Tolkien Gateway

Letter 63

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 63
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
Date24 April 1944
Subject(s)Various and sundry doings, work on The Lord of the Rings, sermonizing

Letter 63 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien had had the uncommon luxury of lying a-bed with toast, home-made marmalade, and Christopher's recent letter. He had gotten only broken sleep due to the air raid sirens and then awoke to do odd jobs. He had not had a taste of beer since Thursday.

Resuming the letter on 26 April, Tolkien reported doing some executor's business, gave a poor lecture, saw the Lewises and Charles Williams, mowed lawns, wrote letters, and struggled with "The Ring". He needed to know how much later the moon rises each night when near full and how to stew a rabbit. After a record-setting short college meeting he had to deal with one of his hens.

Tolkien expounded upon the generally poor delivery of sermons. It was an art requiring native talent coupled with learning and practice. The art could be practiced unconnected with sincerity or sanctity, but not only was a performance expected but also truth and sincerity. Real sermons required some special grace arrived at through instinct or "inspiration". Sometimes the Holy Spirit spoke through a human mouth but the occasions were rare.

Christopher had reported an account of a journey to Johannesburg which Tolkien found amusing. If Christopher went to Bloemfontein Tolkien wondered if his birthplace was still standing. He also wondered if his father’s grave was still there.