Monday, April 27, 2015

The Birman Hymn

THE BIRMAN HYMN – a nice 6/4 tune in E minor – was written by Williamson Williams Parks. It was added to The Sacred Harp in 1850. He also wrote Adoration and collaborated with M. H. Thomas to write A Home in Heaven. When he is mentioned in the 1880s as the vice-president of the North Georgia Music Convention, he is called Captain W. W. Parks. A W. W. Parks, probably the same person, organized the first Sunday school in Gwinnett County in 1866 at the Harmony Grove Methodist Episcopal Church. He was superintendent of the school from 1866 to 1882. He was in the organization of the Methodist Church at Auburn in 1892. W. W. Parks and his wife are buried at the Flowery Branch Cemetery in Hall County, Georgia.

The words are unattributed. To me the hymn seem like a hymn from an earlier era and unlikely to be written by Parks. Nevertheless, I have yet to find it elsewhere, other than the first stanza used by W. A. Cumbie as a second stanza to his song Come and Go with Me to Heaven in 1902.

The Birman Hymn
1. O, seek ye heaven–a golden land,
 Where happy souls rejoicing stand,
And ever view the Saviour’s face,
And speak and sing of matchless grace.

2. Exempt from sin and sorrow’s rage,
From sickness, death, and wasting age;
All suff’ring banish’d from the place,
They speak, and sing of matchless grace!

3. Love fills entire each burning breast,
Of everlasting bliss possess’d;
They quaff with joy th’ immortal spring,
Of grace divine they speak and sing.

4. God’s presence is their dwelling-place!
The glorious and effulgent rays
From Jesus’ face around them shine,–
They speak, and sing of grace divine!

[UPDATE: Wade Kotter found “The Birman (Burman) Hymn” in Simple Rhymes and Familiar Conversations for Children by Charles D. Mallary (Penfield, GA: Benj. Brantly, 1844). Thanks, Wade!!]

[UPDATE 2: I believe the W. W. Parks in the organization of the Auburn Methodist Church in 1892 is the son rather than the father. It appears that the father had already moved to Flowery Branch before that time.]


Leland Bryant Ross said...

I assume "as" in the sentence about his burial place is a typo for are or were.

Also, it might be worth noting that the book Wade Kotter located the text in was published, according to WorldCat, in Penfield, Ga., in 1844, by Benj. Brantly.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Leland. Looking back over this, I also noticed that the Find-A-Grave link was no longer valid and updated it as well.