Ballstown (Great God, Attend)
DESCRIPTION: "Great God, attend while Zion sings the joy that from thy presence springs. To spend one day with thee on earth Exceeds a thousand days of mirth."
AUTHOR: Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748) / Music: Nehemiah Shumway (Source: Original Sacred Harp 1971)
EARLIEST DATE: 1719 (Watts, Psalms of David, according to Julian)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Abernethy-SinginTexas, p. 118, "Great God, Attend" (1 text, 1 tune, a copy of a shape note version)
NOTES [139 words]: For more on Isaac Watts, see the notes to "O God, Our Help in Ages Past."
According to John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 1240, the text is from Watts's 1719 Psalms of David, where it is said to be based on Psalm 84 (specifically 84:8, which the King James Bible renders "Oh LORD, God of hosts, hear my prayer: Give ear, O God of Jacob." Even by Isaac Watts standards, that seems a pretty feeble equivalence; the word Zion, for instance, never occurs in the psalm.
The title of this in all the shape note hymnals I've seen is "Ballstown" (presumably the name of the tune). I find it a little bit funny that Abernethy-SinginTexas changes it to "Great God, Attend." Clearly Abernethy-SinginTexas detected an alternate meaning to the title.... - RBW
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