This day, be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun
Thou know’st if best bestowed or not,
And let thy will be done.
To thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies,
One chorus let all being raise!
All Nature’s incense rise!
And now we come upon a strange little well in the desert. Few flowers indeed shine upon its brink, and it flows with a somewhat unmusical ripple: it is a well of the water of life notwithstanding, for its song tells of the love and truth which are the grand power of God.
John Byrom, born in Manchester in the year 1691, a man whose strength of thought and perception of truth greatly surpassed his poetic gifts, yet delighted so entirely in the poetic form that he wrote much and chiefly in it. After leaving Cambridge, he gained his livelihood for some time by teaching a shorthand of his own invention, but was so distinguished as a man of learning generally that he was chosen an F.R.S. in 1723. Coming under the influence, probably through William Law, of the writings of Jacob Boehme, the marvellous shoemaker of Goerlitz in Silesia, who lived in the time of our Shakspere, and heartily adopting many of his views, he has left us a number of religious poems, which are seldom so sweet in music as they are profound in the metaphysics of religion. Here we have yet again a mystical thread running radiant athwart both warp and woof of our poetic web: the mystical thinker will ever be found the reviver of religious poetry; and although some of the seed had come from afar both in time and space, Byrom’s verse is of indigenous growth. Much of the thought of the present day will be found in his verses. Here is a specimen of his metrical argumentation. It is taken from a series of Meditations for every Day in Passion Week.
Christ satisfieth the justice of God
by fulfilling all
Justice demandeth satisfaction—yes;
And ought to have it where injustice is:
But there is none in God—it cannot mean
Demand of justice where it has full reign:
To dwell in man it rightfully demands,
Such as he came from his Creator’s hands.
Man had departed from a righteous
Which he at first must have, if God create:
’Tis therefore called God’s righteousness, and must
Be satisfied by man’s becoming just;
Must exercise good vengeance upon men,
Till it regain its rights in them again.
This was the justice for which
A man to satisfy its righteous claim;
Became Redeemer of the human race,
That sin in them to justice might give place:
To satisfy a just and righteous will,
Is neither more nor less than to fulfil.
* * * * *
Here are two stanzas of one of more mystical reflection: