Time’s Paces (Lines on a Clock in Chester Cathedral)
When as a child, I laughed and wept,
When as a youth, I dreamt and talked,
When I became a full-grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find on travelling on –
O Christ, wilt Thou have saved me then?
Henry Twells (1823-1900)
(Poem fixed to the front of the clock-case in the North Transept of Chester Cathedral)
A note on The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger
The picture with this painting may, at first glance, seem an unusual choice but it depicts very well the unseen advance of time. The Ambassadors pose in their fine robes and surrounded by the musical and scientific instruments, globes, books and oriental carpet yet, apparently unseen in front of them is a mysterious shape. Viewed from one side this is clearly seen as a skull, the reminder that time marches on and unseen death waits for everyone. This may seem gloomy but Christian faith brings the promise of the future hope of salvation in Jesus Christ, something that Twells acknowledges in his verse.