England's Antiphon eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about England's Antiphon.

We may call the little lyric

A SONG OF LABOUR.

Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers? 
Oh, sweet content! 
Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplexed? 
Oh, punishment! 
Dost thou laugh to see how fools are vexed
To add to golden numbers, golden numbers? 
Oh, sweet content!
Chorus.—­Work apace, apace, apace, apace;
Honest labour bears a lovely face.

Canst drink the waters of the crisped spring? 
Oh, sweet content! 
Swimm’st thou in wealth, yet sink’st in thine own tears? 
Oh, punishment! 
Then he that patiently want’s burden bears,
No burden bears, but is a king, a king! 
Oh, sweet content!
Chorus.—­Work apace, apace, apace, apace;
Honest labour bears a lovely face.

It is a song of the poor in spirit, whose is the kingdom of heaven.  But if my co-listeners prefer, we will call it the voice, not of one who sings in the choir, but of one who “tunes his instrument at the door.”

CHAPTER X.

SIR JOHN BEAUMONT AND DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN.

Sir John Beaumont, born in 1582, elder brother to the dramatist who wrote along with Fletcher, has left amongst his poems a few fine religious ones.  From them I choose the following: 

  OF THE EPIPHANY.

  Fair eastern star, that art ordained to run
  Before the sages, to the rising sun,
  Here cease thy course, and wonder that the cloud
  Of this poor stable can thy Maker shroud: 
  Ye, heavenly bodies, glory to be bright,
  And are esteemed as ye are rich in light;
  But here on earth is taught a different way,
  Since under this low roof the highest lay. 
  Jerusalem erects her stately towers,
  Displays her windows, and adorns her bowers;
  Yet there thou must not cast a trembling spark: 
  Let Herod’s palace still continue dark;
  Each school and synagogue thy force repels,
  There Pride, enthroned in misty errors, dwells;
  The temple, where the priests maintain their choir,
  Shall taste no beam of thy celestial fire,
  While this weak cottage all thy splendour takes: 
  A joyful gate of every chink it makes. 
  Here shines no golden roof, no ivory stair,
  No king exalted in a stately chair,
  Girt with attendants, or by heralds styled,
  But straw and hay enwrap a speechless child;
  Yet Sabae’s lords before this babe unfold
  Their treasures, offering incense, myrrh, and gold. 
  The crib becomes an altar:  therefore dies
  No ox nor sheep; for in their fodder lies
  The Prince of Peace, who, thankful for his bed,
  Destroys those rites in which their blood was shed: 
  The quintessence of earth he takes and[87] fees,
  And precious gums distilled from weeping trees;
  Rich metals and sweet odours now declare
  The glorious blessings which his laws prepare,

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England's Antiphon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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