Why droops the head, why languishes the eye

First Line Why droops the head, why languishes the eye
Author Peter Pinnell
Date 1759

Hymn [Devotional material, religious belief].

Transcribed from "A SERMON in VERSE." The Gentleman's Magazine: and historical chronicle, vol. 29, January 1759, pp. 29-30. British Periodicals, [ProQuest document ID:] 8570575.



Why droops the head, why languishes the eye,

What mean the flowing tear and frequent sigh?

Where are the lenient medicines to impart

Their balmy virtue to a bleeding heart?

Fruitless are all attempts of kind relief

To mix her cordial, and allay my grief;

So strong my anguish, so severe my pain,

Weak is Philosophy, and Reason vain;

Their rules, like fuel, make my passion glow,

Quicken each pang, and point the sting of woe;

Imagination labours but in vain,

While dark'ning clouds intoxicate the brain;

Fancy no sweet ideas can suggest,

To lull the raging tumult in my breast;

In vain or mirth invites, or friendship calls,

Wit dies a jest, and conversation palls;

The works of art and nature dull appear,

And each obtruding thought creates despair;

No scenes amuse me, that amus'd before,

And what delighted once, delights no more:

Tho' all creation beautiful appears,

And nature's aspect a rich verdure wears;

Yet still her bloom with sick'ning eyes I see,

And all her luxury is lost on me:

The budding plants of variegated hue,

The blossoms op'ning with the morning dew;

The vernal breeze that gently fans the bow'rs,

The laughing meadows, and enliv'ning show'rs,

Th' enamel'd garden, where the works of art

Give strength to nature, and fresh charms impart;

Where gaudy pinks and blushing roses bloom,

Rich in array, and pregnant with perfume;

Where Flora smiling sees her offspring vie,

To spread their beauties and regale the eye:

All, all, in vain, with charms united glow

To deck the scene, or gild the face of woe:

So when the morning lark ascending sings, 

While joy attunes her voice, and mounts her wings;

Tho' to her chearful notes, the hills reply,

And warbling musick gladdens all the sky;

Still in her strains no pleasing charms I find

No sweet enchantment to compose my mind.

In vain the sun his gaudy pride displays,

No genial warmth attends his brightest rays;

So when his absent light the moon supplies,

Or planets glitter to enrich the skies,

No gleam of comfort from their lustre flows,

No harbinger of peace, or calm repose:

But gloomy vapours o'er the night prevail,

And pestilence is spread in every gale.

Thus weakn'd by a gradual decay,

With sighs I pass the melancholy day,

And drink life's bitter draught without allay.


But stop, O man, thy plaintive strains suppress,

With Christian patience learn to acquiesce!

Th' instructive voice of Reason calmly hear,

And let Religion check the flowing tear;

Whate'er the will of Providence assigns,

'Tis Infidelity alone repines,

But those who trust in God disdain to grieve,

And what our father sends, with joy receive;

Whose sharp corrections testify his love,

And certain blessings in the end will prove;

Who sees how man wou'd err without controul,

Afflicts the body, to improve the soul,

And by chastizing part preserves the whole.

So, that tho' low'ring skies and threat'ning gales,

Should raise a mighty storm, and rend the sails;

Yet, if calm Reason at the helm preside,

My little bark will stem both wind and tide;

And adverse currents shall at last convey,

The shatter'd vessel to the realms of day!

Thus satisfy'd how rash it is, for man,

When under God's correction, to complain;

My soul with sad disquietude opprest,

Directs her flight to heav'n in search of rest;

And refuge takes (which "peace at last will bring)"[sic]

Beneath the shadow of th' Almighty's wing;

On him I fix my mind, and place my trust,

A Being, infinitely wise and just!

And, if his providence some beams create,

To brighten the complexion of my fate,

My thankful tribute to his throne I'll raise,

In songs of gratitude, and joy, and praise!

But shou'd indulgence suit not his designs,

Who evil into happiness refines;

Let due submission make my burden light,

And may I think whatever is is right!

Then "be not thou disquieted my soul,"

Have lively faith—and "faith will make thee whole."

When heav'n inflicts, with calmness bear the stroke,

Since to repine is only to provoke;

Learn to adore the justice of thy God,

And kiss the sacred hand that holds the rod;

That sacred hand, which first the heart explores;

Probes every wound, and searches all the sores;

Then the right med'cine properly applies,

To cleanse the part where all th' infection lies.

Hear this, thou coward man, nor dread the smart,

Which, tho' it stings, will purify the heart;

For resignation will promote the cure,

And, tho' the means are sharp, the end is sure.

Since then afflictions are through mercy sent,

To be of good the happy instrument;

Since for the noblest ends they are design'd,

To form the judgement, to improve the mind,

To curb our passions, to direct our love,

To awe mankind, and speak a God above!

O may I view them with Religion's eye,

Without a murmur, and without reply;

Hence shall I taste the sweets that evils bring,

And suck the honey, while I feel the sting,

Hence shall I learn the bitter cup to bless,

And drink it as a draught of happiness;

A wholesome potion, which, tho' mix'd with gall,

May still preserve my life, my soul, my all!

So, tho' the promis'd fruit shou'd fail, the vine,

The fig-tree sicken, and its bloom decline;

The labour of the olive be in vain,

And flocks infected perish on the plain;

Tho' corn, and oil, and wine at once decrease,

The fields grow barren, and the harvest cease;

Tho' baffled hinds their fruitless toil deplore,

And vales unchearful laugh and sing no more;

Yet still with gladness wou'd I serve the Lord,

Adore his wisdom, and obey his word.—

Hear then, O God, regard a suppliant's prayer;

Sooth all my pangs, and save me from despair;

Illuminate my soul with gladsome rays,

And tune my voice to thy eternal praise;

Dispel the clouds of darkness from my eyes,

And make me know that to be good is wise!

Let christian precepts all my soul employ,

And be not more my duty, than my joy!

Let conscience void of art, and free from guile,

Still in my bosom innocently smile;

Her chearful beams will gild the gloom of fate,

And make me happy in whatever state.

Hence shall I learn my talent to improve,

If poor by patience, and if rich by love;

If fortune smiles, let me be virtue's friend,

And where I go, let charity attend;

Within my bosom let compassion dwell,

To soften all the woes which others feel;

T'asswage by kind relief afflictions sighs,

And wipe the falling tear from widows eyes;

To feed the hungry, the distress'd to chear,

The needy succour, and the feeble rear;

Hence shall my mind inflam'd with public good,

Unshaken stand in midst of plenty's flood;

Hence shall I scorn temptations gilded bait,

Look with disdain on all the pomp of state

And by humility be truly great.

But if it be thy blessed will to spread

Clouds of thick darkness low'ring o'er my head;

Let me have grace to know they are design'd,

To check my follies, and correct my mind;

Let me have grace to know in my distress,

I still to thee may have a free access;

And be an heir (tho' all the world shou'd frown)

Of heavn'ly[sic] glory, and a future crown!

From these reflections true contentment flows,

Contentment—such as grandeur seldom knows;

Hence in the lowly cott a relish springs,

Above the taste of courts, and pride of kings!

Thus in the flood of wealth be thou my guide,

And steer my course 'twixt avarice and pride;

Or, in the ebb of fortune, teach my mind,

To know its duty, and to be resign'd;

Prepare me to receive or good or ill,

As the result of thy Almighty will;

Thy will, whose chief design and general plan

Tend to promote the happiness of man:

Be every sensual appetite suppress'd,

Nor the least taint lie lurking in my breast;

Let steady reason my affections guide,

And calm content sit smiling by my side;

Teach me with scorn to view the things below,

As gaudy phantoms, and an empty show;

But fix my mind upon the things above,

As the sole object of a christian's love;

Make me reflect on my eternal home,

A dying Saviour, and a life to come;

Direct me virtue's happy course to run,

And let me as instructed by thy son,

In ev'ry station say thy will be done.