|Paraphrase by Mary Sidney Herbert, |
Countess of Pembroke*
But to thy search revealèd lies,
For when I sit
Thou markest it;
No less thou notest when I rise;
Yea, closest closet of my thought
Hath open windows to thine eyes.
Thou walkest with me when I walk;
When to my bed for rest I go,
I find thee there,
Not youngest thought in me doth grow,
No, not one word I cast to talk
But yet unuttered thou dost know.
If forth I march, thou go'st before,
If back I turn, thou com'st behind:
So forth nor back
Thy guard I lack,
Nay on me too, thy hand I find.
Well I thy wisdom may adore,
But never reach with earthy mind.
To shun thy notice, leave thine eye,
O whither might I take my way?
To starry sphere?
Thy throne is there.
To dead men's undelightsome stay?
There is thy walk, and there to lie
Unknown, in vain I should assay.
O sun, whom light nor flight can match,
Suppose thy lightful flightful wings
Thou lend to me,
And I could flee
As far as thee the evening brings:
E'en led to west he would me catch,
Nor should I lurk with western things.
Do thou thy best, O secret night,
In sable veil to cover me:
Thy sable veil
Shall vainly fail;
With day unmasked my night shall be,
For night is day, and darkness light,
O Father of all lights, to thee.
Each inmost piece in me is thine:
While yet I in my mother dwelt,
All that me clad
From thee I had.
Thou in my frame hast strangely dealt:
Needs in my praise thy works must shine
So inly them my thoughts have felt.
Thou, how my back was beam-wise laid,
And raft'ring of my ribs, dost know;
Know'st ev'ry point
Of bone and joint,
How to this whole these parts did grow,
In brave embroid'ry fair arrayed,
Though wrought in shop both dark and low.
Nay fashionless, ere form I took,
Thy all and more beholding eye
My shapeless shape
Could not escape:
All these time framed successively
Ere one had being, in the book
Of thy foresight enrolled did lie.
My God, how I these studies prize,
That do thy hidden workings show!
Whose sum is such
No sum so much,
Nay, summed as sand they sumless grow.
I lie to sleep, from sleep I rise,
Yet still in thought with thee I go.
My God, if thou but one wouldst kill,
Then straight would leave my further chase
This cursèd brood
Inured to blood,
Whose graceless taunts at thy disgrace
Have aimèd oft; and hating still
Would with proud lies thy truth outface.
Hate not I them, who thee do hate?
Thine, Lord, I will the censure be.
Detest I not
The cankered knot
Whom I against thee banded see?
O Lord, thou know'st in highest rate
I hate them all as foes to me.
Search me, my God, and prove my heart,
Examine me, and try my thought;
And mark in me
If ought there be
That hath with cause their anger wrought.
If not (as not) my life's each part,
Lord, safely guide from danger brought.
*After her brother, Philip Sidney, died in 1586, Mary Sidney Herbert completed his project of translating the Psalms into English verse. Since he had completed but 43 psalms, over two-thirds of this psalter is Mary's work. She based her translations on the Geneva Bible as well as commentaries by the Reformers John Calvin and Theodore Beza.
I pair this text with a George Clement Martin tune, Holy Faith, composed in 1889. Click here to hear it or see below: