DAVID the Son of Jesse said, and the Man who was raised up on High, the Anointed of the GOD of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, said, The SPIRIT OF THE LORD spake by Me, and HIS WORD was in my Tongue.

2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2.
[Page 1]



Invocation, ver. 1, 2, 3. The excellence and lustre of David's character in twelve points of view, ver. 4; proved from the history of his life, to ver. 17. He consecrates his genius for consolation and edification. The subjects he made choice of the Supreme Being angels; men of renown; the works of nature in all directions, either particularly or collectively considered, to ver. 27. He obtains power over infernal spirits, and the malignity of his enemies; wins the heart of Michal, to ver. 30. Shews that the pillars of knowledge are the monuments of God's works in the first week, to ver. 38. An exercise upon the decalogue, from ver. 40 to 49. The transcendent virtue of praise and adoration, ver. 50 and 51. An exercise upon the seasons, and the right use of them, from ver. 52 to 64. An exercise upon the senses, and how to subdue them, from ver. 65 to 71. An amplification in five degrees, which is wrought up to this conclusion, That the best poet which ever lived was thought worthy of the highest honour which possibly can be conceived, as the Saviour of the world was ascribed to his house, and called his son in the body.

1 O thou, that sit'st upon a throne,
2 With harp of high majestic tone,
3 To praise the King of kings;
4 And voice of heav'n-ascending swell,
5 Which, while its deeper notes excell,
6 Clear, as a clarion, rings:
7 To bless each valley, grove and coast,
8 And charm the cherubs to the post
9 Of gratitude in throngs;
10 To keep the days on Zion's mount,
11 And send the year to his account,
12 With dances and with songs:
13 O Servant of God's holiest charge,
14 The minister of praise at large,
15 Which thou may'st now receive;
16 From thy blest mansion hail and hear,
17 From topmost eminence appear
18 To this the wreath I weave.
[Page 2]
19 Great, valiant, pious, good, and clean,
20 Sublime, contemplative, serene,
21 Strong, constant, pleasant, wise!
22 Bright effluence of exceeding grace;
23 Best man! the swiftness and the race,
24 The peril, and the prize!
25 Great from the lustre of his crown,
26 From Samuel's horn and God's renown,
27 Which is the people's voice;
28 For all the host, from rear to van,
29 Applauded and embrac'd the man
30 The man of God's own choice.
31 Valiant the word and up he rose
32 The fight he triumph'd o'er the foes,
33 Whom God's just laws abhor;
34 And arm'd in gallant faith he took
35 Against the boaster, from the brook,
36 The weapons of the war.
37 Pious magnificent and grand;
38 'Twas he the famous temple plan'd:
39 (The seraph in his soul)
40 Foremost to give his Lord his dues,
41 Foremost to bless the welcome news,
42 And foremost to condole.
[Page 3]
43 Good from Jehudah's genuine vein,
44 From God's best nature good in grain,
45 His aspect and his heart;
46 To pity, to forgive, to save,
47 Witness En-gedi's conscious cave,
48 And Shimei's blunted dart.
49 Clean if perpetual prayer be pure,
50 And love, which could itself innure
51 To fasting and to fear
52 Clean in his gestures, hands, and feet,
53 To smite the lyre, the dance compleat,
54 To play the sword and spear.
55 Sublime invention ever young,
56 Of vast conception, tow'ring tongue,
57 To God th'eternal theme;
58 Notes from yon exaltations caught,
59 Unrival'd royalty of thought,
60 O'er meaner strains supreme.
61 Contemplative on God to fix
62 His musings, and above the six
63 The sabbath-day he blest;
64 'Twas then his thoughts self-conquest prun'd,
65 And heavenly melancholy tun'd,
66 To bless and bear the rest.
[Page 4]
67 Serene to sow the seeds of peace,
68 Rememb'ring, when he watch'd the fleece,
69 How sweetly Kidron purl'd
70 To further knowledge, silence vice,
71 And plant perpetual paradise
72 When God had calm'd the world.
73 Strong in the Lord, who could defy
74 Satan, and all his powers that lie
75 In sempiternal night;
76 And hell, and horror, and despair
77 Were as the lion and the bear
78 To his undaunted might.
79 Constant in love to God THE TRUTH,
80 Age, manhood, infancy, and youth
81 To Jonathan his friend
82 Constant, beyond the verge of death;
83 And Ziba, and Mephibosheth,
84 His endless fame attend.
85 Pleasant and various as the year;
86 Man, soul, and angel, without peer,
87 Priest, champion, sage and boy;
88 In armour, or in ephod clad,
89 His pomp, his piety was glad;
90 Majestic was his joy.
[Page 5]
91 Wise in recovery from his fall,
92 Whence rose his eminence o'er all,
93 Of all the most revil'd;
94 The light of Israel in his ways,
95 Wise are his precepts, prayer and praise,
96 And counsel to his child.
97 His muse, bright angel of his verse,
98 Gives balm for all the thorns that pierce,
99 For all the pangs that rage;
100 Blest light, still gaining on the gloom,
101 The more than Michal of his bloom,
102 Th' Abishag of his age.
103 He sung of God the mighty source
104 Of all things the stupendous force
105 On which all strength depends;
106 From whose right arm, beneath whose eyes,
107 All period, pow'r, and enterprize
108 Commences, reigns, and ends.
109 Angels their ministry and meed,
110 Which to and fro with blessings speed,
111 Or with their citterns wait;
112 Where Michael with his millions bows,
113 Where dwells the seraph and his spouse,
114 The cherub and her mate.
[Page 6]
115 Of man the semblance and effect
116 Of God and Love the Saint elect
117 For infinite applause
118 To rule the land, and briny broad,
119 To be laborious in his laud,
120 And heroes in his cause.
121 The world the clustring spheres he made,
122 The glorious light, the soothing shade,
123 Dale, champaign, grove, and hill;
124 The multitudinous abyss,
125 Where secrecy remains in bliss,
126 And wisdom hides her skill.
127 Trees, plants, and flow'rs of virtuous root;
128 Gem yielding blossom, yielding fruit,
129 Choice gums and precious balm;
130 Bless ye the nosegay in the vale,
131 And with the sweetners of the gale
132 Enrich the thankful psalm.
133 Of fowl e'en ev'ry beak and wing
134 Which chear the winter, hail the spring,
135 That live in peace or prey;
136 They that make music, or that mock,
137 The quail, the brave domestic cock,
138 The raven, swan, and jay.
[Page 7]
139 Of fishes ev'ry size and shape,
140 Which nature frames of light escape,
141 Devouring man to shun:
142 The shells are in the wealthy deep,
143 The shoals upon the surface leap,
144 And love the glancing sun.
145 Of beasts the beaver plods his task;
146 While the sleek tygers roll and bask,
147 Nor yet the shades arouse:
148 Her cave the mining coney scoops;
149 Where o'er the mead the mountain stoops,
150 The kids exult and brouse.
151 Of gems their virtue and their price,
152 Which hid in earth from man's device,
153 Their darts of lustre sheathe;
154 The jasper of the master's stamp,
155 The topaz blazing like a lamp
156 Among the mines beneath.
157 Blest was the tenderness he felt
158 When to his graceful harp he knelt,
159 And did for audience call;
160 When satan with his hand he quell'd,
161 And in serene suspence he held
162 The frantic throes of Saul.
[Page 8]
163 His furious foes no more malign'd
164 As he such melody divin'd,
165 And sense and soul detain'd;
166 Now striking strong, now soothing soft,
167 He sent the godly sounds aloft,
168 Or in delight refrain'd.
169 When up to heav'n his thoughts he pil'd,
170 From fervent lips fair Michal smil'd,
171 As blush to blush she stood;
172 And chose herself the queen, and gave
173 Her utmost from her heart, "so brave,
174 " And plays his hymns so good. "
175 The pillars of the Lord are seven,
176 Which stand from earth to topmost heav'n;
177 His wisdom drew the plan;
178 His WORD accomplish'd the design,
179 From brightest gem to deepest mine,
180 From CHRIST enthron'd to man.
181 Alpha, the cause of causes, first
182 In station, fountain, whence the burst
183 Of light, and blaze of day;
184 Whence bold attempt, and brave advance,
185 Have motion, life, and ordinance,
186 And heav'n itself its stay.
[Page 9]
187 Gamma supports the glorious arch
188 On which angelic legions march,
189 And is with sapphires pav'd;
190 Thence the fleet clouds are sent adrift,
191 And thence the painted folds, that lift
192 The crimson veil, are wav'd.
193 Eta with living sculpture breathes,
194 With verdant carvings, flow'ry wreathes
195 Of never-wasting bloom;
196 In strong relief his goodly base
197 All instruments of labour grace,
198 The trowel, spade, and loom.
199 Next Theta stands to the Supreme
200 Who form'd, in number, sign, and scheme,
201 Th'illustrious lights that are;
202 And one address'd his saffron robe,
203 And one, clad in a silver globe,
204 Held rule with ev'ry star.
205 Iota's tun'd to choral hymns
206 Of those that fly, while he that swims
207 In thankful safety lurks;
208 And foot, and chapitre, and niche,
209 The various histories enrich
210 Of God's recorded works.
[Page 10]
211 Sigma presents the social droves,
212 With him that solitary roves,
213 And man of all the chief;
214 Fair on whose face, and stately frame,
215 Did God impress his hallow'd name,
216 For ocular belief.
218 Stands sacred to the day of rest,
219 For gratitude and thought;
220 Which bless'd the world upon his pole,
221 And gave the universe his goal,
222 And clos'd th'infernal draught.
223 O DAVID, scholar of the Lord!
224 Such is thy science, whence reward
225 And infinite degree;
226 O strength, O sweetness, lasting ripe!
227 God's harp thy symbol, and thy type
228 The lion and the bee!
229 There is but One who ne'er rebell'd,
230 But One by passion unimpell'd,
231 By pleasures unintice't;
232 He from himself his semblance sent,
233 Grand object of his own content,
234 And saw the God in CHRIST.
[Page 11]
235 Tell them I am, JEHOVA said
236 To MOSES; while earth heard in dread,
237 And smitten to the heart,
238 At once above, beneath, around,
239 All nature, without voice or sound,
240 Replied, O Lord, THOU ART.
241 Thou art to give and to confirm,
242 For each his talent and his term;
243 All flesh thy bounties share:
244 Thou shalt not call thy brother fool;
245 The porches of the Christian school
246 Are meekness, peace, and pray'r.
247 Open, and naked of offence,
248 Man's made of mercy, soul, and sense;
249 God arm'd the snail and wilk;
250 Be good to him that pulls thy plough;
251 Due food and care, due rest, allow
252 For her that yields thee milk.
253 Rise up before the hoary head,
254 And God's benign commandment dread,
255 Which says thou shalt not die:
256 "Not as I will, but as thou wilt,"
257 Pray'd He whose conscience knew no guilt;
258 With whose bless'd pattern vie.
[Page 12]
259 Use all thy passions! love is thine,
260 And joy, and jealousy divine;
261 Thine hope's eternal fort,
262 And care thy leisure to disturb,
263 With fear concupiscence to curb,
264 And rapture to transport.
265 Act simply, as occasion asks;
266 Put mellow wine in season'd casks;
267 Till not with ass and bull:
268 Remember thy baptismal bond;
269 Keep from commixtures foul and fond,
270 Nor work thy flax with wool.
271 Distribute: pay the Lord his tithe,
272 And make the widow's heart-strings blithe;
273 Resort with those that weep:
274 As you from all and each expect,
275 For all and each thy love direct,
276 And render as you reap.
277 The slander and its bearer spurn,
278 And propagating praise sojourn
279 To make thy welcome last;
280 Turn from old Adam to the New;
281 By hope futurity pursue;
282 Look upwards to the past.
[Page 13]
283 Controul thine eye, salute success,
284 Honour the wiser, happier bless,
285 And for thy neighbour feel;
286 Grutch not of mammon and his leaven,
287 Work emulation up to heaven
288 By knowledge and by zeal.
289 O DAVID, highest in the list
290 Of worthies, on God's ways insist,
* Ps. 119.
The genuine word repeat:
292 Vain are the documents of men,
293 And vain the flourish of the pen
294 That keeps the fool's conceit.
295 PRAISE above all for praise prevails;
296 Heap up the measure, load the scales,
297 And good to goodness add:
298 The gen'rous soul her saviour aids,
299 But peevish obloquy degrades;
300 The Lord is great and glad.
301 For ADORATION all the ranks
302 Of angels yield eternal thanks,
303 And DAVID in the midst;
304 With God's good poor, which, last and least
305 In man's esteem, thou to thy feast;
306 O blessed bride-groom, bidst.
[Page 14]
307 For ADORATION seasons change,
308 And order, truth, and beauty range,
309 Adjust, attract, and fill:
310 The grass the polyanthus cheques;
311 And polish'd porphyry reflects,
312 By the descending rill.
313 Rich almonds colour to the prime
314 For ADORATION; tendrils climb,
315 And fruit-trees pledge their gems;
316 And
* Humming-bird.
Ivis with her gorgeous vest
317 Builds for her eggs her cunning nest,
318 And bell-flowers bow their stems.
319 With vinous syrup cedars spout;
320 From rocks pure honey gushing out,
321 For ADORATION springs:
322 All scenes of painting croud the map
323 Of nature; to the mermaid's pap
324 The scaled infant clings.
325 The spotted ounce and playsome cubs
326 Run rustling 'mongst the flow'ring shrubs,
327 And lizards feed the moss;
328 For ADORATION beasts embark,
329 While waves upholding halcyon's ark
330 No longer roar and toss.
[Page 15]
331 While Israel sits beneath his fig,
332 With coral root and amber sprig
333 The wean'd advent'rer sports;
334 Where to the palm the jasmin cleaves,
335 For ADORATION 'mongst the leaves
336 The gale his peace reports.
337 Increasing days their reign exalt,
338 Nor in the pink and mottled vault
339 Th'opposing spirits tilt;
340 And, by the coasting reader spied,
341 The silverlings and crusions glide
342 For ADORATION gilt.
343 For ADORATION rip'ning canes
344 And cocoa's purest milk detains
345 The western pilgrim's staff;
346 Where rain in clasping boughs inclos'd,
347 And vines with oranges dispos'd,
348 Embow'r the social laugh.
349 Now labour his reward receives,
350 For ADORATION counts his sheaves
351 To peace, her bounteous prince;
352 The nectarine his strong tint imbibes,
353 And apples of ten thousand tribes,
354 And quick peculiar quince.
[Page 16]
355 The wealthy crops of whit'ning rice,
356 'Mongst thyine woods and groves of spice,
357 For ADORATION grow;
358 And, marshall'd in the fenced land,
359 The peaches and pomegranates stand,
360 Where wild carnations blow.
361 The laurels with the winter strive;
362 The crocus burnishes alive
363 Upon the snow-clad earth:
364 For ADORATION myrtles stay
365 To keep the garden from dismay,
366 And bless the sight from dearth.
367 The pheasant shows his pompous neck;
368 And ermine, jealous of a speck,
369 With fear eludes offence:
370 The sable, with his glossy pride,
371 For ADORATION is descried,
372 Where frosts the wave condense.
373 The chearful holly, pensive yew,
374 And holy thorn, their trim renew;
375 The squirrel hoards his nuts:
376 All creatures batten o'er their stores,
377 And careful nature all her doors
378 For ADORATION shuts.
[Page 17]
379 For ADORATION, DAVID's psalms
380 Lift up the heart to deeds of alms;
381 And he, who kneels and chants,
382 Prevails his passions to controul,
383 Finds meat and med'cine to the soul,
384 Which for translation pants.
385 For ADORATION, beyond match,
386 The scholar bulfinch aims to catch
387 The soft flute's iv'ry touch;
388 And, careless on the hazle spray,
389 The daring redbreast keeps at bay
390 The damsel's greedy clutch.
391 For ADORATION, in the skies,
392 The Lord's philosopher espies
393 The Dog, the Ram, and Rose;
394 The planets ring, Orion's sword;
395 Nor is his greatness less ador'd
396 In the vile worm that glows.
* Æolian harp.
on the strings
398 The western breezes work their wings,
399 The captive ear to sooth.
400 Hark! 'tis a voice how still, and small
401 That makes the cataracts to fall,
402 Or bids the sea be smooth.
[Page 18]
403 For ADORATION, incense comes
404 From bezoar, and Arabian gums;
405 And on the civet's furr.
406 But as for prayer, or e're it faints,
407 Far better is the breath of saints
408 Than galbanum and myrrh.
409 For ADORATION from the down,
410 Of dam'sins to th'anana's crown,
411 God sends to tempt the taste;
412 And while the luscious zest invites,
413 The sense, that in the scene delights,
414 Commands desire be chaste.
415 For ADORATION, all the paths
416 Of grace are open, all the baths
417 Of purity refresh;
418 And all the rays of glory beam
419 To deck the man of God's esteem,
420 Who triumphs o'er the flesh.
421 For ADORATION, in the dome
422 Of Christ the sparrow's find an home;
423 And on his olives perch:
424 The swallow also dwells with thee,
425 O man of God's humility,
426 Within his Saviour CHURCH.
[Page 19]
427 Sweet is the dew that falls betimes,
428 And drops upon the leafy limes;
429 Sweet Hermon's fragrant air:
430 Sweet is the lilly's silver bell,
431 And sweet the wakeful tapers smell
432 That watch for early pray'r.
433 Sweet the young nurse with love intense,
434 Which smiles o'er sleeping innocence;
435 Sweet when the lost arrive:
436 Sweet the musician's ardour beats,
437 While his vague mind's in quest of sweets,
438 The choicest flow'rs to hive.
439 Sweeter in all the strains of love,
440 The language of thy turtle dove,
441 Pair'd to thy swelling chord;
442 Sweeter with ev'ry grace endu'd,
443 The glory of thy gratitude,
444 Respir'd unto the Lord.
445 Strong is the horse upon his speed;
446 Strong in pursuit the rapid glede,
447 Which makes at once his game:
448 Strong the tall ostrich on the ground;
449 Strong thro' the turbulent profound
450 Shoots
* The sword-fish.
xiphias to his aim.
[Page 20]
451 Strong is the lion like a coal
452 His eye-ball like a bastion's mole
453 His chest against the foes:
454 Strong, the gier-eagle on his sail,
455 Strong against tide, th'enormous whale
456 Emerges as he goes.
457 But stronger still, in earth and air,
458 And in the sea, the man of pray'r;
459 And far beneath the tide;
460 And in the seat to faith assign'd,
461 Where ask is have, where seek is find,
462 Where knock is open wide.
463 Beauteous the fleet before the gale;
464 Beauteous the multitudes in mail,
465 Rank'd arms and crested heads:
466 Beauteous the garden's umbrage mild,
467 Walk, water, meditated wild,
468 And all the bloomy beds.
469 Beauteous the moon full on the lawn;
470 And beauteous, when the veil's withdrawn,
471 The virgin to her spouse:
472 Beauteous the temple deck'd and fill'd,
473 When to the heav'n of heav'n's they build
474 Their heart-directed vows.
[Page 21]
475 Beauteous, yea beauteous more than these,
476 The shepherd king upon his knees,
477 For his momentous trust;
478 With wish of infinite conceit,
479 For man, beast, mute, the small and great,
480 And prostrate dust to dust.
481 Precious the bounteous widow's mite;
482 And precious, for extream delight,
* Sam. xxv. 18.
The largess from the churl:
484 Precious the ruby's blushing blaze,
485 And
* Rev. xi. 17.
alba's blest imperial rays,
486 And pure cerulean pearl.
487 Precious the penitential tear;
488 And precious is the sigh sincere,
489 Acceptable to God:
490 And precious are the winning flow'rs,
491 In gladsome Israel's feast of bow'rs,
492 Bound on the hallow'd sod.
493 More precious that diviner part
494 Of David, ev'n the Lord's own heart,
495 Great, beautiful, and new:
496 In all things where it was intent,
497 In all extreams, in each event,
498 Proof answ'ring true to true.
[Page 22]
499 Glorious the sun in mid career;
500 Glorious th'assembled fires appear;
501 Glorious the comet's train:
502 Glorious the trumpet and alarm;
503 Glorious th'almighty stretch'd-out arm;
504 Glorious th'enraptur'd main:
505 Glorious the northern lights astream;
506 Glorious the song, when God's the theme;
507 Glorious the thunder's roar:
508 Glorious hosanna from the den;
509 Glorious the catholic amen;
510 Glorious the martyr's gore:
511 Glorious more glorious is the crown
512 Of Him that brought salvation down
513 By meekness, call'd thy Son;
514 Thou at stupendous truth believ'd,
515 And now the matchless deed's atchiev'd,


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): A SONG to DAVID.
Themes: biblical history

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Source edition

A Song to David. By Christopher Smart. London: Printed for the Author; and Sold by Mr. Fletcher ... And by all the Booksellers in Town and Country, 1763, pp. []-22. [2],22p.; 4⁰. (ESTC T105048)

Editorial principles

The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Secondary literature

  • Gedalof, Allan J. The Rise and Fall of Smart's David. Philological Quarterly 60 (1981): 369-86. Print.
  • Rose, John. All the crumbling edifices must come down: decoding Christopher Smart's Song to David. Philological Quarterly 84(4) (2005): 403-24. Print.

Other works by Christopher Smart