Scripture Verse

I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Psalm 37:35–36


Words: Author un­known. The ear­li­est ver­sion of this text we have seen is in Se­lect Por­tions of Psalms, from Va­ri­ous Trans­la­tions, by John Kemp­thorne (with some stan­zas omit­ted) (Lon­don: J. Hatch­ard, 1810), page 70.

Music: So­ho Jo­seph Barn­by, 1881 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

Joseph Barnby (1838–1896)


Soon with re­sist­less arm shall death
Assert its so­ve­reign claim,
And sum­mon man to yield his breath
To Him whence first it came.

Like crowd­ed for­est trees we stand,
And some are marked to fall:
The axe will smite at God’s com­mand,
And soon shall smite us all.

Green as the bay tree, ev­er green,
With its new fo­li­age on,
The gay, the thought­less, I have seen;
I passed—and they were gone.

No pre­sent health can health en­sure
For yet an hour to come,
No hu­man power our life se­cure
And save us from the tomb.

Lord! may we mark the aw­ful truth,
Revealed in sac­red page—
A worm is in the bud of youth,
And at the root of age.

Lord! teach me hence­forth so to live,
And num­ber all my days,
That in Thy strength I now may strive
To walk in wis­dom’s ways.

And since the fa­tal shafts of death
Are fly­ing all around,
Prepare us to re­sign our breath,
Nor dread the threat­ened wound.