, , , , , ,

Stanza 5:

What e’re we want, we cannot cry for, nay, (25)

If that we could, we could not have it thus. 

The angels can’t devise, nor yet convey

Help in their gold pipes from God to us.

But thou my Lord (heart leap for joy and sing)

Hast done the deed: and’t makes the heavens ring. (30)

Summary: The poet undertakes an interesting distance from himself throughout this poem. First, he has been operating from an interesting psychological point of view because he sees himself addicted helpless to sin and simultaneously sees himself from the outside as some sort of loathsome beast. He is an addict who cannot put down the needle and who in the same moment wretches for the vile creature he has become. 

In this stanza the looks to find some relief, but knows it is impossible:

We e’re want [that is, whatever it is we lack] we cannot cry for.

There is something we need but there is no way to fulfill this need: we cannot even cry for it.

We cannot look to angels, because we need is from God, and angels cannot convey this to us. Only God himself can do so – and has done so. This unwarranted and unobtained benefit is a cause for joy.


We cannot cry: Crying out in distress is the refrain of the book of Judges. The people of Israel repeatedly turn to idolatry. In response, God leaves them to their unfriendly neighbors. The Israelites then cry out to God, who in turn says them. In the beginning of chapter 2 (the book is not chronological), the Angel of the Lord “went up from Gilgal to Bochim.” Bochim is a Hebrew word which means “weeping.”  The Angel tells the people that since they have refused to keep their covenant with God, God will no longer hear their cries and defend them. 

Later in Judges 10:14, God again confronts the people who have turned from him. “God and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.”

Taylor seems to have an illusion to these passages: I am so deeply embedded in sin that I cannot cry for help. In particular, the end of line 26 underscores this point: our cry – were able to make such a cry would be of no use, “we cannot have it thus.”

The Angels cannot convey: Even though angels are given as “ministering spirits set out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14) there are limits on the help they can convey. 

The degree help needed by Taylor in his state of sin exceeds the assistance of angels. The lack of the human being in the state of sin exceeds some external aid. The language used to describe the condition of sin speaks to an irremediable condition.  

The angels are said to have conveyed the law (Heb. 2:2, “the message declared by angels”). This seems to put something into human hands, but “by works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

The “golden pipes” of the angels in end only could convey knowledge of guilt.

But thou my Lord … hast done the deed: This speaks to the work of Jesus who destroyed sin and death, and him who had the power of death (Heb. 2:14). 

 Heart leap for joy and sing … “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I will say rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4)

And’t makes the heavens ring: “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Heb. 1:6. 

Psalms 118:23-24

This is the Lord’s doing

It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day the Lord has made

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


What e’re we want, we cannot cry for, nay

If that we could, we could not have it thus.

These lines have an interesting rhetorical structure: A conditional, followed by an unconditional rejection: Whatever it is we need, we cannot have it. And even if we could have it, we cannot. The structure of the clauses is held together by the repetition of the word “we”: we want, we cannot cry, we could, we could. 

This is an example of anaphora: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Figures/A/anaphora.htm