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A Dialogue between a Believer and His Soul

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by rlvaughn, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Not sure of the best location for this, but I decided to put it here. “A Dialogue between a Believer and His Soul” by Joseph Hart appears below. It was first published in Hart’s Hymns, Composed on Various Subjects in 1759.

    The structure of the poem is intriguing, truly a dialogue or discussion between a man and his own soul. The internal conflict can be seen and felt as the soul’s doubts fight to be heard. The believer reasons from the Saviour and Scripture. It begins with both the believer and the soul alternating their speaking in 8-line stanzas. The discussion is sophisticated in the beginning. In stanza eight this gives way to 4 lines for each, then 2 lines alternating back and forth in the ninth stanza. It ends with a staccato flourish, the soul and the believer each quickly alternating lines as the soul seems to exhaust its questions in a gasp, giving way to the biblical answers of the believer. We can relate Hart’s struggle to our own within ourselves.

    In the presentation below “B” stands for the dialogue of the “Believer” and “S” stands for the dialogue of the “Soul”.

    246 A Dialogue between a Believer and his Soul 7s. 6s. (8 lines)

    1. B: Come, my soul, and let us try,
    For a little season,
    Every burden to lay by;
    Come, and let us reason.
    What is this that casts thee down?
    Who are those that grieve thee?
    Speak, and let the worst be known;
    Speaking may relieve thee.

    2. S: O I sink beneath the load
    Of my nature’s evil!
    Full of enmity to God;
    Captived by the devil;
    Restless as the troubled sea,
    Feeble, faint, and fearful;
    Plagued by every sore disease;
    How can I be cheerful?

    3. B: Think on what my Saviour bore
    In the gloomy garden;
    Sweating blood at every pore,
    To procure thy pardon!
    See Him stretched upon the wood,
    Bleeding, grieving, crying,
    Suffering all the wrath of God,
    Groaning, gasping, dying!

    4. S: This by faith I sometimes view,
    And those views relieve me;
    But my sins return anew;
    These are they that grieve me.
    Oh! I’m leprous, stinking, foul,
    Quite throughout infected;
    Have I not if any soul,
    Cause to be dejected?

    5. B: Think how loud thy dying Lord
    Cried out, “It is finished!”
    Treasure up that sacred word,
    Whole and undiminished;
    Doubt not He will carry on,
    To its full perfection,
    That good work He has begun;
    Why, then, this dejection?

    6. S: Faith when void of works is dead:
    This the Scriptures witness;
    And what works have I to plead,
    Who am all unfitness?
    All my powers are depraved,
    Blind, perverse, and filthy;
    If from death I’m fully saved,
    Why am I not healthy?

    7. B: Pore not on thyself too long,
    Lest it sink thee lower;
    Look to Jesus, kind as strong -
    Mercy joined with power;
    Every work that thou must do,
    Will the gracious Saviour
    For thee work, and in thee too,
    Of His special favour.

    8. S: Jesus’ precious blood, once spilt,
    I depend on solely,
    To release and clear my guilt;
    But I would be holy.
    B: He that bought thee on the cross
    Can control thy nature;
    Fully purge away thy dross;
    Make thee a new creature.

    9. S: That He can, I nothing doubt,
    Be it but His pleasure;
    B: Though it be not done throughout,
    May it not in measure?
    S: When that measure, far from great,
    Still shall seem decreasing?
    B: Faint not then, but pray and wait,
    Never, never ceasing.

    10. S: What when prayer meets no regard?
    B: Still repeat it often.
    S: But I feel myself so hard.
    B: Jesus will thee soften.
    S: But my enemies make head.
    B: Let them closer drive thee.
    S: But I’m cold, I’m dark, I’m dead.
    B : Jesus will revive thee.

    In The Sacred Harp, we sing two stanzas of Hart’s longer “Dialogue” hymn under the title The Grieved Soul.
     
  2. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Yes, I’ve run across this type of literary device from time to time. My guess is that it was more common in the past than it is in the present. Bible translation hints that. Luke 12:19 in the King James Version (and many others) reads, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” Modern translations often go with something more like “I’ll say to myself, ‘You…” (Not sure, just thinking maybe this suggests we have moved away from that type of speech or device.) I like it. I love the way it comes across in Luke 12:19, and I think it is very effective in Hart’s hymn.
     
  4. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    As in this hymn:

     
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  5. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    And this one:

     
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