Thorny Desert (William Walker)

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  • (Posted 2018-06-21)   CPDL #50235:         
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2018-06-21).   Score information: 7 x 10 inches (landscape), 1 page, 48 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Notes in four-shape format, as originally published in 1835. Seven stanzas included, as in The Dover Selection and Southern Harmony. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.

General Information

Title: Thorny Desert
First Line: Dark and thorny is the desert
Composer: William Walker
Lyricist: Anonymous

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: Sacred   Meter: 76. 76. D

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1835 in Southern Harmony, for three voices: Treble-Tenor-Bass; Alto part written by William Walker in his Christian Harmony, 1867

Description: Most of the tune is in E minor, though the two staffs end in G Major. A folk hymn, a "camp meeting spiritual song" (Jackson 1952, No. 250). Words by an anonymous author, first published 1805; Walker took the words from The Dover Selection of Spiritual Songs, as he cites in Southern Harmony.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Lexington Collection, 1805

1. Dark and thorny is the desert,
Through which pilgrims make their way;
Yet beyond this vale of sorrow,
Lie the fields of endless day.
Fiends loud howling in the tempest,
Make them tremble as they go;
And the fiery darts of Satan,
Often lay their courage low.

2. Oh! young soldiers do you murmur,
At the troubles of the way?
Do your hearts begin to fail you
And your vigor to decay?
Jesus, Jesus, shall defend you;
He shall lead you to his throne,
He that dyed his garments for you,
And the wine press trod alone.

3. He whose thunder shakes creation;
He that bid the planets roll:
He who rides upon the tempest,
And whose scepter sways the whole:
Round him see ten thousand angels,
Ready to receive command;
They are ever watching round you,
Till you reach the heavenly land.

4. There on flowery fields of pleasure,
And the hills of endless rest,
Joy and peace, and love, shall ever
Reign and triumph in your breast,
Who can paint the scenes of glory,
Where the ransomed dwell on high;
Where the golden harps forever,
Sound redemption round the sky.

5. There a million flaming Seraphs,
Fly across the heavenly plain;
There they sing immortal praises,
Glory! Glory! is their strain.
But methinks a sweeter concert
Makes the crystal arches ring,
And a song is heard in Zion,
Which the angels cannot sing!

6. See the heavenly host in rapture,
Gaze upon this shining band
Wondering at their costly garments,
And the laurels in their hand.
There upon the golden pavement,
See the ransomed march along;
While the splendid courts of glory
Sweetly echo to their song.

7, But methinks, in whiter garments,
Some are matching on before;
Oh! their crowns, how bright they sparkle,
Such as monarchs never wore;
"There were shepherds in my pastures,
Faithful in my cause below;
They shall now, in peace forever,
Sit on thrones as white as snow.

8. Round them see the lambs they gathered,
See the flocks they fed with care;
Now they're come to richer pastures;
Jesus is their shepherd there.
Hail! ye happy, happy spirits!
Death no more shall make you fear;
Sin and sorrow, pain and anguish,
Shall no more disturb you here.

9. Sinners here shall not deride you,
Though they vexed you while below;
Now they're gone, and gone forever,
To the gulf of endless woe.
Closed in that eternal prison.
They can injure you no more;
Hell alas! is all around them!
And eternity before!

10. There they find a God of justice,
Whom they once refused to fear;
There a lake of burning Sulphur,
Though they disbelieved it here.
Hark! methiinks I hear from Tophet,
Cries more dreadful than the rest;
Some appear in greater anguish,
And with sorer vengeance pressed.

11. Ah! they cry, we heard the gospel,
Where the Lord revived his cause;
Saw how numbers bowed before him;
Yet we still refused his laws.
We rejected every warning,
Scorned the penitential tear;
We despised the calls of mercy,
Now we lie in fetters here.

12. Sinners, will you come to Jesus?
Oh I that you would come today.
Come, before the sword of vengeance
Cuts you down upon the way.
Soon the harvest may be gathered,
And the sheaves collected home;
Then, in vain, you'll call for mercy.
And, in vain, may wish to come.

 

Dover Selection, 1831

1. Dark and thorny is the desert,
Through which pilgrims make their way;
But beyond this vale of sorrows
Lie the fields of endless day.
Fiends loud howling through the desert,
Make them tremble as they go;
And the fiery darts of Satan,
Often bring their courage low.

2. Oh! young soldiers, are you weary
At the troubles of the way?
Does your strength begin to fail you,
And your vigor to decay?
Jesus, Jesus, will go with you;
He shall lead you to his throne,
He that dyed his garments for you,
And the wine press trod alone.

3. He whose thunder shakes creation;
He that bids the planets roll:
He who rides upon the tempest,
And whose scepter sways the whole:
Round him are ten thousand angels,
Ready to obey command;
They are always hovering round you,
Till you reach the heavenly land.

4. There, on flowery fields of pleasure,
In the fields of endless rest,
Love and joy and peace shall ever
Reign and triumph in your breast,
Who can paint these scenes of glory,
Where the ransomed dwell on high?
Where the golden harps forever
Sound redemption through the sky.

5. Millions there of flaming Seraphs,
Fly across the heavenly plain;
There they sing immortal praises,
Glory! Glory! is their strain.
But methinks a sweeter concert
Makes the heavenly arches ring,
And a song is heard in Zion,
Which the angels cannot sing!

6. See the heavenly host in rapture,
Gaze upon this shining band
Wondering at their costly garments,
And the laurels in their hand.
There upon the golden pavement,
See the ransomed march along;
While the splendid courts of glory
Sweetly echo to their song.

7. Oh! their crowns, how bright they sparkle,
Such as monarchs never wore;
They are gone to heavenly pastures,
Jesus is their shepherd there.
Hail! ye happy, happy spirits!
Welcome to the blissful plain!
Glory, honor, and salvation!
Reign, sweet Shepherd, ever reign!