Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
 
A Prayer of a Repentant Sinner Bewailing His Sins and Craving for Mercy
CXIX. W. A.
 
O GRACIOUS 1 God and heauenly Father deere,
Which hast created all thinges that are seene,
Whose mighty power is knowne both far and neere,
Through thy great workes the heaven and earth betweene:
 
So that no man by ignorance can frame        5
To make excuse he hath not known thy might,
For all thy creatures do declare the same;
In them of thee we may have perfit sight.
 
But I, a wretch that here doth prostrate lye,
Have knowne thy word, yet not obeyed the same;        10
So that to heaven I dare not lyft my eye,
Because my sinnes doth make me shrinke for shame.
 
Wherefore I come to thee with quaking hart,
With trembling conscience, so dismayed for sinne;
Desiring thee with teares to ease my smart,        15
That I the taste of mercye sweete may winne.
 
My wounded soule dooth seeke thy precious grace,
To serue for salue of my distressed mind:
O let my prayers pearce thy holy place,
And heare my cryes, O gracious God most kinde.        20
 
I dare not lift myne eyes unto thy throne,
Thy glory shineth in such wondrous wise:
Thy brightnesse eke to cherubines is knowne,
Whose majesty dooth dim their dazeled eyes.
 
When how can I, a synful creature formde,        25
Present my selfe thy mercy to obtaine;
Whose syns dooth more then seaish sands abounde,
Or all the stars that in the heauens remaine?
 
For I have broke the promise that I made,
When as I was baptised in thy name:        30
So that, alas! my hart is sore afrayde
Least thy just judgements damne me for the same.
 
I dyd protest to fyght against my flesh,
And to subdue my earthly Adam olde;
Yet like the dog I run to it afresh,        35
And greedyly I take thereof fast holde.
 
I promised the world for to subdue,
Whose wanton wyles with wickednesse is fyl’d:
Yet like a wretch I egerly pursue
Such vanities as he therein hath wil’d.        40
 
I vowed eke to foyle my deadly foe,
That subtil Sathan, enemy of grace;
Yet have I yeelded like a coward thoe,
And followed his pleasures vaine like case.
 
Yea, every day I seeke to clime to thee,        45
And yet, alas! my weaknesse makes me fall
Wherefore I wish that death would set me free,
That I through faith might fynde redresse of all:
 
Which maketh me that I durst not approche
Unto thy presence to obtaine releese:        50
Dear’t but throw Christ thy mercy I incroche,
With hope in him to get release of greefe;
 
Who by the fountain of his precious blood
Hath washt away the fylth of my offence;
Whose gushing streames like to a river stoode,        55
To clense my soule defylde by lewd pretence.
 
He paid the ransome of my faults most vyle
With bitter death, for me which was his foe:
Yea, heare on earth he lived in much raile,
That I might gaine the place where grace doth growe.        60
 
Wherefore to Him I will for pardon flye,
And crave release of my offences past;
So doo I knowe he will me not denye,
And graunt his mercy unto me at last.
 
Wherefore I crave, O heavenly Father mine,        65
For thy Sonne’s sake vouchsafe my soule to save,
And unto me thy gracious ears incline,
That in his blood doo pardon boldly crave.
 
Forgive me all th’ offences of my youth,
And graunt to me the comfort of thy Spright:        70
Have pittie, Lorde, and turne to me thy rueth;
So shall my soule in thee for aye delight.
 
Wipe out my synnes of thy remembrance, Lorde,
And place my name within thy booke of life:
O make my hart to thee alwayes accorde,        75
That this my conscience may be free from strife.
 
Make me a veasell to thy gloryous will,
For to possesse a place of heavenly joyes:
So shall I laude and spred thy glory still,
And scape thy dainger that the soule destroyes.        80
 
Graunt this, good Lord, for Jesus Christe’s sake,
To whom with thee, and thy Eternall Spright,
Which persones three one perfyt God doo make,
Be lasting laude, as it belonges aright.
 
Note 1. CXIX. W. A.—Nothing is known of this author: the poem annexed to his name is reprinted from “Three Collections of English Poetry,” presented by the duke of Northumberland to the Roxburghe Club. It is derived from his “Speciall Remedie, etc.” which was printed in 1579. [back]
 
 
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