Tag Archives: poem

Divine Songs by Isaac Watts

To:

Mrs. SARAH )

Mrs. MARY and) ABNEY,

Mrs. ELIZABETH )

Daughters of Sir THOMAS ABNEY, Kt. and Alderman of London.

My Dear Young Friends,

Whom I am constrained to love and honour by many Obligations. It was the generous and condescending Friendship of your Parents under my weak Circumstances of Health, that brought me to their Country-Seat for the Benefit of the Air; but it was an Instance of most uncommon Kindness, to supply me there so chearfully for two Years of Sickness with the richest Conveniences of Life. Such a Favour requires my most affectionate Returns of Service to themselves, and to all that is dear to them; and meer Gratitude demands some solemn and publick Acknowledgment.

But great Minds have the true Relish and Pleasure of doing Good, and are content to be unknown.

It is such a silent Satisfaction Sir Thomas Abney enjoys in the unspeakable Blessings of this Year, that brought our present King to the Throne: and he permits the World to forget that happy Turn that was given to the Affairs of the Kingdom by his wise Management in the Highest Office of the City, whereby the Settlement of the Crown was so much strengthen’d in the Illustrious Family which now possesses it. O may the Crown flourish many Years on the Head of our Soveraign, and may his House possess it to the End of Time, to secure all Religious and Civil Liberties to the Posterity of those who have been so zealous to establish this Succession!

The fair and lovely Character your Honoured Father hath acquired by passing thro’ all the chief Offices of the City, and leaving a Lustre upon them, seems imperfect in his own Esteem, without the Addition of this Title, A Succourer and a Friend of the Ministers of Christ. And in this part of his Honour the Lady your Mother is resolved to have an unborrow’d Share, and becomes his daily Rival.

It is to her unwearied Tenderness, and many kind Offices by Night and Day, in the more violent Seasons of my Indisposition, that (under God) I own my Life, and Power to write or think. And while I remember those Hours, I can’t forget the cheerful and ready Attendance of her worthy Sister, her dear Companion and Assistant in every good Work.

Under the Influence of two such Examples I have also enjoy’d the Pleasure and Conveniency of your younger Services, according to the Capacity of your Years; and that with such a Degree of sincere and hearty Zeal for my Welfare, that you are ready to vie with each other in the kind Imployment, and assist all you can toward my Recovery and Usefulness. So that whoever shall reap benefit by any of my Labours, it is but a reasonable Request, that you share with me in their Thanks and their Prayers.

But this is a small Part of your Praise.

If it would not be suspected of Flattery, I could tell the World what an Acquaintance with Scripture, what a Knowledge of Religion, what a Memory of Divine things both in Verse and Prose is found among you; and what a just and regular account is given of Sermons at your Age; to awaken all the Children that shall read these Songs, to furnish their memories and beautify their Souls like yours. The Honour you have done me in learning by heart so large a number of the Hymns I have publish’d, perhaps has been of some use towards these greater Improvements, and gives me rich Encouragement to offer you this little Present.

Since I have ventured to shew a Part of your early Character to the World, I perswade my self you will remember, that it must inlarge and brighten daily. Remember what the World will expect from the Daughters of Sir Thomas Abney’s Family, under such an Education, such Examples, and after such fair and promising Blossoms of Piety and Goodness. Remember what God himself will expect at your hands, from whose Grace you have received plentiful Distributions in the Beginning of your Days. May the Blessings of his Right Hand more enrich you daily, as your Capacities and your Years increase; and may he add bountifully of the Favours of his Left Hand, Riches and Honour. May his Grace make you so large a Return of all the Kindness I have received in your Family, as may prevail above the fondest Hopes of your Parents, and even exceed the warmest Prayers of

Your most Affectionate Monitor and obliged Servant in the daily Views of a future World,

Isaac Watts
June 18. 1715.

PREFACE

To all that are concerned in the Education of Children.

My Friends,

It is an awful and important charge that is committed to you. The wisdom and welfare of the succeeding generation are intrusted with you beforehand, and depend much on your conduct. The seeds of misery or happiness in this world, and that to come, are oftentimes sown very early, and therefore whatever may conduce to give the minds of children a relish for vertue and religion, ought in the first place to be proposed to you.

Verse was at first design’d for the service of God, tho’ it hath been wretchedly abused since. The ancients among the Jews and the Heathens taught their children and disciples the precepts of morality and worship in verse. The children of Israel were commanded to learn the words of the song of Moses, Deut. 31. 19,30. And we are directed in the New Testament, not only to sing with grace in the heart, but to teach and admonish one another by hymns and songs, Eph. 5. 19. and there are these four advantages in it:

  1. There is a greater delight in the very learning of truths and duties this way. There is something so amusing and entertaining in rhymes and metre, that will incline children to make this part of their business a diversion. And you may turn their very duty into a reward, by giving them the privilege of learning one of these songs every week, if they fulfil the business of the week well, and promising them the book itself when they have learned ten or twenty songs out of it.
  2. What is learnt in verse is longer retained in memory, and sooner recollected. The like sounds and the like number of syllables exceedingly assist the remembrance. And it may often happen, that the end of a song running in the mind may be an effectual means to keep off some temptation, or to incline to some duty, when a word of scripture is not upon the thoughts.
  3. This will be a constant furniture for the minds of children, that they may have something to think upon when alone, and sing over to themselves. This may sometimes give their thoughts a divine turn, and raise a young meditation. Thus, they will not be forced to seek relief for an emptiness of mind out of the loose and dangerous sonnets of the age.
  4. These Divine Songs may be a pleasant and proper matter for their daily or weekly worship, to sing one in the family at such time as the parents or governors shall appoint; and therefore, I have confin’d the verse to the most usual psalm tunes.

The greatest part of this little book was composed several years ago, at the request of a friend, who has been long engaged in the work of catechising a very great number of children of all kinds, and with abundant skill and success. So that you will find here nothing that savours of a party: the children of high and low degree, of the Church of England or Dissenters, baptized in infancy or not, may all join together in these songs. And as I have endeavoured to sink the language to the level of a child’s understanding, and yet to keep it (if possible) above contempt; so I have designed to profit all (if possible) and offend none. I hope the more general the sense is, these composures may be of the more universal use and service.

I have added at the end an attempt or two of Sonnets on Moral Subjects for children, with an air of pleasantry, to provoke some fitter pen to write a little book of them. My talent doth not lie that way, and a man on the borders of the grave has other work. Besides, if I had health or leisure to lay out this way, it should be employ’d in finishing the Psalms, which I have so long promised the world.

May the Almighty God make you faithful in this important work of education: may he succeed your cares with his abundant graces, that the rising generation of Great Britain may be a glory amongst the nations, a pattern to the Christian world, and a blessing to the earth.

Divine Songs for Children.

 

Song No. 8 – Praise to God for Learning to Read

The praises of my tongue
I offer to the Lord,
That I was taught, and learnt so young
To read his holy Word.

That I am taught to know
The danger I was in,
By nature and by practice too
A wretched slave to sin.

That I am led to see
I can do nothing well;
And whither shall a sinner flee,
To save himself from hell?

Dear Lord, this book of thine
Informs me where to go
For grace to pardon all my sin,
And make me holy too.

Here I can read and learn
How Christ the Son of God
Did undertake our great concern,
Our ransom cost his blood.

And now he reigns above,
He sends his Spirit down,
To show the wonders of his love,
And make his Gospel known.

O may that Spirit teach,
And make my heart receive
Those truths which all thy servants preach,
And all thy saints believe!

Then shall I praise the Lord
In a more chearful strain,
That I was taught to read his Word,
And have not learnt in vain.

Light Shining Out of Darkness

GOD moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace:
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain:
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

—William Cowper, Hymn XV, Olney Hymns, Book III (1779).

To The Marquis La Fayette – A Poem by John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

We ‘ll search the earth, and search the sea,
To cull a gallant wreath for thee;
And every field for freedom fought,
And every mountain height, where aught
Of liberty can yet be found,
Shall be our blooming harvest ground.
aurels in garlands hang upon
Thermopylæ and Marathon—
On Bannockburn the thistle grows —
On Runny Mead the wild rose blows;
And on the banks of Boyne, its leaves
Green Erin’s shamrock wildly weaves.
In France, in sunny France, we ‘ll get
The fleur-de-lys and mignonette,
From every consecrated spot
Where lies a martyred Huguenot;
And cull, even here, from many a field,
And many a rocky height,
Bays that our vales and mountains yield,
Where men have met, to fight
For law, and liberty, and life,
And died in freedom’s holy strife.
Below Atlantic seas— below
The waves of Erie and Champlain;
The sea-grass and the corals grow
In rostral trophies round the slain;
And we can add, to form thy crown,
Some branches worthy thy renown!
Long may the chaplet flourish bright,
And borrow from the Heavens its light.
As with a cloud, that circles round
A star, when other stars have set,
With glory shall thy brow be bound;
With glory shall thy head be crowned;
With glory, starlike, cinctured yet!
For earth, and air, and sky, and sea,
Shall yield a glorious wreath to thee.

To The Dead by John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

How many now are dead to me
That live to others yet!
How many are alive to me
Who crumble in their graves, nor see
That sick’ning, sinking look which we
Till dead can ne’er forget.
Beyond the blue seas, far away,
Most wretchedly alone,
One died in prison — far away,
Where stone on stone shut out the day,
And never hope, or comfort’s ray
In his lone dungeon shone.
Dead to the world, alive to me;
Though months and years have passed,
In a lone hour, his sigh to me
Comes like the hum of some wild bee,
And then his form and face I see
As when I saw him last.
And one with a bright lip, and cheek,
And eye, is dead to me.
How pale the bloom of his smooth cheek!
His lip was cold — it would not speak;
His heart was dead, for it did not break;
And his eye, for it did not see.
Then for the living be the tomb,
And for the dead the smile;
Engrave oblivion on the tomb
Of pulseless life and deadly bloom —
Dim is such glare: but bright the gloom
Around the funeral pile.

Extracts from the Task: Meditation in Winter by William Cowper (1731–1800)

From Book VI, The Winter Walk at Noon

The night was winter in his roughest mood,
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon,
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o’er the vale,
And through the trees I view the embattled tower
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though moveable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed,
And intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half suppressed:
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light
From spray to spray, where’er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the withered leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Have ofttimes no connexion. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men,
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
Till smoothed and squared and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthralled.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment hoodwinked. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them, by a tune entranced.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But trees, and rivulets whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheepwalks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and Truth,
Not shy as in the world, and to be won
By slow solicitation, seize at once
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.

The Planet Mars

This computer-generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light

Together we sat in the summer night,
(An August night with a wealth of stars)
And we marked where it gleamed so redly bright,
The Planet Mars

We spoke of the cruel wrongs of earth,
Of the host of evils that greed unbars;
And then we spoke of another birth
In the Planet Mars

And we wondered if each would know the name
Of the other, up there, amid the stars,
And we said we hoped they would be the same
In the Planet Mars

And so we talked through the summer night,
Of life and of love amid the stars;
And how our wrongs would be all made right
In the Planet Mars

Albert Bigelow Paine, 1893

 

I’ve posted this poem before but I simply love it so much.

The Planet Mars by Albert Bigelow Paine

tumblr_miklnbFXga1s5u2cno1_500

Together we sat in the summer night,
(An August night with a wealth of stars)
And we marked where it gleamed so redly bright,
The Planet Mars

We spoke of the cruel wrongs of earth,
Of the host of evils that greed unbars;
And then we spoke of another birth
In the Planet Mars

And we wondered if each would know the name
Of the other, up there, amid the stars,
And we said we hoped they would be the same
In the Planet Mars

And so we talked through the summer night,
Of life and of love amid the stars;
And how our wrongs would be all made right
In the Planet Mars

Albert Bigelow Paine, 1893