Sunday Morning Poem: Milton, “Adam and Eve’s Morning Hymn”

This excerpt from Book V of Paradise Lost frequently appeared under the title “Adam and Eve’s Morning Hymn” or “Milton’s Morning Hymn” in 18th-century anthologies. It was such a familiar set piece that Edmund Burke’s only son, Richard, came into the room where his parents were sitting and recited it just before he died.

These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almightie, thine this universal Frame,
Thus wondrous fair; thy self how wondrous then!
Unspeakable, who sitst above these Heavens
To us invisible or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works, yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and Power Divine:
Speak yee who best can tell, ye Sons of light,
Angels, for yee behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, Day without Night,
Circle his Throne rejoycing, yee in Heav’n
On Earth joyn all ye Creatures to extoll
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.
Fairest of Starrs, last in the train of Night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crownst the smiling Morn
With thy bright Circlet, praise him in thy Spheare
While day arises, that sweet hour of Prime.
Thou Sun, of this great World both Eye and Soule,
Acknowledge him thy Greater, sound his praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climbst,
And when high Noon hast gaind, and when thou fallst.
Moon, that now meetst the orient Sun, now fli’st
With the fixt Starrs, fixt in thir Orb that flies,
And yee five other wandring Fires that move
In mystic Dance not without Song, resound
His praise, who out of Darkness call’d up Light.
Aire, and ye Elements the eldest birth
Of Natures Womb, that in quaternion run
Perpetual Circle, multiform; and mix
And nourish all things, let your ceasless change
Varie to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye Mists and Exhalations that now rise
From Hill or steaming Lake, duskie or grey,
Till the Sun paint your fleecie skirts with Gold,
In honour to the Worlds great Author rise,
Whether to deck with Clouds the uncolourd skie,
Or wet the thirstie Earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise ye Winds, that from four Quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye Pines,
With every Plant, in sign of Worship wave.
Fountains and yee, that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Joyn voices all ye living Souls, ye Birds,
That singing up to Heaven Gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise;
Yee that in Waters glide, and yee that walk
The Earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;
Witness if I be silent, Morn or Eeven,
To Hill, or Valley, Fountain, or fresh shade
Made vocal by my Song, and taught his praise.
Hail universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us onely good; and if the night
Have gathered aught of evil or conceald,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark.

Quoted from John Milton, Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books (London, 1674). For the story about Richard Burke, see the preface to The Beauties of the Late Right Hon. Edmund Burke (London, 1798).

Comments

  1. Here’s a somewhat tenuous connection to Mormon culture, since this poem is so famously associated with the Burkes and the death of their son.

    When Wilford Woodruff was working through the theory and practice of temple work in the new St. George Temple, he did the temple work for the Founding Fathers, and also for fifty eminent men of the world, and then, as he noted in his diary, “Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was Baptized for Martha Washington and her famaly [sic] and seventy (70) of the Eminent women of the world.”

    Among those fifty eminent men and seventy eminent women were Edmund Burke and his wife Jane Nugent Burke. (Jane’s temple work was done by a St. George woman with a rather sad story, Caroline Blake Hardy.) Although he is widely remembered as the founder of modern conservatism, many Americans today probably won’t be familiar with the name of Edmund Burke, but he was one of a number of notable Irish politicians included on Wilford Woodruff’s list of eminent men, and was justly famous then and now in the field of political history.

  2. Jason K. says:

    Thanks, Amy, for bringing in the Burke/Mormonism connection. Fascinating stuff!

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