The Soul in Paraphrase: A Treasury of Classic Devotional Poems

By Leland Ryken

... Show All


Crossway+ members receive 30% off books. Learn more.

Availability: In Stock

Retail Price: $34.99

The Soul in Paraphrase: A Treasury of Classic Devotional Poems

By Leland Ryken

... Show All

Christians throughout the ages have written poetry as a way to commune with and teach about God, communicating rich truths and enduring beauty through their art. These poems, when read devotionally, provide a unique way for Christians to deepen their spiritual insight and experience. In this collection of over 90 poems by poets such as Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, and over 30 more, literary expert Leland Ryken introduces readers to the best of the best in devotional poetry, providing commentary that helps them see and appreciate not only the literary beauty of these poems but also the spiritual truths they contain. Literary-inclined readers and first-time poetry readers alike will relish this one-of-a-kind anthology carefully compiled to help them encounter God in fresh ways.

Read Chapter 1


Leland Ryken

Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) served as professor of English at Wheaton College for nearly fifty years. He served as literary stylist for the English Standard Version Bible and has authored or edited over sixty books, including The Word of God in English and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible.

Product Details

Category: Arts & Literature
Format: Cloth Over Board
Page Count: 272
Size: 6.0 in x 9.0 in
Weight: 22.0 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-5861-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-5861-0
ISBN-UPC: 9781433558610
Case Quantity: 20
Published: October 31, 2018

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction

  1. Caedmon's Hymn (Caedmon)
  2. The Dream of the Rood (Anonymous)
  3. O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be (Abelard)
  4. Canticle of the Sun (St. Francis)
  5. Sunset on Calvary (Anonymous)
  6. I Sing of a Maiden (Anonymous)
  7. Hand in Hand We Shall Take (Anonymous)
  8. Leave Me, O Love, Which Reachest but to Dust (Sidney)
  9. Most Glorious Lord of Life (Spenser)
  10. O Gracious Shepherd (Constable)
  11. When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes (Shakespeare)
  12. That Time of Year Thou Mayest in Me Behold (Shakespeare)
  13. Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds Admit Impediments (Shakespeare)
  14. Poor Soul, the Center of My Sinful Earth (Shakespeare)
  15. The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained (Shakespeare)
  16. Yet If His Majesty (Anonymous)
  17. Thou Hast Made Me, and Shall Thy Work Decay? (Donne)
  18. As Due by Many Titles I Resign (Donne)
  19. Oh My Black Soul (Donne)
  20. This Is My Play's Last Scene (Donne)
  21. At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners (Donne)
  22. Death, Be Not Proud (Donne)
  23. Spit in My Face, You Jews (Donne)
  24. Batter My Heart (Donne)
  25. Wilt Thou Love God as He Thee? (Donne)
  26. A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior (Jonson)
  27. Aaron (Herbert)
  28. Redemption (Herbert)
  29. Prayer (Herbert)
  30. Virtue (Herbert)
  31. The Pulley (Herbert)
  32. The Agony (Herbert)
  33. Love  (Herbert)
  34. The Twenty-Third Psalm (Herbert)
  35. The Elixir (Herbert)
  36. Easter (Herbert)
  37. The Collar (Herbert)
  38. Sunday (Herbert)
  39. He Bore Our Griefs (Revius)
  40. His Savior's Words, Going to the Cross (Herrick)
  41. His Litany to the Holy Spirit (Herrick)
  42. On Time (Milton)
  43. How Soon Hath Time  (Milton)
  44. Lady That in the Prime of Earliest Youth (Milton)
  45. When Faith and Love (Milton)
  46. Avenge, O Lord, Thy Slaughtered Saints (Milton)
  47. When I Consider How My Light Is Spent (Milton)
  48. Methought I Saw My Late Espouséd Saint (Milton)
  49. Greatly Instructed I Shall Hence Depart (Milton)
  50. Verses upon the Burning of our House (Bradstreet)
  51. Poverty (Traherne)
  52. Peace (Vaughan)
  53. Easter Hymn (Vaughan)
  54. The Dawning (Vaughan)
  55. The Waterfall (Vaughan)
  56. They Are All Gone into the World of Light (Vaughan) 
  57. When in Mid-Air, the Golden Trump Shall Sound (Dryden)
  58. Veni, Creator Spiritus ["Come, Creator Spirit"] (Dryden)
  59. The Spacious Firmament on High (Addison)
  60. When Rising from the Bed of Death (Addison)
  61. The Dying Christian to His Soul (Pope)
  62. Huswifery (Taylor)
  63. Infinity, When All Things It Beheld (Taylor)
  64. The Resignation (Chatterton)
  65. The Lamb (Blake)
  66. And Did Those Feet (Blake)
  67. The Destruction of Sennacherib (Byron)
  68. Lines Written in Early Spring (Wordsworth)
  69. Earth Has Not Anything to Show More Fair (Wordsworth)
  70. To a Waterfowl (Bryant)
  71. The Snow-Storm (Emerson)
  72. Strong Son of God, Immortal Love (Tennyson)
  73. Crossing the Bar (Tennyson)
  74. In the Bleak Midwinter (Rossetti)
  75. Good Friday (Rossetti)
  76. Up-Hill (Rossetti)
  77. Pied Beauty (Hopkins)
  78. Spring (Hopkins)  
  79. The Windhover (Hopkins)
  80. God’s Grandeur (Hopkins)
  81. O World Invisible, We View Thee (Thompson)
  82. A Prayer in Spring (Frost)
  83. Journey of the Magi (Eliot)
  84. Two Poems on Death and Immortality (Dickinson)
  85. Nature as God's Revelation (Lanier and Coleridge)
  86. Sunday Worship (Smart and Coleridge)
  87. Christmas Day (Anonymous and Milton)
  88. Nature as a Religious Experience (Wordsworth)
  89. The Consolations of Providence (Milton and Shakespeare)
  90. Certainty of Faith (Brontë and Dickinson)
  91. Our Only Secure Home (Anonymous)

Biographical Notes
Sources and Acknowledgments
Scripture Index
Person Index 


“Leland Ryken has performed a great service by gathering these poems into a volume that yields counsel, challenge, and comfort to Christians of all stripes. These poems will be faithful companions to every thoughtful believer.”
Alan Jacobs, Distinguished Professor of Humanities, Baylor University

“Leland Ryken has gifted us with a much-needed anthology that not only presents the finest devotional poetry in English, but provides incisive commentary that allows the reader to understand each poem’s various layers of meaning and to participate in its wrestling with God, faith, and the human condition.”
Louis Markos, Professor in English and Scholar in Residence, Houston Christian University; author, The Myth Made Fact

“Leland Ryken’s The Soul in Paraphrase is a stunning collection of timeless devotional poems that—just like the Bible—rewards the patient, careful reader. Every Christian should add this volume to their library, enjoying it slowly and savoring its riches in the daily rhythms of devotional life.”
Brett McCracken, Senior Editor, The Gospel Coalition; author, The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World

“This timeless treasury reads like a devotional on devotional poetry. With the fruits of a long career served in the love of God and of literature, Leland Ryken informs and illumines each poem’s contribution to the thoughtful Christian’s pursuit of beauty, grace, and truth. Perfect as a guide or a gift.”
Carolyn Weber, Professor, New College Franklin; award-winning author, Surprised by Oxford

“I have long desired a book just like this fine collection of poems. I am constantly seeking to encourage prospective pastors, teachers, and Christians in the church to read good poetry. Leland Ryken has compiled exactly what I need: a treasury of great devotional poems that I can regularly recommend to others. He includes many of my own favorites by Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, and Eliot, so I was fascinated to read his valuable commentaries introducing those poems. He has also chosen less familiar works, making this a book I will return to again and again. Thank you for such an excellent work!”
Jerram Barrs, Resident Scholar, The Francis Schaeffer Institute; Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture, Covenant Theological Seminary

“Leland Ryken is a leading literary scholar of our time, and in these pages offers a timeless collection that couldn’t be timelier. The Soul in Paraphrase presents masterful poems that nourish heart, mind, and soul, along with commentary that is learned, lucid, and inviting. This is a volume that will delight poetry enthusiasts and skeptics alike.”
Karen Swallow Prior, author, The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, and Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis

“Some of the most profound devotional exercises—perhaps second only to the reading of Scripture—come from reading and contemplating Christian poetry. But readers today are ill-equipped to do so, knowing poetry only as either greeting-card verse or undecipherable puzzles. In this collection, Leland Ryken, the dean of Christian literary scholars, gives back to contemporary Christians their rich literary heritage. First, he selects works of the highest aesthetic and spiritual quality; and, second, he offers brief commentary that unpacks each poem’s meaning, artistry, and theological depths. In showing how poetry is a ‘trap for meditation’ (as Denis de Rougemont called it), Ryken has given us a resource that will greatly enhance our Christian devotions.”
Gene Edward Veith Jr., author, Loving God with All Your Mind and Post-Christian

“For most modern people, poetry is hard to read and not immediately rewarding. And yet, it is precisely that difficulty and the contemplation that it requires that makes reading poetry such a valuable exercise in a world of distractions. Leland Ryken has produced a volume that will aid Christians, even those not well versed in poetry, in delighting in the rich history of devotional poetry.”
O. Alan Noble, Assistant Professor of English, Oklahoma Baptist University; author, Disruptive Witness