Am I Born to Die? (Idumea)
DESCRIPTION: "And am I born to die, To lay this body down, And must my trembling spirit fly Into a world unknown?" "Waked by the trumpet sound, I from my grave shall rise, To see the Judge with glory crowned..." "I must from God be driv'n, Or with my Savior dwell...."
AUTHOR: Words: Charles Wesley / Music: Ananias Davidson?
EARLIEST DATE: 1763 (Wesley's "Hymns for Children," according to Julian)
KEYWORDS: religious death nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 125, "Am I Born to Die?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 164-165, "And Am I Born to Die" (1 text, 1 tune)
Singers from Stewart's Chapel, Houston, MS, "World Unknown"; "Iduimea" (on Fasola1)
cf. "World Unknown" (tune)
cf. "We're Some of the Praying People" (lyrics)
When Sorrows Encompass Me 'Round (File: Wa094)
NOTES [170 words]: Lomax compares the tune to "Lord Lovel." It appears in the shape note books as "Idumea" (the Sacred Harp has a second tune, "World Unknown," listed as by H. S. Reese, but this doesn't seem to be well known). That the tune "Idumea" is traditional cannot be denied. There is more doubt about the words.
In the Missouri Harmony, the tune Idumea has the lyric "My God, my life, my love, To thee, to thee I call; I cannot live, if thou remove, For thou art all in all."
For the life of Charles Wesley, author of the lyrics of this piece, see the notes to "Jesus Lover of My Soul.
According to John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 63, this was #59 in Wesley's Hymns for Children (1763). Interestingly, the same book had another Wesley poem, "And am I only born to die." (Makes you wonder what other happy themes Wesley put in Hymns for Children, doesn't it?) That other hymn doesn't seem to be as widely known; I have not seen it. - RBW
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