Hymn to youth about choosing religion over vice


Background Notes

The Camp Meeting Chorister is a collection of hymns and spiritual songs printed and published by John Clarke of Philadelphia, PA, in 1830, with stereography done by Lawrence Johnson, also of Philadelphia.  This hymnal was intentionally non-denominational, for use at camp meetings, revival services, and other religious occasions.  In the 1830s, with the disestablishment of the state churches in New England, Protestant Christians started to cooperate and collaborate more often than previously.

Hymn #15 calls specifically to the young people, calling them away from a life of vice, sin, and gluttony, to a higher calling of religion and faithfulness.  One tool the hymn writer used was an emphasis on the possibility of an early death.  In the 1830s, a large number of children died before they reached six years of age.  Their parents and other interested adults wanted to make sure their children understood the precarious position they were in so that they would become Christians.

Transcription of Primary Source

Young people all, attention give,
While I address you in God's name;
You who in sin and folly live,
Come hear the counsel of a friend:
I sought for bliss in glitt'ring toys,
And rang'd the ‘luring scenes of vice,
But never found substantial joys,
Until I heard my Saviour's voice.

He spake my sins at once forgiv'n,
And wash'd my load of guilt away,
He gave me pardon, peace, and heaven,
And thus I found the good old way:
And now with trembling sense I view,
Huge billows roll beneath your feet,
For death eternal waits for you,
Who slight the force of gospel truth.

Youth, like the spring, will soon be gone,
By fleeting time, or conq'ring death;
Yon morning sun may set at noon,
And leave you ever in the dark:
Your sparkling eyes and blooming cheeks
Must wither, like the blasted rose,
The coffin, earth, and winding sheet,
Will soon your active limbs enclose.

Ye heedless ones that widely stroll,
The grave must soon become your bed;
Where silence reigns and vapours roll,
In solemn silence round your head:
Your friends may pass that lonesome place,
And with a sigh move slowly on,
Still gazing on the spires of grass,
With which your graves are overgrown.

But O, the soul! where vengeance reigns,
It sinks with groans and ceaseless cries,
It rolls amidst the burning flames
In endless wo and agonies:
There swallow'd up in darkest night,
Where devils howl, and thunders roar,
To rage in keen despair and guilt,
When thousand, thousand years are o'er.

O! fellow youth, this is the state
Of all who do free grace refuse,
And soon with you ‘twill be too late,
The way of life in Christ to choose:
Come, lay your carnal weapons by,
No longer fight against your God;
But with my mission now comply,
And heaven shall be your great reward.

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
"HYMN 15 L.M.," from The Camp Meeting Chorister: or, A collection of hymns and spiritual songs, for the pious of all denominations.: To be sung at camp meetings, during revivals of religion, and on other occasions.
320 pages
J. Clarke
Place of Publication: 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
11 cm.
American Antiquarian Society
Catalog Code: 
Hymnals Camp