Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

portrait
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-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you ?

Lyrics

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.