After Sam and Frodo have woken in a soft bed for the first time in many days, delighting in the sheer wonder of being alive, they are made ready to play the central part in a day of Praisegiving.
“‘What shall we wear?’ said Sam; for all he could see was the old tattered clothes that they had journeyed in, lying folded on the ground beside their beds.
‘The clothes that you wore on your way to Mordor,’ said Gandalf. ‘Even the orc clothes that you wore in the black land, Frodo, shall be preserved. No silks and linens, nor any armour or heraldry could be more honourable.'”
And so Frodo and Sam are brought before the host of the West and the Praisegiving begins. There are mighty shouts, “Long live the Halflings! Praise them with great praise!” The King leads his people in doing honour to the heroes by bowing the knee and leading Frodo and Sam to thrones set up beside his own. And a minstrel sings praise before the host and the heroes telling them of “Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom”, so making Sam’s joy complete. So great is the skill of the minstrel that the hearts of all who listen are “wounded with sweet words” and they overflow with a joy “like swords” until they pass “in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”
This Day of Giving Praise is one that enables all who are gathered together on The Field of Cormallen to create a sacred space within their hearts to hold all that has happened to them as a treasure that in days to come they will be able to take out and gaze upon to make some sense of all that will happen to them in their lives. For they will know many more days of sorrow and of joy and will share those days with others too. But they have been to the very edge of darkness and have seen it gather about them, ready to devour them, and then the light has broken through to carry them to blessedness and they hardly know how they have got there or what the place is that they have reached.
Stories must be told and doubtless a story of the deeds of Frodo and Sam has been told to the army before they appear before them. Of course they know nothing of the journey through Mordor or the final events upon the Mountain. All that they know is that the Halflings who stand before them, clothed in orc rags, are their deliverers. Even the minstrel who tells the story with such skill does not know what we would call the facts. What he knows is a truth that is so real that even the hobbits, who lived the facts, recognise it as their own lived experience and recognise it too as something that transcends that experience. Both the praise that the host gives and the song of the minstrel rely upon formulae, of recognised forms of speech, but the overflow of their hearts is in no way diminished by this. Rather it is contained as a river channel contains a mighty flood enabling the water’s force to empower rather than destroy.
Once again we are taken back to Frodo’s experience in the halls of Elrond when Bilbo’s singing of the Tale of Eärendil and Frodo’s experience of the mighty river of the Music of the Ainur all became one thing for a moment.
It is this experience that all who gather upon the Field of Cormallen will be able to draw upon in years to come. The giving of praise, a king who kneels before hobbits of the Shire clothed in orc rags, and a tale sung by the greatest of minstrels that transported them briefly to a place of blessedness and then brought them back to the ground upon which they must stand and then leave to the feast and then to their duties.
And if they should choose each duty will be transfigured from this day on by the treasure that they carry within their hearts and even those who allow the treasure to be choked and buried by the cares of their lives may, in a moment of illumination, find the light that they once experienced upon The Field of Cormallen breaking through once more.
The image in this week’s blog post is by Tolman Cotton.
4 thoughts on “A Day of Praisegiving upon The Field of Cormallen”
This post conveyed the blessed joy and transcendence of the occasion, thank you. I am going to have to re-read it to fully appreciate it. Very much liked the artwork, who is the artist, do you know?
Thank you so much for your comment. As so often in this reading of LOTR I have found new riches because I have committed myself to writing about it. Phrases like “joy like swords” and “regions where pain and delight flow together” affected me deeply.
The artist is Tolman Cotton and you convict me of my sins. I must include a reference in this week’s post.
I love this, especially how special people realize this day is, to treasure forever, and also the connection between this and Frodo’s experience in Rivendell. I hadn’t connected the two before. I am going to have to remember that for my book in progress, if that is all right. Great timing for this post with Thanksgiving for us on the other side of the Pond. 😀 Thankful for you and your witness here! 👍
Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie 😊
Once again, thank you for leaving a comment, Anne Marie. I would be honoured if you use any thoughts that have been prompted by reading my work in your book. Your post on my blog is still getting regular views and visits. I am delighted about that. I learnt so much in the weeks of reflection on the events at Mount Doom and your piece was so important at that time.
The idea of Thanksgiving is such an important one although it has so much more meaning when people have a personal sense of participation as does the host of the West at the Field of Cormallen.
God bless you 😊