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The Frailty and Shortness of Life

Lord, what a feeble piece

Author: Isaac Watts
Published in 151 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI

Full Text

Lord, what a feeble piece
Is this our mortal frame!
Our life, how poor a trifle 'tis,
That scarce deserves the name!

Alas! 'twas brittle clay
That built our body first!
And every month and every day
'Tis mouldering back to dust.

Our moments fly apace,
Our feeble powers decay;
Swift as a flood our hasty days
Are sweeping us away.

Yet if our days must fly,
We'll keep their end in sight,
We'll spend them all in wisdom's ways,
And let them speed their flight.

They'll waft us sooner o'er
This life's tempestuous sea:
Soon shall we reach the peaceful shore,
Of blest eternity.

Source: The Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion (New ed. thoroughly rev. and much enl.) #154

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: Lord, what a feeble piece
Title: The Frailty and Shortness of Life
Author: Isaac Watts
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Lord, what a feeble piece. I. Watts. [Psalms xc.] His S.M. version of Psalms xc., which appeared in his Psalms of David, 1719, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed "The Frailty and Shortness of Life." In Martineau's Hymns, &c, 1840 and 1873, it is given as "Lord, what a fleeting breath"; and in the Leeds Hymn Book, 1853, as "Lord, make us know how frail."

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)