(Sidney Goldolphin died fighting in the Royalist army in the English Civil War.)
Lord, when the wise men came from afar
Led to thy cradle by a star,
Then did the shepherds too rejoice
Instructed by thy angel’s voice.
Blessed were the wise men in their skill;
And shepherds in their harmless will.
Wise men in tracing nature’s laws
Ascend unto the highest cause.
Shepherds with humble fearfulness
Walk safely though their light be less;
Though wise men better know the way,
It seems no honest heart can stray.
There is no merit in the wise,
But love, the shepherds’ sacrifice.
Wise men always of knowledge past
To the shepherds’ wonder come at last.
To know can only wonder breed;
And not to know is wonder’s seed.
A wise man at the altar bows
And offers up his studied vows,
And is received. May not the tears
Which spring too from a shepherd’s fears
And sighs upon his frailty spent
Though not distinct be eloquent?
‘Tis true, the object sanctifies
All passions which within us rise;
But since no creature comprehends
The cause of causes, end of ends,
He who himself vouchsafes to know
Best pleases his creator so.
When then our sorrows we apply
To our own wants and poverty;
When we look up in all distress
And our own misery confess,
Sending both thanks and prayers above
Then though we do not know, we love.