The Cross and the Cosmos Issue 12 -- He Set God's Children Free
The 12th issue of The Cross and the Cosmos concludes with a poem about spiritual warfare and the Christian ideal of self-sacrifice. “He Set God's Children Free” by Warren Harvey, also called “An Ode to Liberty,” has the feel of a serious but lively medieval ballad. The narrative, which contains a frame story, is constructed of quatrains, the lines alternating between eight and six syllables in length. No particular metrical foot is used consistently, which makes the poem and the accompanying story feel natural and spontaneous.
The lyrical narrative sings of a hero, called out of a humble life to fight a tyrannical demon that had enslaved the people. The story is the same story that has a thousand faces, reborn over and over again throughout the ages. The best and strongest expression of this story, we know, is the story of Christ, His birth and sufferings and death and resurrection. The setting of “He Set God's Children Free,” as portrayed by the frame story, has religious significance that can make it seem like the poem is actually referring to Jesus in some way, even if in a somewhat abstract way.
However, I think it is clear that the poem is not specifically about Jesus. Instead, the mythic Hero archetype that the poem expresses in an almost pure form is an image of Christ, and the spiritual deliverance depicted in the poem is an image of the ultimate redemption of believers through Christ's blood. The poem is not blind to this significance. There are several direct references to the Bible, including the temptation of Jesus by the Devil. The Armor of God from Ephesians is there, and so are the three virtues from I Corinthians. I suspect that there may be other, subtler allusions that I may have missed. The poem is probably more complicated than it appears.
Our age has forgotten and devalued the compact elegance of poetic verse. The Cross and the Cosmos is working to rectify this problem, and “He Set God's Children Free” uses the compact focus of verse to bring the Hero archetype to life without any distractions, while also providing a delightful narrative about redemption that transports readers back to a simpler time.