Attend, my people, to my law

Attend, my people, to my law; Thereto give thou an ear

Author: Thomas Sternhold
Published in 7 hymnals

Full Text

1 Attend, my people, to my law;
thereto give thou an ear;
The words that from my mouth proceed
attentively do hear.

2 My mouth shall speak a parable,
and sayings dark of old;
3 The same which we have heard and known,
and us our fathers told.

4 We also will them not conceal
from their posterity;
Them to the generation
to come declare will we:

The praises of the Lord our God,
and his almighty strength,
The wondrous works that he hath done,
we will shew forth at length.

5 His testimony and his law
in Isr’el he did place,
And charg’d our fathers it to show
to their succeeding race;

6 That so the race which was to come
might well them learn and know;
And sons unborn, who should arise,
might to their sons them show:

7 That they might set their hope in God,
and suffer not to fall
His mighty works out of their mind,
but keep his precepts all:

8 And might not, like their fathers, be
a stiff rebellious race;
A race not right in heart; with God
whose sp’rit not stedfast was.

9 The sons of Ephraim, who nor bows
nor other arms did lack,
When as the day of battle was,
they faintly turned back.

10 They brake God’s cov’nant, and refus’d
in his commands to go;
11 His works and wonders they forgot,
which he to them did show.

12 Things marvellous he brought to pass;
their fathers them beheld
Within the land of Egypt done,
yea, ev’n in Zoan’s field.

13 By him divided was the sea,
he caus’d them through to pass;
And made the waters so to stand,
as like an heap it was.

14 With cloud by day, with light of fire
all night, he did them guide.
15 In desert rocks he clave, and drink,
as from great depths, supply’d.

16 He from the rock brought streams, like floods
made waters to run down.
17 Yet sinning more, in desert they
provok’d the Highest One.

18 For in their heart they tempted God,
and, speaking with mistrust,
They greedily did meat require
to satisfy their lust.

19 Against the Lord himself they spake,
and, murmuring, said thus,
A table in the wilderness
can God prepare for us?

20 Behold, he smote the rock, and thence
came streams and waters great;
But can he give his people bread?
and send them flesh to eat?

21 The Lord did hear, and waxed wroth;
so kindled was a flame
’Gainst Jacob, and ‘gainst Israel
up indignation came.

22 For they believ’d not God, nor trust
in his salvation had;
23 Though clouds above he did command,
and heav’n’s doors open made,

24 And manna rain’d on them, and gave
them corn of heav’n to eat.
25 Man angels’ food did eat; to them
he to the full sent meat.

26 And in the heaven he did cause
an eastern wind to blow;
And by his power he let out
the southern wind to go.

27 Then flesh as thick as dust he made
to rain down them among;
And feather’d fowls, like as the sand
which li’th the shore along.

28 At his command amidst their camp
these show’rs of flesh down fell,
All round about the tabernacles
and tents where they did dwell.

29 So they did eat abundantly,
and had of meat their fill;
For he did give to them what was
their own desire and will.

30 They from their lust had not estrang’d
their heart and their desire;
But while the meat was in their mouths,
which they did so require,

31 God’s wrath upon them came, and slew
the fattest of them all;
So that the choice of Israel,
o’erthrown by death, did fall.

32 Yet, notwithstanding of all this,
they sinned still the more;
And though he had great wonders wrought,
believ’d him not therefore:

33 Wherefore their days in vanity
he did consume and waste;
And by his wrath their wretched years
away in trouble past.

34 But when he slew them, then they did
to seek him shew desire;
Yea, they return’d, and after God
right early did enquire.

35 And that the Lord had been their Rock,
they did remember then;
Ev’n that the high almighty God
had their Redeemer been.

36 Yet with their mouth they flatter’d him,
and spake but feignedly;
And they unto the God of truth
with their false tongues did lie.

37 For though their words were good, their heart
with him was not sincere;
Unstedfast and perfidious
they in his cov’nant were.

38 But, full of pity, he forgave
their sin, them did not slay;
Nor stirr’d up all his wrath, but oft
his anger turn’d away.

39 For that they were but fading flesh
to mind he did recall;
A wind that passeth soon away,
and not returns at all.

40 How often did they him provoke
within the wilderness!
And in the desert did him grieve
with their rebelliousness!

41 Yea, turning back, they tempted God,
and limits set upon
Him, who in midst of Isr’el is
the only Holy One.

42 They did not call to mind his pow’r,
nor yet the day when he
Deliver’d them out of the hand
of their fierce enemy;

43 Nor how great signs in Egypt land
he openly had wrought;
What miracles in Zoan’s field
his hand to pass had brought.

44 How lakes and rivers ev’ry where
he turned into blood;
So that nor man nor beast could drink
of standing lake or flood.

45 He brought among them swarms of flies,
which did them sore annoy;
And divers kinds of filthy frogs
he sent them to destroy.

46 He to the caterpillar gave
the fruits of all their soil;
Their labours he deliver’d up
unto the locusts’ spoil.

47 Their vines with hail, their sycamores
he with the frost did blast:
48 Their beasts to hail he gave; their flocks
hot thunderbolts did waste.

49 Fierce burning wrath he on them cast,
and indignation strong,
And troubles sore, by sending forth
ill angels them among.

50 He to his wrath made way; their soul
from death he did not save;
But over to the pestilence
the lives of them he gave.

51 In Egypt land the first-born all
he smote down ev’ry where;
Among the tents of Ham, ev’n these
chief of their strength that were.

52 But his own people, like to sheep,
thence to go forth he made;
And he, amidst the wilderness,
them, as a flock, did lead.

53 And he them safely on did lead,
so that they did not fear;
Whereas their en’mies by the sea
quite overwhelmed were.

54 To borders of his sanctuary
the Lord his people led,
Ev’n to the mount which his right hand
for them had purchased.

55 The nations of Canaan,
by his almighty hand,
Before their face he did expel
out of their native land;

Which for inheritance to them
by line he did divide,
And made the tribes of Israel
within their tents abide.

56 Yet God most high they did provoke,
and tempted ever still;
And to observe his testimonies
did not incline their will:

57 But, like their fathers, turned back,
and dealt unfaithfully:
Aside they turned, like a bow
that shoots deceitfully.

58 For they to anger did provoke
him with their places high;
And with their graven images
mov’d him to jealousy.

59 When God heard this, he waxed wroth,
and much loath’d Isr’el then:
60 So Shiloh’s tent he left, the tent
which he had plac’d with men.

61 And he his strength delivered
into captivity;
He left his glory in the hand
of his proud enemy.

62 His people also he gave o’er
unto the sword’s fierce rage:
So sore his wrath inflamed was
against his heritage.

63 The fire consum’d their choice young men;
their maids no marriage had;
64 And when their priests fell by the sword,
their wives no mourning made.

65 But then the Lord arose, as one
that doth from sleep awake;
And like a giant that, by wine
refresh’d, a shout doth make:

66 Upon his en’mies’ hinder parts
he made his stroke to fall;
And so upon them he did put
a shame perpetual.

67 Moreover, he the tabernacle
of Joseph did refuse;
The mighty tribe of Ephraim
he would in no wise chuse:

68 But he did chuse Jehudah’s tribe
to be the rest above;
And of mount Sion he made choice,
which he so much did love.

69 And he his sanctuary built
like to a palace high,
Like to the earth which he did found
to perpetuity.

70 Of David, that his servant was,
he also choice did make,
And even from the folds of sheep
was pleased him to take:

71 From waiting on the ewes with young,
he brought him forth to feed
Israel, his inheritance,
his people, Jacob’s seed.

72 So after the integrity
he of his heart them fed;
And by the good skill of his hands
them wisely governed.

Source: Scottish Psalter and Paraphrases #P84

Author: Thomas Sternhold

Thomas Sternhold was Groom of the Robes to Henry VIII and Edward VI. With Hopkins, he produced the first English version of the Psalms before alluded to. He completed fifty-one; Hopkins and others composed the remainder. He died in 1549. Thirty-seven of his psalms were edited and published after his death, by his friend Hopkins. The work is entitled "All such Psalms of David as Thomas Sternhold, late Groome of the King's Majestye's Robes, did in his Lyfetime drawe into Englyshe Metre." Of the version annexed to the Prayer Book, Montgomery says: "The merit of faithful adherence to the original has been claimed for this version, and need not to be denied, but it is the resemblance which the dead bear to the living." Wood, in his "Athe… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Attend, my people, to my law; Thereto give thou an ear
Title: Attend, my people, to my law
Author: Thomas Sternhold



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