Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 30: From Drunkard to Saint

Psalm 30

medieval-sirgalahadI will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.

In 1567, King Philip, who was a zealous prosecutor of Protestants…

d…sent Alba also known as Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, the third Duke of Alba, nicknamed “the Iron Duke” into the Netherlands at the head of an army of 10,000 men, with unlimited powers for the extirpation of heretics. When he arrived he soon showed how much he merited the confidence which his master reposed in him, and instantly erected a tribunal which soon became known to its victims as the “Blood Council,” to try all persons who had been engaged in the late commotions which the civil and religious tyranny of Philip had stirred up. During the six years of his governorship, no less than 18,000 people were executed.  One of which was John Herwin.

In prison, says the chronicler of Herwin that, “he was wont to recreate himself by singing of Psalms, and people used to flock together to the prison door to hear him.

At the place of execution, one gave him his hand and comforted him.  Herwin then began to sing the 30th Psalm. A friar interrupted him, but Herwin quickly finished his psalm, with many joining him in singing of it. Then he said to the people,” I am now going to be sacrificed; follow you me when God of his goodness shall call you to it.”

And so he was first strangled, and then burnt to ashes.

Think of the faith which could look through death, and close his song and his life, with the words, “Thou, hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. 0 Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.

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Meet John Herwin, Christian Martyr:  Not much is known about John Herwin except that he was a soldier in the Netherlands, and at one time a very wicked sinner.  What I could find out about him came from, “Jesuitism; a review of the comte de Montalembert’s treatise ‘L’avenir politique de l’Angleterre’.”  In this review are some of Herwin’s own self-description:  “Behold how this wicked world rewards the servants of Jesus Christ: while I was a beastly drunkard, a sharping gamester, a profane swearer, and a dissolute libertine, I remained free from bonds or molestation, and was caressed and deemed a good fellow for being completely wicked. –Strange abuse of words and ideas! But when I began, through God’s grace to repent of my follies, reform my manners, and lead an inoffensive and pious life, the world made war upon me; and even magistrates, who ought to encourage morality, became my enemies. Yet I am not discouraged; for sure the servant is inferior to his Lord, and as they persecuted Christ, it would be impiety in me to complain.” John Herwin (a Flandrian Soldier). Strangled.”