Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Too beautiful

It might seem like lazy blogging to embed youtube videos, but really, this song I keep singing.

The first two verses come from an old hymn that I first came across in Tom Sawyer, in the chapter where he goes to church:

The minister gave out the hymn, and read it through with a relish, in a peculiar style which was much admired in that part of the country. His voice began on a medium key and climbed steadily up till it reached a certain point, where it bore with strong emphasis upon the topmost word and then plunged down as if from a spring-board:

Shall I be car-ri-ed to the skies, on flow'ry BEDS of ease,
Whilst others fight to win the prize, and sail thro' BLOOD-y seas?

He was regarded as a wonderful reader. At church "sociables" he was always called upon to read poetry; and when he was through, the ladies would lift up their hands and let them fall helplessly in their laps, and "wall" their eyes, and shake their heads, as much as to say, "Words cannot express it; it is too beautiful, TOO beautiful for this mortal earth."

I have sung it as a traditional hymn, as written by Isaac Watts. It was recorded by The Carter Family in a bluegrass style with a different chorus and third verse:

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?

On the sea (the sea the sea)
Of Galilee (of Galilee),
My Jesus is walking on the sea.
On the sea (the sea the sea)
Of Galilee (of Galilee),
My Jesus is walking on the sea.

Must I be carried to the sky
On flowery beds of ease
While others fight to win the prize
And sail through bloody seas?

There shall I take my weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast.

Here is the Carter Family version as sung by Emmylou Harris and the Peasall Sisters (who appeared little girls in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? singing "I'll be somewhere a working for my Lord"):

I like a song that says "my Jesus." It's sweet and intimate.

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