Few are thy days, and full of woe

Few are thy days, and full of woe

Author: Michael Bruce
Published in 27 hymnals

Representative Text

Few are thy days, and full of woe,
O man, of woman born!
Thy doom is written, ‘Dust thou art,
and shalt to dust return.’

Behold the emblem of thy state
in flow’rs that bloom and die,
Or in the shadow’s fleeting form,
that mocks the gazer’s eye.

Guilty and frail, how shalt thou stand
before thy sov’reign Lord?
Can troubled and polluted springs
a hallowed stream afford?

Determined are the days that fly
successive o’er thy head;
The numbered hour is on the wing
that lays thee with the dead.

Great God! afflict not in thy wrath
the short allotted span
That bounds the few and weary days
of pilgrimage to man.

All nature dies, and lives again:
the flow’r that paints the field,
The trees that crown the mountain’s brow,
and boughs and blossoms yield,

Resign the honours of their form
at Winter’s stormy blast,
And leave the naked leafless plain
a desolated waste.

Yet soon reviving plants and flow’rs
anew shall deck the plain;
The woods shall hear the voice of Spring,
and flourish green again.

But man forsakes this earthly scene,
ah! never to return:
Shall any foll’wing spring revive
the ashes of the urn?

The mighty flood that rolls along
its torrents to the main,
Can ne’er recall its waters lost
from that abyss again.

So days, and years, and ages past,
descending down to night,
Can henceforth never more return
back to the gates of light;

And man, when laid in lonesome grave,
shall sleep in Death’s dark gloom,
Until th’ eternal morning wake
the slumbers of the tomb,

O may the grave become to me
the bed of peaceful rest,
Whence I shall gladly rise at length,
and mingle with the blest!

Cheered by this hope, with patient mind,
I’ll wait Heav’n’s high decree,
Till the appointed period come,
when death shall set me free.

Source: Scottish Psalter and Paraphrases #R8

Author: Michael Bruce

Bruce, Michael, son of a Scottish weaver, was born at Kinnesswood, Portmoak, Kinrossshire, Scotland, March 27,1746, and educated at the village school, Edinburgh University (where he first became acquainted with John Logan), and the Theological Hall of the Associate Synod, held at Kinross, under the Rev. John Swanston, intending ultimately to enter the ministry, a hope which was frustrated by his untimely death. To assist in procuring University fees and maintenance he for some time conducted a school, during the recess, at Gairney Bridge, and subsequently at Forrest Mill, near Tillicoultry. Whilst yet a student he died at Kinnesswood, July 5th, 1767. [Also, see Logan, John] The names of Michael Bruce and John Logan are brought together… Go to person page >


Few are thy days and full of woe. M. Bruce. [The Resurrection.] From evidence elsewhere produced l we believe the original of this hymn to have been written by M. Bruce about 1764; that the same was handed by Bruce's father to John Logan a short time after Bruce's death (in 1767), and that it was published by J. Logan in his Poems, 1781, p. 95, No. 2, as his own. The nearest approach to the original text now attainable is given in Dr. Mackelvie's edition of Bruce's Works with Life, 1837,pp. 254-57; and Dr. Grosart's Works of M. Bruce, 1865, pp. 127-130. In the same year that Logan's Poems were published, the new and revised edition of the Scottish Translations and Paraphrases was issued, and therein, as No. viii., was given a paraphrase of Job xiv. 1-15, in which six of the fourteen stanzas are almost entirely from this hymn, and the remaining eight are but the amplification of the thoughts which are found in the remaining stanzas of the original. This version, which has been in use in the Church of Scotland for more than 100 years, should therefore be designated "Michael Bruce altered by John Logan." In addition to abbreviations of the text which begin with stanza i., the following centos are in common use:— 1. All nature dies and lives again. This cento in Dabney's Psalms & Hymns 1821, and later editions and other collections, is composed of stanzas vi.-viii., xii.-xiv. 2. The mighty flood that rolls. Composed of stanzas x.-iv. altered to S.M. in the American Prayer Book Psalms & Hymns, 1826, and later editions, and others. 3. The winter past, reviving flower. Composed of stanzas viii., ix. altered, with three additional stanzas from another source. This is No. 306 in the American German Reformed Psalms & Hymns, 1834, and later editions. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



Instances (1 - 27 of 27)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
A Collection of Hymns for Public and Private Worship approved by the Presbytery of Charleston #d56
A Collection of Hymns: Supplementary to the Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Watts #403Page Scan
Chapel Hymns #d147
Christian Psalms and Hymns to Aid in Public and Private Devotion #d235
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Church Poetry: being Portions of the Psalms in Verse and Hymns suited to the Festivals and Fasts, and Various Occasions of the Church #187Page Scan
Congregational Hymn and Tune Book; containing the Psalms and Hymns of the General Association of Connecticut, adapted to Suitable Tunes #389Page Scan
Hymns of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, as authorized by the General Convention: with an additional selection #188Page Scan
Hymns selected from various authors: for the use of the Evangelical Association, and all lovers of pious devotion (5th ed.) #430Page Scan
Hymns suited to the Feasts and Fasts of the Church and Other Occasions of Public Worship ... approved by the Convention of 1826 #d46
Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes; for the use of Christian Congregations #826Page Scan
Psalms and Hymns, for Christian Use and Worship #H464Page Scan
Psalms and Hymns, for the Use of the German Reformed Church, in the United States of America. (2nd ed.) #289Page Scan
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Original and Selected. (7th ed.) #S303Page Scan
Scottish Psalter and Paraphrases #R8Text
Selections from the Psalms of David in Metre: with hymns suited to the feasts and fasts of the church, and other occasions of public worship #H188Page Scan
The Baptist Hymn and Tune Book: being "The Plymouth Collection" enlarged and adapted to the use of Baptist churches #826Page Scan
The Choice: in two parts. Part I containing psalms and hymns, Part II, containing spiritual songs. Designed for public and private worship #H492
The Choice: in two parts; Part I, containing Psalms and hymns, Part II, containing spiritual songs; designed for public and private worship (6th ed.) #H492Page Scan
The Choral: a Collection of Church Music, Adapted to the Worship of All Denominations #d55
The Halifax Selection of Hymns: intended as a Supplement to Dr. Watts' Psalms and Hymns #d120
The Lecture-Room Hymn-Book: containing the psalms and hymns of the book of common prayer, together with a choice selection of additional hymns, and an appendix of chants and tunes... #H188Page Scan
The Millennial Harp #d114
The Millennial Harp #d57
The Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs of the Rev. Isaac Watts, D. D.: to which are added select hymns, from other authors; and directions for musical expression (New ed.) #D281Page Scan
The Reformed Church Hymnal: with tunes #297Page Scan
The School Psalter #d68
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