This is a poem by Isaac Watts from Horae Lyricae Book 1, 1706, entitled Death and Eternity.
Settings by composers
Text and translations
1. My thoughts, that often mount the skies,
Go search the world beneath,
Where nature all in ruin lies,
And owns her sovereign, death.
2. The tyrant, how he triumphs here!
His trophies spread around!
And heaps of dust and bones appear
Through all the hollow ground.
3. These skulls, what ghastly figures now!
How loathsome to the eyes!
These are the heads we lately knew
So beauteous and so wise.
4. But where the souls, those deathless things,
That left this dying clay ?
My thoughts, now stretch out all your wings,
And trace eternity.
5. O that unfathomable sea!
Those deeps without a shore!
Where living waters gently play,
Or fiery billows roar.
6. Thus must we leave the banks of life,
And try this doubtful sea:
Vain are our groans and dying strife
To gain a moment's stay.
7. There we shall swim in heavenly bliss,
Or sink in flaming waves,
While the pale carcass thoughtless lies
Among the silent graves.
8. Some hearty friend shall drop his tear
On our dry bones, and say,
"These once were strong, as mine appear;
"And mine must be as they."
9. Thus shall our moldering members teach
What, now our senses learn:
For dust and ashes loudest preach
Man's infinite concern.
add links here