Edward Harwood
(1707 - 1787)

Vital spark of heavenly flame
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Harwood's setting of "A dying Christian to his soul" was extremely popular during the half-century after its first publication in 1781, and received many printings. It was used in both Anglican and dissenting churches, and was reputedly popular for use at funerals. The current edition, prepared from Rippon's Selection, 1790, presents a comparatively early version of the piece, before its subsequent accretion of a fourth part.
Lyrics: Alexander Pope

Vital spark of heav'nly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite,
Steals my senses, shuts my sight?
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heav'n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend thy wings! I mount, I fly!
O Grave, where is thy victory?
O Death, where is thy sting?