A Celebration of Women Writers

"HYMN VI. " by Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825)

First Publication: Hymns in Prose for Children. by Anna Lætitia Barbauld. London: J. Johnson, 1781. pp. 36-42.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 36]


CHILD of reason, whence comest thou? What has thine eye observed, and whither has thy foot been wandering?

I have been wandering along the meadows, in the thick grass; the cattle were feeding around me, or re-[Page 37] posing in the cool shade; the corn sprung up in the furrows; the poppy and the harebell grew among the wheat; the fields were bright with summer, and glowing with beauty.

Didst thou see nothing more? Didst thou observe nothing beside? Return again, child of reason, for there are greater things than these. [Page 38]  God was among the fields; and didst thou not perceive him? his beauty was upon the meadows; his smile enlivened the sun-shine.

I have walked through the thick forest; the wind whispered among the trees; the brook fell from the rocks with a pleasant murmur; the squirrel leapt from bough to bough; and the birds sung [Page 39]  to each other amongst the branches.

Didst thou hear nothing, but the murmur of the brook? no whispers, but the whispers of the wind? Return again, child of reason, for there are greater things than these.God was amongst the trees; his voice founded in the murmur of the water; his music warbled in the [Page 40]  shade; and didst thou not attend?

I saw the moon rising behind the trees: it was like a lamp of gold. The stars one after another appeared in the clear firmament. Presently I saw black clouds arise, and roll towards the south; the lightning streamed in thick flashes over the sky; the thunder growled at a distance; [Page 41]  it came nearer, and I felt afraid, for it was loud and terrible.

Did thy heart feel no terror, but of the thunderbolt? Was there nothing bright and terrible, but the lightning? Return, O child of reason, for there are greater things than these.God was in the storm, and didst thou not perceive him? His ter-[Page 42] rors were abroad, and did not thine heart acknowledge him?

God is in every place; he speaks in every sound we hear; he is seen in all that our eyes behold: nothing, O child of reason, is without God;let God therefore be in all thy thoughts.

[Page 43]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom