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 the unbodied soul doth fare.
2 In that mysterious 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 glimmering light we view
The unknown world we're hastening to!
God has locked up the mystic page,
And curtained darkness round the stage!
4 Wise heaven to render search perplexed,
Has drawn 'twixt this world and the next,
A dark impenetrable screen,
All behind which is yet unseen!
5 We talk of heaven, we talk of hell,
But what they mean no tongue can tell!
Heaven 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 aught we see,
Ceases at once to breath and be.
8 Thus launched from life's ambiguous shore,
Engulfed 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 loved,
Though dead, may be so far removed;
Only a veil of flesh between,
Perhaps they watch us though 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;
Though conscious, whilst with us below,
How much themselves desired 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 sovereign, 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,
Heaven'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.
Divine Hymns, or Spiritual Songs: for the use of religious assemblies and private Christians 1800
|First Line:||Hark, my gay friends, that solemn toll|