Scripture Verse

O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Psalm 139:1


Philip Sidney (1554–1586)

Words: At­trib­ut­ed to Phi­lip Sid­ney (1554–1586). How­ev­er, the text was ap­par­ent­ly not pub­lished un­til 1823, and it is un­clear in the 1823 ver­sion whe­ther the au­thor was Phi­lip or his sis­ter, Ma­ry Sid­ney, Coun­tess of Pem­broke (Ju­li­an, page 1057). The text be­low is cre­dit­ed to Phi­lip in Hymns of Du­ty and Faith, ed­it­ed by Ro­bert Cromp­ton Jones (Lon­don: E. T. Whit­field, 1872), pag­es 121–22.

Music: Lei­ces­ter (Bi­shop) John Bi­shop, in A Sett of New Psalm Tunes, 1700 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

If you know where to get a good pic­ture of Bi­shop (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),


O Lord, in me there li­eth naught
But to Thy search re­veal­èd lies;
For when I sit Thou mark­est it,
No less Thou not­est when I rise;
Yea, clos­est clo­set of my thought
Hath op­en win­dows to Thine eyes.

Thou walk­est with me when I walk;
When to my bed for rest I go,
I find Thee there, and ev­ery­where;
Not young­est thought in me doth grow,
No, not one word I cast to talk,
But, yet un­ut­tered, Thou dost know.

If forth I march, Thou go­est before,
If back I turn, Thou com’st be­hind;
So forth nor back Thy guard I lack;
Nay, on me too Thy hand I find;
Well I Thy wis­dom may adore,
But ne­ver reach with earth­ly mind.

To shun Thy no­tice, leave Thine eye,
O whi­ther might I take my way?
To star­ry sphere? Thy throne is there:
To dead men’s un­de­light­some stay?
There is Thy walk, and there to lie
Unknown, in vain I should as­say.

O sun, whom light nor flight can match!
Suppose thy ligh­tful, flight­ful wings
Thou lend to me, and I could flee
As far as thee the ev­en­ing brings;
E’en led to west He would me catch,
Nor should I lurk with west­ern things.

Do thou thy best, O sec­ret night,
In sa­ble veil to co­ver me:
Thy sa­ble veil shall vain­ly fail.
With day un­masked my night shall be:
For night is day, and dark­ness light,
O Fa­ther of all lights, to Thee.