Look how our foul days do exceed our fair;
And as our bad, more than our good works are,
E’en so those lines, pen’d by my wanton wit,
Treble the number of these good I’ve writ.
Things precious are least numerous: men are prone
To do ten bad for one good action.
For those my unbaptised rhymes,
Writ in my wild unhallowed times;
For every sentence, clause, and word,
That’s not inlaid with Thee, my Lord,
Forgive me, God, and blot each line
Out of my book that is not Thine.
But if, ‘mongst all, thou find’st here one
Worthy Thy benediction;
That one of all the rest shall be
The glory of my work and me.
Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mix’d in that watery theatre;
And taste thou them as saltless there
As in their channel first they were.
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again
Beshiver’d into seeds of rain;
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes his ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence:
This if thou canst, then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.
God is above the sphere of our esteem,
And is the best known, not defining Him.
God is not only said to be
An Ens, but Supraentity.
God hath two wings which He doth ever move;
The one is mercy, and the next is love:
Under the first the sinners ever trust;
And with the last He still directs the just.
God when He’s angry here with anyone,
His wrath is free from perturbation;
And when we think His looks are sour and grim,
The alteration is in us, not Him.
’Tis hard to find God, but to comprehend
Him, as He is, is labour without end.
Prayers and praises are those spotless two
Lambs, by the law, which God requires as due.
God ne’er afflicts us more than our desert,
Though He may seem to overact His part:
Sometimes He strikes us more than flesh can bear;
But yet still less than grace can suffer here.
Three fatal sisters wait upon each sin;
First, fear and shame without, then guilt within.
Suffer thy legs, but not thy tongue to walk:
God, the Most Wise, is sparing of His talk.
True mirth resides not in the smiling skin:
The sweetest solace is to act no sin.
God loads and unloads, thus His work begins,
To load with blessings and unload from sins.
God’s boundless mercy is, to sinful man,
Like to the ever-wealthy ocean:
Which though it sends forth thousand streams, ’tis ne’er
Known, or else seen, to be the emptier;
And though it takes all in, ’tis yet no more
Full, and fill’d full, than when full fill’d before.
God, He rejects all prayers that are slight
And want their poise: words ought to have their weight.
Verse. My God, I’m wounded by my sin,
And sore without, and sick within.
Ver. Chor. I come to Thee, in hope to find
Salve for my body and my mind.
Verse. In Gilead though no balm be found
To ease this smart or cure this wound,
Ver. Chor. Yet, Lord, I know there is with Thee
All saving health, and help for me.
Verse. Then reach Thou forth that hand of Thine,
That pours in oil, as well as wine,
Ver. Chor. And let it work, for I’ll endure
The utmost smart, so Thou wilt cure.
God is all fore-part; for, we never see
Any part backward in the Deity.
God is not only merciful to call
Men to repent, but when He strikes withal.
God scourgeth some severely, some He spares;
But all in smart have less or greater shares.
God’s rod doth watch while men do sleep, and then
The rod doth sleep, while vigilant are men.
God, when for sin He makes His children smart,
His own He acts not, but another’s part;
But when by stripes He saves them, then ’tis known
He comes to play the part that is His own.
God, as He is most holy known,
So He is said to be most one.
Afflictions they most profitable are
To the beholder and the sufferer:
Bettering them both, but by a double strain,
The first by patience, and the last by pain.
Do with me, God, as Thou didst deal with John,
Who writ that heavenly Revelation.
Let me, like him, first cracks of thunder hear,
Then let the harps enchantments stroke mine ear:
Here give me thorns, there, in Thy kingdom, set
Upon my head the golden coronet;
There give me day; but here my dreadful night:
My sackcloth here; but there my stole of white.
Stroke, text strike.
God has His whips here to a twofold end:
The bad to punish, and the good t’ amend.
If all transgressions here should have their pay,
What need there then be of a reckoning day?
If God should punish no sin here of men,
His providence who would not question then?
Those saints which God loves best,
The devil tempts not least.
My God! look on me with Thine eye
Of pity, not of scrutiny;
For if Thou dost, Thou then shalt see
Nothing but loathsome sores in me.
O then, for mercy’s sake, behold
These my eruptions manifold,
And heal me with Thy look or touch;
But if Thou wilt not deign so much,
Because I’m odious in Thy sight,
Speak but the word, and cure me quite.
God hears us when we pray, but yet defers
His gifts, to exercise petitioners;
And though a while He makes requesters stay,
With princely hand He’ll recompense delay.
God strikes His Church, but ’tis to this intent,
To make, not mar her, by this punishment;
So where He gives the bitter pills, be sure
’Tis not to poison, but to make thee pure.
God pardons those who do through frailty sin,
But never those that persevere therein.
In numbers, and but these few,
I sing Thy birth, O JESU!
Thou pretty baby, born here,
With sup’rabundant scorn here;
Who for Thy princely port here,
Hadst for Thy place
Of birth a base
Out-stable for Thy court here.
Instead of neat enclosures
Of interwoven osiers,
Instead of fragrant posies
Of daffodils and roses,
Thy cradle, Kingly Stranger,
As Gospel tells,
Was nothing else
But here a homely manger.
But we with silks, not crewels,
With sundry precious jewels,
And lily-work will dress Thee;
And as we dispossess Thee
Of clouts, we’ll make a chamber,
Sweet babe, for Thee
And plaister’d round with amber.
The Jews they did disdain Thee,
But we will entertain Thee
With glories to await here,
Upon Thy princely state here;
And more for love than pity,
From year to year,
We’ll make Thee, here,
A freeborn of our city.
In the old Scripture I have often read,
The calf without meal ne’er was offered;
To figure to us nothing more than this,
Without the heart lip-labour nothing is.
In prayer the lips ne’er act the winning part,
Without the sweet concurrence of the heart.
Why wore th’ Egyptians jewels in the ear?
But for to teach us, all the grace is there,
When we obey, by acting what we hear.
When once the sin has fully acted been,
Then is the horror of the trespass seen.
Time was upon
The wing, to fly away;
And I call’d on
Him but awhile to stay;
But he’d be gone,
For ought that I could say.
He held out then
A writing, as he went;
And ask’d me, when
False man would be content
To pay again
What God and Nature lent.
In which were sands but few,
As he did pass,
He show’d, and told me, too,
Mine end near was;
And so away he flew.
If war or want shall make me grow so poor,
As for to beg my bread from door to door;
Lord! let me never act that beggar’s part,
Who hath Thee in his mouth, not in his heart:
He who asks alms in that so sacred Name,
Without due reverence, plays the cheater’s game.
Thou hast promis’d, Lord, to be
With me in my misery;
Suffer me to be so bold
As to speak, Lord, say and hold.
In the hour of my distress,
When temptations me oppress,
And when I my sins confess,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When I lie within my bed,
Sick in heart and sick in head,
And with doubts discomforted,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the house doth sigh and weep,
And the world is drown’d in sleep,
Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the artless doctor sees
No one hope, but of his fees,
And his skill runs on the lees,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When his potion and his pill
Has, or none, or little skill,
Meet for nothing, but to kill;
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the passing bell doth toll,
And the furies in a shoal
Come to fright a parting soul,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the tapers now burn blue,
And the comforters are few,
And that number more than true,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the priest his last hath prayed,
And I nod to what is said,
‘Cause my speech is now decayed,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When, God knows, I’m toss’d about,
Either with despair, or doubt;
Yet before the glass be out,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the tempter me pursu’th
With the sins of all my youth,
And half damns me with untruth,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the flames and hellish cries
Fright mine ears, and fright mine eyes,
And all terrors me surprise,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the judgment is reveal’d,
And that open’d which was seal’d,
When to Thee I have appeal’d,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
Thanksgiving for a former, doth invite
God to bestow a second benefit.
Bellman of night, if I about shall go
For to deny my Master, do thou crow.
Thou stop’dst St. Peter in the midst of sin;
Stay me, by crowing, ere I do begin:
Better it is, premonish’d for to shun
A sin, than fall to weeping when ’tis done.
Adverse and prosperous fortunes both work on
Here, for the righteous man’s salvation;
Be he oppos’d, or be he not withstood,
All serve to th’ augmentation of his good.
Afflictions bring us joy in times to come,
When sins, by stripes, to us grow wearisome.
I’ll come, I’ll creep, though Thou dost threat,
Humbly unto Thy mercy-seat:
When I am there, this then I’ll do,
Give Thee a dart, and dagger too;
Next, when I have my faults confessed,
Naked I’ll show a sighing breast;
Which if that can’t Thy pity woo,
Then let Thy justice do the rest
And strike it through.
Lord, Thou hast given me a cell
Wherein to dwell;
A little house, whose humble roof
Under the spars of which I lie
Both soft and dry;
Where Thou my chamber for to ward
Hast set a guard
Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep
Me, while I sleep.
Low is my porch, as is my fate,
Both void of state;
And yet the threshold of my door
Is worn by th’ poor,
Who thither come, and freely get
Good words or meat;
Like as my parlour, so my hall
And kitchen’s small;
A little buttery, and therein
A little bin
Which keeps my little loaf of bread
Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar
Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,
And glow like it.
Lord, I confess, too, when I dine,
The pulse is Thine,
And all those other bits, that be
There placed by Thee;
The worts, the purslain, and the mess
Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent;
And my content
Makes those, and my beloved beet,
To be more sweet.
’Tis Thou that crown’st my glittering hearth
With guiltless mirth;
And giv’st me wassail bowls to drink,
Spiced to the brink.
Lord, ’tis Thy plenty-dropping hand,
That soils my land;
And giv’st me for my bushel sown,
Twice ten for one.
Thou mak’st my teeming hen to lay
Her egg each day;
Besides my healthful ewes to bear
Me twins each year,
The while the conduits of my kine
Run cream for wine.
All these, and better Thou dost send
Me, to this end,
That I should render, for my part,
A thankful heart;
Which, fired with incense, I resign,
As wholly Thine;
But the acceptance, that must be,
My Christ, by Thee.
Unflead, lit. unflay’d.
Purslain, an herb.
Make, make me Thine, my gracious God,
Or with Thy staff, or with Thy rod;
And be the blow, too, what it will,
Lord, I will kiss it, though it kill:
Beat me, bruise me, rack me, rend me,
Yet, in torments, I’ll commend Thee;
Examine me with fire, and prove me
To the full, yet I will love Thee;
Nor shall Thou give so deep a wound
But I as patient will be found.
Lord, do not beat me,
Since I do sob and cry,
And swoon away to die,
Ere Thou dost threat me.
Lord, do not scourge me,
If I by lies and oaths
Have soil’d myself or clothes,
But rather purge me.
Happy’s that man to whom God gives
A stock of goods, whereby he lives
Near to the wishes of his heart:
No man is blest through every part.
Can I not come to Thee, my God, for these
So very many meeting hindrances,
That slack my pace, but yet not make me stay?
Who slowly goes, rids, in the end, his way.
Clear Thou my paths, or shorten Thou my miles,
Remove the bars, or lift me o’er the stiles;
Since rough the way is, help me when I call,
And take me up; or else prevent the fall.
I ken my home, and it affords some ease
To see far off the smoking villages.
Fain would I rest, yet covet not to die
For fear of future biting penury:
No, no, my God, Thou know’st my wishes be
To leave this life, not loving it, but Thee.
Rids way, gets over the ground.
Thou bid’st me come; I cannot come; for why?
Thou dwell’st aloft, and I want wings to fly.
To mount my soul, she must have pinions given;
For ’tis no easy way from earth to heaven.
Thou bid’st me come away,
And I’ll no longer stay
Than for to shed some tears
For faults of former years,
And to repent some crimes
Done in the present times:
And next, to take a bit
Of bread, and wine with it:
To don my robes of love,
Fit for the place above;
To gird my loins about
With charity throughout;
And so to travel hence
With feet of innocence:
These done, I’ll only cry
God mercy, and so die.
God will have all, or none; serve Him, or fall
Down before Baal, Bel, or Belial:
Either be hot or cold: God doth despise,
Abhor, and spew out all neutralities.
Whatever comes, let’s be content withal:
Among God’s blessings there is no one small.
Through all the night
Thou dost me fright,
And hold’st mine eyes from sleeping;
And day by day,
My cup can say
My wine is mix’d with weeping.
Thou dost my bread
With ashes knead
Each evening and each morrow;
Mine eye and ear
Do see and hear
The coming in of sorrow.
Thy scourge of steel,
Ah me! I feel
Upon me beating ever:
While my sick heart
With dismal smart
Is disacquainted never.
Long, long, I’m sure,
This can’t endure,
But in short time ’twill please Thee,
My gentle God,
To burn the rod,
Or strike so as to ease me.
Abundant plagues I late have had,
Yet none of these have made me sad:
For why? My Saviour with the sense
Of suff’ring gives me patience.
O years! and age! farewell:
Behold, I go
Where I do know
Infinity to dwell.
And these mine eyes shall see
All times, how they
Are lost i’ th’ sea
Of vast eternity.
Where never moon shall sway
The stars; but she
And night shall be
Drown’d in one endless day.
Go, pretty child, and bear this flower
Unto thy little Saviour;
And tell Him, by that bud now blown,
He is the Rose of Sharon known.
When thou hast said so, stick it there
Upon His bib or stomacher;
And tell Him, for good handsel too,
That thou hast brought a whistle new,
Made of a clean strait oaten reed,
To charm His cries at time of need.
Tell Him, for coral, thou hast none,
But if thou hadst, He should have one;
But poor thou art, and known to be
Even as moneyless as He.
Lastly, if thou canst win a kiss
From those mellifluous lips of His;
Then never take a second on,
To spoil the first impression.
Handsel, earnest money.
Let others look for pearl and gold,
Tissues, or tabbies manifold:
One only lock of that sweet hay
Whereon the blessed baby lay,
Or one poor swaddling-clout, shall be
The richest New–Year’s gift to me.
Tabbies, shot silks.
If anything delight me for to print
My book, ’tis this: that Thou, my God, art in’t.
How am I bound to Two! God, who doth give
The mind; the king, the means whereby I live.
Where God is merry, there write down thy fears:
What He with laughter speaks, hear thou with tears.
Give me honours! what are these,
But the pleasing hindrances?
Stiles, and stops, and stays that come
In the way ‘twixt me and home;
Clear the walk, and then shall I
To my heaven less run than fly.
To a love-feast we both invited are:
The figur’d damask, or pure diaper,
Over the golden altar now is spread,
With bread, and wine, and vessels furnished;
The sacred towel and the holy ewer
Are ready by, to make the guests all pure:
Let’s go, my Alma; yet, ere we receive,
Fit, fit it is we have our parasceve.
Who to that sweet bread unprepar’d doth come,
Better be starv’d, than but to taste one crumb.
God gives not only corn for need,
But likewise sup’rabundant seed;
Bread for our service, bread for show,
Meat for our meals, and fragments too:
He gives not poorly, taking some
Between the finger and the thumb;
But for our glut and for our store,
Fine flour press’d down, and running o’er.
Although we cannot turn the fervent fit
Of sin, we must strive ‘gainst the stream of it;
And howsoe’er we have the conquest miss’d,
’Tis for our glory that we did resist.
Christ, He requires still, wheresoe’er He comes
To feed or lodge, to have the best of rooms:
Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.
God could have made all rich, or all men poor;
But why He did not, let me tell wherefore:
Had all been rich, where then had patience been?
Had all been poor, who had His bounty seen?
To seek of God more than we well can find,
Argues a strong distemper of the mind.
Give, if thou canst, an alms; if not, afford,
Instead of that, a sweet and gentle word:
God crowns our goodness wheresoe’er He sees,
On our part, wanting all abilities.
Can I not sin, but thou wilt be
My private protonotary?
Can I not woo thee to pass by
A short and sweet iniquity?
I’ll cast a mist and cloud upon
My delicate transgression
So utter dark as that no eye
Shall see the hugg’d impiety;
Gifts blind the wise, and bribes do please
And wind all other witnesses;
And wilt not thou with gold be ti’d
To lay thy pen and ink aside?
That in the mirk and tongueless night
Wanton I may, and thou not write?
It will not be. And, therefore, now,
For times to come I’ll make this vow,
From aberrations to live free;
So I’ll not fear the Judge or thee.
Protonotary, once the title of the chief clerk in the Courts of Common Pleas and King’s Bench.
Lord, I confess, that Thou alone art able
To purify this my Augean stable:
Be the seas water, and the land all soap,
Yet if Thy blood not wash me, there’s no hope.
God is all sufferance here; here He doth show
No arrow nockt, only a stringless bow:
His arrows fly, and all His stones are hurl’d
Against the wicked in another world.
Nockt, placed ready for shooting.
I dreamt, last night, Thou didst transfuse
Oil from Thy jar into my cruse;
And pouring still Thy wealthy store,
The vessel full did then run o’er;
Methought I did Thy bounty chide
To see the waste; but ’twas replied
By Thee, dear God, God gives man seed
Ofttimes for waste, as for his need.
Then I could say that house is bare
That has not bread and some to spare.
God’s bounty, that ebbs less and less
As men do wane in thankfulness.
Night hath no wings to him that cannot sleep,
And time seems then not for to fly, but creep;
Slowly her chariot drives, as if that she
Had broke her wheel, or crack’d her axletree.
Just so it is with me, who, list’ning, pray
The winds to blow the tedious night away,
That I might see the cheerful, peeping day.
Sick is my heart! O Saviour! do Thou please
To make my bed soft in my sicknesses:
Lighten my candle, so that I beneath
Sleep not for ever in the vaults of death;
Let me Thy voice betimes i’ th’ morning hear:
Call, and I’ll come; say Thou the when, and where.
Draw me but first, and after Thee I’ll run
And make no one stop till my race be done.
I do believe that die I must,
And be return’d from out my dust:
I do believe that when I rise,
Christ I shall see, with these same eyes:
I do believe that I must come,
With others, to the dreadful doom:
I do believe the bad must go
From thence, to everlasting woe:
I do believe the good, and I,
Shall live with Him eternally:
I do believe I shall inherit
Heaven, by Christ’s mercies, not my merit.
I do believe the One in Three,
And Three in perfect unity:
Lastly, that JESUS is a deed
Of gift from God: and here’s my creed.
Temptations hurt not, though they have access:
Satan o’ercomes none, but by willingness.
When a man’s faith is frozen up, as dead;
Then is the lamp and oil extinguished.
Sorrows our portion are: ere hence we go,
Crosses we must have; or, hereafter woe.
A man’s transgressions God does then remit,
When man He makes a penitent for it.
O thou, the wonder of all days!
O paragon, and pearl of praise!
O virgin-martyr, ever blest
Above the rest
Of all the maiden train! We come,
And bring fresh strewings to thy tomb.
Thus, thus, and thus we compass round
Thy harmless and unhaunted ground;
And as we sing thy dirge, we will
And other flowers lay upon
The altar of our love, thy stone.
Thou wonder of all maids, liest here.
Of daughters all the dearest dear;
The eye of virgins; nay, the queen
Of this smooth green,
And all sweet meads; from whence we get
The primrose and the violet.
Too soon, too dear did Jephthah buy,
By thy sad loss, our liberty:
His was the bond and cov’nant, yet
Thou paid’st the debt:
Lamented maid! he won the day,
But for the conquest thou didst pay.
Thy father brought with him along
The olive branch and victor’s song:
He slew the Ammonites, we know,
But to thy woe;
And in the purchase of our peace,
The cure was worse than the disease.
For which obedient zeal of thine,
We offer here, before thy shrine,
Our sighs for storax, tears for wine;
And to make fine
And fresh thy hearse-cloth, we will, here,
Four times bestrew thee ev’ry year.
Receive, for this thy praise, our tears:
Receive this offering of our hairs:
Receive these crystal vials fill’d
With tears distill’d
From teeming eyes; to these we bring,
Each maid, her silver filleting,
To gild thy tomb; besides, these cauls,
These laces, ribbons, and these falls,
These veils, wherewith we use to hide
The bashful bride,
When we conduct her to her groom:
And all we lay upon thy tomb.
No more, no more, since thou art dead,
Shall we e’er bring coy brides to bed;
No more, at yearly festivals
We cowslip balls
Or chains of columbines shall make
For this or that occasion’s sake.
No, no; our maiden pleasures be
Wrapp’d in the winding-sheet with thee:
’Tis we are dead, though not i’ th’ grave:
Or, if we have
One seed of life left, ’tis to keep
A Lent for thee, to fast and weep.
Sleep in thy peace, thy bed of spice,
And make this place all paradise:
May sweets grow here: and smoke from hence
Let balm and cassia send their scent
From out thy maiden-monument.
May no wolf howl, or screech-owl stir
A wing about thy sepulchre!
No boisterous winds, or storms, come hither
To starve or wither
Thy soft sweet earth! but, like a spring,
Love keep it ever flourishing.
May all shy maids, at wonted hours,
Come forth to strew thy tomb with flow’rs:
May virgins, when they come to mourn,
Upon thine altar! then return,
And leave thee sleeping in thy urn.
Cauls, nets for the hair.
Falls, trimmings hanging loosely.
Male-incense, incense in globular drops.
What though my harp and viol be
Both hung upon the willow tree?
What though my bed be now my grave,
And for my house I darkness have?
What though my healthful days are fled,
And I lie number’d with the dead?
Yet I have hope, by Thy great power,
To spring; though now a wither’d flower.
Shame checks our first attempts; but then ’tis prov’d
Sins first dislik’d are after that belov’d.
Sin leads the way, but as it goes, it feels
The following plague still treading on his heels.
God, when He takes my goods and chattels hence,
Gives me a portion, giving patience:
What is in God is God; if so it be
He patience gives, He gives Himself to me.
What here we hope for, we shall once inherit;
By faith we all walk here, not by the Spirit.
Humble we must be, if to heaven we go:
High is the roof there; but the gate is low:
Whene’er thou speak’st, look with a lowly eye:
Grace is increased by humility.
Our present tears here, not our present laughter,
Are but the handsels of our joys hereafter.
Handsels, earnest money, foretaste.
After true sorrow for our sins, our strife
Must last with Satan to the end of life.
If Thy smart rod
Here did not make me sorry,
I should not be
With Thine or Thee
In Thy eternal glory.
Thou didst convince
My sins by gently striking;
Add still to those
First stripes new blows,
According to Thy liking.
Or scourging tear me;
That thus from vices driven,
I may from hell
Fly up to dwell
With Thee and Thine in heaven.
What God gives, and what we take,
’Tis a gift for Christ, His sake:
Be the meal of beans and peas,
God be thanked for those and these:
Have we flesh, or have we fish,
All are fragments from His dish.
He His Church save, and the king;
And our peace here, like a spring,
Make it ever flourishing.
Honour thy parents; but good manners call
Thee to adore thy God the first of all.
Here a little child I stand
Heaving up my either hand;
Cold as paddocks though they be,
Here I lift them up to Thee,
For a benison to fall
On our meat and on us all. Amen.
Chor. What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! awake the string!
Heart, ear, and eye, and everything
Awake! the while the active finger
Runs division with the singer.
1. Dark and dull night, fly hence away
And give the honour to this day
That sees December turn’d to May.
2. If we may ask the reason, say
The why and wherefore all things here
Seem like the spring-time of the year.
3. Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like to a mead new shorn,
Thus, on the sudden?
4. Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
’Tis He is born, whose quick’ning birth
Gives life and lustre, public mirth,
To heaven and the under-earth.
Chor. We see Him come, and know Him ours,
Who, with His sunshine and His showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
1. The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is we find a room
To welcome Him.
2. The nobler part
Of all the house here is the heart,
Chor. Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This holly and this ivy wreath,
To do Him honour; who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.
Division, a rapid passage of music sung in one breath or a single syllable.
1. Prepare for songs; He’s come, He’s come;
And be it sin here to be dumb,
And not with lutes to fill the room.
2. Cast holy water all about,
And have a care no fire goes out,
But ‘cense the porch and place throughout.
3. The altars all on fire be;
The storax fries; and ye may see
How heart and hand do all agree
To make things sweet. Chor. Yet all less sweet than He.
4. Bring Him along, most pious priest,
And tell us then, whenas thou seest
His gently-gliding, dove-like eyes,
And hear’st His whimpering and His cries;
How can’st thou this Babe circumcise?
5. Ye must not be more pitiful than wise;
For, now unless ye see Him bleed,
Which makes the bapti’m, ’tis decreed
The birth is fruitless. Chor. Then the work God speed.
1. Touch gently, gently touch; and here
Spring tulips up through all the year;
And from His sacred blood, here shed,
May roses grow to crown His own dear head.
Chor. Back, back again; each thing is done
With zeal alike, as ’twas begun;
Now singing, homeward let us carry
The Babe unto His mother Mary;
And when we have the Child commended
To her warm bosom, then our rites are ended.
Composed by M. Henry Lawes.
1. Hence, hence profane, and none appear
With anything unhallowed here;
No jot of leaven must be found
Conceal’d in this most holy ground.
2. What is corrupt, or sour’d with sin,
Leave that without, then enter in;
Chor. But let no Christmas mirth begin
Before ye purge and circumcise
Your hearts, and hands, lips, ears, and eyes.
3. Then, like a perfum’d altar, see
That all things sweet and clean may be:
For here’s a Babe that, like a bride,
Will blush to death if ought be spi’d
Ill-scenting, or unpurifi’d.
Chor. The room is ‘cens’d: help, help t’ invoke
Heaven to come down, the while we choke
The temple with a cloud of smoke.
4. Come then, and gently touch the birth
Of Him, who’s Lord of Heaven and Earth:
5. And softly handle Him; y’ad need,
Because the pretty Babe does bleed.
Poor pitied Child! who from Thy stall
Bring’st, in Thy blood, a balm that shall
Be the best New–Year’s gift to all.
1. Let’s bless the Babe: and, as we sing
His praise, so let us bless the King.
Chor. Long may He live till He hath told
His New–Years trebled to His old:
And when that’s done, to reaspire
A new-born Phœnix from His own chaste fire.
When I shall sin, pardon my trespass here;
For once in hell, none knows remission there.
Sin once reached up to God’s eternal sphere,
And was committed, not remitted there.
Evil no nature hath; the loss of good
Is that which gives to sin a livelihood.
1. Tell us, thou clear and heavenly tongue,
Where is the Babe but lately sprung?
Lies he the lily-banks among?
2. Or say, if this new Birth of ours
Sleeps, laid within some ark of flowers,
Spangled with dew-light; thou canst clear
All doubts, and manifest the where.
3. Declare to us, bright star, if we shall seek
Him in the morning’s blushing cheek,
Or search the beds of spices through,
To find him out.
Star. No, this ye need not do;
But only come and see Him rest
A Princely Babe in’s mother’s breast.
Chor. He’s seen, He’s seen! why then a round,
Let’s kiss the sweet and holy ground;
And all rejoice that we have found
A King before conception crown’d.
4. Come then, come then, and let us bring
Unto our pretty Twelfth-tide King,
Each one his several offering;
Chor. And when night comes, we’ll give Him wassailing;
And that His treble honours may be seen,
We’ll choose Him King, and make His mother Queen.
With golden censers, and with incense, here
Before Thy virgin-altar I appear,
To pay Thee that I owe, since what I see
In, or without, all, all belongs to Thee.
Where shall I now begin to make, for one
Least loan of Thine, half restitution?
Alas! I cannot pay a jot; therefore
I’ll kiss the tally, and confess the score.
Ten thousand talents lent me, Thou dost write;
’Tis true, my God, but I can’t pay one mite.
Tally, the record of his score or debt.
I’ll hope no more
For things that will not come;
And if they do, they prove but cumbersome.
Wealth brings much woe;
And, since it fortunes so,
’Tis better to be poor
Than so t’ abound
As to be drown’d
Or overwhelm’d with store.
Pale care, avaunt!
I’ll learn to be content
With that small stock Thy bounty gave or lent.
What may conduce
To my most healthful use,
Almighty God, me grant;
But that, or this,
That hurtful is,
Deny Thy suppliant.
Gold I have none, but I present my need,
O Thou, that crown’st the will, where wants the deed.
Where rams are wanting, or large bullocks’ thighs,
There a poor lamb’s a plenteous sacrifice.
Take then his vows, who, if he had it, would
Devote to Thee both incense, myrrh and gold
Upon an altar rear’d by him, and crown’d
Both with the ruby, pearl, and diamond.
Permit mine eyes to see
Part, or the whole of Thee,
O happy place!
Where all have grace,
And garlands shar’d,
For their reward;
Where each chaste soul
In long white stole,
And palms in hand,
Do ravish’d stand;
So in a ring,
The praises sing
Of Three in One
That fill the Throne;
While harps and viols then
To voices say, Amen.
Last night I drew up mine account,
And found my debits to amount
To such a height, as for to tell
How I should pay ‘s impossible.
Well, this I’ll do: my mighty score
Thy mercy-seat I’ll lay before;
But therewithal I’ll bring the band
Which, in full force, did daring stand
Till my Redeemer, on the tree,
Made void for millions, as for me.
Then, if thou bidst me pay, or go
Unto the prison, I’ll say, no;
Christ having paid, I nothing owe:
For, this is sure, the debt is dead
By law, the bond once cancelled.
Score, debt or reckoning.
God makes not good men wantons, but doth bring
Them to the field, and, there, to skirmishing.
With trials those, with terrors these He proves,
And hazards those most whom the most He loves;
For Sceva, darts; for Cocles, dangers; thus
He finds a fire for mighty Mutius;
Death for stout Cato; and besides all these,
A poison, too, He has for Socrates;
Torments for high Attilius; and, with want,
Brings in Fabricius for a combatant:
But bastard-slips, and such as He dislikes,
He never brings them once to th’ push of pikes.
Play their offensive and defensive parts,
Till they be hid o’er with a wood of darts.
When man is punish’d, he is plagued still,
Not for the fault of nature, but of will.
Open thy gates
To him, who weeping waits,
And might come in,
But that held back by sin.
Let mercy be
So kind to set me free,
And I will straight
Come in, or force the gate.
All I have lost that could be rapt from me;
And fare it well: yet, Herrick, if so be
Thy dearest Saviour renders thee but one
Smile, that one smile’s full restitution.
Pardon me, God, once more I Thee entreat,
That I have placed Thee in so mean a seat
Where round about Thou seest but all things vain,
Uncircumcis’d, unseason’d and profane.
But as Heaven’s public and immortal eye
Looks on the filth, but is not soil’d thereby,
So Thou, my God, may’st on this impure look,
But take no tincture from my sinful book:
Let but one beam of glory on it shine,
And that will make me and my work divine.
Lord, I am like to mistletoe,
Which has no root, and cannot grow
Or prosper but by that same tree
It clings about; so I by Thee.
What need I then to fear at all,
So long as I about Thee crawl?
But if that tree should fall and die,
Tumble shall heav’n, and down will I.
I would to God that mine old age might have
Before my last, but here a living grave,
Some one poor almshouse; there to lie, or stir
Ghostlike, as in my meaner sepulchre;
A little piggin and a pipkin by,
To hold things fitting my necessity,
Which rightly used, both in their time and place,
Might me excite to fore and after-grace.
Thy Cross, my Christ, fix’d ‘fore mine eyes should be,
Not to adore that, but to worship Thee.
So, here the remnant of my days I’d spend,
Reading Thy Bible, and my Book; so end.
Piggin, a small wooden vessel.
When we ‘gainst Satan stoutly fight, the more
He tears and tugs us than he did before;
Neglecting once to cast a frown on those
Whom ease makes his without the help of blows.
Hell is no other but a soundless pit,
Where no one beam of comfort peeps in it.
When I a ship see on the seas,
Cuff’d with those wat’ry savages,
And therewithal behold it hath
In all that way no beaten path,
Then, with a wonder, I confess
Thou art our way i’ th’ wilderness;
And while we blunder in the dark,
Thou art our candle there, or spark.
The less our sorrows here and suff’rings cease,
The more our crowns of glory there increase.
Hell is the place where whipping-cheer abounds,
But no one jailer there to wash the wounds.
Along the dark and silent night,
With my lantern and my light,
And the tinkling of my bell,
Thus I walk, and this I tell:
Death and dreadfulness call on
To the gen’ral session,
To whose dismal bar we there
All accounts must come to clear.
Scores of sins w’ave made here many,
Wip’d out few, God knows, if any.
Rise, ye debtors, then, and fall
To make payment while I call.
Ponder this, when I am gone;
By the clock ’tis almost one.
When winds and seas do rage
And threaten to undo me,
Thou dost, their wrath assuage
If I but call unto Thee.
A mighty storm last night
Did seek my soul to swallow,
But by the peep of light
A gentle calm did follow.
What need I then despair,
Though ills stand round about me;
Since mischiefs neither dare
To bark or bite without Thee?
Come pity us, all ye who see
Our harps hung on the willow tree:
Come pity us, ye passers-by
Who see or hear poor widows cry:
Come pity us; and bring your ears
And eyes to pity widows’ tears.
Chor. And when you are come hither
Then we will keep
A fast, and weep
Our eyes out altogether.
For Tabitha, who dead lies here,
Clean washed, and laid out for the bier,
O modest matrons, weep and wail!
For now the corn and wine must fail:
The basket and the bin of bread,
Wherewith so many souls were fed,
Chor. Stand empty here for ever:
And ah! the poor
At thy worn door
Shall be relieved never.
Woe worth the time, woe worth the day
That ‘reaved us of thee, Tabitha!
For we have lost with thee the meal,
The bits, the morsels, and the deal
Of gentle paste and yielding dough
That thou on widows did’st bestow.
Chor. All’s gone, and death hath taken
Away from us
Our maundy; thus
Thy widows stand forsaken.
Ah, Dorcas, Dorcas! now adieu
We bid the cruse and pannier too:
Ay, and the flesh, for and the fish
Doled to us in that lordly dish.
We take our leaves now of the loom
From whence the housewives’ cloth did come:
Chor. The web affords now nothing;
Thou being dead,
The worsted thread
Is cut, that made us clothing.
Farewell the flax and reaming wool
With which thy house was plentiful;
Farewell the coats, the garments, and
The sheets, the rugs, made by thy hand;
Farewell thy fire and thy light
That ne’er went out by day or night:
Chor. No, or thy zeal so speedy,
That found a way
By peep of day,
To feed and cloth the needy.
But, ah, alas! the almond bough
And olive branch is withered now.
The wine press now is ta’en from us,
The saffron and the calamus.
The spice and spikenard hence is gone,
The storax and the cinnamon.
Chor. The carol of our gladness
Has taken wing,
And our late spring
Of mirth is turned to sadness.
How wise wast thou in all thy ways!
How worthy of respect and praise!
How matron-like didst thou go dressed!
How soberly above the rest
Of those that prank it with their plumes,
And jet it with their choice perfumes!
Chor. Thy vestures were not flowing:
Nor did the street
Accuse thy feet
Of mincing in their going.
And though thou here li’st dead, we see
A deal of beauty yet in thee.
How sweetly shows thy smiling face,
Thy lips with all-diffused grace!
Thy hands, though cold, yet spotless white,
And comely as the chrysolite!
Chor. Thy belly like a hill is,
Or as a neat
Clean heap of wheat,
All set about with lilies.
Sleep with thy beauties here, while we
Will show these garments made by thee;
These were the coats, in these are read
The monuments of Dorcas dead.
These were thy acts, and thou shall have
These hung as honours o’er thy grave;
Chor. And after us, distressed,
Should fame be dumb,
Thy very tomb
Would cry out, Thou art blessed.
Maundy, the alms given on Thursday in Holy Week.
Reaming, drawing out into threads.
Calamus, a fragrant plant, the sweet flag.
Chrysolite, the topaz.
Rapine has yet took nought from me;
But if it please my God I be
Brought at the last to th’ utmost bit,
God make me thankful still for it.
I have been grateful for my store:
Let me say grace when there’s no more.
That little pretty bleeding part
Of foreskin send to me:
And I’ll return a bleeding heart
For New–Year’s gift to Thee.
Rich is the gem that Thou did’st send,
Mine’s faulty too and small;
But yet this gift Thou wilt commend
Because I send Thee all.
Let not that day God’s friends and servants scare;
The bench is then their place, and not the bar.
The sup’rabundance of my store,
That is the portion of the poor:
Wheat, barley, rye, or oats; what is’t
But He takes toll of? all the grist.
Two raiments have I: Christ then makes
This law; that He and I part stakes.
Or have I two loaves, then I use
The poor to cut, and I to choose.
In this world, the isle of dreams,
While we sit by sorrow’s streams,
Tears and terrors are our themes
But when once from hence we fly,
More and more approaching nigh
Unto young Eternity
In that whiter island, where
Things are evermore sincere;
Candour here, and lustre there
There no monstrous fancies shall
Out of hell an horror call,
To create, or cause at all,
There in calm and cooling sleep
We our eyes shall never steep;
But eternal watch shall keep,
Pleasures, such as shall pursue
Me immortalised, and you;
And fresh joys, as never to
I crawl, I creep; my Christ, I come
To Thee for curing balsamum:
Thou hast, nay more, Thou art the tree
Affording salve of sovereignty.
My mouth I’ll lay unto Thy wound
Bleeding, that no blood touch the ground:
For, rather than one drop shall fall
To waste, my JESU, I’ll take all.
God! to my little meal and oil
Add but a bit of flesh to boil:
And Thou my pipkinet shalt see,
Give a wave-off’ring unto Thee.
God He refuseth no man, but makes way
For all that now come or hereafter may.
God’s grace deserves here to be daily fed
That, thus increased, it might be perfected.
To him who longs unto his Christ to go,
Celerity even itself is slow.
God had but one Son free from sin; but none
Of all His sons free from correction.
God, as He’s potent, so He’s likewise known
To give us more than hope can fix upon.
Science in God is known to be
A substance, not a quality.
Christ, I have read, did to His chaplains say,
Sending them forth, Salute no man by th’ way:
Not that He taught His ministers to be
Unsmooth or sour to all civility,
But to instruct them to avoid all snares
Of tardidation in the Lord’s affairs.
Manners are good; but till His errand ends,
Salute we must nor strangers, kin, or friends.
Lasciviousness is known to be
The sister to saturity.
God from our eyes all tears hereafter wipes,
And gives His children kisses then, not stripes.
In vain our labours are whatsoe’er they be,
Unless God gives the benedicite.
God is His name of nature; but that word
Implies His power when He’s called the Lord.
God hides from man the reck’ning day, that he
May fear it ever for uncertainty;
That being ignorant of that one, he may
Expect the coming of it every day.
Angels are called gods; yet of them, none
Are gods but by participation:
As just men are entitled gods, yet none
Are gods of them but by adoption.
The longer thread of life we spin,
The more occasion still to sin.
The tears of saints more sweet by far
Than all the songs of sinners are.
That manna, which God on His people cast,
Fitted itself to ev’ry feeder’s taste.
True rev’rence is, as Cassiodore doth prove,
The fear of God commix’d with cleanly love.
Cassiodore, Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus, theologian and statesman 497–575?
Mercy, the wise Athenians held to be
Not an affection, but a deity.
After this life, the wages shall
Not shared alike be unto all.
God tempteth no one, as St. Austin saith,
For any ill, but for the proof of faith;
Unto temptation God exposeth some,
But none of purpose to be overcome.
God’s hands are round and smooth, that gifts may fall
Freely from them and hold none back at all.
Labour we must, and labour hard
I’ th’ forum here, or vineyard.
The time the bridegroom stays from hence
Is but the time of penitence.
Roaring is nothing but a weeping part
Forced from the mighty dolour of the heart.
He that is hurt seeks help: sin is the wound;
The salve for this i’ th’ Eucharist is found.
God in His own day will be then severe
To punish great sins, who small faults whipt here.
The mountains of the Scriptures are, some say,
Moses, and Jesus, called Joshua:
The prophets, mountains of the Old are meant,
Th’ apostles, mounts of the New Testament.
A prayer that is said alone
Starves, having no companion.
Great things ask for when thou dost pray,
And those great are which ne’er decay.
Pray not for silver, rust eats this;
Ask not for gold, which metal is;
Nor yet for houses, which are here
But earth: such vows ne’er reach God’s ear.
Christ was not sad, i’ th’ garden, for His own
Passion, but for His sheep’s dispersion.
God, who’s in heaven, will hear from thence;
If not to th’ sound, yet to the sense.
God, as the learned Damascene doth write,
A sea of substance is, indefinite.
The learned Damascene, i.e., St. John of Damascus.
He that ascended in a cloud, shall come
In clouds descending to the public doom.
The same who crowns the conqueror, will be
A coadjutor in the agony.
Heaven is most fair; but fairer He
That made that fairest canopy.
In God there’s nothing, but ’tis known to be
Even God Himself, in perfect entity.
God can do all things, save but what are known
For to imply a contradiction.
Christ, when He hung the dreadful cross upon,
Had, as it were, a dereliction
In this regard, in those great terrors He
Had no one beam from God’s sweet majesty.
Jehovah, as Boëtius saith,
No number of the plural hath.
God then confounds man’s face when He not bears
The vows of those who are petitioners.
The shame of man’s face is no more
Than prayers repell’d, says Cassiodore.
Jacob God’s beggar was; and so we wait,
Though ne’er so rich, all beggars at His gate.
The bad among the good are here mix’d ever;
The good without the bad are here plac’d never.
Sin no existence; nature none it hath,
Or good at all, as learned Aquinas saith.
The repetition of the name made known
No other than Christ’s full affection.
God on our youth bestows but little ease;
But on our age most sweet indulgences.
God is so potent, as His power can
Draw out of bad a sovereign good to man.
Paradise is, as from the learn’d I gather,
A choir of bless’d souls circling in the Father.
The Jews, when they built houses, I have read,
One part thereof left still unfinished,
To make them thereby mindful of their own
City’s most sad and dire destruction.
God did forbid the Israelites to bring
An ass unto Him for an offering,
Only, by this dull creature, to express
His detestation to all slothfulness.
The Virgin Mother stood at distance, there,
From her Son’s cross, not shedding once a tear,
Because the law forbad to sit and cry
For those who did as malefactors die.
So she, to keep her mighty woes in awe,
Tortured her love not to transgress the law.
Observe we may, how Mary Joses then,
And th’ other Mary, Mary Magdalen,
Sat by the grave; and sadly sitting there,
Shed for their Master many a bitter tear;
But ’twas not till their dearest Lord was dead
And then to weep they both were licensed.
Those tapers which we set upon the grave
In fun’ral pomp, but this importance have:
That souls departed are not put out quite;
But as they walked here in their vestures white,
So live in heaven in everlasting light.
One birth our Saviour had; the like none yet
Was, or will be a second like to it.
To work a wonder, God would have her shown
At once a bud and yet a rose full-blown.
As sunbeams pierce the glass, and streaming in,
No crack or schism leave i’ th’ subtle skin:
So the Divine Hand worked and brake no thread,
But, in a mother, kept a maidenhead.
God, in the holy tongue, they call
The place that filleth all in all.
God’s said to leave this place, and for to come
Nearer to that place than to other some,
Of local motion, in no least respect,
But only by impression of effect.
God is Jehovah call’d: which name of His
Implies or Essence, or the He that Is.
God’s evident, and may be said to be
Present with just men, to the verity;
But with the wicked if He doth comply,
’Tis, as St. Bernard saith, but seemingly.
God’s said to dwell there, wheresoever He
Puts down some prints of His high Majesty;
As when to man He comes, and there doth place
His Holy Spirit, or doth plant His Grace.
The Virgin Mary was, as I have read,
The House of God, by Christ inhabited;
Into the which He entered, but, the door
Once shut, was never to be open’d more.
God’s undivided, One in Persons Three,
And Three in inconfused unity.
Original of Essence there is none,
‘Twixt God the Father, Holy Ghost, and Son:
And though the Father be the first of Three,
’Tis but by order, not by entity.
So long, it seem’d, as Mary’s faith was small,
Christ did her woman, not her Mary call;
But no more woman, being strong in faith,
But Mary call’d then, as St. Ambrose saith.
The Jews their beds and offices of ease,
Placed north and south for these clean purposes;
That man’s uncomely froth might not molest
God’s ways and walks, which lie still east and west.
Sabbaths are threefold, as St. Austin says:
The first of time, or Sabbath here of days;
The second is a conscience trespass-free;
The last the Sabbath of Eternity.
Noah the first was, as tradition says,
That did ordain the fast of forty days.
There is no evil that we do commit,
But hath th’ extraction of some good from it:
As when we sin, God, the great Chemist, thence
Draws out th’ elixir of true penitence.
God is more here than in another place,
Not by His essence, but commerce of grace.
God hath this world for many made, ’tis true:
But He hath made the World to Come for few.
God gives to none so absolute an ease
As not to know or feel some grievances.
Paul, he began ill, but he ended well;
Judas began well, but he foully fell:
In godliness not the beginnings so
Much as the ends are to be look’d unto.
These temporal goods God, the most wise, commends
To th’ good and bad in common for two ends:
First, that these goods none here may o’er-esteem
Because the wicked do partake of them;
Next, that these ills none cowardly may shun,
Being, oft here, the just man’s portion.
The fire of hell this strange condition hath,
To burn, not shine, as learned Basil saith.
Speak, did the blood of Abel cry
To God for vengeance? Yes, say I,
Ev’n as the sprinkled blood called on
God for an expiation.
The blood of Abel was a thing
Of such a rev’rend reckoning,
As that the old world thought it fit
Especially to swear by it.
One man repentant is of more esteem
With God, than one that never sinned ‘gainst Him.
The doctors, in the Talmud, say,
That in this world one only day
In true repentance spent will be
More worth than heaven’s eternity.
God’s present everywhere, but most of all
Present by union hypostatical:
God, He is there, where’s nothing else, schools say,
And nothing else is there where He’s away.
For each one body that i’ th’ earth is sown,
There’s an uprising but of one for one;
But for each grain that in the ground is thrown,
Threescore or fourscore spring up thence for one:
So that the wonder is not half so great
Of ours as is the rising of the wheat.
Justly our dearest Saviour may abhor us,
Who hath more suffered by us far, than for us.
Sinners confounded are a twofold way,
Either as when, the learned schoolmen say,
Men’s sins destroyed are when they repent,
Or when, for sins, men suffer punishment.
No man is tempted so but may o’ercome,
If that he has a will to masterdom.
God doth embrace the good with love; and gains
The good by mercy, as the bad by pains.
God bought man here with His heart’s blood expense;
And man sold God here for base thirty pence.
Christ never did so great a work but there
His human nature did in part appear;
Or ne’er so mean a piece but men might see
Therein some beams of His Divinity:
So that in all He did there did combine
His human nature and His part divine.
Predestination is the cause alone
Of many standing, but of fall to none.
Art thou not destin’d? then with haste go on
To make thy fair predestination:
If thou can’st change thy life, God then will please
To change, or call back, His past sentences.
Sin never slew a soul unless there went
Along with it some tempting blandishment.
Sin is an act so free, that if we shall
Say ’tis not free, ’tis then no sin at all.
Sin is the cause of death; and sin’s alone
The cause of God’s predestination:
And from God’s prescience of man’s sin doth flow
Our destination to eternal woe.
God’s prescience makes none sinful; but th’ offence
Of man’s the chief cause of God’s prescience.
To all our wounds here, whatsoe’er they be,
Christ is the one sufficient remedy.
Christ took our nature on Him, not that He
‘Bove all things loved it for the purity:
No, but He dress’d Him with our human trim,
Because our flesh stood most in need of Him.
Heaven is not given for our good works here;
Yet it is given to the labourer.
God has four keys, which He reserves alone:
The first of rain; the key of hell next known;
With the third key He opes and shuts the womb;
And with the fourth key he unlocks the tomb.
There’s no constraint to do amiss,
Whereas but one enforcement is.
Give unto all, lest he, whom thou deni’st,
May chance to be no other man but Christ.
One only fire has hell; but yet it shall
Not after one sort there excruciate all:
But look, how each transgressor onward went
Boldly in sin, shall feel more punishment.
Is this a fast, to keep
The larder lean?
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d to go,
A downcast look and sour?
No; ’tis a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat,
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
And that’s to keep thy Lent.
By hours we all live here; in Heaven is known
No spring of time, or time’s succession.
Be those few hours, which I have yet to spend,
Blest with the meditation of my end:
Though they be few in number, I’m content:
If otherwise, I stand indifferent.
Nor makes it matter Nestor’s years to tell,
If man lives long and if he live not well.
A multitude of days still heaped on,
Seldom brings order, but confusion.
Might I make choice, long life should be withstood;
Nor would I care how short it were, if good:
Which to effect, let ev’ry passing-bell
Possess my thoughts, “Next comes my doleful knell”:
And when the night persuades me to my bed,
I’ll think I’m going to be buried.
So shall the blankets which come over me
Present those turfs which once must cover me:
And with as firm behaviour I will meet
The sheet I sleep in as my winding-sheet.
When sleep shall bathe his body in mine eyes,
I will believe that then my body dies:
And if I chance to wake and rise thereon,
I’ll have in mind my resurrection,
Which must produce me to that General Doom,
To which the peasant, so the prince, must come,
To hear the Judge give sentence on the throne,
Without the least hope of affection.
Tears, at that day, shall make but weak defence,
When hell and horror fright the conscience.
Let me, though late, yet at the last, begin
To shun the least temptation to a sin;
Though to be tempted be no sin, until
Man to th’ alluring object gives his will.
Such let my life assure me, when my breath
Goes thieving from me, I am safe in death;
Which is the height of comfort: when I fall,
I rise triumphant in my funeral.
Those garments lasting evermore,
Are works of mercy to the poor,
Which neither tettar, time, or moth
Shall fray that silk or fret this cloth.
Come to me, God; but do not come
To me as to the General Doom
In power; or come Thou in that state
When Thou Thy laws did’st promulgate,
Whenas the mountain quaked for dread,
And sullen clouds bound up his head.
No; lay Thy stately terrors by
To talk with me familiarly;
For if Thy thunder-claps I hear,
I shall less swoon than die for fear.
Speak Thou of love and I’ll reply
By way of Epithalamy,
Or sing of mercy and I’ll suit
To it my viol and my lute;
Thus let Thy lips but love distil,
Then come, my God, and hap what will.
Mountain, orig. ed. mountains.
When once the soul has lost her way,
O then how restless does she stray!
And having not her God for light,
How does she err in endless night!
In doing justice God shall then be known,
Who showing mercy here, few prized, or none.
We merit all we suffer, and by far
More stripes than God lays on the sufferer.
God suffers not His saints and servants dear
To have continual pain or pleasure here;
But look how night succeeds the day, so He
Gives them by turns their grief and jollity.
God is all-present to whate’er we do,
And as all-present, so all-filling too.
That there’s a God we all do know,
But what God is we cannot show.
Tell me, rich man, for what intent
Thou load’st with gold thy vestiment?
Whenas the poor cry out: To us
Belongs all gold superfluous.
God has a right hand, but is quite bereft
Of that which we do nominate the left.
Two instruments belong unto our God:
The one a staff is and the next a rod;
That if the twig should chance too much to smart,
The staff might come to play the friendly part.
God still rewards us more than our desert;
But when He strikes, He quarter-acts His part.
Confession twofold is, as Austin says,
The first of sin is, and the next of praise.
If ill it goes with thee, thy faults confess:
If well, then chant God’s praise with cheerfulness.
God is then said for to descend, when He
Doth here on earth some thing of novity;
As when in human nature He works more
Than ever yet the like was done before.
Good and great God! how should I fear
To come to Thee if Christ not there!
Could I but think He would not be
Present to plead my cause for me,
To hell I’d rather run than I
Would see Thy face and He not by.
Though Thou be’st all that active love
Which heats those ravished souls above;
And though all joys spring from the glance
Of Thy most winning countenance;
Yet sour and grim Thou’dst seem to me
If through my Christ I saw not Thee.
That Christ did die, the pagan saith;
But that He rose, that’s Christians’ faith.
We are coheirs with Christ; nor shall His own
Heirship be less by our adoption.
The number here of heirs shall from the state
Of His great birthright nothing derogate.
God hates the dual number, being known
The luckless number of division;
And when He bless’d each sev’ral day whereon
He did His curious operation,
’Tis never read there, as the fathers say,
God bless’d His work done on the second day;
Wherefore two prayers ought not to be said,
Or by ourselves, or from the pulpit read.
God’s said our hearts to harden then,
Whenas His grace not supples men.
Before man’s fall the rose was born,
St. Ambrose says, without the thorn;
But for man’s fault then was the thorn
Without the fragrant rose-bud born;
But ne’er the rose without the thorn.
God doth not promise here to man that He
Will free him quickly from his misery;
But in His own time, and when He thinks fit,
Then He will give a happy end to it.
The strength of baptism that’s within,
It saves the soul by drowning sin.
Gold serves for tribute to the king,
The frankincense for God’s off’ring.
God, who me gives a will for to repent,
Will add a power to keep me innocent;
That I shall ne’er that trespass recommit
When I have done true penance here for it.
When well we speak and nothing do that’s good,
We not divide the hoof, but chew the cud;
But when good words by good works have their proof,
We then both chew the cud and cleave the hoof.
Thy former coming was to cure
My soul’s most desp’rate calenture;
Thy second advent, that must be
To heal my earth’s infirmity.
Calenture, delirium caused by excessive heat.
As my little pot doth boil,
We will keep this level-coil,
That a wave and I will bring
To my God a heave-offering.
Level-coil, the old Christmas game of changing chairs; to “keep
level-coil” means to change about.
God can’t be wrathful: but we may conclude
Wrathful He may be by similitude:
God’s wrathful said to be, when He doth do
That without wrath which wrath doth force us to.
In God’s commands ne’er ask the reason why;
Let thy obedience be the best reply.
If I have played the truant, or have here
Failed in my part, oh! Thou that art my dear,
My mild, my loving tutor, Lord and God!
Correct my errors gently with Thy rod.
I know that faults will many here be found,
But where sin swells there let Thy grace abound.
The work is done; now let my laurel be
Given by none but by Thyself to me:
That done, with honour Thou dost me create
Thy poet, and Thy prophet Laureate.
Put off Thy robe of purple, then go on
To the sad place of execution:
Thine hour is come, and the tormentor stands
Ready to pierce Thy tender feet and hands.
Long before this, the base, the dull, the rude,
Th’ inconstant and unpurged multitude
Yawn for Thy coming; some ere this time cry,
How He defers, how loath He is to die!
Amongst this scum, the soldier with his spear
And that sour fellow with his vinegar,
His sponge, and stick, do ask why Thou dost stay;
So do the scurf and bran too. Go Thy way,
Thy way, Thou guiltless man, and satisfy
By Thine approach each their beholding eye.
Not as a thief shalt Thou ascend the mount,
But like a person of some high account;
The Cross shall be Thy stage, and Thou shalt there
The spacious field have for Thy theatre.
Thou art that Roscius and that marked-out man
That must this day act the tragedian
To wonder and affrightment: Thou art He
Whom all the flux of nations comes to see,
Not those poor thieves that act their parts with Thee;
Those act without regard, when once a king
And God, as Thou art, comes to suffering.
No, no; this scene from Thee takes life, and sense,
And soul, and spirit, plot and excellence.
Why then, begin, great King! ascend Thy throne,
And thence proceed to act Thy Passion
To such an height, to such a period raised,
As hell, and earth, and heav’n may stand amazed.
God and good angels guide Thee; and so bless
Thee in Thy several parts of bitterness,
That those who see Thee nail’d unto the tree
May, though they scorn Thee, praise and pity Thee.
And we, Thy lovers, while we see Thee keep
The laws of action, will both sigh and weep,
And bring our spices to embalm Thee dead;
That done, we’ll see Thee sweetly buried.
Scurf and bran, the rabble.
When Thou wast taken, Lord, I oft have read,
All Thy disciples Thee forsook and fled.
Let their example not a pattern be
For me to fly, but now to follow Thee.
If Thou be’st taken, God forbid
I fly from Thee, as others did:
But if Thou wilt so honour me
As to accept my company,
I’ll follow Thee, hap hap what shall,
Both to the judge and judgment hall:
And, if I see Thee posted there,
To be all-flayed with whipping-cheer,
I’ll take my share; or else, my God,
Thy stripes I’ll kiss, or burn the rod.
Have, have ye no regard, all ye
Who pass this way, to pity Me,
Who am a man of misery!
A man both bruis’d, and broke, and one
Who suffers not here for Mine own,
But for My friends’ transgression!
Ah! Sion’s daughters, do not fear
The cross, the cords, the nails, the spear,
The myrrh, the gall, the vinegar;
For Christ, your loving Saviour, hath
Drunk up the wine of God’s fierce wrath;
Only there’s left a little froth,
Less for to taste than for to show
What bitter cups had been your due,
Had He not drank them up for you.
When I behold Thee, almost slain,
With one and all parts full of pain:
When I Thy gentle heart do see
Pierced through and dropping blood for me,
I’ll call, and cry out, thanks to Thee.
Vers. But yet it wounds my soul to think
That for my sin Thou, Thou must drink,
Even Thou alone, the bitter cup
Of fury and of vengeance up.
Chor. Lord, I’ll not see Thee to drink all
The vinegar, the myrrh, the gall:
Vers. Chor. But I will sip a little wine;
Which done, Lord, say: The rest is Mine.
This crosstree here
Doth Jesus bear,
Who sweet’ned first
The death accurs’d.
Here all things ready are, make haste, make haste away;
For long this work will be, and very short this day.
Why then, go on to act: here’s wonders to be done
Before the last least sand of Thy ninth hour be run;
Or ere dark clouds do dull or dead the mid-day’s sun.
Act when Thou wilt,
Blood will be spilt;
Pure balm, that shall
Bring health to all.
Why then, begin
To pour first in
Some drops of wine,
Instead of brine,
To search the wound
So long unsound:
And, when that’s done,
Let oil next run
To cure the sore
Sin made before.
And O! dear Christ,
E’en as Thou di’st,
Look down, and see
Us weep for Thee.
And tho’, love knows,
Thy dreadful woes
We cannot ease,
Yet do Thou please,
Who mercy art,
T’ accept each heart
That gladly would
Help if it could.
Meanwhile let me,
Beneath this tree,
This honour have,
To make my grave.
Hail, holy and all-honour’d tomb,
By no ill haunted; here I come,
With shoes put off, to tread thy room.
I’ll not profane by soil of sin
Thy door as I do enter in;
For I have washed both hand and heart,
This, that, and every other part,
So that I dare, with far less fear
Than full affection, enter here.
Thus, thus I come to kiss Thy stone
With a warm lip and solemn one:
And as I kiss I’ll here and there
Dress Thee with flow’ry diaper.
How sweet this place is! as from hence
Flowed all Panchaia’s frankincense;
Or rich Arabia did commix,
Here, all her rare aromatics.
Let me live ever here, and stir
No one step from this sepulchre.
Ravish’d I am! and down I lie
Confused in this brave ecstasy.
Here let me rest; and let me have
This for my heaven that was Thy grave:
And, coveting no higher sphere,
I’ll my eternity spend here.
Panchaia, a fabulous spice island in the Erythrean Sea.
To join with them who here confer
Gifts to my Saviour’s sepulchre,
Devotion bids me hither bring
Somewhat for my thank-offering.
Lo! thus I bring a virgin flower,
To dress my Maiden Saviour.
Hence they have borne my Lord; behold! the stone
Is rolled away and my sweet Saviour’s gone.
Tell me, white angel, what is now become
Of Him we lately sealed up in this tomb?
Is He, from hence, gone to the shades beneath,
To vanquish hell as here He conquered death?
If so, I’ll thither follow without fear,
And live in hell if that my Christ stays there.
Of all the good things whatsoe’er we do,
God is the ΑΡΧE, and the ΤΕΛΟΣ too.
3. Weigh me the Fire. 2 Esdras, iv. 5, 7; v. 9, 36: “Weigh me . . . the fire, or measure me . . . the wind,” etc.
4. God . . . is the best known, not. . . . August. de Ord. ii. 16: [Deus] scitur melius nesciendo.
5. Supraentity, το ηυπεροντôς ον, Plotinus.
7. His wrath is free from perturbation. August. de Civ. Dei, ix. 5: Ipse Deus secundum Scripturas irascitur, nec tamen ullâ passione turbatur. Enchir. ad Laurent. 33: Cum irasci dicitur Deus, non significatur perturbatio, qualis est in animo irascentis hominis.
9. Those Spotless two Lambs. “This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord: two lambs of the first year without spot, day by day, for a continual burnt-offering.” (Numb. xxviii. 3.)
17. An Anthem sung in the Chapel of Whitehall. This may be added to Nos. 96–98, and 102, the poems on which Mr. Hazlitt bases his conjecture that Herrick may have held some subordinate post in the Chapel Royal.
37. When once the sin has fully acted been. Tacitus, Ann. xiv. 10: Perfecto demum scelere, magnitudo ejus intellecta est.
38. Upon Time. Were this poem anonymous it would probably be attributed rather to George Herbert than to Herrick.
41. His Litany to the Holy Spirit. We may quote again from Barron Field’s account in the Quarterly Review (1810) of his cross-examination of the Dean Prior villagers for Reminiscences of Herrick: “The person, however, who knows more of Herrick than all the rest of the neighbourhood we found to be a poor woman in the 99th year of her age, named Dorothy King. She repeated to us, with great exactness, five of his Noble Numbers, among which was his beautiful ‘Litany’. These she had learnt from her mother, who was apprenticed to Herrick’s successor at the vicarage. She called them her prayers, which she said she was in the habit of putting up in bed, whenever she could not sleep; and she therefore began the ‘Litany’ at the second stanza:—
‘When I lie within my bed,’ etc.”
Another of her midnight orisons was the poem beginning:—
“Every night Thou dost me fright,
And keep mine eyes from sleeping,” etc.
The last couplet, it should be noted, is misquoted from No. 56.
54. Spew out all neutralities. From the message to the Church of the Laodiceans, Rev. iii. 16.
59. A Present by a Child. Cp. “A pastoral upon the Birth of Prince Charles” (Hesperides 213), and Note.
63. God’s mirth: man’s mourning. Perhaps founded on Prov. i. 26: “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh”.
65. My Alma. The name is probably suggested by its meaning “soul”. Cp. Prior’s Alma.
72. I’ll cast a mist and cloud. Cp. Hor. I. Ep. xvi. 62: Noctem peccatis et fraudibus objice nubem.
75. That house is bare. Horace, Ep. I. vi. 45: Exilis domus est, ubi non et multa supersunt.
77. Lighten my candle, etc. The phraseology of the next five lines is almost entirely from the Psalms and the Song of Solomon.
86. Sin leads the way. Hor. Odes, III. ii. 32: Raro antecedentem scelestum Deseruit pede Poena claudo.
88. By Faith we . . . walk . . ., not by the Spirit. 2 Cor. v. 7: “We walk by faith, not by sight”. ‘By the Spirit’ perhaps means, ‘in spiritual bodies’.
96. Sung to the King. See Note on 17.
Composed by M. Henry Lawes. See Hesperides 851, and Note.
102. The Star–Song. This may have been composed partly with reference to the noonday star during the Thanksgiving for Charles II.‘s birth. See Hesperides 213, and Note.
We’ll choose him King. A reference to the Twelfth Night games. See Hesperides 1035, and Note.
108. Good men afflicted most. Taken almost entirely from Seneca, de Provid. 3, 4: Ignem experitur [Fortuna] in Mucio, paupertatem in Fabricio, . . . tormenta in Regulo, venenum in Socrate, mortem in Catone. The allusions may be briefly explained for the unclassical. At the siege of Dyrrachium, Marcus Cassius Scæva caught 120 darts on his shield; Horatius Cocles is the hero of the bridge (see Macaulay’s Lays); C. Mucius Scævola held his hand in the fire to illustrate to Porsenna Roman fearlessness; Cato is Cato Uticensis, the philosophic suicide; “high Atilius” will be more easily recognised as the M. Atilius Regulus who defied the Carthaginians; Fabricius Luscinus refused not only the presents of Pyrrhus, but all reward of the State, and lived in poverty on his own farm.
109. A wood of darts. Cp. Virg. Æn. x. 886: Ter secum Troius heros Immanem aerato circumfert tegmine silvam.
112. The Recompense. Herrick is said to have assumed the lay habit on his return to London after his ejection, perhaps as a protection against further persecution. This quatrain may be taken as evidence that he did not throw off his religion with his cassock. Compare also 124.
All I have lost that could be rapt from me. From Ovid, III. Trist. vii. 414: Raptaque sint adimi quae potuere mihi.
123. Thy light that ne’er went out. Prov. xxxi. 18 (of ‘the Excellent Woman’): “Her candle goeth not out by night”. All set about with lilies. Cp. Cant. Canticorum, vii. 2: Venter tuus sicut acervus tritici, vallatus liliis.
Will show these garments. So Acts ix. 39.
134. God had but one son free from sin. Augustin. Confess. vi.: Deus unicum habet filium sine peccato, nullum sine flagello, quoted in Burton, II. iii. 1.
136. Science in God. Bp. Davenant, on Colossians, 166, ed. 1639; speaking of Omniscience: Proprietates Divinitatis non sunt accidentia, sed ipsa Dei essentia.
145. Tears. Augustin. Enarr. Ps. cxxvii.: Dulciores sunt lacrymae orantium quàm gaudia theatorum.
146. Manna. Wisdom xvi. 20, 21: “Angels’ food . . . agreeing to every taste”.
147. As Cassiodore doth prove. Reverentia est enim Domini timor cum amore permixtus. Cassiodor. Expos. in Psalt. xxxiv. 30; quoted by Dr. Grosart. My clerical predecessor has also hunted down with much industry the possible sources of most of the other patristic references in Noble Numbers, though I have been able to add a few. We may note that Herrick quotes Cassiodorus (twice), John of Damascus, Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernard, St. Augustine (thrice), St. Basil, and St. Ambrose — a goodly list of Fathers, if we had any reason to suppose that the quotations were made at first hand.
148. Mercy . . . a Deity. Pausanias, Attic. I. xvii. 1.
153. Mora Sponsi, the stay of the bridegroom. Maldonatus, Comm. in Matth. xxv.: Hieronymus et Hilarius moram sponsi p[oe]nitentiae tempus esse dicunt.
157. Montes Scripturarum. See August. Enarr. in Ps. xxxix., and passim.
167. A dereliction. The word is from Ps. xxii. 1: Quare me dereliquisti? “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” Herrick took it from Gregory’s Notes and Observations (see infra), p. 5: ‘Our Saviour . . . in that great case of dereliction’.
174. Martha, Martha. See Luke x. 41, and August. Serm. cii. 3: Repetitio nominis indicium est dilectionis.
177. Paradise. Gregory, p. 75, on “the reverend Say of Zoroaster, Seek Paradise,” quotes from the Scholiast Psellus: “The Chaldæan Paradise (saith he) is a Quire of divine powers incircling the Father”.
178. The Jews when they built houses. Herrick’s rabbinical lore (cp. 180, 181, 193, 207, 224), like his patristic, was probably derived at second hand through some biblical commentary. Much of it certainly comes from the Notes and Observations upon some Passages of Scripture (Oxford, 1646) of John Gregory, chaplain of Christ Church, a prodigy of oriental learning, who died in his 39th year, March 13, 1646. Thus in his Address to the Reader (3rd page from end) Gregory remarks: “The Jews, when they build a house, are bound to leave some part of it unfinished in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem,” giving a reference to Leo of Modena, Degli Riti Hebraici, Part I.
180. Observation. The Virgin Mother, etc. Gregory, pp. 24–27, shows that Sitting, the usual posture of mourners, was forbidden by both Roman and Jewish Law “in capital causes”. “This was the reason why . . . she stood up still in a resolute and almost impossible compliance with the Law. . . . They sat . . . after leave obtained . . . to bury the body.”
181. Tapers. Cp. Gregory’s Notes, p. 111: “The funeral tapers (however thought of by some) are of the same harmless import. Their meaning is to show that the departed souls are not quite put out, but having walked here as the children of the Light are now gone to walk before God in the light of the living.”
185. God in the holy tongue. J. G., p. 135: “God is called in the Holy Tongue . . . the Place; or that Fulness which filleth All in All”.
186, 187, 188, 189, 197. God’s Presence, Dwelling, etc. J. G., pp. 135–9: “Shecinah, or God’s Dwelling Presence”. “God is said to be nearer to this man than to that, more in one place than in another. Thus he is said to depart from some and come to others, to leave this place and to abide in that, not by essential application of Himself, much less by local motion, but by impression of effect.” “With just men (saith St. Bernard) God is present, in veritate, in deed, but with the wicked, dissemblingly.” “He is called in the Holy Tongue, Jehovah, He that is, or Essence.” “He is said to dwell there (saith Maimon) where He putteth the marks . . . of His Majesty; and He doth this by His Grace and Holy Spirit.”
190. The Virgin Mary. J. G., p. 86: “St. Ephrem upon those words of Jacob, This is the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven. This saying (saith he) is to be meant of the Virgin Mary . . . truly to be called the House of God, as wherein the Son of God . . . inhabited, and as truly the Gate of Heaven, for the Lord of heaven and earth entered thereat; and it shall not be set open the second time, according to that of Ezekiel (xliv. 2): I saw (saith he) a gate in the East; the glorious Lord entered thereat; thenceforth that gate was shut, and is not any more to be opened (Catena Arab. c. 58).”
192. Upon Woman and Mary. The reference is to Christ’s appearance to St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden after the Resurrection, John xx. 15, 16.
193. North and South. Comp. Hesper. 429. Observation. J. G., pp. 92, 93: “Whosoever (say the Doctors in Berachoth) shall set his bed N. and S., shall beget male children. Therefore the Jews hold this rite of collocation . . . to this day. . . . They are bound to place their . . . house of office in the very same situation . . . that the uncomely necessities . . . might not fall into the Walk and Ways of God, whose Shecinah or dwelling presence lieth W. and E.”
195. Noah the first was, etc. Cp. Gregory, Notes, p. 28.
201. Temporal goods. August., quoted by Burton, II. iii. 3: Dantur quidem bonis, saith Austin, ne quis mala aestimet, malis autem ne quis nimis bona.
203. Speak, did the blood of Abel cry, etc. Cp. Gregory’s Notes, pp. 118: “But did the blood of Abel speak? saith Theophylact. Yes, it cried unto God for vengeance, as that of sprinkling for propitiation and mercy.”
204. A thing of such a reverend reckoning. Cp. Gregory, 118–9: “The blood of Abel was so holy and reverend a thing, in the sense and reputation of the old world, that the men of that time used to swear by it”.
205. A Position in the Hebrew Divinity. From Gregory’s Notes, pp. 134, 5: “That old position in the Hebrew Divinity . . . that a repenting man is of more esteem in the sight of God than one that never fell away”.
206. The Doctors in the Talmud. From Gregory’s Notes, l.c.: “The Doctors in the Talmud say, that one day spent here in true Repentance is more worth than eternity itself, or all the days of heaven in the other world”.
207. God’s Presence. Again from Gregory’s Notes, pp. 136 sq.
208. The Resurrection. Gregory’s Notes, pp. 128–29, translating from a Greek MS. of Mathæus Blastares in the Bodleian: “The wonder of this is far above that of the resurrection of our bodies; for then the earth giveth up her dead but one for one, but in the case of the corn she giveth up many living ones for one dead one”.
243. Confession twofold is. August, in Ps. xxix. Enarr. ii. 19: Confessio gemina est, aut peccati, aut laudis.
254. Gold and frankincense. St. Matt. ii. 11. St. Ambrose. Aurum Regi, thus Deo.
256. The Chewing the Cud. Cp. Lev. xi. 6.
258. As my little pot doth boil, etc. This far-fetched little poem is an instance of Herrick’s habit of jotting down his thoughts in verse. In cooking some food for a charitable purpose he seems to have noticed that the boiling pot tossed the meat to and fro, or “waved” it (the priest’s work), and that he himself was giving away the meat he lifted off the fire, the “heave-offering,” which was the priest’s perquisite. This is the confusion or “level-coil” to which he alludes.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55