Songs of Innocence

Song Cycle by Ben Johnston (b. 1926)

Word count: 526

1. Night [sung text not yet checked]

The sun descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest.
And I must seek for mine.
The moon, like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

Farewell, green fields and happy grove,
Where flocks have took delight:
Where lambs have nibbled, silent move
The feet of angels bright;
Unseen they pour blessing
And joy without ceasing
On each bud and blossom,
And each sleeping bosom.

They look in every thoughtless nest
Where birds are cover'd warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
To keep them all from harm:
If they see any weeping
That should have been sleeping,
They pour sleep on their head,
And sit down by their bed.

When wolves and tigers howl for prey,
They pitying stand and weep,
Seeking to drive their thirst away
And keep them from the sheep.
But, if they rush dreadful,
The angels, most heedful,
Receive each mild spirit,
New worlds to inherit.

And there the lion's ruddy eyes
Shall flow with tears of gold:
And pitying the tender cries,
And walking round the fold:
Saying, "Wrath, by His meekness,
And, by His health, sickness,
Are driven away
From our immortal day.

"And now beside thee, bleating lamb,
I can lie down and sleep,
Or think on Him who bore thy name,
Graze after thee, and weep.
For, wash'd in life's river,
My bright mane for ever
Shall shine like the gold
As I guard o'er the fold."

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The divine image [sung text not yet checked]

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
 All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
 Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
 Is God, our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
 Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
 Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
 And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
 That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
 Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
 In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
When Mercy, Love and Pity dwell
 There God is dwelling too.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , "Das Ebenbild Gottes", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Божественное подобие", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

3. A cradle song [sung text not yet checked]

Sweet dreams, form a shade
[O'er]1 my lovely infant's head!
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams!

Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown.
Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child!

Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight!
Sweet smiles, mother's [smile]2,
All the livelong night [beguile]3.

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thine eyes!
Sweet moan, sweeter [smile]2,
All the dovelike moans [beguile]3.

Sleep, sleep, happy child!
All creation slept and smiled.
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o'er thee [thy]4 mother weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:

Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee!

Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
Who became an infant small;
Infant smiles are His own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Carmichael: "Round"
2 Carmichael: "smiles"
3 Carmichael: "beguiles"
4 Baxter: "doth"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]