1. Alas! how swift the moments fly!
How flash the years along!
Scarce here, yet gone already by,
The burden of a song.
See childhood, youth, and manhood pass,
And age, with furrowed brow;
Time was—Time shall be—drain the glass—
But where in Time is now?
2. Time is the measure but of change;
No present hour is found;
The past, the future, fill the range
Of Time’s unceasing round.
Where, then is now? In realms above,
With God’s atoning Lamb,
In regions of eternal love,
Where sits enthroned I AM.
3. Then pilgrim, let thy joys and tears
On Time no longer lean;
But henceforth all thy hopes and fears
From earth’s affections wean:
To God let votive accents rise;
With truth, with virtue, live;
So all the bliss that Time denies
Eternity shall give.
Adams, John Quincy. (Braintree, Mass., July 11, 1767-February 21, 1848, Washington, D.C.). Most of Adams' verse, both religious and secular, was written after he had left the Presidency. In his later years he composed a metrical version of the Psalms, best described as a free rendering in fairly good verse of what he felt was the essential idea of each Psalm. When his minister, William P. Lunt, of the First Parish, (Unitarian), Quincy, Mass., undertook the preparation of his hymn book The Christian Psalter, Mrs. Adams put the manuscript of her husband's metrical Psalms into Lunt's hands, and the latter included 17 of them in his book, and five other hymns by his distinguished parishioner.
The effect on Adams is recorded in a moving entr… Go to person page >
Alas! how swift the moments fly. John Quincy Adams [Time.] Sometimes given as "How swift, alas, the moments fly," was written for the 200th anniversary of the First Congregational Church, Quincy, Sept. 29, 1839. It is found in Lyra Sacra Americana and in Putnam's Singers and Songs of the Liberal Faith, 1875. [Rev. F. M. Bird, M.A.]
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)