God, Whom Shall I Compare To Thee?
Poem By Yehudah HaLevi
God, whom shall I compare to Thee,
When Thou to none canst likened be?
Under what image shall I dare
To picture Thee, when everywhere
All nature’s forms Thine impress bear?
Greater, O Lord, Thy glories are
Than all the heavenly chariots far.
Whose mind can grasp Thy world’s design?
Whose word can fitly Thee define?
Whose tongue set forth Thy powers divine?
Can heart approach, can eye behold
Thee in Thy righteousness untold?
Whom did’st Thou to Thy counsel call,
When there was none to speak withal
Since Thou wast first and Lord of all?
Thy world eternal witness bears
That none its Maker’s glory shares.
Thy wisdom is made manifest
In all things formed by Thy behest,
All with Thy seal’s clear mark impress’d.
Before the pillars of the sky
Were raised, before the mountains high
Were wrought, ere hills and dales were known,
Thou in Thy majesty alone
Did’st sit, O God, upon Thy throne!
Hearts, seeking Thee, from search refrain,
And weary tongues their praise restrain,
Thyself unbound by time and place,
Thou dost pervade, support, embrace
The world and all created space.
The sages’ minds bewildered grow,
The lightning speed of thought is slow.
'Awful in praises' art Thou named;
Thou fillest, strong in strength proclaimed,
This universe Thy hand has framed.
Deep, deep beyond all fathoming,
Far, far beyond all measuring,
We can but seek Thy deeds alone;
When bow Thy saints before Thy throne
Then is Thy faithfulness made known.
Thy righteousness we can discern,
Thy holy law proclaim and learn.
Is not Thy presence near alway
To them who penitently pray.
But far from those who sinning stray?
Pure souls behold Thee, and no need
Have they of light: they hear and heed
Thee with the mind’s keen ear, although
The ear of flesh be dull and slow.
Their voices answer to and fro.
Thy holiness for ever they proclaim:
The Lord of Hosts! thrice holy is His name!
Translated by Alice Lucas