Lift up thyself, my soul

Full Text

I. (1-11).
Lift up thyself, my soul,
Above this world's control!
Spend and be spent in holy hymns of praise:
Be armed with pure desire,
Burn with celestial fire:
Unto the King of gods our voice we raise:
To Him a crown we weave, and bring
A sacrifice of words, a bloodless offering.

II. (11-22).
Thee on the troubled deep,
Thee o'er the islands steep,
Thee through the mighty continents of land,
Thee in the city's throng,
Or mountain tops along,
Or when in celebrated plains I stand,
Thee, Thee, O blessed One, I sing,
Thee, Thee, O Father of the world, Eternal King!

III. (23-36).
Thy praise I hymn by night,
Thy praise at morning light,
Thy praise by day, Thy praise at eventide.
This know the hoary stars,
And moon with silver bars,
And chiefly he that doth on high preside
O'er all the host of heaven, the sun,
Who measuring time for holy souls his course doth run.

IV. (37-50).
Fain to thy folds I sped,
And to Thy bosom fled,
Winging my steps from Matter's wide-spread rule:
Now on famed mountain peak,
Thy face alone to seek;
Now on the plain I hailed thy vestibule.
A suppliant thus to many a shrine
Of sacred rites I came, and mysteries divine.

V. (51-67).
And now to southern land,
And Libya's desert strand
I roamed, where neither godless spirit reigns,
Nor teeming cities' strife
Calls men to busy life;
That so my soul, from woeful toils and pains
And passions' war and groans set free,
And all the ills of fate, might harmonize with Thee.

VI. (68-75).
And might, in blest relief,
Unshackled now from grief,
With lips and tongue all cleansed, and hallowed mind,
Repay the hymn to Thee,
The hymn full due from me.
Be Earth and Ether holily combined
And Air and Sea with one accord
Be still, and join in adoration to the Lord!

VII. (76-85).
Swift breath of winds, be still,
And whirling pool and rill,
And floods that are at rivers' mouths forth hurled;
And streams from fountain-heads
That rush down rocky beds:
And hushed be ye, deep hollows of the world;
While breath in holy hymns is spent,
And sacrifice of praise in upward strains is sent.

VIII. (86-94).
Down sink the serpent's trail!
Nor let their craft prevail!
Down sink the wingèd dragon underground;
Who loves to cloud the soul,
The god who doth control
This lower world, and idol-worship found,
And urgeth on the dogs of hell
Against God's praying people, His true Israel!

IX. (95-107).
O blessèd Father, Friend,
My soul do Thou defend.
From soul-devouring dogs; defend my prayer,
Defend my deeds, my life,
From their destructive strife
And charge Thy holy angels, that they bear
To Thee this offering of my mind:
For hymns they carry that with Thee acceptance find.

X. (108-117).
Now am I borne along
To lists of sacred song:
Now holy words in streams spontaneous flow:
A voice within me rings,
And toucheth my heart-strings:
But unto me, O Father, mercy show;
Forgive, O Blessèd, if I stray,
In theme divine, and miss the rightful ordered way.

XI. (118-125).
What eye can steadfast gaze,
When Thy dread beacons blaze?
What eye so wise, so strong, of mortal man,
That it unclosed may bear
Thy vivid lightning's glare?
E'en of the mighty ones on high none can,
However strong, however bold,
The glorious brightness of Thy Majesty behold.

XII. (126-137).
Now aims the mind too far,
And finds repelling bar,
Nor can it penetrate by utmost strain
The depths so dazzling bright,
Where Thou dost dwell in light:
So, falling back from efforts feebly vain,
It courts within its proper scope
An object known whereon to fix the eye of hope;

XIII. (138-146).
That for Thy hymns it might
Thence pluck fair flowers of light,
Nor leave to thankless winds an offering:
But render back to Thee
Thine own, for Thine they be;
For what of all things is not Thine, O King?
O Father of all fathers, Thou!
To Thine eternal Fatherhood all beings bow!

XIV. (147-157).
But Father Thou hadst none;
Thou art the self-sprung One,
Before all worlds the sole great Mind existing:
Germ of whate'er we see,
Spur of all things that be
Root of first worlds, by Thee alone subsisting:
Light of all light, Truth's basis sure;
And Wisdom's everflowing stream, and fountain pure.

XV. (158-165).
O Mind immutable!
O Light inscrutable!
Thine is the eye that guides the lightning fire:
In Thee the ages live,
Thou dost their limits give;
Who can Thy praises reach, Eternal Sire?
Thou art beyond the dreams of men;
Beyond the reach of mind, or highest angel's ken.

XVI. (166-173).
O'er all Thy rule is spread,
The living and the dead;
To minds that be, the parent Mind Thou art;
All heaven Thou dost control,
Thou nourishest the soul,
And dost to spirit energy impart;
The Spring Thou art whence all things flow,
And from eternity the Root whence all things grow.

XVII. (174-183).
The only One, yet all;
In Thee all numbers fall;
The only One, yet countless evermore:
The self-existent Mind,
Yet mind with law combined;
Mind's realm, yet all the realm of mind before:
Through all, yet all beyond, art Thou:
To Thee, the Seed of all existing things, we bow.

XVIII. (184-190).
Thou art the Eternal Root,
Thou art the spreading Shoot!
Or male or female Thou be called, 'tis one;
To mind Thou nature art,
And dost Thyself impart,
But mind enlightened ne'er can say, 'tis done;
But here and there a word outpours,
While feebly it the unfathomed depth around explores.

XIX. (191-198).
Thou art the Parent Tree,
All have their life from Thee,
Or stem or branch, whatever is, is Thine.
Thou art the Light of light,
The Light of day so bright,
The Light that shineth evermore Divine:
Thou art, again, the hidden Light,
By its own glory hidden far from mortal sight.

XX. (199-209).
Yet one, yet all, one Lord,
One only, yet forth poured,
Through all forth poured in holy Mystery:
Of Thee thus sprung the Son,
Wisdom, the glorious One,
Creator of the universe to be.
The Godhead severed into twain
By birth ineffable, unsevered doth remain.

XXI. (210-216).
Yet One, though Twain, though Three:
Mysterious Trinity!
For Thou art One in Three, and Three in One.
I sing Thee, Unity!
I sing Thee, Trinity!
The Triune King, the Father, Spirit, Son!
The Light divided is not spent,
The One pervading mind, though parted, is not rent.

XXII. (217-224).
Thy holy Will is done,
'Tis through the Eternal Son;
And from the outpoured Godhead forth there springs,
Which cannot be exprest
In words, the Spirit Blest,
The Uncreated! we of wondrous things
Have spoken; but we speak not there:
We dare not if we could, we could not if we dare.

XXIII. (225-231).
Who knows the Eternal Laws?
Who knows the First Great Cause?
We may not say a Second, or a Third.
O Birth beyond our reach;
O Spring defying speech!
What mortal to the task himself could gird?
O matchless Holy One, between
The Father and the Son Thy Light doth intervene.

XXIV. (232-240).
All reverence to Thee,
Eternal Spirit, be!
Thou of the Three the middle rank dost hold.
And now, most glorious Son,
Thy praises be begun!
Thy birth, thy generation, is untold:
The Father's Son, the Father's Will,
With Him Thou present wast, and present Thou art still.

XXV. (241-253)
Thou with the Father art,
And ever next His heart;
Nor can deep flowing Time Thy birth reveal;
Nor aged Aeon say
When was Thy natal day;
He never learned, nor could remove the seal.
Son with the Father! He the same
Who should hereafter give to Aeon birth and name.

XXVI. (254-265).
Who hath adjudged the eye
Into God's depths to pry?
The subtle tongue will dare, but man is blind.
Such daring is in vain,
'Tis godless, and profane.
Thou dost to Thine pour light upon the mind,
And guard their hearts with holy care,
That they in darkness sink not through gross matter's snare.

XXVII. (266-275).
To Thee all holy praise
It well befits to raise;
For Thou of all art Father, all are Thine:
Thou all the worlds didst found,
Thou dost all ages bound,
Thou framedst all the host of heaven divine;
To Thee all minds of light do sing,
And starry spheres intelligent hail thee their King!

XXVIII. (276-285).
While round in holy choir
Dance their bright orbs of fire,
The blest ones all do shout and sing before Thee;
The world within, around,
They all Thy praise resound,
All in their stations evermore adore Thee:
Those in the zones; and those outside,
Who yet their several posts assigned in wisdom guide.

XXIX. (286-300).
These come to guard, or tame,
Earth's helmsmen, sons of fame;
Of link angelic, and who draw their birth
From old heroic race;
Who ever take their place,
By hidden ways, o'er men and things of earth:
And though of an unyielding will,
To dark-rayed worldly glories ever yield they still.

XXX. (301-311).
To Thee blithe nature sings,
And all from her that springs:
For Thou with heavenly breath dost them renew,
Forth pouring from above
Thy stores of grace and love,
Which ever fresh descend in showers and dew;
Thou to all nature nature art,
O Lord of worlds unstained! and dost Thine own impart.

XXXI. (312-319).
For nature Thou didst train
And school, that she again
Might parent be of every mortal thing;
The faithful counterpart
Of all that Thyself art,
Of life and health the everflowing spring!
That to the world's extremest bound
Each part in turn with living beauty might be crowned.

XXXII. (320-328).
For it were never right
That things should jar and fight,
Or dregs of earth with excellence contend;
But all by Thy decree
Is wrought in harmony;
Nor aught shall perish, nor the chorus end;
But each from other takes its share,
And all through one another taste Thy loving care.

XXXIII. (329-334).
The eternal wheel revolves,
And the dark riddle solves;
Things die; Thou sendest forth Thy breath, they live,
And in fresh glory bloom,
Renewed from mortal doom.
Thus nurtured nature nurturing doth give;
And she doth sing a deathless song
To Thee by all her children through the ages long.

XXXIV. (335-342).
In colour or in skin,
Without, or life within,
And deeds, however varied they may be,
Yet nature moulds them all
Obedient to her call;
And links them fast in holy unity;
And from all creatures thus doth raise
Of differing voices one harmonious hymn of praise.

XXXV. (343-357).
To Thee, their Lord and King,
All things their tribute bring
Of ceaseless praise; the night, the morn, the sky,
The lightning flash, the snow,
And things that spring and grow;
All bodies and all spirits; birds that fly,
And beasts that graze; seeds, plants, and roots;
The sea with all that swims, and earth with all her fruits.

XXXVI. (358-367).
The waves of trouble roll;
Look Thou upon my soul,
To act so powerless, to learn so slow,
Where on Thy Libyan sands
The mystic temple stands;
For hither I, Thy holy will to know,
Oppressed with grief, my steps have bent,
On prayer and supplication unto Thee intent.

XXXVII. (368-374).
Before Thy favouring eye
Earth's gloomy vapours fly:
Look Thou on me, and bid my sorrows cease.
'Tis so! e'en now my heart
Through food Thy hymns impart--
For Thine they are--hath nourishment of peace,
And points my mind with keen desire
To rise afresh to thoughts and words of heavenly fire.

XXXVIII. (375-380).
But send, O King, Thy light,
To quicken my dull sight,
And guide me on the road that leads to Thee.
And, Father, grant, I pray,
That from the body's sway
My better part, escaping, may be free,
And not again be downward hurled
Beneath the floods and eddies of this troubled world.

XXXIX. (381-391).
Yet here, while in the strife
Of world-enchainèd life,
O Blessèd, may kind fortune smile on me;
Nor stormy tempest blow
To check the holy glow,
Or rudely break the mind's tranquillity;
Lest inrush of the worldly flood
Should leave to me no leisure for the things of God.

XL. (392-400).
And whereto I have striven,
By grace which Thou hast given,
(For all good gifts of help and strength are Thine),
May I the ground retain,
Nor e'er fall back again.
For which Thy gifts this humble wreath of mine
From holy fields to Thee I bring,
O Thou of all creations pure the Eternal King;

XLI. (402-409).
To Thee and to Thy Son,
Thine own, the only One,
Alone of Thee begotten, the All-wise,
Whom from eternity
Thou hadst, and hast, with Thee,
Though forth from Thee He came to harmonize
All things, and fashion, form, and guide,
By wisdom's breath outpoured, and over all preside.

XLII. (410-416).
The hoary ages wake,
And their due course take,
At his command; and of His matchless skill,
And workmanship divine,
As if by plumb and line,
This rugged world He mouldeth to His will,
Whate'er exists above the ground,
Or on its surface, or within its depths profound.

XLIII. (417-427).
And merciful and kind
He shines with holy mind
On toiling mortals; and doth bring relief;
For He doth loose the chain
Of toilsome care and pain;
Effects their good, and drives away their grief.
The God who did the world create,
What marvel that His own He guard from whelming fate?

XLIV. (428-440).
And hither southward now,
That I might pay this vow
To Thee the mighty world's eternal guide,
I came from northern Thrace,
Where three years' dreary space
Near the Imperial Court I did abide,
In toil, with tears and anguish sore,
For on my shoulders I my mother country bore,

XLV. (441-454).
And well Thou know'st, good Lord,
How from my limbs was poured
A sweat of agony from day to day:
Nor rest had I by night
In that dire mental fight:
But watered was the couch on which I lay
From streaming eyes. Then to and fro,
To every shrine a suppliant I made haste to go.

XLVI. (455-462).
To all in turn I bring
Prayer, chaplet, offering,
And water with my tears each sacred floor,
That I might not with pain
Have journey made in vain,
But that Thou wouldst wide-open hopeful door.
Thus in my own and country's need
I with Thy holy ones through fruitful Thrace did plead;

XLVII. (463-473).
And who across the main,
Guard Carthaginian plain,
I sought them all, if they might succour me,
Throughout the region round,
Whom Thou with rays hadst crowned
Angelic, Thine attendant saints to be.
The blest ones helped my eager prayers,
They helped my many toils, and soothed my many cares.

XLVIII. (474-489).
Life did no pleasure yield,
While my poor country reeled
Half stunned: but Thou hast righted her, O King!
The Rock of Ages Thou,
To whom the world doth bow!
Crushed were my limbs, my soul a lifeless thing:
But Thou from Heaven hast breathed at length
New vigour on my soul, and on my limbs new strength.

XLIX. (490-497).
For Thou hast-brought relief,
And stayed o'erflowing grief:
Toils have an end, the wearied soul hath rest.
'Twas by Thy wisdom planned,
'Twas wrought out by Thy hand.
Thou to my mind hast given refreshment blest.
Now, O my God, do Thou ordain,
That to the Libyans these Thine own sweet gifts remain;

L. (498-505).
Of our long tribulation,
Of Thy so great Salvation,
A lasting record! Hear Thy suppliant's prayer;
And henceforth may my life
Be safe from harmful strife.
Loose me from toil, disease, and deadly care.
Thus to Thy servant bow Thine ear,
And grant my mental life be ever bright and clear.

LI. (506-523).
I would not showers of wealth
To try the soul's best health,
And leave no leisure for the things divine;
Nor poverty would I,
With downcast sullen eye,
Black spectre to the house, prone to repine,
Bowed down to earth with earthly cares.
Both grovel on the ground, and both are dangerous snares.

LII. (524-532).
And both forgetful are
Of better things by far,
The mind, and all that to the mind doth cling,
Unless, O heavenly Friend,
Thou shouldst Thy help extend.
Yea, Father, wisdom's holy self and spring,
Upon this faltering soul of mine
The light of mind from Thine own bosom cause to shine.

LIII. (533-543).
And on my heart, I pray,
Turn Thou blest wisdom's ray,
With helping hand, and point the holy road
That leadeth unto Thee;
And set Thy seal on me,
And let me have the token of my God;
And from my life, and from my prayer,
Drive earthly demons of presumption and despair.

LIV. (544-553).
And may my body be
From all dishonour free,
As fortress unassailable to foe;
And may my spirit pure
Unto the end endure
By Thine all-saving help. Full well I know,
That I do bear dark worldly stain,
And held in bondage am by earthly passions' chain;

LV. (544-563).
But Thou deliverer art,
And cleanser of the heart.
From evils circling round escape afford,
And from diseases all,
And bonds that fret and gall.
I bear Thy seed, of noble mind, good Lord,
A spark that issued forth from Thee,
And flashing down through depths of matter lit on me.

LVI. (564-574).
For in the world, O King,
Thou mad'st a soul to spring,
And in the body, through the soul, a mind:
O pity then Thine own,
The handmaid from Thy throne:
From Thee descending, hapless I did bind
Myself as labourer free to earth:
Not labourer now, but slave, downfallen from my birth.

LVII. (575-585).
For, me the world around
With witchery hath bound,
Some little strength may yet remain in me
Of secret inner light,
Not yet extinguished quite:
But o'er my head is rolled a mighty sea,
That doth make blind the mental eye
That would its God and things of heavenly worth descry.

LVIII. (586-592).
O look with pitying eye,
And hear the mournful cry
Of Thine own child, O Father good and kind:
Whom oft when she would rise
Up to her native skies,
Impelled by holy efforts of the mind,
Yet fascination of this world
Hath choked, and back to earth's dark mazes hurled.

LIX. (593-602).
But O! send forth Thy light,
A beacon fire through night,
To guide' and cheer me on my upward way;
And may that seed take root,
And, striking out its shoot
From small beginning, bead of flower display.
O Father, such Thy help divine,
Enthrone me in the light of life above to shine;

LX. (603-611).
Where nature cannot clasp
With her resistless grasp:
And whence no longer earth, or web of fate,
Can back recall to woe
And vain desires below.
Let brood deceitful that I scorn and hate
Of worldly passions scattered be,
And leave thy servant, O my God, at peace with Thee!

LXI. (612-627).
Me and earth's din betwixt
Be fiery barrier fixed.
Thy grace, O Father, to my soul reveal;
And let thy suppliant find,
With outspread wings of mind,
The ascending path, and bear aloft Thy seal,
A terror to the up-springing foe,
Who breathe to mortals godless thoughts from depths below;

LXII. (628-635).
But badge and token known
To those about Thy throne,
The holy ones, who all the heights survey
Of Thy bright world, and stand
As guards in high command,
Bearing the keys of upward fiery way,
That they may give an entrance free,
And open wide the gates of heavenly light to me.

LXIII. (636-645),
But still while creeping here
Upon this empty sphere
Of earth, yet not of earth grant me to be;
But from a better root
E'en here attesting fruit
To bear of fire-proved deeds, my God, to Thee;
And Thy true voice to hear and know,
And whate'er warms and makes in souls blest hope to grow.

LXIV. (646-653).
It doth me now repent
Of life on earth ill-spent:
Begone, the blear-eyed haze of godless men,
And built-up cities' strength
Begone, ye breadth and length
Of worldly aims, nor harass me again,
Ye sweet calamities, ye toys
Of mighty seeming, bootless boons, and joyless joys.

LXV. (654-661).
Tranced by your bravery
The soul in slavery
To earth is held; and wretched is indeed;
For of her own good things
This cup oblivion brings:
And things, wherewith to satisfy her need
She hoped, are forthwith snatched away;
And from vain dream she wakes to envy's shaft a prey.

LXVI. (662-670).
For fortune here below
A double face doth show,
False queen: whom if you haply win and trust,
And in her livery shine,
And at her table dine,
Soon rue your lot with bitter tears you must,
When down from pedestal so high
You fall in widespread ruin, and neglected lie.

LXVII. (672-683).
For here, from adverse sides,
Now good, now ill, betides:
To mortals such is life's necessity.
To God, or what hath birth
From God, but not to earth,
Is good unmingled with adversity.
Did cup of sweets intoxicate?
Ensnared I learnt by crop of woes a lesson late.

LXVIII. (684-693).
I hate these laws of change
And hence now upward range,
With wings expanded, to the peaceful sky:
To bright ethereal plains,
Where my dear Father reigns,
From earth, and earths two-sided gifts I fly.
O Steward of the life of mind,
To Thee I look; with Thee may I acceptance find.

LXIX. (694-703).
My soul doth hang on Thee:
Heed Thou Thy suppliant's plea,
Bound here on earth, yet struggling to ascend
The upward paths of mind:
As Thou thus far hast shined,
O shine yet more: light wings of succour lend
Snap double passions' bond, and chain
Of earth unloose, and let my soul her freedom gain.

LXX. (704-713).
For nature by these chains
Her treacherous power obtains,
And binds me down to earth a helpless prey;
But from the body freed,
And all its direful need,
Grant me to take swift flight to realms of day,
To Thine own halls and Thine own breast,
Whence flows the Fountain of the soul; and be at rest.

LXXI. (714-725).
A drop from Fountain Head
Poured, forth, to earth I sped,
An exile and a wanderer from Thee;
Me now, I pray, restore
To where I was before:
With light ancestral may I mingled be!
Tune Thou my mind with Thine own choir
In holiness to sing the hymns Thou dost inspire.

LXXII. (726-734).
Once saved from mortal plight,
Once mingled with the light,
O Father, grant I never enter more
Within earth's black domains
Of penalties and pains;
But while I yet am chained to this dark shore,
And bear life's drudgery below,
Bid Thou that fortune's breezes on me gently blow.

Source: Songs and Hymns of the Earliest Greek Christian Poets #3

Translator: Allen W. Chatfield

Chatfield, Allen William, M.A., born at Chatteris, Oct. 2nd, 1808, and educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was Bell's Univ. Scholar and Members' Prizeman. He graduated in 1831, taking a first class in classical honours. Taking Holy Orders in 1832, he was from 1833 to 1847 Vicar of Stotfold, Bedfordshire; and since 1847 Vicar of Much-Marcle, Herefordshire. Mr. Chatfield has published various Sermons from time to time. His Litany, &c. [Prayer Book] in Greek verse is admirable, and has been commended by many eminent scholars. His Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets, Bishops, and others, translated into English Verse, 1876, has not received the attention of hymnal compilers which it merits. One… Go to person page >

Author: Synesius of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais

Synesius, a native of Cyrene, born circa 375. His descent was illustrious. His pedigree extended through seventeen centuries, and in the words of Gibbon, "could not be equalled in the history of mankind." He became distinguished for his eloquence and philosophy, and as a statesman and patriot he took a noble stand. When the Goths were threatening his country he went to the court of Arcadius, and for three years tried to rouse it to the dangers that were coming on the empire. But Gibbon says, ”The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal, applauded the eloquence, and neglected the advice of Synesius." In 410 he was made Bishop of Ptolemaïs, but much against his will. He died in 430. Synesius's opinions have been variously estimated. That he wa… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Lift up thyself, my soul
Translator: Allen W. Chatfield
Author: Synesius of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain



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