Ah, I shall soon be dying. J. Ryland. [Death anticipated.] Dr. Ryland's son says that this hymn was written by his father while walking through the streets of London, and dates it 1800, (S. MSS.). This date is an error, as the hymn appeared in the Evangelical Magazine, Oct. 1798, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines, as "Reflections," and with the note:—
"The following lines passed through the mind of a country minister as he was walking the streets of London, and considering how far several persons appeared now to be advanced in life whom he had known in their youth a very few years back, and how many others of his acquaintance had been already removed."
The hymn was repeated in the Baptist Register, 1800, p. 312, and in the 27th edition of Rippon's Selections 1827-8, No. 550. pt. iii. From thence it has passed into collections both in Great Britain and America. It is also included in Sedgwick's reprint of Dr. Ryland's Hymns, 1860.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)