Earth has detained me prisoner long

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General information

This is a long poem by Isaac Watts, published in Horae Lyricae, 1706, entitled The Song of Angels Above, in 22 stanzas. It was altered and rewritten by Augustus Toplady, 1776, with the first line Earth has engrossed my love too long.

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Text and translations

English.png English text

1. Earth has detained me prisoner long
And I'm grown weary now:
My heart, my hand, my ear, my tongue,
There's nothing here for you.

2. Tired in my thoughts, I stretch me down,
And upward glance mine eyes;
Upward, my Father, to Thy throne,
And to my native skies.

3. There the dear Man, my Savior, sits,
The God, how bright He shines!
And scatters infinite delights
On all the happy minds.

4. Seraphs, with elevated strains,
Circle the throne around,
And move and charm the starry plains
With an immortal sound.

5. Jesus, the Lord, their harps employs;
Jesus, my love, they sing:
Jesus, the name of both our joys,
Sounds sweet from every string.

6. Hark, how, beyond the narrow bounds
Of time and space they run,
And speak, in most majestic sounds,
The godhead of the Son.

7. How on the Father's breast He lay,
The darling of his soul,
Infinite years before the day
Or heavens began to roll.


8. And now they sink the lofty tone,
And gentler notes they play,
And bring th' eternal godhead down
To dwell in humble clay.

9. O sacred beauties of the Man!
(The God resides within)
His flesh all pure, without a stain;
His soul without a sin.

10. Then, how he looked, and how he smiled?
What wondrous things he said!
Sweet cherubs, stay, dwell here a while,
And tell what Jesus did!

11.At his command the blind awake,
And feel the gladsome rays:
He bids the dumb attempt to speak,
They try their tongues in praise.

12. He shed a thousand blessings round
Wherever he turned his eye:
He spoke, and, at the sovereign sounds
The hellish legions fly.

13. Thus, while, with unambitious strife,
Th' ethereal minstrels rove
Through all the labors of his life,
And wonders of his love.

14. In the full choir a broken string
Groans with a strange surprise;
The rest in silence mourn their King
That bleeds, and loves, and dies.


15. Seraph and saint, with dropping wings,
Cease their harmonious breath:
No blooming trees nor babbling springs
While Jesus sleeps in death,

16. Then all at once to living strains
They summon every chord;
Break up the tomb, and burst his chains,
And show their rising Lord.

17. Around the flaming army throngs,
To guard him to the skies,
With loud hosannas on their tongues,
And triumph in their eyes.

18. In awful state the conquering God
Ascends his shining throne,
While tuneful angels sound abroad
The victories he has won.

19. Now let me rise and join their song,
And be an angel too:
My heart, my hand, my ear, my tongue,
Here's joyful work for you!

20. I would begin the music here,
And so my soul should rise.
Oh for some heavenly notes, to bear
My spirit to the skies!

21. There, ye that love my Savior, sit;
There I would fain have place
Among your thrones, or at your feet,
So I might see his face.

22. I am confined to earth no more,
But mount in haste above,
To bless the God that I adore,
And sing the Man I love.

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