The Dying Californian

I’ve been picking this one out and have really come to enjoy it. The lyrics are excellent and found in the Sacred Harp, p. 410.

Lay up nearer, brother, nearer,
For my limbs are growing cold,
And thy presence seemeth nearer
When thine arms around me fold.
I am dying, brother, dying,
Soon you’ll miss me in your berth;
For my form will soon be lying,
Beneath the ocean’s briny surf.

Hearken, brother, closely hearken:
I have something I would say,
Ere the vale my visions darken
And I go from hence away.
I am going, surely going,
But my hope in God is strong;
I am willing, brother, knowing
That he doeth nothing wrong.

Tell my father, when you see him,
How in death I prayed for him,
Prayed that I might some day meet him
In a world that’s free from sin.
Tell my mother–God assist her,
Now that she is growing old–
That her son would glad have kissed her,
When his lips grew pale and cold.

Listen, brother, catch each whisper
‘Tis my wife I speak of now,
Tell, oh tell her how I missed her
When the fever burned my brow.
Hearken, brother, closely listen,
Don’t forget a single word:
How in death my eyes did glisten
At the tears her memory stirred.

Tell her she must kiss my children
Like the kiss I last impressed,
Hold them as when last I held them
Held them closely to my breast.
Give them early to their Maker,
Putting all her trust in God,
And he never will forsake her,
For he said so in his Word.

Oh! my children, Heaven bless them,
They were all my life to me:
Would I could once caress them,
Ere I’d sink beneath the sea!
‘Twas for them I crossed the ocean,
What my hopes were I’ll not tell;
But they gained an orphan’s portion,
Yet He doeth all things well;

Tell my sisters I remember
Every kind and parting word,
And my heart has been kept tender,
By the thoughts its memory stirred.
Tell them I ne’er reached the haven
Where I sought the precious dust,
But I gained a port called Heaven
Where the gold will never rust.

Urge them to secure an entrance,
They will find their brother there,
Faith in Jesus and repentance
Will secure for them a share.
Hark, I hear my Saviour speaking,
‘Tis–I know his voice so well;
When I’m gone, oh don’t be weeping,
Brother, hear my last farewell!

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