Sweet Complaint (Oliver Holden)

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  • (Posted 2015-03-26)   CPDL #34904:  Icon_pdf.gif Icon_snd.gif
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2015-03-26).   Score information: Letter, 1 page, 67 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Oval note edition. Holden published this composition in 1803 with stanzas six and seven of Watts' eight-stanza poem; I added stanzas one and eight below.
  • (Posted 2015-03-26)   CPDL #34905:  Icon_pdf.gif
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2015-03-26).   Score information: Unknown, 1 page, 76 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Note shapes added (4-shape). Holden published this composition in 1803 with stanzas six and seven of Watts' eight-stanza poem; I added stanzas one and eight below.

General Information

Title: Sweet Complaint
First Line: While of Thy absence we complain
Composer: Oliver Holden
Lyricist: Isaac Watts

Number of voices: 3vv   Voicing: STB
Genre: SacredHymn   Meter: 88. 88 (L.M.)

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

Published: 1803

Description: Published in The Charlestown Collection, 1803, p. 41. Words by Isaac Watts, 1706, Lyric Poems, Book 1, Love to Christ; the words have been edited somewhat by Holden.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Love to Christ, Present or Absent
I. Of all the joys we mortals know,
Jesus, Thy love exceeds the rest;
Love, the best blessing here below,
And nearest image of the blest.

II. Sweet are my thoughts, and soft my cares,
When the celestial flame I feel;
In all my hopes, and all my fears,
There's something kind and pleasing still.

III. While I am held in His embrace,
There's not a thought attempts to rove;
Each smile he wears upon His face
Fixes, and charms, and tires my love.

IV. He speaks, and straight immortal joys
Run through my ears, and reach my heart!
My soul all melts at that dear voice,
And pleasure shoots through every part.

V. If He withdraw a moment's space,
He leaves a sacred pledge behind;
Here in this bread his image stays,
The grief and comfort of my mind.

VI. While of His absence I complain(1),
And long, and weep, as lovers do(2),
There's a strange pleasure in the pain,
And tears have their own sweetness too.

VII. When round his courts by day I rove(3),
Or ask the watchmen of the night
For some kind tidings of my love(4),
His very name creates delight.

VIII. Jesus, my God! Yet rather come;
Mine eyes would dwell upon Thy face;
'Tis best to see my Lord at home,
And feel the presence of his grace.
1. Holden has "Thy absence we complain."
2. Holden has "and weep in all we do."
3. Holden has "Thy courts by day we rove."
4. Holden has "tidings of our love."