Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
Psalm cxxxix

O LORD, 1 Thou hast searchèd me out and known me,
  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
  Thou understandest my thoughts afar.
Thou discernest my path and my bed,
  and art acquainted with all my ways.        5
For lo! ere the word is on my tongue,
  Thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether.
Thou dost compass me behind and before,
  and over me Thou hast laid thine hand.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;        10
  it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Whither shall I go then from thy spirit,
  or whither shall I flee then from thy face?
If I climb up into heaven, Thou art there:
    if I lay me down in hell, Thou art there also.        15
If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea,
  even there also should thy hand lead me, and thy right hand hold me.
If I say, Peradventure the darkness may whelm me;
  let my day be turnèd into night,—
The darkness is no darkness with Thee,        20
  the night is as clear as the day,
  darkness and light to Thee are both alike.
The stirrings of my heart were of Thee;
  Thou didst knit me together in my mothers womb.
I will give thanks unto Thee in my fear and wonder:        25
  Marvellous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
My frame was not hid from Thee,
  when I was made secretly and richly wrought in the deep of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect:
  And in thy book they were all written,        30
The days that were outshapen for me,
  when as yet there was none of them.
How dear are thy thoughts unto me, O God;
  O how great is the sum of them!
Should I tell them, they are more in number than the sand.        35
  My spirit awaketh, and still I am with Thee …
Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart;
  prove me and examine my thoughts.
Look well if there be any way of sorrow in me,
  and lead me in the way everlasting.        40
Note 1. Psalm cxxxix. One of the later psalms. My text is an attempt to bring our magnificent Prayer-book version (from Coverdale’s Bible of 1535) nearer to the original, where that seemed desirable. Ver. 12, The stirrings of my heart in the Hebrew is my kidneys, ‘regarded by the Hebrews as the springs of feeling’ (Driver’s glossary). If so, then the English equivalent is the heart: and since the heart-beat is the first palpable sign of vertebrate life, this makes a beauty where our church version somewhat needs it. [back]

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