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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By John Mason (1646?–1694)

A General Song of Praise to Almighty God

HOW 1 shall I sing that Majesty
  Which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
  Sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around        5
  Thy throne, O God most high;
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound
  Thy praise; but who am I?
Thy brightness unto them appears,
  Whilst I Thy footsteps trace;        10
A sound of God comes to my ears;
  But they behold Thy face.
They sing because Thou art their sun:
  Lord, send a beam on me;
For where heaven is but once begun        15
  There hallelujahs be.
Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
  Enflame it with love’s fire;
Then shall I sing and bear a part
  With that celestial choir.        20
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
  With all my fire and light;
Yet when Thou dost accept their gold,
  Lord, treasure up my mite.
How great a being, Lord, is Thine        25
  Which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
  To sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
  A sun without a sphere;        30
Thy time is now and evermore,
  Thy place is everywhere.
How good art Thou, whose goodness is
  Our parent, nurse, and guide!
Whose streams do water Paradise,        35
  And all the earth beside!
Thine upper and Thy nether streams
  Make bold Thy worlds to thrive;
Under Thy warm and sheltering wings
  Thou keep’st two broods alive.        40
Thy arm of might, most mighty King,
  Both rocks and hearts doth break:
My God, Thou canst do everything
  But what should show Thee weak.
Thou canst not cross Thyself, or be        45
  Less than Thyself, or poor;
But whatsoever pleaseth Thee
  That canst Thou do, and more.
Note 1. The Rev. John Mason, rector of Water Stratford, Bucks., was distinguished in his day for millenarian notions. Latterly his mind became unhinged; he ceased to use the Church prayers, and announced that the reign of the saints was about to begin. The succeeding rector had to exhume his body to convince the parishioners that he had really died. His “Songs of Praise” were published in 1683. [back]