The Holy Box

The Holy Box

A poem for Easter by Sydney Carter (1915 - 2004)

Although this poem was written almost fifty years ago, the message has a vibrant resonance with modern progressive Christian thinking. Carter was a man ahead of his time, a rebel, who's hymns have finally reached the mainstream but who's poetry remains neglected.

The Holy Box, from the collection Love More or Less, was first published by Stainer and Bell in 1971.

The Bible had been rolled away,

The Holy Name of Jesus lay

Like crumpled linen on the floor.

A stranger stood beside the door.

“You will not find him here,” he said

“This is the dwelling of the dead.

You put him in a holy box

But he has shattered all the locks.

By Christ or any other name

The shape of truth would be the same."

I woke, and it was eight o’clock.

I heard the crowing of a cock,

I heard the tolling of a bell.

The church was standing: all was well,

I knew the Bible, thick and black,

Was safe upon the eagle’s back.

How could Jesus be the same

If he had another name?

Holy, holy is the box.

Nobody can break the locks.

In 1974, under their Galliard imprint, Holy Box was published by Stainer and Bell in a compendium of Carter's poems called The Two-Way Clock SBN: 85249 287 1. The image of Sydney Carter comes from their website.

Back to News