the relationship between God and human beings presented in the Old Testament. Refers primarily to the the framework of laws believed to have been given by God to Moses.
1. The giving up of something deeply valued 2. Offerings a worshipper gives to God to express devotion, gratitude, or the need for forgiveness. 3. In the Bible, the sacrifice is seen to take away guilt and blame.
1. Instrument of execution used in the Roman Empire. 2. The means by which Jesus Christ was put to death and therefore the primary symbol of the Christian faith, representing the way in which he is believed to have won forgiveness for humankind.
Area with its own church, served by a priest who has the spiritual care of all those living within it.
A group of Christians who congregate / meet together for worship.
The name given to the man believed by Christians to be the Son of God. Also given the title Christ, meaning 'anointed one' or Messiah. His life is recorded most fully in the Four Gospels.
Plants yielding grapes as fruit, whose juice, when fermented, makes wine. The vineyard is used as an image of the land of Israel.

Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
            Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
            And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancell th’ old.

In heaven at his manour I him sought :
            They told me there, that he was lately gone
            About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.

I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
            Sought him accordingly in great resorts ;
            In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts :
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth

            Of theeves and murderers :  there I him espied,
            Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.