The old second-person inflections here (“thou –st”) are a bit thick. But the soul of this hymn, especially when sung to Tallis’s haunting Third Tune, is stunning.
Thou wast, O God: And thou was blest
Before the world begun,
Of thine eternity possest
Before Time’s glass did run.
Thou needest none thy praise to sing,
As if thy joy could fade.
Could’st thou have needed any thing,
Thou could’st have nothing made.
Great and good God, it pleased thee
Thy Godhead to declare;
And what thy goodness did decree,
Thy greatness did prepare:
Thou spak’st, and Heav’n and Earth appeared,
And answered to thy call;
As if their maker’s Voice they heard,
Which is the Creatures’ ALL.
To whom, Lord, should I sing, but thee,
The maker of my tongue?
Lo! Other lords would seize on me,
But I to thee belong:
As waters haste unto their sea,
And earth unto its earth;
So let my soul return to thee,
From whom it had its birth.
~ John Mason, 1645-1694