Thursday, May 04, 2006

Billings' Africa

William Billings (1746-1800) is one of my favorite hymn writers and possibly my number one among Americans.  The group His Majestie's Clerkes has an excellent a capella recording of this hymn, known by its tune, "Africa".

For no particular reason, this was going round in my head as I walked in to work yesterday morning.  Among  songs which do that, it's certainly one of the most profitable.

The score and midi are here: and the full lyrics and historical background here:  The words below are as I hear them on the recording above but the article, of course, is probably more accurate than my ear.

Now shall my inward joy arise
and burst forth to a song !
Almighty Love inspires my heart
and pleasure tunes my tongue

God on His thirsty Zion hill
some mercy-drops hath sown;
a solemn oath hath bound His love
to shower salvation down

Why do we then indulge our fears,
suspicions, and complaints?
Is He a God, and does His grace
grow weary of His saints?

Can a kind women e'er forget
the infant of her womb?
Among a thousand tender thoughts
her suckling hath no room?

Yet saith the Lord,
"Should nature change,
and mothers, monsters, prove,
Zion still dwells upon the heart
of everlasting love.

"Deep on the palms of both My hands
I have engraved her name;
My hands shall raise her ruined walls
and build her broken frame."

No comments: