Whence do our mournful thoughts arise?
And where's our courage fled?
Have restless sin and raging hell
Struck all our comforts dead?
Have we forgot th' almighty name
That formed the earth and sea?
And can an all-creating arm
Grow weary or decay?
Treasures of everlasting might
In our Jehovah dwell;
He gives the conquest to the weak
And treads their foes to hell.
Mere mortal power shall fade and die,
And youthful vigor cease:
But we that wait upon the Lord
Shall feel our strength increase.
The saints shall mount on eagles' wings,
And taste the promised bliss,
Till their unwearied feet arrive
Where perfect pleasure is.
Whence do our mournful thoughts arise? I. Watts. [Consolation.] 1st published in his Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and based upon Is. xl. 27-30 (ed. 1709, Bk. i. No. 32). Another form of this hymn was given in the 1745 Draft of the Scottish Translations and Paraphrases, No. xvi., in 7 stanzas of 4 lines as "Why pour'st thou forth thine anxious plaint." In the Drafts of 1751 and 1781 further alterations were introduced until it assumed the authorized form as in the Translations and Paraphrases, of 1781. In the markings by the eldest daughter of W. Cameron the alterations of 1781 are said to be by him. The designation of the hymn is I. Watts, 1707; Translations & Paraphrases, 1745; W. Cameron, 1781. In the American Prayer Book Collection, 1826, and several later hymnals it begins "Why mournest thou, my anxious soul?" Sometimes stanzas iv.-viii. are found as a separate hymn, beginning, "Supreme in wisdom as in power," as in W. F. Stevenson's Hymns for the Church and Home, 1873. In one or two American Unitarian hymnals a cento therefrom is also given as "Mere human power shall fast decay." In Jane E. Leeson's Paraphrases and Hymns, 1853, the 1781 text is rewritten in three parts as:—(1) "Thus saith the Holy One, to Whom"; (2) "O Jacob and O Israel”; (3) "God giveth power unto the faint."
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)