"HYMN VII. " by Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825)
First Publication: Hymns in Prose for Children. by Anna Lætitia Barbauld. London: J. Johnson, 1781. pp. 43-52.
COME, let us go into the thick shade, for it is the noon of day, and the summer sun beats hot upon our heads.
The shade is pleasant, and cool; the branches meet above our heads, and shut out the sun, as with a green [Page 44] curtain; the grass is soft to our feet, and a clear brook washes the roots of the trees.
The sloping bank is covered with flowers: let us lie down upon it; let us throw our limbs on the fresh grass, and sleep; for all things are still, and we are quite alone.
The cattle can lie down [Page 45] to sleep in the cool shade, but we can do what is better; we can raise our voices to heaven; we can praise the great God who made us. He made the warm sun, and the cool shade; the trees that grow upwards, and the brooks that run murmuring along. All the things that we see are his work.
Can we raise our voices up [Page 46] to the high heaven? can we make him hear who is above the stars? We need not raise our voices to the stars, for he heareth us when we only whisper; when we breathe out words softly with a low voice. He that filleth the heavens is here also.
May we that are so young, speak to him that always was? [Page 47] May we that can hardly speak plain, speak to God?
We that are so young, are but lately made alive; therefore we should not forget his forming hand, who hath made us alive. We that cannot speak plain, should lisp out praises to him who teacheth us how to speak, and hath opened our dumb lips. [Page 48]
When we could not think of him, he thought of us; before we could ask him to bless us, he had already given us many blessings.
He fashioneth our tender limbs, and causeth them to grow; he maketh us strong, and tall, and nimble.
Every day we are more active than the former day, [Page 49] therefore every day we ought to praise him better than the former day.
The buds spread into leaves, and the blossoms swell to fruit; but they know not how they grow, nor who caused them to spring up from the bosom of the earth.
Ask them, if they will tell thee; bid them break forth [Page 50] into singing, and fill the air with pleasant sounds.
They smell sweet; they look beautiful; but they are quite silent: no sound is in the still air; no murmur of voices amongst the green leaves.
The plants and the trees are made to give fruit to man; [Page 51] but man is made to praise God who made him.
We love to praise him, because he loveth to bless us; we thank him for life, because it is a pleasant thing to be alive.
We love God, who hath created all beings; we love all beings, because they are the creatures of God. [Page 52]
We cannot be good, as God is good, to all persons every where; but we can rejoice, that every where there is a God to do them good.
We will think of God when we play, and when we work; when we walk out, and when we come in; when we sleep, and we wake, his praise shall dwell continually upon our lips.