(Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27801:
I would not live alway -- I ask not to stay
Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way;
The few lucid mornings that dawn on us here,
Are followed by gloom, or beclouded with fear.
I would not live alway thus fettered by sin,
Temptation without and corruption within;
E'en the rapture of pardon is mingled with fears,
And the cup of thanksgiving with penitent tears.
I would not live alway -- no, welcome the tomb;
Since Jesus has lain there I dread not its gloom;
There sweet be my rest til he bid me arise,
To hail him in triumph descending the skies.
Who, who would live alway away from his G-d,
Away from yon heaven, that blissful abode,
Where the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the bright plains,
And the noontide of glory eternally reigns.
There saints in all glory in harmony meet,
Their Saviour and brethren transported to greet;
While the anthems of glory unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the L-rd is the feast of the soul.
These are the words to that hymn that Clarence Ferrill of
the area near Alpine, TN plays & sings one line of
to close Mike Seeger's "Close To Home" recording
(Smithsonian Folkways CD SF-CD-40097) of the playing & singing of people
in the Southern Appalachians:
From "Primitive Hymns" (otherwise known as Lloyd's Hymnal, after the
The Primitive Hymns Corporation
PO Box 92
A few words of commentary here:
I've transcribed the words as they appear in the hymnal, capitalizations
& non-capitalizations alike (strangely enough I didn't have to make any
personal editorial decisions on the pronouns; they had them in lower case)
with the exception of putting that dash for the 'o' in G-d,
which is the conservative- & even-more-religious-Jewish way of
not inadvertantly taking that name in vain by doing things like
A few words about singing these hymns, or playing them:
The people who sing them in religious services always sing them
acapella, which is why I was so amazed to hear Mr. Ferrill on the recording
play it through & then sing part of a verse, even though he didn't play when
he sang. Since this isn't a widely circulated hymn that got into the
string-band-gospel tradition (where playing behind hymns is customary),
I don't think it would be a good idea to suddenly put it there in
modern-folkie (or any other) version. But I don't think the people
who sing it would mind if you only play it so long as you explain to the
people you play it to what it is. I don't speak for any of them in any way,
but my impression is they wouldn't mind if its done with respect.
Some of them know that at least some of the beautiful &
very ancient-sounding hymns they sing came from old ballads & airs & songs,
but not many of them sing any of the ballads & songs or play the airs anymore,
though they sing the hymns with great beauty, power & reverence. I have heard
a few hymns sung by the same people that I recognized as versions of
secular songs I knew, & have had a few more pointed out to me that I didn't
recognize in their hymn form, but I cannot make a secular-song connection
to this one.
If you don't agree with the sentiments expressed in some of the verses of the
song, I don't think the people who sing it would mind if you left those
whole verses out, but I think they would mind very much if you changed
specific words to say something counter to what the words do say
if you wanted to; they often switch tunes & texts around, though I've yet
to hear them do that with this one.
(Probably needless to say after all that exposition, if any circumstances
were to send me to singing this song alone in public for any reason, the
2 verses that the people who have preserved the song *always* sing, because
they are the verses with the most treasured meaning for them, would be
the ones I'd leave out. But its not my religion, or my hymn.) JM