The Vanity of Man as Mortal

Representative Text

1 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.

2 A span is all that we can boast;
A fleeting hour of time;
Man is but vanity and dust,
In all His flower and prime.

3 Vain race of mortals, see them move
Like shadows o'er the plain:
They rage and strive, desire and love,
But all the noise is vain.

4 Some walk in honor's gaudy show;
Some dig for golden ore;
They toil for whom they do not know,
And straight are seen no more.

5 What should I wish or wait for then,
From creatures, earth, and dust?
They make our expectations vain,
And disappoint our trust.

6 Now I resign my earthly hope,
My fond desires recall;
I give my mortal interest up,
And make my God my all.

Source: Evangelical Lutheran hymnal: with music #432a

Author: Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, July 17, 1674. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas' pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Teach me the measure of my days
Title: The Vanity of Man as Mortal
Author: Isaac Watts
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain





MARTYRDOM was originally an eighteenth-century Scottish folk melody used for the ballad "Helen of Kirkconnel." Hugh Wilson (b. Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, c. 1766; d. Duntocher, Scotland, 1824) adapted MARTYRDOM into a hymn tune in duple meter around 1800. A triple-meter version of the tune was fir…

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Instances (1 - 3 of 3)

Church Hymnal, Mennonite #614

Hymnal #485


The Cyber Hymnal #6830

Include 251 pre-1979 instances
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