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    painting of the three magi

    A Hymn for Epiphany

    By Sidney Godolphin

    January 7, 2024

    Lord when the wise men came from far,
    Led to Thy cradle by a star,
    Then did the shepherds too rejoice,
    Instructed by thy Angel’s voice:
    Blest were the wisemen 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, all ways 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.

    painting of the three magi

    Christian Rohlfs, The Three Holy Kings, oil and tempera on canvas, 1928

    Source: Minor Poets of The Caroline Period Vol. II, ed. George Saintsbury (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906) 246–247.

    Contributed By SidneyGodolphin Sidney Godolphin

    Sidney Godolphin (1610–1643) was an English poet and friend to Ben Jonson and Thomas Hobbes.

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