Quo Vadis: a Cycle of Poems

Song Cycle by George Dyson (1883 - 1964)

Word count: 1512

1. Our birth is but a sleep [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: [Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing Boy, But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy; The Youth, who daily farther from the east Must travel, still is Nature's priest, And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended; At length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day.]3
[ ... ]
O joy! that in our embers Is something that doth live; That Nature yet remembers What was so fugitive! [The thought of our past years in me doth breed Perpetual benediction: not indeed For that which is most worthy to be blest, Delight and liberty, the simple creed Of childhood, whether busy or at rest, With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast: -- Not for these I raise The song of thanks and praise; But for those obstinate questionings Of sense and outward things, Fallings from us, vanishings; Blank misgivings of a creature Moving about in worlds not realized, High instincts, before which our mortal nature Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised: But for those first affections,]3 Those shadowy recollections, Which, be they what they may, Are yet the fountain-light of all our [day]4, Are yet [a]5 master-light of all our seeing; Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make Our noisy years seem moments in the being Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake, To perish never; Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, [Nor man nor boy,]3 Nor all that is at enmity with joy, Can utterly abolish or destroy! Hence, in a season of calm weather, Though inland far we be, Our souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither; Can in a moment travel thither -- [And see the children sport upon the shore,]3 And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
[ ... ]

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Finzi: "the Earth"
2 Finzi: "culling"
3 omitted by Dyson.
4 Dyson: "days"
5 Dyson: "the"

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

2. Rise, O my soul

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Rise, O my soul! with thy desires to heaven,
And [with divinest contemplation]1 use
Thy time, [when]2 time's eternity is given,
And let vain thoughts no more thy thoughts abuse;
But down in [darkness]3 let them lie;
So live thy better, let thy worse thoughts die.

[ ... ]

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Dyson.
2 Dyson: "where"
3 Dyson: "midnight darkness"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


To Musicke bent is my retyred minde,
And faine would I some song of pleasure sing ;
But in vaine ioys no comfort now I finde,
From heau'nly thoughts all true delight doth spring.
Thy power, O God, thy mercies, to record,
Will sweeten eu'ry note and eu'ry word.

All earthly pompe or beauty to expresse,
Is but to carue in snow, on waues to write.
Celestiall things, though men conceiue them lesse,
Yet fullest are they in themselues of light :
Such beames they yeeld as know no meanes to dye,
Such heate they cast as lifts the Spirit high.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]


O make us apt to seek, and quick to find,
     Thou God, most kind:
Give us Love, Hope and Faith in thee to trust,
     Thou God, most just:
Remit all our offences, we intreat,
     Most Good, most Great:
Grant that our willing though unworthy quest
May, through thy Grace, admit us 'mongst the blest.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in mine heart, and in my thinking;
God be at [my end, and in]1 my departing.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "mine end, and at"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. O whither shall my troubled muse incline

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Oh, whither shall my troubled Muse encline?
[When]1 not the glorious scaffolde of the skies,
Nor highest heaven's resplendent hierarchies,
Where heav'nly soldiours in pure armor shine;
Nor ayer which thy sweete Spirite doth refine,
Nor earth thy precious [bloud]2 unworthy prise,
Nor seas which, when thou list, ebbe and arise;
Nor any creature, profane or divine,
Can blaze the flourish of thy tearmelesse praise;
Surreaching farre, by manifold large space,
All divine fabricke of thy sacred hands;
[Even thither shall my Muse her musicke raise,
Where my soule's everlasting pallace stands, --
Sweete refuge of salvation ! court of grace!]3

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: the title given in publications is "Sonnet LXXXXIX" [sic], but we have translated that to conventional Roman numerals.

1 Dyson: "If"
2 Dyson: "blood's"
3 not set by Dyson.

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson



Weigh me the fire; or, canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all [those]1 floods that are
Mixt in [that]1 watrie theater;
And tast thou them as saltlesse there,
As in their channell first they were;
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdomes of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloude againe,
Beshiver'd into seeds of raine;
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and speares
Of corn, when summer shakes his eares;
Shew me [that]1 world of starres, and whence
They noiselesse spill their influence;
This if thou canst, then shew me Him
That rides the glorious Cherubim.

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "the"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


See! through the heavenly arch
With silent stately march
   The starry ranks for ever sweep;
In graduate scale of might
They all are sons of light,
   And all their times and orders keep.

O glorious, countless host,
Which shall I praise the most,
   Your lustrous groups, or course exact ?
Ye on your way sublime
Defy confusing time
   Your light to dim, your path distract.

[Earth's early fathers saw
The gospel and the law
   In the firm beauty of the skies :]1
O thou unswerving Will,
The unveiled heavens still
   Show Thee [as]1 glorious, good, and wise.

[ ... ]

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 not set by Dyson.

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


The Lord descended from above,
And bow'd the Heavens high,
And underneath his Feet he cast
The Darkness of the Sky.

On [Cherubs and on Cherubims]1
Full royally he rode,
And on the Wings of mighty Winds
Came flying all abroad.

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
A source from 1739 indicates this is an "antient translation of the Psalms"
1 Dyson: "Cherubim and Seraphim"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson

4. Night hath no wings

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Night hath no wings to him that cannot sleep,
And time seems then not for to fly, but creep;
Slowly her chariot drives, as if that she
Had broke her wheel[, or crack'd her axletree]1.
[Just so it is with me, who, list'ning, pray]2
The winds to blow the tedious night away,
[That I might see the cheerful, peeping day.]1
Sick is my heart! O Saviour! do Thou please
To make my bed soft in my sicknesses:
Lighten my candle, so that I beneath
Sleep not for ever in the vaults of death;
Let me Thy voice betimes i' th' morning hear:
Call, and I'll come; say Thou the when, and where.
[Draw me but first, and after Thee I'll run
And make no one stop till my race be done.]1

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Dyson.
2 Dyson: "So 'tis with me, who listening pray"

Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]


In the hour of my distress,
When temptations me oppress,
And when I my sins confess,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

[ ... ]
When the house doth sigh and weep, And the world is drown'd in sleep, Yet mine eyes the watch do keep, Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
[ ... ]
When, God knows, I'm tost about Either with despair, or doubt; Yet, before the glass be out, Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
[ ... ]

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


[As the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West,
so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be].1

Unto the East we turn, with watchful eyes,
     Where opens the white haze of silvery lawn,
     And the still trees stand in the streak of dawn,
Until the Sun of Righteousness shall rise,
And far behind shall open all the skies,
     And golden clouds of Angels be withdrawn
     Around His presence. Then there shall be gone,
Fleeing before His face in dread surprise,
     The Heaven and Earth and the affrighted Sea,
[And the tribunal shall be set on high,
     And we the fiery trial must abide]1.
Like nightly travellers to the kindling sky,
     Awake or sleeping to yon eastern side
     We turn, and know not when the time shall be.

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Dyson.

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson

5. O timely happy, timely wise

Note: this is a multi-text setting


[ ... ]
Oh! timely happy, timely wise, Hearts that with rising morn arise! Eyes that the beam celestial view, Which evermore makes all things new! New every morning is the love Our wakening and uprising prove; Through sleep and darkness safely brought, Restored to life, and power, and thought. New mercies, each returning day, Hover around us while we pray; New perils past, new sins forgiven, New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.
[ ... ]

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


There is a Book, who runs may read,
Which heavenly truth imparts,
And all the [lore]1 its scholars need,
Pure eyes and Christian hearts.

The works of God above, below,
Within us and around,
Are pages in that book, to shew
How God himself is found.

[ ... ]
Thou, who hast given me eyes to see, And love this sight so fair, Give me a heart to find out Thee, And read Thee every where. The glorious sky, embracing all Is like the Maker's love, Wherewith encompass'd, great and small In peace and order move.
[ ... ]
The Saviour lends the light and heat That crown his holy hill; The saints, like stars, around his seat, Perform their courses still.
[ ... ]
One name, above all glorious names, With its ten thousand tongues The everlasting sea proclaims, Echoing angelic songs.
[ ... ]

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "love"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
fulget Crucis mysterium,
[quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.]1

[ ... ]

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

  • ENG English (David Wyatt) , "The King's standards advance", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Michael P. Rosewall) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Liszt: "Qua vita mortem protulit/ Et morte vitam protulit."
2 Liszt: "Impleti sunt que"
3 Liszt adds "Amen."
4 in some versions, "quos per Crucis mysterium/ salvas, fove per saecula. Amen."

Researcher for this text: Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor]


The royal banners forward go;
The cross shines forth in mystic glow
Where He in flesh, our flesh who made,
our sentence bore, our ransom paid;

[ ... ]

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]


[ ... ]
If on our daily course our mind Be set to hallow all we find, New treasures still, of countless price, God will provide for sacrifice. Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be, As more of heaven in each we see: Some softening gleam of love and prayer Shall dawn on every cross and care.
[ ... ]
The trivial round, the common task, Would furnish all we ought to ask; Room to deny ourselves; a road To bring us, daily, nearer God.
[ ... ]
Only, O Lord, in thy dear love Fit us for perfect Rest above; And help us, this and every day, To live more nearly as we pray.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson

6. Dear stream! dear bank, where often...

Note: this is a multi-text setting


[ ... ]
Dear stream! dear bank, where often I Have sate and pleas'd my pensive eye, Why, since each drop of thy quick store Runs thither [whence]1 it flow'd before, Should poor souls fear a shade or night, Who came, sure, from a sea of light? [Or since those drops are all sent back So sure to thee, that none doth lack, Why should frail flesh doubt any more That what God takes, he'll not restore?]2 With what deep murmurs through time's silent stealth Doth thy transparent, cool, and wat'ry wealth Here flowing fall, And chide, and call, As if his liquid, loose retinue stay'd Ling'ring, and were of this steep place afraid; The common pass [Where, clear as glass,]3 All must descend Not to an end, But quicken'd by this deep and rocky grave, Rise to a longer course more bright and brave.
[ ... ]

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "where"
2 omitted by Dyson
3 Dyson: "As clear as glass"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


The God of love my Shepherd is,
And He that doth me feed;
While He is mine and I am His,
What can I [want]1 or need?

[ ... ]
Yea, in death's shady black abode Well may I walk, not fear; For Thou art with me, and Thy rod To guard, Thy staff to bear. Surely Thy sweet and wondrous love Shall measure all my days; And as it never shall remove So neither shall my praise.

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "lack"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson

7. Come to me God ; but do not come

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Come to me God ; but do not come
To me, as to the gen'rall Doome, 
In power; or come Thou in that state, 
When Thou Thy Lawes didst promulgate, 
When as the [Mountains]1 quak'd for dread, 
And sullen clouds bound up his head. 
[No, lay thy stately terrours by, 
To talke with me familiarly;]2
For if Thy thunder-claps I heare, 
I shall lesse swoone, then die for feare. 
Speake thou of love and I'le reply 
[By way of Epithalamie,]2
Or sing of mercy, and I'le suit 
To it my Violl and my Lute: 
Thus let Thy lips but love distill, 
Then come my God, and hap what will.

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "mountain"
2 omitted by Dyson.

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


In this world, the isle of dreams,
While we sit by sorrow's streams,
Tears and terrors are our themes
   Reciting:

But when once from hence we fly,
More and more approaching nigh
 Unto young eternity,
   Uniting:

 In that whiter island, where
 Things are evermore sincere;
 Candor here and luster there
 Delighting:

[ ... ]
There, in calm and cooling sleep We our eyes shall never steep, But eternal watch shall keep, Attending
[ ... ]

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


My soul, there is a country
  [Afar]1 beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingèd sentry
  All skilful in the wars:

There, above noise and danger
  Sweet Peace sits [crown'd]2 with smiles
And One, born in a manger
  Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious Friend
  And -- O my soul, awake! --
Did in pure love descend
  To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst [get]3 but thither,
  There grows the [flower]4 of Peace,
The Rose that cannot wither,
  Thy fortress and thy ease.

Leave then thy foolish ranges,
  For none can thee secure
But One who never changes,
  Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Paix", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson, Parry: "Far"
2 Parry: "crowned"
3 Dyson: "go"
4 Parry: "flow'r"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Rest [sung text checked 1 time]

  They are at rest.
We may not stir the [heaven]1 of their repose
By rude invoking voice, or prayer addrest
  In waywardness to those
Who in the mountain grots of Eden lie,
And hear the fourfold river as it murmurs by.

  They hear it sweep
In distance down the dark and savage vale;
But they at rocky bed, or current deep,
  Shall never more grow pale;
They hear, and meekly muse, as fain to know
How long untired, unspent, that giant stream shall flow.

  And soothing sounds
[Blend]2 with the neighb'ring waters as they glide;
Posted along the haunted garden's bounds,
  Angelic forms abide,
Echoing, as words of watch, o'er lawn and grove
The verses of that hymn which Seraphs chant above.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Elgar: "heav'n"
2 Elgar: "Blending"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. To find the Western path

Note: this is a multi-text setting


To find the Western path,
Right thro' the Gates of Wrath
I urge my way;
Sweet Mercy leads me on
With soft repentant moan:
I see the break of day.

The war of swords and spears,
Melted by dewy tears,
Exhales on high;
The Sun is freed from fears,
And with soft grateful tears
Ascends the sky.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Smirnov) , copyright © 1981, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]


The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments. -- Die,
If thou wouldst be with [that]1 which thou dost seek! 
Follow where all is fled! -- [Rome's azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.]2

Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?
[Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here
They have departed; thou shouldst now depart!
A light is passed from the revolving year,
And man, and woman; and what still is dear
Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither.
The soft sky smiles,--the low wind whispers near:
'Tis Adonais calls! oh, hasten thither,
No more let Life divide what Death can join together.]2

That Light whose smile kindles the Universe,
[That Beauty in which all things work and move,
That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love
Which through the web of being blindly wove
By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of
The fire for which all thirst, now beams on me,]3
Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.

The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
Whose sails were never to the tempest given;
The massy earth and spherèd skies are riven!
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
Whilst burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
[The soul of Adonais, like]2 a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Dyson: "those"
2 omitted by Dyson.
3 Dyson: "That beauty which birth can quench not,/ That sustaining love, now beams on me."

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson


   Love, from its awful throne of patient power
In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour
  Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep,
And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs
And folds over the world its healing wings.
 
Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance,
These are the seals of that most firm assurance
  Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength;
[And if, with infirm hand, Eternity,
Mother of many acts and hours, should free
  The serpent that would clasp her with his length;]1
These are the spells by which to [reassume]2 
An empire o'er the disentangled doom.

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
  To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
[To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;]3
  Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This[, like thy glory, Titan,]1 is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Dyson and Vaughan Williams in Symphony #7
2 Dyson: "assume"
3 omitted by Vaughan Williams in Symphony #7

Research team for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail , Harry Joelson


    Holy is the True Light, and passing wonderful,
lending radiance to them that endured in the heat
of [the]1 conflict, from Christ they inherit a home of
unfading splendour, wherein they rejoice with
[gladness evermore]2. [Alleluia!]1

Authorship

Based on

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Dyson, Near.
2 Dyson: "gladness for evermore"

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson