Consider an Epiphany Poetry Liturgy

31st December, 2012 - Posted by Christine Perrin - No Comments

Every year, my children’s alma mater–Covenant Christian Academy–does a poetry liturgy to enter more deeply into the reality of the Epiphany. I do it with college students taking jterm intro to poetry as well. This meditative event where, for an hour, a group of people contemplate the significance of an event which is really a reality, is transformative. I have done it with various age groups from 7th grade to adult and younger children have attended these; they have never failed to transfix the participants.

This is a significant departure of these events–they are participatory not performative. One group does not get up and perform for another, they guide all present into thinking more deeply, listening, absorbing thoughts that often fragment and dissipate.

Here is how you do it: choose 5 or so poems on the theme. Have students write a meditative response to a poem which dwells on the poem fruitfully and invites listeners to drink of the poem more deeply. Include interludes of music that corresponds to the themes you are developing.

Set up the room with good lighting (usually dim), a podium up front, seats facing the podium. Have the students who are the guides practice reading the poems carefully with full understanding and the right speed. Practice reading the meditations clearly and carefully as well. Begin with a short introduction on the theme (in this case Epiphany).

I have had one student create a piece of art in response to a poem which also became part of the event. Sometimes we have projected paintings that correspond to the poems or images that correspond. There are wonderful Epiphany paintings on that is meaningful to me is Fra Angelico The Adoration of the Magi.

A program is helpful but not necessary. At least explain to participants what to expect and stress that they are not to clap–this is not a performance but an invitation into a spot of time created by words, silence, music in which they can dwell for awhile and enter a reality they might have trouble approaching otherwise.

I will attach poems that I have chosen for an epiphany event that I have hosted several times. These are perfect for families as well. This Christmas our family did our first attempt toward this as an extended family group. IT was a wonderful beginning!

Here is a sample program with poems we used:

Epiphany Celebration


Musical interlude                 Carolyn


Scripture Readings (4)         Jenn (Isaiah 60 1-6), Keith (Psalm 71 1-7), Erik (Ephesians 3 1-2), Resa (Matthew 2 1-12)



Eliot                                        Journey of the Magi              Reading and Meditation


Epiphany prayer                   Emily


Tsvetayeva                             Bethlehem                                Reading and Meditation


Musical interlude                    Dylan


Hristic                                     That Night They Gathered     Reading and Meditation


Epiphany Prayer                   Amanda


William Carlos Williams                                      The Gift                                    Reading and Meditation


Epiphany Prayer                   Scott


Musical Interlude                  Ryan




Silence, private meditation  5 minutes


Commonplace book writing 15 minutes (we respond with writing, after having been primed by the experience)



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