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The life of man is threescore years and ten,
Or, if that he be strong, perhaps fourscore;
Yet all things are but labour to him then,
New sorrows still come on, pleasures no more.
Why should there be such turmoil and such strife,
To spin in length this feeble line of life?
But who considers duly of thine ire?
Or doth the thoughts thereof wisely embrace?
For thou, O God, art a consuming fire:
Frail man, how can he stand before thy face?
If thy displeasure thou dost not refrain,
A moment brings all back to dust again.
Teach us, O Lord, to number well our days,
Thereby our hearts to wisdom to apply;
For that which guides man best in all his ways,
Is meditation of mortality.
This bubble light, this vapour of our breath,
Teach us to consecrate to hour of death.
Return unto us, Lord, and balance now,
With days of joy, our days of misery;
Help us right soon, our knees to thee we bow,
Depending wholly on thy clemency;
Then shall thy servants both with heart and voice,
All the days of their life in thee rejoice.
Begin thy work, O Lord, in this our age,
Shew it unto thy servants that now live; But to our children raise it many a stage, That all the world to thee may glory give. Our handy-work likewise, as fruitful tree, Let it, O Lord, blessed, not blasted be.
The TRANSLATION of the CIVth PSALM.
FATHER and King of pow'rs, both high and low,
Whose sounding fame all creatures serve to blow;
My soul shall with the rest strike up thy praise,
And carol of thy works and wondrous ways.
But who can blaze thy beauties, Lord, aright?
They turn the brittle beams of mortal sight.
Upon thy head thou wear'st a glorious crown,
All set with virtues polish'd with renown:
Thence round about a silver veil doth fall
Of crystal light, mother of colours all.
The compass heav'n, smooth without grain, or fold,
All set with spangs of glitt'ring stars untold,
And strip'd with golden beams of power unpent,
Is raised up for a removing tent.
Vaulted and arched are his chamber beams
Upon the seas, the waters, and the streams:
The clouds as chariots swift do scour the sky;
The stormy winds upon their wings do fly.
His angels spirits are, that wait his will,
As flames of fire his anger they fulfil.
In the beginning, with a mighty hand,
He made the earth by counterpoise to stand,
Never to move, but to be fixed still;
Yet hath no pillars but his sacred will.
This earth, as with a veil, once cover'd was,
The waters over-flowed all the mass:
But upon his rebuke away they fled,
And then the hills began to shew their head;
The vales their hollow bosoms open'd plain,
The streams ran trembling down the vales again :
And that the earth no more might drowned be,
He set the sea his bounds of liberty;
And though his waves resound, and beat the shore,
Yet it is bridled by his holy lore.
Then did the rivers seek their proper places,
And found their heads, their issues, and their races;
The springs do feed the rivers all the way,
And so the tribute to the sea repay:
Running along through many a pleasant field,
Much fruitfulness unto the earth they yield:
That know the beasts and cattle feeding by,
Which for to slake their thirst do thither hie.
Nay desert grounds the streams do not forsake,
But through the unknown ways their journey take:
The asses wild, that hide in wilderness,
Do thither come, their thirst for to refresh.
The shady trees along their banks do spring,
In which the birds do build, and sit, and sing;
Stroking the gentle air with pleasant notes,
Plaining, or chirping through their warbling throats.
The higher grounds, where waters cannot rise,
By rain and dews are water'd from the skies;
Causing the earth put forth the grass for beasts,
And garden herbs, serv'd at the greatest feasts;
And bread, that is all viands firmament,
And gives a firm and solid nourishment;
And wine, man's spirits for to recreate ;
And oil, his face for to exhilarate.
The sappy cedars, tall like stately tow'rs,
High-flying birds do harbour in their bow'rs:
The holy storks, that are the travellers,
Choose for to dwell and build within the firs;
The climbing goats hang on steep mountains side;
The digging conics in the rocks do bide.
The moon, so constant in inconstancy,
Doth rule the monthly seasons orderly;
The sun, eye of the world, doth know his race,
And when to shew, and when to hide his face.
Thou makest darkness, that it may be night,
When as the savage beasts, that fly the light,
As conscious of man's hatred, leave their den,
And range abroad, secur'd from sight of men.
Then do the forests ring of lions roaring,
That ask their meat of God, their strength restoring;
But when the day appears, they back do fly,
And in their dens again do lurking lie.
Then man goes forth to labour in the field,
Whereby his grounds more rich increase may yield.
O Lord, thy providence sufficeth all;
Thy goodness, not restrained, but general
Over thy creatures: the whole earth doth flow
With thy great largess pour'd forth here below.
Nor is it earth alone exalts thy name,
But seas and streams likewise do spread the same.
The rolling seas unto the lot doth fall
Of beasts innumerable, great and small;
There do the stately ships plow up the floods,
The greater navies look like walking woods;
The fishes there far voyages do make,
To divers shores their journey they do take.
There hast thou set the great Leviathan,
That makes the seas to seeth like boiling pan.
All these do ask of thee their meat to live,
Which in due season thou to them dost give.
Ope thou thy hand, and then they have good fare;
Shut thou thy hand, and then they troubled are.
All life and spirit from thy breath proceed,
Thy word doth all things generate and feed.
If thou withdraw'st it, then they cease to be,
And straight return to dust and vanity;
But when thy breath thou dost send forth again,
Then all things do renew and spring amain;
So that the earth, but lately desolate,
Doth now return unto the former state.
The glorious majesty of God above
Shall ever reign in mercy and in love:
God shall rejoice all his fair works to see,
For as they come from him all perfect be.
The earth shall quake, if aught his wrath provoke ;
Let him but touch the mountains they shall smoke.
As long as life doth last I hymns will sing,
With chearful voice, to the eternal King;
As long as I have being, I will praise
The works of God, and all his wondrous ways.
I know that he my words will not despise,
Thanksgiving is to him a sacrifice.
But as for sinners, they shall be destroy'd
From off the earth, their places shall be void.
Let all his works praise him with one accord;
O praise the Lord, my soul; praise ye the Lord!
The TRANSLATION of the CXXVIth
WHEN God return'd us graciously
Unto our native land,
We seem'd as in a dream to be,
And in a maze to stand.
The heathen likewise they could say:
The God, that these men serve,
Hath done great things for them this day,
Their nation to preserve.
'Tis true; God hath pour'd out his grace
On us abundantly,
For which we yield him psalms and praise,
And thanks with jubile.
O Lord, turn our captivity,
As winds, that blow at south,
Do pour the tides with violence
Back to the rivers mouth.
Who sows in tears shall reap in joy,
The Lord doth so ordain;
So that his seed be pure and good,
His harvest shall be gain.