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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    VIII. Overtone of Prophecy Heard in Songs of the Day

    Prophecy already occupied a place in the religious songs of the early decades of the nineteenth century, when men were preaching and writing much on prophecy. Long before, Watts had written a hymn on “The Ruin of Antichrist,” another on “Babylon Fallen,” and one on “The Last Judgment.” 61Nos. 29, 59, and 45 in Book I of his Hymns and Spiritual Songs. And in the Great Revival in America the witness of Bible prophecy, the hope of the second advent and imminence of the judgment, the millennium soon to be established, and the signs of the latter times—all found similar expression in song. This is evident from the fact that the Millerites “found a great stock of end-of-time songs” from the generation preceding them and used them in their call to preparation for the transcendent events impending. 62G. P. Jackson, op. cit., p. 107. Take, for example, Hugh Bourne’s A Collection of Hymns for Camp Meetings, Revivals, Etc. (1810), used here in America.PFF4 53.1

    But apart from these larger prophetic themes on the approaching end and second advent were the specific warning signs of the times. The catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755, is listed as the basis for these lines:PFF4 53.2

    “Alas! on earth how oft we spy
    Wonders descending from the sky!
    PFF4 53.3

    “And the dire frighten’d trembling earth
    Abandons all her joy and mirth.
    What terrors seize on us below
    When nature speaks her overthrow!
    PFF4 53.4

    “Can I with mortal tongue declare
    What horror seized the earth and air,
    When shocks from a supremer hand
    Did shake the distant wicked land?” 63From “Miss Harvey,” in 1806 (Baptist), quoted in G. P. Jackson, op. cit., pp. 51, 52. There are nine other stanzas sounding the warning to be ready.
    PFF4 53.5

    And impressive also is the depiction of the Dark Day of May 19, 1780, and its meaning, as used by Randall’s. Freewill Baptists:PFF4 53.6

    “1. Let us adore and bow before
    The sovereign Lord of might,
    Who turns away the shining day
    Into the shades of night.
    PFF4 54.1

    “3. Nineteenth of May, a gloomy day,
    When darkness veil’d the sky;
    The sun’s decline may be a sign
    Some great event is nigh.
    PFF4 54.2

    “17. And now let all who hear this call
    And saw the day so dark,
    Make haste away without delay
    And get into the ark.” 64Ibid., p. 52.
    PFF4 54.3

    Thus the clearly sustained overtone of the “last things,” and the approaching return of Christ, was already heard running through many of these early nineteenth-century songs, soon to appear in a rising crescendo in the thirties and forties.PFF4 54.4

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