Once again, Sarah Arthur has provided rich and enriching resources for the recovery of a life of prayer. More difficult, perhaps, than any other truth we may glimpse in the midst of what we know as ‘the time being,’ is the efficacy of penitential prayer; most elusive is the ‘bright sorrow’ that couples our repentance with joy. With this book, many will find their way to this inestimable blessing.” —Scott Cairns, Author of Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems
“A rich feast.” —Lauren F. Winner, author of StillBetween Midnight and Dawn is an imaginative collection of poetry and prose that reveals what great literature is at its core: a psalm, a cry against the darkness, a prayer. This work is meant to lead readers who celebrate these liturgical seasons through a collection of great literature that explores themes of darkness and light—themes many of us experience deeply in the dead of winter, when spring is on the horizon, but still feels so far away. This book is a literary treasure trove all about the turns. It is also about the long nights in between them—the still points that are not always peaceful. Between Midnight and Dawn contains excerpts from beloved classic writers and poets such as George MacDonald, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Christina Rossetti, yet there are many selections from contemporary authors, too: Luci Shaw, Scott Cairns, and Wendell Berry, to name just a few. If any of these names are familiar, then you will surely appreciate the encounter with old friends, but be prepared to make new ones as well.—Ashlee Cowles
“I may just be a bit smitten with this book.” —Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts\ The book’s [Between Midnight and Dawn] front cover and title page claim she [Sarah Arthur] “compiled” it, but she’s done more than that. She has carefully and lovingly curated this collection, arranging a treasury of poems and excerpts from fiction in ways that spotlight each contribution’s beauty, both as its own piece of art and in relationship to others. This book leaves no doubt Arthur reallyis well-read. She has not only read and reread but also lived with and loved each of these texts for a long time before sharing them with us. Like a scribe trained for the kingdom of heaven, she brings out treasures new and old to illuminate the mysteries of God’s saving ways. Overall, Between Midnight and Dawn is a beautiful contribution to the church’s devotional life, and I look forward to spending more time with it over the next several months. Thank God (literally) there are well-read lovers of the written word in our midst, who really know how to sift literature’s riches for much more than mere illustrations—who can train us to hear (as Arthur writes in her introduction) voices calling us to raise our eyes and look to the east for God’s dawn.—Michael S. Poteet, The Sci-Fi Christian
“What a delight, to find so extraordinary a collection.” —Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota and Cloister Walk
I can’t be alone in thinking that, when Dorothy discovers that her ruby red slippers have (and always have had) the power to take her home, it is one of the most profound theological insights in American pop culture. Or that the death of Stringer Bell was a moment where the ability of the TV series The Wire to plumb the depths of the human condition was most on display. I like my piety with a little artistic license. “Tell all the truth,” as Emily Dickinson said, “but tell it slant.”
Sarah Arthur, who compiled the great new Lenten and Eastertide literary prayer guide, Between Midnight and Dawn, is a kindred spirit in this. She introduces her collection by comparing the movement from Lent to Easter with night to dawn and winter to spring, but don’t believe her. She’s got far more tender and terrifying territory to cover in this beautiful, bountiful book.
It is too much really, and therefore a relief that the cycle of liturgical seasons will come around again next year so that the riches herein can be explored at more leisure – particularly during Holy Week when there is a selection of poems and prose for each of the eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter. “It is nearly impossible to read a poem both quickly and well,” Arthur warns, and so she advises the reader to go slow, savoring the psalm and scripture passages she offers for each section, extending the readings over several days. Which means, of course, that you will not be able to finish the sections before it’s time to move on. ‘Always leave them wanting more,’ I suppose.
Perhaps Arthur knows that we often have to be seduced into seeing the depths of the darkness, and thus she eases the way with a framework that looks like a traditional devotional book – opening prayer, scriptures, readings, personal prayer and reflection, closing prayer. But in those readings are the weight and wonder of the ages. This is explosive stuff Arthur has brought together – again, too much to be absorbed in the sittings of a single Lent and Easter. But for those who see God’s hand in the devastating beauty of art and human word, this guide is a balm and a window to a deeper experience of the season.—Alex Joyner, The Englewood Review of Books
“A thing of beauty!”—the late Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours
With the season of Lent upon us, I have found a wonderful guide to prayer and reflection for it with Sarah Arthur's Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide. (Paraclete Press 2016).
Midnight and Dawn draws upon relevant readings from the Psalms, Old Testament, Epistles, Gospel accounts and a deep breadth of literary excerpts from 17th century poet George Herbert to 19th century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to contemporary Canadian poet Susan Macaslin. The result is some wonderful imagery that truly gave me a pause for reflection on this season of the Christian faith. A wonderful guide for Lent! I loved it! —Jim Kane "What a gem of a book, a great resource for preachers, pray-ers, or anyone who likes such intelligent devotional material. "A thing of beauty" said Phyllis Tickle, "What a delight to find so extraordinary collection" says Kathleen Norris. Highly recommended."—Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Books