Teach me the measure of my
if you do not hear the tune, click
Teach me the measure of my days,
thou Maker of my frame.
I would survey life's narrow space,
and learn how frail I am.
A span is all that we can boast,
an inch or two of time.
We are but vanity and dust
in all our flower and prime.
See the vain race of mortals move
like shadows over the plain.
They rage and strive, desire and love,
but all the noise is vain.
What should I wish or wait for then,
from creatures, earth, and dust?
They make our expectations vain,
and disappoint our trust.
Now I forbid my carnal hope,
my fond desires recall.
I give my mortal interest up,
and make my God my all.
Words: based on Psalm 39, Isaac Watts, Psalms of David, 1719,
Tune: The Brethren's Tune and Hymn Book, 1872
Watts, though a strong-willed soul among mortals, was ever mindful of his
frailty (he suffered recurring illness) as a human being, especially compared
with the great, high majesty of God. In this text his tightly written, vivid
poetry reins in our daily struggles and gives perspective to scattered lives -
"I give my mortal interest up, and make my God my all."
words, originally titled "The vanity of man as mortal," are based on
Psalm 39:4-7, this hymn has had a scripture citation of Psalm 90:12 in The
Brethren's Hymn Book (1867). The fourth stanza has been omitted and slight
alterations made in the first two stanzas.
"mortality," is a haunting, natural, minor tune with an unusually wide
melodic range. In its original source, the music was pitched a major third
higher. As was typical for The Brethren's Tune and Hymn Book, the melody
in the middle voice was harmonized by a soprano and bass part. The harmony, with
its open fifths and occasional dissonances, supports the melody's austere folk
from Hymnal Companion
return to "Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs"
return to Long Green Valley Church "Worship"