Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
Psalme LI
XII. William Hunnis
Miserere mei. The first Part.

  O THOU, that madst the world of nought,
    Whom God thy creatures call;
  Which formedst man like to thyself,
    Yet suffredst him to fall:
2  Thou God, which by thy heauenlie word        5
    Didst fleshe of virgin take,
  And so becamst both God and man,
    For sinful fleshe’s sake:
3  O thou, that sawest when man by sinne
    To hell was ouerthrowne,        10
  Didst meeklie suffer death on crosse,
    To haue thy mercies knowne:
4  Thou God, which didst the patriarks
    And fathers old diuine
  From time to time preserue and keepe        15
    By mercies great of thine:
5  O thou, that Noah kepts from floud,
    And Abram daie by daie,
  As he along through Ægypt past,
    Didst guide him in the waie:        20
6  Thou God, that Lot from Sodom’s plague
    Didst safelie keepe also,
  And Daniel from the lions’ iawes,
    Thy mercie great to shew:
7  O thou good God, that didst diuide        25
    The sea like hils to stand,
  That children thine might thorough pas
    From cruell Pharoe’s hand;
8  So that when Pharoe and his host
    Thy children did pursue,        30
  Thou ouerthrewst them in the sea,
    To prooue thy saiengs true:
9  O thou, that Ionas in the fish
    Three daies didst keepe from paine,
  Which was a figure of thy death        35
    And rising vp againe:
10  I say, thou God, which didst preserue
    Amidst the fierie flame
  The three young men which sang therein
    The glories of thy name:—        40
11  Thou, God, haue mercie on my soule,
    Thy goodnesse me restore,
  And for thy mercies infinite
    Thinke on my sinne no more. 1
12  O Lord, the number of my sinnes        45
    Is more than can be told;
  Wherefore I humblie doo desire
    Thy mercies manifold.
13  For small offense thy mercie small
    May soone small faultes suffice;        50
  But I, alas! for manie faults
    For greater mercie cries.
14  And though the number of my sins
    Surpasseth salt sea land,
  And that the filth of them deserue        55
    The wrath of thy iust hand;
15  Yet doo thy mercies farre surmount
    The sinnes of all in all;
  Thou wilt with mercie vs relieue,
    For mercie when we call.        60
16  Right well I knowe man hath not power
    So much for to transgresse,
  As thou with mercie maist forgiue
    Through thine almightinesse.
17  I doo confesse my faultes be more        65
    Than thousands else beside,
  More noisome, and more odious,
    More fowler to be tride,
18  Than euer was the lothsome swine—
*      *      *      *      *      *
19  Wherefore, good Lord, doo not behold        70
    How wicked I haue bin;
  But wash me from my wickednesse,
    And clense me from my sin. 2
20  The Israelites, being defil’d,
    Durst not approach thee nie,        75
  Till they their garments and themselues
    Had washed decentlie.
21  The priests also eke clensed were
    Ere they thy face would see;
  Else had they perisht in their sinne—        80
    Such Lord was thy decree.
22  Alas! how much more need I then
    To craue while I am heere,
  To wash my foule and spotted soule,
    That it may cleane appeare!        85
23  Polluted cloths with filth distaind
    Doe manie washings craue,
  Ere that the launder can obteine
    The thing that he would haue.
24  My soule likewise, alas! dooth need        90
    The manie dewes of grace,
  Ere it be cleane; for cankred sinne
    So deepe hath taken place.
25  The leprosie that Naaman had
    Could not be done away,        95
  Till he seuen times in Iordan floud
    Had washt him day by day.
26  How manie waters need I then
    For to be washed in,
  Ere I be purged faire and cleane,        100
    And clensed from my sin!
27  But, Lord, thy mercie is the sope,
    And washing lee also,
  That shall both scowre and clense the filth
    Which in my soule doe grow.        105
28  Why should I then, alas! despaire
    Of goodness thine to mee,
  When that thy iustice willeth me
    To put my trust in thee?
29  Thy promise, Lord, thy mouth hath past,        110
    Which cannot be but true,
  That thou wilt mercie haue on them
    That turne to thee anew.
30  I know, when heauen and earth shall passe,
    This promise shall stand fast:        115
  Wherefore vnto thy Maiestie
    I offer now at last
31  An hart contrite and sorrowfull
    With all humilitie,
  For heinous sinnes by it conceiu’d        120
    Through mine iniquitie.
32  I doo acknowledge all my faultes;
    My sinnes stand me before; 3
  I haue them in remembrance, Lord,
    And will for euermore.        125
33  Because thou shouldst the same forget,
    I still doo thinke thereon,
  And set it vp before my face,
    Alwaies to look vpon.
Note 1. Verse 1. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam; et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum dele iniquitatem meam. [back]
Note 2. Verse 2. Amplius lava mea ab iniquitate mea, et a peccato meo munda me. [back]
Note 3. Verse 3. Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco, et peccatum meum contra me est semper. [back]

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