John Donne at Lincoln’s Inn
Dr Emma Rhatigan talked to the Society of Lincoln’s Inn about one of their most well-known preachers, John Donne.
Talking to the Society from the pulpit in which Donne had addressed the congregation at Lincoln’s Inn nearly four hundred years earlier, Emma discussed Donne’s relationship with Lincoln’s Inn as both a student and a preacher. As a student Donne had been best known as a writer of love poetry and his return to Lincoln’s Inn in a religious role must have raised some eyebrows amongst the congregation. Drawing on her work for the forthcoming Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, Emma described how Donne used his sermons to confront his past identity as a poet whilst forging a new religious identity at the Inn. This relationship was to prove enduring and, in the words of the current Treasurer, Donne is remembered today as the Society’s ‘most distinguished preacher’. The service included readings from Donne’s poetry and music inspired by his religious writings. Afterwards there was an opportunity to look at an exhibition of original documents relating to Donne’s time at Lincoln’s Inn, including the beautiful six volume Bible that he presented to the Benchers as a gift when he left to become Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. Faculty learning and teaching funding enabled students from Emma’s module on John Donne to travel to London for the occasion and to see first-hand the location where Donne wrote the poetry and sermons they’ve been studying.
Next month Emma is bringing John Donne to Sheffield in a collaborative venture with Sheffield Cathedral which will provide a rare opportunity to hear one of Donne’s sermons performed. The sermon will be delivered by the Reverend Dr Erica Lonfellow as part of a Seventeenth Century Evensong, with anthems performed by members of the Cathedral choir.
Event details: ‘Donne in Sheffield’ will take place on Saturday 3 May at 4.00pm. Entry is free but registration is required. Register for a ticket online.