Scripture Verse

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. Revelation 14:13


Park Benjamin

Words: Park Ben­ja­min, in The Hymns of Prog­ress, by Le­vi K. Coon­ley (Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chus­etts: Will­iam White, 1864), page 91.

Music: Kan­sas Ci­ty Will­iam J. Kirk­pat­rick, 1893 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

William J. Kirkpatrick

This hymn was pub­lished dur­ing the Am­er­i­can civil war, when the Un­ion side raised vol­un­teer un­its to aug­ment its reg­u­lar ar­my.

Po­to­mac like­ly re­fers to Ar­ling­ton Na­tion­al Ce­me­te­ry, on the banks of the Po­to­mac Ri­ver, across from Wash­ing­ton, DC. The ce­me­te­ry be­gan mil­i­tary bur­ials in 1864, the year this hymn was writ­ten (and, iron­ic­al­ly, the year Park Ben­ja­min died).


’Tis eve; one brightly beaming star
Shines from the eastern heav’n afar,
To light the footsteps of the brave,
Slow marching to a comrade’s grave.

And whose the form, all stark and cold,
Thus ready for the loosened mould,
And stretched upon so rude a bier?
Thine, soldier, thine! the Volunteer.

Poor Volunteer! the shot, the blow,
Or swift disease hath laid him low;
And few his early loss deplore—
His battle fought, his journey o’er.

Alas! no wife’s fond arms caressed,
His cheek no tender mother pressed;
No pitying soul was by his side,
As lonely in his tent he died.

He died—the Volunteer—at noon;
At evening came the small platoon
That soon will leave him to his rest,
With sods upon his manly breast.

Hark to their fire! his only knell—
More solemn than the passing bell;
For ah! it tells a spirit flown,
Unshriven, to the home unknown.

Alas! like him, how many more
Like cold upon Potomac’s shore!
How many green unnoted graves
Are bordered by those placid waves.

Wake! soldier, wake! from sorrow flee,
And sin and strife. ’Tis well with thee.
’Tis well; though not a single tear
Laments the buried Volunteer!