1 Ah! lovely Appearance of Death,
No Sight upon Earth is so fair;
Not all the gay Pageants that breathe,
Can with a dead Body compare.
2 With solemn Delight I survey
The Corps, when the Spirit is fled,
In Love with the beautiful Clay,
And longing to lie in his stead.
3 How blest is our Brother, bereft
Of all that could burden his Mind?
How easy the Soul, that hath left
This wearisome Body behind!
4 Of Evil incapable thou,
Whose Relicts with Envy I see;
No longer in Misery now,
No longer a Sinner like me.
5 This Earth is affected no more,
With Sickness, or shaken with Pain;
The War in the Members is o'er,
And never shall vex him again.
6 No Anger henceforward, or Shame,
Shall redden this innocent Clay;
Extinct is the Animal Flame,
And Passion is vanish'd away.
7 This languishing Head is at rest,
Its Thinking and Aching are o'er;
This quiet immoveable Breast
Is heav'd by Affliction no more.
8 This Heart is no longer the Seat
Of Trouble and torturing Pain;
It ceases to flutter and beat,
I never shall flutter again.
9 The Lids he so seldom could close,
by Sorrow forbidden to sellp,
Seal'd up in eternal Repose,
Have strangely forgotten to weep.
10 The Fountains can yield no Supplies,
These Hollows from Waters are free!
The Tears are all wip'd from these Eyes,
And Evil they never shall see.
11 To mourn and to suffer is mine,
While bound in a Prison I breathe;
And still for Deliverance pine,
And press to the Issues of Death.
12 What now with my Tears I bedew,
O might I this Moment become,
My Spirit created anew,
My Flesh be consign'd to the Tomb.
Ah, lovely appearance of death. C. Wesley. [Burial.] First published in his Funeral Hymns (1st Ser.), 1746, No. v., and entitled "On the sight of a Corpse." The body is supposed to have been that of a young man who died at Cardiff, Aug. 1744; as, concerning him, C. Wesley wrote in his Journal of that date, "The Spirit, at its departure, had left marks of its happiness on the clay. No sight upon earth, in my eyes, is half so lovely." In 1780 it was included in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, but omitted in the revised edition of 1875. Original text, Poetical Works of J. & C. Wesley, 1868-72, vol. vi. p. 193. The text of this hymn was revised by the author about 1782, and reduced to 5 stanzas. Details of the manuscript alterations are given in the Poetical Works, vol. vi. p. 212. Although omitted from the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1875, it is still retained in many collections in Great Britain and America.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)