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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Rocking Hymn
By George Wither (1588–1667)
 
SWEET baby, sleep: what ails my dear?
  What ails my darling thus to cry?
Be still, my child, and lend thine ear
  To hear me sing thy lullaby.
My pretty lamb, forbear to weep;        5
Be still, my dear; sweet baby, sleep.
 
Thou blessèd soul, what canst thou fear?
  What thing to thee can mischief do?
Thy God is now thy father dear;
  His holy Spouse thy mother too.        10
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
Though thy conception was in sin,
  A sacred bathing thou hast had;
And though thy birth unclean hath been,        15
  A blameless babe thou now art made.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my dear; sweet baby, sleep.
 
While thus thy lullaby I sing,
  For thee great blessings ripening be:        20
Thine eldest brother is a King,
  And hath a kingdom bought for thee.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
Sweet baby, sleep, and nothing fear;        25
  For whosoever thee offends,
By thy Protector threatened are,
  And God and angels are thy friends.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.        30
 
When God with us was dwelling here,
  In little babes he took delight;
Such innocents as thou, my dear,
  Are ever precious in his sight.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;        35
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
A little infant once was he,
  And strength in weakness then was laid
Upon his virgin Mother’s knee,
  That power to thee might be conveyed.        40
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
The King of kings, when he was born,
  Had not so much for outward ease;
By him such dressings were not worn,        45
  Nor such-like swaddling-clothes as these.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
Within a manger lodged thy Lord,
  Where oxen lay, and asses fed:        50
Warm rooms we do to thee afford,
  An easy cradle or a bed.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
The wants that he did then sustain        55
  Have purchased wealth, my babe, for thee;
And by his torments and his pain,
  Thy rest and ease securèd be.
My baby, then, forbear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.        60
 
Thou hast yet more to perfect this,—
  A promise and an earnest got
Of gaining everlasting bliss,
  Though thou, my babe, perceiv’st it not.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep;        65
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep.
 
 
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