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

By Henry Vaughan (1622–1695)

The Night

        THROUGH that pure Virgin-shrine,
That sacred veil drawn o’er thy glorious noon,
That men might look and live, as glow-worms shine,
            And face the moon,
    Wise Nicodemus saw such light        5
    As made him know his God by night.
        Most blest believer he!
Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes
Thy long-expected healing wings could see,
            When thou didst rise;        10
    And, what can never more be done,
    Did at midnight speak with the Sun!
        O who will tell me where
He found Thee at that dead and silent hour!
What hallow’d solitary ground did bear        15
            So rare a flower;
    Within whose sacred leaves did lie
    The fulness of the Deity!
        No mercy seat of gold,
No dead and dusty cherub, nor carved stone,        20
But his own living works, did my Lord hold
            And lodge alone;
    Where trees and herbs did watch and peep
And wonder, while the Jews did sleep.
        Dear night! this world’s defeat;        25
The stop to busy fools; care’s check and curb;
The day of spirits; my soul’s calm retreat
            Which none disturb!
    Christ’s progress, and His prayer time;
    The hours to which high heaven doth chime;        30
        God’s silent, searching flight;
When my Lord’s head is filled with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night;
            His still, soft call;
    His knocking time; the soul’s dumb watch,        35
    When spirits their fair kindred catch.
        Were all my loud, evil days
Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent,
Whose peace but by some Angel’s wing or voice
            Is seldom rent;        40
    Then I in heaven all the long year
    Would keep, and never wander here.
        But living where the sun
Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tire
Themselves and others, I consent and run        45
            To every mire;
    And by this world’s ill-guiding light,
    Err more than I can do by night.
        There is in God, some say,
A deep but dazzling darkness; as men here        50
Say it is late and dusky, because they
            See not all clear.
    O for that night where I in Him
    Might live invisible and dim!