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We are the sweet elected few

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by rlvaughn, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I am posting this in hopes those who debate Calvinism & Arminianism here will be founts of information. I am looking for the original source of the following poem (which comes in assorted variations):

    We are the Lord’s elected few,
    Let all the rest be damned;
    There’s room enough in hell for you,
    We won’t have heaven crammed!

    I find this posted a lot, often with claims that it was a hymn sung by some Christian group (Puritans, Particular Baptists, Calvinists, Brethren, Bible Christians -- take your pick). I highly doubt it -- not because someone couldn't have sung this -- but because most of the sources are fairly recent. The oldest (by far) that I found is the following version from 1898. The one who mentions it says it was supposed to be a verse of one of the hymns of certain sect, but that "my own researches have failed to discover [it] in the songs of the Bible Christian Sion."

    We are the sweet elected few:
    May all the rest be damned.
    There's room enough in hell for you:
    We won't have heaven crammed.

    In "What Was Primitive Christianity," W. S. Lilly, The Nineteenth Century, Volume 44, No. 259, July-Dec. 1898, p. 503

    I found something similar in a secular source, which goes back to at least 1893: "We're Saville Row's selected few, Let all the rest be damned; The pit is good enough for you, We won't have boxes crammed." (The Life of Captain Sir Richard F. Burton)

    To me it seems much more likely that this is written as a parody of particular atonement and unconditional election. Have any of you ever actually seen this in an old hymn book?
     
  2. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Two decades before that, it's said to be from a hymn of another Methodist schism: the Primitive Methodists (Ranters):

    books.google.com/books?id=5KMAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA178
     
  3. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Gadsby's Hymns has similar stuff.

    A sample:

    Fixed was the eternal state of man,
    Ere time its rapid course began;
    Appointed, by God’s firm decree,
    To endless joy or misery.

    All glory to the great I AM,
    Who chose me in the blessed Lamb;
    Whilst millions of the human race
    Will never know or taste his grace;
     
  4. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Thanks. Intriguing, again that these, like the Bible Christians, would have been Arminian rather than Calvinistic. Like the other sources I've found so far, I see the author is only attributing without sourcing. But I'm glad to get this reference 20 years further back (and slightly different from the others I've seen).

    Hymns on election and reprobation are plentiful in Gadsby and elsewhere. Interesting in itself, but my main interest is whether "We are the sweet elected few: May all the rest be damned" was an actual song sung in churches or just something someone made up to "prove a point."
     
  5. BobRyan

    BobRyan Well-Known Member

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    I should think this is a derogatory slur poem that was used against certain Christian groups to mock them.. How could it be anything else?
     
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  6. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    Good luck; I doubt you'll ever find an original source. Christopher Hitchens describes it as "an old English plebian satire," and that seems to be generally the opinion of those who are careful in their sources.

    That doesn't mean it hasn't been attributed to the Particular Baptists (and other groups) willy-nilly, especially on the internet, but also among folks who should be more careful of their sourcing.

    Sure, it's possible that some folks somewhere at some time repeated such a thing in earnest, but I think it's probably satire.

    J.G. Alger, who wrote Middle Class Culture a Half-Century Ago in Volume 156 of The Westminster Review (1901) repeats the ditty, calling it "The legendary verse of a hymn, though not yet invented ..."

    The Westminster Review
     
  7. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Yes, one example of this is Timothy George in Theology of the Reformers. Written by a dean at Beeson Divinity with a doctor of theology from Harvard, I suppose this would be considered a scholarly work. He is probably the source where many Baptists find this poem attributed to the Particular Baptists.
    I think you are probably right. If someone wants to use satire, fine, but authors and speakers shouldn't pass it off as if it were a real hymn.
     
    #7 rlvaughn, Feb 2, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
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  8. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I have run into a strong tradition that the verse is by Jonathan Swift. Unfortunately I have not seen any of them footnote the source, just make the claim.
     
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire Well-Known Member
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    Nope... but it is hysterically funny in a twisted way. Perhaps the new evangicals could adopt it as a fight song for their agenda. Rah rah :Sneaky
     
  10. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    I'm acquainted with 3 oId school hymnals; have never seen anything even close, in fact it's God's elected MULTITUDE, not few, that's the Primitive Baptist belief.
     
  11. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Divine Hymns: Spiritual Songs for the Use of Religious Assemblies

    ♫ I know full well, no tongue can tell the number Christ will free; but there’s but few to what that crew of damned souls will be. ♫
     
  12. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    "10. DO PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS BELIEVE THAT GOD'S CHILDREN ARE FOUND ONLY IN THE
    PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH?

    No. Primitive Baptists believe that God has children in every religious group and possibly untold numbers not belonging to any religious group. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Revelation 5:9). "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city" (Acts 18:9,10)."
    SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT PRIMITIVE BAPTIST
     
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  13. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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