[The ninetieth Psalm is said to have been a favourite in the household
of William Burns: the version used by the Kirk, though unequal,
contains beautiful verses, and possesses the same strain of sentiment
and moral reasoning as the poem of "Man was made to Mourn." These
verses first appeared in the Edinburgh edition; and they might have
been spared; for in the hands of a poet ignorant of the original
language of the Psalmist, how could they be so correct in sense and
expression as in a sacred strain is not only desirable but necessary?]
O Thou, the first, the greatest friend
Of all the human race!
Whose strong right hand has ever been
Their stay and dwelling place!
Before the mountains heav'd their heads
Beneath Thy forming hand,
Before this ponderous globe itself
Arose at Thy command;
That Pow'r which rais'd and still upholds
This universal frame,
From countless, unbeginning time
Was ever still the same.
Those mighty periods of years
Which seem to us so vast,
Appear no more before Thy sight
Than yesterday that's past.
Thou giv'st the word: Thy creature, man,
Is to existence brought;
Again thou say'st, "Ye sons of men,
Return ye into nought!"
Thou layest them, with all their cares,
In everlasting sleep;
As with a flood Thou tak'st them off
With overwhelming sweep.
They flourish like the morning flow'r,
In beauty's pride array'd;
But long ere night, cut down, it lies
All wither'd and decay'd.