Lyrics by: Alexander Pope
Score: PDF
MIDI: midi
Source: LY

A setting of Alexander Pope’s The Dying Christian To His Soul, attributed to “Temple and Merrill,” which first appeared in The Psalmodist’s Best Companion, a New Hampshire tunebook. It appears in The Sacred Harp and The Southern Harmony, the source for this edition.

For at least some pieces, it is common shape-note performance practice to sing pieces written in minor keys in the Dorian mode, i.e. with an unflatted sixth. I have no idea whether Claremont is one of those pieces, but I like it Dorian, so that’s what’s here. If you’d prefer the Aeolian version, as in the source, make all the F♯s natural.

This article has a little more information.

See also William Billings’ setting of the same text.

Vital spark of heav’nly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heav’n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?