Poetry for Vespers

To Heaven

Good and great God, can I not think of Thee
But it must straight my melancholy be?
Is it interpreted in me disease
That, laden with my sins, I seek for ease?
O, be Thou witness, that the reins dost know
And hearts of all, if I be sad for show,
And judge me after; if I dare pretend
To aught but grace or aim at other end.
As Thou art all, so be Thou all to me,
First, midst, and last, converted One, and Three!
My faith, my hope, my love; and in this state
My judge, my witness, and my advocate!
Where have I been this while exiled from Thee?
And whither rap’t, now Thou but stoop’st to me?
Dwell, dwell here still. O, being everywhere,
How can I doubt to find Thee ever here?
I know my state, both full of shame and scorn,
Conceived in sin, and unto labour borne,
Standing with fear, and must with horror fall,
And destined unto judgment, after all.
I feel my griefs too, and there scarce is ground
Upon my flesh t’ inflict another wound.
Yet dare I not complain, or wish for death
With holy Paul, lest it be thought the breath
Of discontent; or that these prayers be
For weariness of life, not love of Thee.

— Ben Jonson (1573-1637)

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Liturgy of the Hours

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