Jehovah reigns: let every nation hear,
And at his footstool bow with holy fear;
Let heaven’s high arches echo with his name,
And the wide peopled earth his praise proclaim;
Then send it down to hell’s deep glooms resounding,
Thro’ all her caves in dreadful murmurs sounding.
He rules with wide and absolute command
O’er the broad ocean and the stedfast land:
Jehovah reigns, unbounded, and alone,
And all creation hangs beneath his throne:
He reigns alone; let no inferior nature
Usurp, or share the throne of the Creator.
He saw the struggling beams of infant light
Shoot thro’ the massy gloom of ancient night;
His spirit hush’d the elemental strife,
And brooded o’er the kindling seeds of life:
Seasons and months began the long procession
And measur’d o’er the year in bright succession.
The joyful sun sprung up th’ ethereal way,
Strong as a giant, as a bridegroom gay;
And the pale moon diffuse’d her shadowy light
Superior o’er the dusky brow of night;
Ten thousand glittering lamps the skies adorning,
Numerous as dew-drops from the womb of morning.
Earth’s blooming face with rising flowers he drest,
And spread a verdant mantle o’er her breast;
Then from the hollow of his hand he pours
The circling water roundher winding shores,
The new-born world in their cool arms embracing,
And with soft murmurs still her banks caressing.
At length the rose complete in finish’d pride,
All fair and spotless, like a virgin bride;
Fresh with untarnish’d lustre as she stood
Her Maker bless’d his work, and call’d it good;
The morning-stars with joyful acclamation
Exulting sung, and hail’d the new creation.
Yet this fair world, the creature of a day,
Tho’ built by God’s right hand, must pass away;
And long oblivion creep o’er mortal things,
The fate of empires, and the pride of kings;
Eternal night shall veil their proudest story,
And drop the curtain o’er all human glory.
The sun himself, with weary clouds opprest,
Shall in his silent dark pavilion rest;
His golden urn shall broke and useless lie,
Amidst the common ruins of the sky;
The stars rush headlong in the wild commotion,
And bathe their glittering foreheads in the ocean.
But fix’d, O God! Or ever stands thy throne;
Jehovah reigns, a universe alone;
Th’ eternal fire that feeds each vital flame,
Collected, or diffus’d, is still the same.
He dwells within his own unfathom’d essence,
And fills all space with his unbounded presence.
But oh! our highest notes the theme debase,
And silence is our least injurious praise:
Cease, cease your songs, the daring flight control,
Revere him in the stillness of the soul;
With silent duty meekly bend before him,
And deep within your inmost hearts adore him.
Text: Poems by Anna Laetitia Barbauld. New Ed. (London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1792), pp. 111-15.