HICKS' FAREWELL

(REV. "ELDER" BERRIMAN HICKS)

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... Elder Berryman Hicks was born in Spartanburg County (now Cherokee County) July 1, 1778. He "intermarried" with Elizabeth Durham in 1799 and "reared a large and interesting family." He joined the State Line Church in 1800 and was soon licensed to preach. "He was a great revivalist and went far and near with his great co-worker, Elder Drury Dobbins....
Hicks possessed poetical talent and composed numerous hymns and spiritual songs -- adapted to revival occasions, which found wide use at that period...

George Pullen Jackson, White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands, New York, NY, 1965, p. 204.
Quotes from John R. Logan, Sketches of the Broad River and King's Mountain Baptist Associations, Shelby, NC, 1887, pp. 400 ff.

According to Jackson, the lyrics first appeared on page 19 of William Walker's Southern Harmony, 1835, with the note,
The song [poem] was composed by the Rev. B. Hicks, a Baptist minister of South Carolina, and sent to his wife while he was confined in Tennessee by a fever of which he afterwards recovered.1

ibid., p. 203.


VERSION #1
Lyrics as collected from the singing of Elizabeth Showalter-Miller, Dayton, VA, Dec 22, 1929 by George Pullen Jackson and reprinted in his White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands, New York, NY, 1965, pp. 202-203.

My time is swiftly rolling on
When I must faint and die;
My body to the dust return
And there fergotten lie.

Let persecution rage around
And Antichrist appear;
My silent dust beneath the ground;
There's no disturbance there.

To call poor sinners to repent
And seek their Savior dear.
My brother preachers, boldly speak
And stand on Zion's wall.
Confirm the drunk, confirm the weak
And after sinners call.

My loving wife, my bosom friend,
The object of my love,
The time's been sweet l've spent with you,
My sweet and harmless dove,
My little children near my heart
My warm affections know.
From each the path will I attend.
O from them can I go?!

O God, a father to them be
And keep them from all harm,
That they may love and worship Thee
And dwell upon Thy charm.
How often you have looked fer me
And often seen me come.
But now I must depart from thee
And nevermore return.

My loving wife, don't grieve fer me,
Neither lament nor mourn;
Fer I will with my Jesus be
And dwell upon his charm.

VERSION #2
Lyrics as performed by Doc Watson, vocal; Gaither Carlton, fiddle, at NYU, New York, NY, Oct 12, 1962; released on "FRIENDS OF OLD TIME MUSIC" (FOLKWAYS FA 2390, 1964).
Transcribed by Manfred Helfert.


Just before the Civil War, there was a missionary Baptist preacher named Reverend Hicks, who lived in central South Carolina. He decided to go into East Tennessee to do some missionary work, and while he was there he became very sick of a fever, and thinking he would die, he wrote this song, the words and the music, and sent them back to his wife so they might be published...1

The time is swiftly rolling on
When I must faint and die,
My body to the dust return
And there forgotten lie.

Let persecutions rage around,
Let Antichrist appear;
Beneath the cold and silent ground
There's no disturbance there.

Through heats and cold I've toiled and went
And wandered in despair;
To call poor sinners to repent
And seek the Savior dear.

My brother preachers, boldly speak
And stand on Zion's wall.
Confirm the strong, revive the weak,
And after sinners call.

My little children, near my heart,
And nature seems to bind,
It grieves me sorely to depart
And leave you here behind.

Oh Lord, a father to them be
And keep them from all harm
That they may love and worship Thee
And dwell upon Thy charm.

My loving wife, my bosom friend,
The object of my love,
The time's been sweet I spent with thee,
My sweet, my harmless dove.

Though I must now depart from thee
Let this not grieve your heart,
For you will shortly come to me
Where we shall never part.

1 According to George Pullen Jackson (p. 205), Hicks died at Little Buck Creek, Spartanburg County, SC, on Jun 11, 1839.


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