Sunday, May 09, 2021

An address to all

The following hymn appears at least as early as Hymns, Original and Selected, for the Use of Christians (5th edition Elias Smith, Abner Jones, Philadelphia, PA: Herald Office, 1812). There it is “Hymn 293. C. M. Address to all.” The author is unknown. It is a solemn warning of the inevitably of death as an appointment for all (Hebrews 9:27).
1. I sing a song which doth belong
To all the human race,
Concerning Death, which steals the breath,
And blasts the comely face;
2. Come listen all unto my call,
Which I do make today
For you must die as well as I,
And pass from hence away.
3. No human power can stop the hour,
Wherein a mortal dies;
A Caesar may be great today,
Yet death will close his eyes:
4. Though some do strive and do arrive
To riches and renown,
Enjoying health and swim in wealth,
Yet Death will bring them down.
5. Though beauty grace your comely face,
With roses white and red,
A dying fall will spoil it all,
For Absalom is dead:
6. Though you acquire the best attire,
Appearing fine and fair,
Yet Death will come into the room,
And strip you naked there.
7. The princes high and beggars die,
And mingle with dust,
The rich, the brave, the poorest slave,
The wicked and the just.
8. Therefore prepare to meet thy God,
Before it be too late.
Or else you’ll weep, lament and cry,
Lost in a ruined state.
In Hymns, Original and Selected, for the Use of Christians, the hymn has seven stanzas. As printed with the tune An Address for All in The Southern Harmony and The Christian Harmony, the hymn has eight stanzas. The eighth stanza probably is not original. It does not contain the internal rhyme as found in the first and third lines of the hymn in the other seven stanzas. William Walker may have added it, since he was using the hymn for a “doubled” tune and needed an even number of stanzas. The Christian Harmony uses the first four stanzas of this hymn with the tune Solemn Call.
For an eighth stanza with internal rhyme, I suggest the following possible substitute:
8. Therefore embrace, thy God to face,
Before it be too late.
Or else you’ll cry, lament and die
Lost in a ruined state.

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