Death Dreadful or Delightful

Death! 'Tis a melancholy day

Author: Isaac Watts
Published in 91 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, Noteworthy Composer
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 Death, ’tis a melancholy day
To those who have no God,
When the poor soul is forced away,
To seek her last abode.

2 In vain to heav’n she lifts her eyes,
For guilt, a heavy chain,
Still drags her downward from the skies
To darkness, fire, and pain.

Source: The Sacred Harp: the best collection of sacred songs, hymns, odes, and anthems ever offered the singing public for general use (1991 rev.) #29b

Author: Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, July 17, 1674. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas' pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Death! 'Tis a melancholy day
Title: Death Dreadful or Delightful
Author: Isaac Watts
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Death! 'tis a melancholy day. I. Watts. [Death of the Wicked.] Appeared in the 1st edition of his Hymns and Sacred Songs, 1707 (2nd edition 1709, Bk. ii. No. 52), in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. It is usually abbreviated as in Dr. Hatfield's Church Hymn Book, N. Y., 1872. In the Presbyterian Psalms & Hymns for the Worship of God, Richmond, U.S.A., 1867, No. 631: "He is a God of sovereign love," is from this hymn.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)




NAOMI (Nägeli)

NAOMI was a melody that Lowell Mason (PHH 96) brought to the United States from Europe and arranged as a hymn tune; the arrangement was first published in the periodical Occasional Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1836). Some scholars have attributed the original melody to Johann G. Nageli (PHH 315), but there…

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Instances (1 - 4 of 4)

Original Sacred Harp Denson Revision 1987 Standard Melodies #29b


The Cyber Hymnal #9814


The Sacred Harp #29b

The Sacred Harp #419

Include 87 pre-1979 instances
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