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

By George Herbert (1593–1633)


O SACRED Providence, who from end to end
Strongly and sweetly movest! shall I write
And not of Thee, through whom my fingers bend
To hold my quill? shall they not do Thee right? 1
Of all the creatures both in sea and land        5
Only to man Thou hast made known Thy ways,
And put the pen alone into his hand,
And made him secretary of Thy praise.
Man is the world’s high priest: he doth present
The sacrifice for all; while they below        10
Unto the service mutter an assent,
Such as springs use that fall, and winds that blow.
He that to praise and laud Thee doth refrain
Doth not refrain unto himself alone,
But robs a thousand who would praise Thee fain,        15
And doth commit a world of sin in one.
Wherefore, most sacred Spirit, I here present
For me and all my fellows praise to Thee:
And just it is that I should pay the rent,
Because the benefit accrues to me.        20
Thou art in small things great, nor small in any,
Thy even praise can neither rise, nor fall.
Thou art in all things one, in each thing many:
For thou art infinite in one and all.
Note 1. Line 4.—“To do a person right” was a courteous phrase for praising; the idea being that whatever praise was given was no more than desert. [back]