Thus, O God, am I nearer to old age
than I was in the morning,
but, I fear, not nearer to goodness.
For he who strives to do best comes short of his duty.
The night new steals upon me like a theif.
Oh, defend me from the horrors of it.
When I am to lie down in my bed, let me imagine
I am to lie in my winding sheet,
and let me not close my eyes until
my soul and I have reckoned and made me even
for all the offenses that not only this day,
but all the former minutes of my life,
I have committed against your Divine Majesty.
Pardon them, O Lord; forgive me my sins,
which are more infinite than the stars
and more heavy than if mountains
were to lie upon my bosom;
but your mercy and the merits
of my Redeemer do I trust in.
In his name do I sue for pardon.
O Lord, let no unclean thoughts this night
pollute my body and soul,
but keep my cogitations chaste,
and let my dreams be like those
of innocents and sucking babes.
Grant, O Lord, that the sun may not go down upon my wrath.
But if anyone this day has done me wrong,
that I may freely and heartily forgive them,
just as I desire to be forgiven by your hands.
Whether I sleep or wake, give your angels charge over me,
that at whatever hour you may call me, I may,
like a faithful soldier, be found ready to encounter Death
and to follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Amen.
by Thomas Dekker, in Four Birds of Noah’s Ark, ed. Robert Hudson