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Let Us Kneel with Mary Maid: Christina Rossetti and Figural Reading

posted on 2023-09-01, 14:47 authored by Elizabeth Ludlow
In this chapter I consider Christina Rossetti’s creative and figural approach to the incarnation and crucifixion. Centering on an analysis of three of her poems that were included in Orby Shipley’s collection, Lyra Messanica (1864) (“Before the Paling of the Stars”, “Good Friday”, and “The Love of Christ which Passeth Knowledge”), I highlight how Rossetti’s hermeneutical method contributed to both the work of the Lyras and to the development of Tractarianism more broadly. After introducing Rossetti and her engagement with Tractarianism, the dominant branch of High Church Anglicanism in the Victorian period, I consider the theological work that her poems perform in scoping out a space of encounter with God and in modelling a hermeneutic of piety. One instance where she exemplifies this hermeneutic is in her first book of devotional prose, Annus Domini: A Prayer for Each Day of the Year (1874). Here, she implores God to “fill” herself and her readers with “reverence … for Thy most holy written Word” and prays that He would “give us grace to study and meditate in it, with prayer and firm adoring faith: not questioning its authority, but obeying its precepts and becoming imbued by its spirit” (prayer no. 314). Extending Esther Hu’s comment that Rossetti’s devotional poetry reflects “the lived experience of testing one’s faith” (2010, 158), I locate her lived experience in the Anglican tradition and explain how she uses the figural mode of typology to articulate what it means to interpret one’s life and biblical history as a member of the wider Communion of Saints.



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Lexham Press

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Bellingham, WA

Title of book

All Thy Lights Combine: Figural Reading in the Anglican Tradition




David Ney, Ephraim Radner

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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Legacy Faculty/School/Department

Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

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