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

By Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639)

Hymn: “Eternal Mover”

ETERNAL Mover, whose diffusèd glory,
  To show our grovelling reason what Thou art,
Unfolds itself in clouds of nature’s story,
  Where man, Thy proudest creature, acts his part,
Whom yet, alas, I know not why, we call        5
The world’s contracted sum, 1 the little all;
For what are we but lumps of walking clay?
  Why should we swell? whence should our spirits rise?
Are not brute beasts as strong, and birds as gay,—
  Trees longer-lived, and creeping things as wise?        10
Only our souls were left an inward light,
To feel our weakness, and confess Thy might.
Thou then, our strength, Father of life and death,
  To whom our thanks, our vows, ourselves we owe,
From me, Thy tenant of this fading breath,        15
  Accept those lines which from Thy goodness flow,
And Thou, that wert Thy regal Prophet’s muse,
Do not Thy praise in weaker strains refuse!
Let these poor notes ascend unto Thy throne,
  Where majesty doth sit with mercy crowned,        20
Where my Redeemer lives, in whom alone
  The errors of my wandering life are drowned:
Where all the choir of heaven resound the same,
That only Thine, Thine is the saving name!
Well then, my soul, joy in the midst of pain;        25
  Thy Christ, that conquered hell, shall from above
With greater triumph yet return again,
  And conquer His own justice with His love;
Commanding earth and seas to render those
Unto His bliss, for whom He paid His woes.        30
Now have I done; now are my thoughts at peace;
  And now my joys are stronger than my grief:
I feel those comforts, that shall never cease,
  Future in hope, but present in belief:
Thy words are true, Thy promises are just,        35
And Thou wilt find Thy dearly-bought in dust!
Note 1. The world’s contracted sum. References to the theory that man was a “microcosm” are not unfrequent in Shakespeare: “Coriolanus, ii. 1, 55; “Lear,” iii. 1, 10; “Richard II.” v. 5, 9. Cf. Sir Thomas Browne, “Religio Medici,” ii. 11: “The world that I regard is myself; it is the microcosm of my own frame that I rest mine eye on.” [back]