Scripture Verse

He giveth His beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2


Henry J. E. Holmes (1852–1938)

Words: Eli­za­beth B. Brown­ing, from her po­em The Sleep, in The Se­ra­phim and Oth­er Po­ems, 1838.

Music: Pa­ter Om­ni­um Hen­ry J. E. Holmes, 1875 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

If you know where to get a bet­ter pho­to of Holmes,

Elizabeth B. Browning (1806–1861)


Of all the thoughts of God that are
Borne in­ward in­to souls afar,
Along the psalm­ist’s mu­sic deep,
Now tell me if there any is,
For gift or grace sur­pass­ing this:
He giv­eth His be­lov­èd sleep?

What would we give to our be­loved?
The he­ro’s heart to be un­moved,
The po­et’s star tuned harp, to sweep,
The pa­tri­ot’s voice, to teach and rouse,
The mon­arch’s crown, to light the brows?
He giv­eth His be­lov­èd sleep.

What do we give to our be­loved?
A lit­tle faith all un­dis­proved,
A lit­tle dust to ov­er weep,
And bit­ter me­mo­ries to make
The whole earth blast­ed for our sake:
He giv­eth His be­lov­èd sleep.

Sleep soft, be­loved! we some­times say,
Who have no tune to charm away
Sad dreams that through the eye­lids creep
But ne­ver dole­ful dream again
Shall break the hap­py slum­ber when
He give­th His be­lov­èd sleep.

O earth, so full of drea­ry noises!
O men, with wail­ing in your voices!
O delv­èd gold, the wail­er’s heap!
O strife, O curse, that o’er it fall!
God strikes a si­lence through you all,
And giv­eth His be­lov­èd sleep.

His dews drop mut­ely on the hill,
His cloud above it sail­eth still,
Though on its slope men sow and reap;
More soft­ly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is float­ed ov­er­head,
He giv­eth His be­lov­èd sleep.

Ay, men may won­der while they scan
A liv­ing, think­ing, feel­ing man,
Confirmed in such a rest to keep;
But an­gels say, through the word
I think their hap­py smile is heard—
He giveth His be­lov­èd sleep.

For me my heart that erst did go,
Most like a tired child at a show,
That sees through tears the mum­mers leap,
Would now its wea­ried vi­sion close,
Would, child­like, on His love re­pose,
Who giv­eth his be­lov­èd sleep.

And friends, dear friends—when it shall be
That this low breath is gone from me,
And round my bier you come to weep,
Let One, most lov­ing of you all,
Say, Not a tear must o’er her fall
He giv­eth His be­lov­èd sleep.