Though I am young, a little one

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Though I am young, a little one  (1727) 

This untitled poem appeared in many editions of The New England Primer. This is the 1727 version as it was reprinted in Colonial Prose and Poetry.

Short fragments of this poem appeared in other works, for example The Infant School and Nursery Hymn Book[1]. This was the first, and sometimes only, poem under the heading
Verses for children.

THOUGH I am young a little one
If I can Speak and go alone,
Then I must learn to know the Lord
And learn to read his holy word.
'Tis time to seek to God and pray
For what I want for every day:
I have a precious soul to save,
And I a mortal body have.
Tho' I am young yet I may die,
And hasten to eternity:
There is a dreadful fiery hell,
Where wicked ones must always dwell;
There is a heaven full of Joy,
Where godly ones must always stay;
To one of these my soul must fly,
As in a moment when I die:
When God that made me, calls me home,
I must not stay I must be gone.
He gave me life, and gives me breath,
And he can save my soul from death,
By Jesus Christ my only Lord,
According to his holy word.
He clothes my back and makes me warm;
He saves my flesh and bones from harm;
He gives me bread and milk and meat,
And all I have that's good to eat.
When I am sick, he if he please,
Can make me well and give me ease;
He gives me sleep and quiet rest,
Whereby my body is refresh'd,
The Lord is good and kind to me,
And very thankful I must be:[1]
I must not sin as others do,
Lest I lie down in sorrow too:
For God is angry ev'ry day,
With wicked ones that go astray,
All sinful words I must restrain:
I must not take God's name in vain.
I must not work, I must not play,
Upon God's holy Sabbath-day.
And if my parents speak the word,
I must obey them in the Lord.
Nor steal, nor lie, nor spend my days,
In idle tales and foolish plays,
I must obey my Lord's commands,
Do something with my little hands:
Remember my Creator now,
In youth while time will it allow.
Young Samuel that little child,
He served the Lord, liv'd undefil'd;
Him in his service God employ'd,
While Eli's wicked children dy'd:
When wicked children mocking said,
To a good man, "Go up bald head;"
God was displeas'd with them and sent
Two bears which them in pieces rent,
I must not like these children vile,
Displease my God, myself defile.
Like young Abijah, I must see,
That good things may be found in me,
Young King Josiah, that blessed youth,
He sought the Lord and lov'd the truth;
He like a King did act his part,
And follow'd God with all his heart.
The little children they did sing,
Hosannah's to their heavenly King.
That blessed child young Timothy,
Did learn God's word most heedfully.
It seem'd to be his recreation,
Which made him wise unto salvation:
By faith in Christ which he had gain'd
With prayers and tears that faith unfeign'd.
These good examples were for me,
Like these good children I must be.
Give me true faith in Christ my Lord,
Obedience to his holy word,
No word is in the world like thine,
There's none so pure, sweet and divine,
From thence let me thy will behold,
And love thy word above fine gold.
Make my heart in thy statutes sound,
And make my faith and love abound.
Lord circumcise my heart to love thee,
And nothing in this world above thee.
Let me behold thy pleased face,
And make my soul to grow in grace,
And in the knowledge of my Lord
And Saviour Christ, and of his word.


  1. The Colonial Prose and Poetry edition omits a couplet here that was present in some other editions:

    I must obey and love and fear him,
    By faith in Christ I must draw near him.