Hark! a voice saith, All are mortal

Full Text

1 Hark! a voice saith, All are mortal.
Yea, all flesh must fade as grass,
Only through death's gloomy portal
To a better land we pass;
This frail body here must perish
Ere the heavenly joys it cherish,
Ere it gain the free reward
For the ransomed of the Lord.

2 Therefore, when my God doth choose it,
Willingly I'll yield my life,
Nor will grieve that I should lose it,
For with sorrows it was rife;
And in my Redeemer's merit
Peace hath found my troubled spirit,
And in death my comfort is
Jesus' death--sweet comfort this!

3 For my sake He went before me,
And His death is now my gain;
Peace and hope He conquered for me;
So without regret or pain,
Yea, with joy I'll quit earth's sadness
For the beauteous heaven of gladness,
Where I shall eternally
See the holy Trinity.

4 There is joy beyond our telling,
Where so many saints have gone;
Thousands, thousands there are dwelling,
Worshipping before the throne,
There the Seraphim are shining,
Evermore in chorus joining:
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord!
Triune God, for aye adored!"

5 There great men, of sacred story,
Prophets, Patriarchs, are met;
There Apostles too in glory
Fill twelve thrones by Jesus set;
All the saints that have ascended
Age on age, through time extended,
There in blissful concert sing
Hallelujahs to their King.

6 O Jerusalem, how glorious
Dost thou shine, thou city fair!
Lo! I hear the tones victorious
Ever sweetly sounding there!
O the bliss that there surprises!
Lo! the sun of morn now rises,
And the breaking day I see
That shall never end for me!

7 Yea, I see what here was told me,
See that wondrous glory shine;
Feel the spotless robes enfold me,
Know a golden crown is mine,
Thus before the throne so glorious
Now I stand, a soul victorious,
Gazing on that joy for aye
That shall never pass away.

Source: Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-book #530

Author: Johann Georg Albinus

Albinus, Johann Georg eldest s. of Zacharias Albinus, pastor at Unter-Nessa, near Weissenfels, Saxony, 1621-1633, and at Stuhlburgwerben, 1633-1635, was b. at UnterNessa, March 6, 1624. After his father's death, in 1635, he was, in 1638, adopted by his cousin, Lucas Pollio, diaconus at St Nicholas's Church in Leipzig. After his cousin's death, in 1643, the Court preacher, Sebastian Mitternacht, of Naumburg, took an interest in him, and he remained at Naumburg till he entered the University of Leipzig, in 1645. He studied for eight years at Leipzig, during which time ho acted as house tutor to the Burgomaster, Dr. Friedrich Kuhlwein, and was then, in 1653, appointed Eector of the Cathedral School at Naumburg. This post he resigned when, in… Go to person page >

Translator: Catherine Winkworth

Catherine Winkworth is "the most gifted translator of any foreign sacred lyrics into our tongue, after Dr. Neale and John Wesley; and in practical services rendered, taking quality with quantity, the first of those who have laboured upon German hymns. Our knowledge of them is due to her more largely than to any or all other translators; and by her two series of Lyra Germanica, her Chorale Book, and her Christian Singers of Germany, she has laid all English-speaking Christians under lasting obligation." --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Hark! a voice saith, All are mortal
German Title: Alle Menschen müssen sterben
Author: Johann Georg Albinus (1652)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863)
Language: English


i. Alle Menschen mussen sterben. [For the Dying.] This hymn, which Koch, iii. 397, calls "his best known hymn, and a pearl in the Evangelical Treasury of Song," was written for the funeral of Paul von Henssberg, a Leipzig merchant, and was thus sung, from broadsheets, June 1, 1652. It was given in Niedling's Wasserquelle, Altenburg, 1663, and gradually came into universal use, passing through Freylinghausen's Gesang-Buch, 1704, into most subsequent collections, as in the Unverfalschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 804, in 8 stanzas of 8 lines. It was a great favourite of P. J. Spener, who sang it regularly on Sunday afternoons; of J. F. Hochstetter, Prelate of Murrhardt, and many others (Koch, viii. 628-631).
In the Blatter fur Hymnologie, 1884, pp. 55-58, the text is quoted in full from the original broadsheet [Ducal Library, Gotha], the title of which ends "Mit seiner Poesie und Musick erweisen wollen Johannes Rosenmuller." Rosenmuller is not, however, known as a hymn-writer, and this statement is hardly sufficient to overthrow the traditional ascription to Albinus.
The translations in common use are:—

2. Hark! a voice saith, all are mortal. A good translation omitting stanzas v., viii., as No. 196 by Miss Winkworth in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, and with a translation of stanza v. added as No. 429 in the Ohio Luth. Hymnal, 1880.

-John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)




The composer of the tune is unknown; it was first published in Das grosse Cantional: oder Kirchen-Gesangbuch (Darmstadt, 1687) to the text "Alle Menschen mussen sterben" by J. G. Albinus; some Baroque organ works are associated with that text. The tune became associated with Homburg's text since the…

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