1 Hark! my gay friends, that solemn toll
Speaks the departure of a soul!
'Tis gone, that's all we know--not where,
Or how th' unbody'd soul doth fare.
2 In that myster'ous would none knows
But God alone, to whom it goes;
To whom departed souls return,
To take their doom, to smile or mourn.
3 Oh! by what glimm'ring light we view
The unknown world we're hast'ning to!
God has lock'd up the mystic page,
And curtain'd darkness round the stage!
4 Wise heav'n to render search perplext,
Has drawn 'twixt this world and the next
A dark impenetrable screen,
All behind which is yet unseen!
5 We talk of heav'n, we talk of hell;
But what they mean no tongue can tell;
Heav'n is the realm where angels, are,
And hell the chaos of despair!
6 But what these awful words imply,
None of us know until we die!
Whether we will or no, we must
Take the succeeding world on trust.
7 This hour perhaps our friend is well,
Death struck the next, he cries farewell!
I die--and then, for ought we see,
Ceases at once to breathe and be.
8 Thus launch'd from life's ambiguous shore,
Ingulph'd in death, appears no more;
Then undirected to repair
To distant worlds we know not where.
9 Swift flies the soul, perhaps 'tis gone
A thousand leagues beyond the sun;
Or twice then thousand more thrice told,
Ere the forsaken clay is cold!
10 And yet who knows, if friends we lov'd,
Tho' dear, may be so far remov'd;
Only a veil of flesh between,
Perhaps they watch us tho' unseen.
11 Whilst we their loss lamenting say,
They're out of hearing, far away;
Guardians to us perhaps they're near,
Conceal'd in vehicles of air.
12 And yet no notices they give,
Nor tell us where or how they live;
Tho' conscious, whilst with us below,
How much themselves desir'd to know:
13 As if bound up by solemn fate,
To tell the secret of their state:
To tell their joys or pains to none,
That man might live by faith alone.
14 Well, let my sov'reign, if he please,
Lock up his marvellous decrees:
Why should I wish him to reveal
What he thinks proper to conceal?
15 It is enough that I believe,
Heav'n's brighter than I can conceive,
And he that makes it all his care
To serve God here, shall see him there!
16 But Oh! what worlds shall I survey,
The moment that I leave this clay!
How sudden the surprise, how new!
Let it my God be happy too.
Source: Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs, for the use of religious assemblies and private Christians: being a collection #CXLVIII