O book! Life’s guide! how shall we part;
And thou so long seiz’d of my heart?
Take this last kiss; and let me weep
True thanks to thee, before I sleep.
Thou wert the first put in my hand,
When yet I could not understand,
And daily didst my young eyes lead
To letters, till I learnt to read.
But as rash youths, when once grown strong,
Fly from their nurses to the throng,
Where they new consorts choose, and stick
To those till either hurt or sick;
So with that first light gain’d from thee
Ran I in chase of vanity,
Cried dross for gold, and never thought
My first cheap book had all I sought.
Long reign’d this vogue; and thou cast by,
With meek, dumb looks didst woo mine eye,
And oft left open wouldst convey
A sudden and most searching ray
Into my soul, with whose quick touch
Refining still, I struggled much.
By this mild art of love at length
Thou overcam’st my sinful strength,
And having brought me home, didst there
Show me that pearl I sought elsewhere,
Gladness, and peace, and hope, and love,
The secret favours of the Dove;
Her quick’ning kindness, smiles and kisses,
Exalted pleasures, crowning blisses,
Fruition, union, glory, life,
Thou didst lead to, and still all strife.
Living, thou wert my soul’s sure ease,
And dying mak’st me go in peace:
Thy next effects no tongue can tell;
Farewell, O book of God! farewell!
Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent, Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon