I went shape-note singing for the second time in a week today. Last Monday I went to the public sing hosted by Norumbega Harmony in Newton, and this afternoon I went to the monthly sing at St. John’s Church in Charlestown. This hymn cut right to the heart of my condition.

Mercer’s Cluster, 1823/Columbian Harmony, 1829

Oh, once I had a glor’ous view
Of my redeeming Lord,
He said, “I’ll be a God to you,“
And I believed his word.
    But now I have a deeper stroke
    Than all my groanings are;
    My God has be of late forsook;
    He’s gone, I know not where.

Oh, what immortal joys I felt
On that celestial day,
When my hard heart began to melt,
By love dissolved away!
    But my complaint is bitter now,
    For all my joys are gone;
    I’ve strayed! I’m left! I know not how;
    The light’s from me withdrawn.

Once I could joy the saints to meet,
To me they were most dear;
I then could stoop to wash their feet,
And shed a joyful tear;
    But now I meet them as the rest,
    And with them joyless stay;
    My conversation’s spiritless,
    Or else I’ve naught to say.

I once could mourn o’er dying men,
And longed their souls to win;
I travailed for their poor children,
And warned them of their sin;
    But now my heart’s so careless grown,
    Although they’re drowned in vice,
    My bowels o’er them cease to yearn–
    My tears have left mine eyes.

I forward go in duty’s way,
But can’t perceive Him there;
Then backward on the road I stray,
But cannot find Him there;
    On the left hand, where He doth work,
    Among the wicked crew,
    And on the right I find Him not
    Among the favored few.

What shall I do? Shall I lie down
And sink in deep despair?
Will He forever wear a frown,
Nor hear my feeble prayer?
    No; He will put His strength in me,
    He knows the way I’ve strolled,
    And shen I’m tried sufficiently
    I shall come forth as gold.

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