Since ancient times, prose and poetry have played a vital role in humanity’s culture and faith.
History of Devotional and Praise Poetry
Devotional or praise poetry is defined as poetry expressing one’s religious worship or prayer. As a literary form, it covers multiple categories including secular poetry, praise poetry and prose, spiritual poetry, and praise poetry which is common among Christian poets and writers. These types of works feature verses that praise God for his impact on an author’s spiritual journey, it can also be seen as preach poetry, spreading God’s grace and presence. The roots of devotional poetry can be traced back to medieval times and in Jewish religion where numerous verses worshiping God are preserved in their scriptures. Over thousands of years, it has evolved and it is not exclusive to Hebrews or Christians as other religions such as Islam are also rich in poetry and prose as seen in their holy book, Quran. Today, modern poetry about devotion and expression of faith has taken on various forms and some of them are mostly personal.
The Rise of Christian Poetry and Poets
The Christian faith is the largest in the world, has produced much religious literature. They ranged from sacred scriptures to spiritual guidebooks, to Bible discussions, even to works that question and challenged the established notions and traditions of the Catholic faith and other denominations. As for Christian poetry and prose, it has flourished remarkably over the years. Many published works of Christian poets have gained commercial and critical success. From John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1767) to The Lion Book of Christian Poetry by Pat Alexander (1980), Christian poetry continues to inspire and teach the faithful about God and his presence. Today’s poets however produce works that are more pronounced in their worship and praise of God. Works like Shelter in God: Your Refuge in Times of Trouble by David Jeremiah (2020), The Color of Love by Raymond Quattlebaum (2018), and Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Christian Year by Malcolm Guite (2012). These modern works of literature are written in the modern format using more personal words, but profoundly expressing their devotion to God, His creations, and the bounty of His graces. They are not confined to religious themes but expand their literary devotion by presenting to us the beauty of life and nature.
The Impact of Poetry of Faith and Love
While Christian poetry played a major part in the Dissenting and renewal movements of the 18th century as well as the evolution of folk hymns, the Negro spirituals, and the rise of the gospel, the impact of today’s modern devotional poetry is more personal and spiritual. They reach out to readers in more comprehensive and yet specific aspects of human living. Many of the recently published materials are meant to inspire others using their own spiritual awakening, life-changing experiences, and lessons encountered. Many of the poets who write about their faith do not focus on religion per se but rather on biblical truths and individual interpretations of their relationship with God. This is one of the major highlights of modern spiritual/religious poetry- they are inclusive and seek to tap the spiritual side of readers regardless of their religion and denomination.
Aside from the idea of reaching out to a personal level and inspiring readers to embrace faith and God from a whole new perspective, modern praise poetry also invites readers to look at things in a more positive light. They do this by incorporating themes like nature, serenity, letting go of material things, family, friendship, and even light humor. This way, the works of literature become more appealing and ideas and messages are easily conveyed to readers and fellow believers. Devotional poetry and other similar forms certainly help maintain a sense of calmness and purpose in today’s hectic and often, cruel society.