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Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways

Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways

Author: Clifford Bax (1916)
Tune: OLD 124TH
Published in 58 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 Turn back, O mortal, quit thy foolish ways.
Old now is earth, and none may count her days,
Yet thou, its child, whose head is crowned with flame
Still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim,
"Turn back, O mortal, quit thy foolish ways."

2 Earth might be fair, and people glad and wise.
Age after age their tragic empires rise,
Built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep.
Would they but wake from out their haunted sleep,
Earth shall be fair, and people glad and wise.

3 Earth shall be fair, and all its people one,
Nor till that hour shall God's whole will be done!
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky
Peals forth in joy the old, undaunted cry,
"Earth shall be fair, and all its people one."

Source: Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #194

Author: Clifford Bax

Clifford Bax was a prolific English author and playwright. He was born in south London. He studied at The Slade and the Heatherly Art School but he gave up painting and worked on writing. He was a friend of Gustav Holst and he wrote the hymn "Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways" during World War I, at the request of Holst who wanted a text for the motet he composed on the tune OLD 124th. Dianne Shapiro, from Wikipedia, Find A Grave ( and "The Cambridge Dictionary of Hymnology" ( accessed 1-30-2019 Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways
Author: Clifford Bax (1916)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain; Used by perm. of The Peters Fraser & Dunlop Group, Ltd.



GENEVAN 124 (also known as OLD 124TH) was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter. Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized the tune in 1985. One of the best known from the Genevan Psalter, the tune is published in most North American hymnals. By 1564 it was adopted in English and Scott…

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The Cyber Hymnal #6966
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)


Instances (1 - 4 of 4)

A New Hymnal for Colleges and Schools #575

Singing the Living Tradition #120


The Cyber Hymnal #6966


Worship in Song #194

Include 54 pre-1979 instances
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