Tuesday, August 9, 2016

"Be watchful for your latter end..."

The Oxford Book of Carols (1928) contains 197 carols. Many are for the Christmas season, but there are some for every season of the Christian year. Percy Dearmer edited the words and Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams the music. From Percy Dearmer's Preface:
Carols are songs with a religious impulse that are simple, hilarious, popular, and modern. They are generally spontaneous and direct in expression, and their simplicity of form causes them sometimes to ramble on like a ballad. Carol literature and music are rich in true folk-poetry and remain fresh and buoyant even when the subject is a grave one....
I got my copy sometime in the 1970s. The book is still in print. Today I came across a carol called "Job." I found the setting below online. It is the same as one of several settings for that carol in the book. I failed to find find a YouTube performance that seemed appropriate.
Come all you worthy Christian men,
That dwell upon this land,
Don't spend your time in rioting:
Remember you are but man.
Be watchful for your latter end;
Be ready when you're call'd.
There are many changes in this world;
Some rise while others fall.
Come all you worthy Christian men,
That are so very poor,
Remember how poor Lazarus
Lay at the rich man's door,
While begging of the crumbs of bread
That from his table fell.
The Scriptures do inform us all
That in heaven he doth dwell.
Now Job he was a patient man,
The richest in the East;
When he was brought to poverty,
His sorrows soon increased.
He bore them all most patiently;
From sin he did refrain;
He always trusted in the Lord;
He soon got rich again.
The time, alas, it soon will come
When parted we shall be;
But all the difference it will make
Is in joy and misery.
And we must give a strict account
Of great as well as small:
Believe me now, dear Christian friends
That God will judge us all

Note: I changed the post title from "He wasted his substance in riotous living..." to "Be watchful for your latter end." The first was originally chosen because of "Don't spend your time in rioting" in the first verse of the carol but the current title is more representative of the rest of the text.