Through his poems are scattered many fine passages; but not even his large influence on the better poets who followed is sufficient to justify our listening to him longer now.
BISHOP HALL AND GEORGE SANDYS.
Joseph Hall, born in 1574, a year after Dr. Donne, bishop, first of Exeter, next of Norwich, is best known by his satires. It is not for such that I can mention him: the most honest satire can claim no place amongst religious poems. It is doubtful if satire ever did any good. Its very language is that of the half-brute from which it is well named.
Here are three poems, however, which the bishop wrote for his choir.
ANTHEM FOR THE CATHEDRAL OF EXETER.
Lord, what am I? A worm, dust, vapour,
What is my life? A dream, a daily dying!
What is my flesh? My soul’s uneasy clothing!
What is my time? A minute ever flying:
My time, my flesh, my life, and I,
What are we, Lord, but vanity?
Where am I, Lord? Down in a vale
What is my trade? Sin, my dear God offending;
My sport sin too, my stay a puff of breath.
What end of sin? Hell’s horror never ending:
My way, my trade, sport, stay, and place,
Help to make up my doleful case.
Lord, what art thou? Pure life, power,
Where dwell’st thou? Up above in perfect light.
What is thy time? Eternity it is.
What state? Attendance of each glorious sprite:
Thyself, thy place, thy days, thy state
Pass all the thoughts of powers create.
How shall I reach thee, Lord? Oh,
Ambitious soul. But which way should I fly?
Thou, Lord, art way and end. What wings have I?
Aspiring thoughts—of faith, of hope, of love:
Oh, let these wings, that way alone
Present me to thy blissful throne.
Immortal babe, who this dear day
Didst change thine heaven for our clay,
And didst with flesh thy Godhead veil,
Eternal Son of God, all hail!
Shine, happy star! Ye angels, sing
Glory on high to heaven’s king!
Run, shepherds, leave your nightly watch!
See heaven come down to Bethlehem’s cratch! manger.
Worship, ye sages of the east,
The king of gods in meanness drest!
O blessed maid, smile, and adore
The God thy womb and arms have bore!
Star, angels, shepherds, and wise sages!
Thou virgin-glory of all ages!
Restored frame of heaven and earth!
Joy in your dear Redeemer’s birth.
* * * * *
Leave, O my soul, this baser world below;
O leave this doleful dungeoen of woe;
And soar aloft to that supernal rest
That maketh all the saints and angels blest:
Lo, there the Godhead’s radiant throne,
Like to ten thousand suns in one!