The Lyrics of Another Age

AN HYMN TO GOD THE FATHER

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin, which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two; – but wallowed in a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as be shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, thou hast done,
I fear no more.

I have the rather mentioned this Hymn, for that he caused it to be set to a most grave and solemn tune, and to be often sung to the organ by the Choristers of St. Paul’s Church, in his own hearing; especially at the Evening Service; and at his return from his customary devotions in that place, did occasionally say to a friend, “the words of this Hymn have restored to me the same thoughts of joy that possessed my soul in my sickness, when I composed it. And, O the power of church-music! that harmony added to this Hymn has raised the affections of my heart, and quickened my graces of zeal and gratitude; and I observe that I always return from paying this public duty of prayer and praise to God, with an unexpressible tranquility of mind, and a willingness to leave the world.”

-from The Life of Dr. John Donne, by Izaak Walton

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