How Can I Keep from Singing (My life flows on in endless song)

Widely believed to be a "traditional Quaker hymn", and also known as "My Life Flows On in Endless Song", this hymn was first published in Bright Jewels for the Sunday School in 1861,

The author of the first three verses is unknown: the fourth verse was written by Doris Plenn. The tune was composed by Robert Wadsworth Lowry, a Baptist minister from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

It has been recorded in a number of different styles, with some folk performances (Pete Seeger et al) using a more secular version of the lyrics.   There have been a number of parody versions - eg How can I keep from drinking / stinging / etc.

Some recent publications and recordings have used the last four lines of the second verse as a refrain:  lyrics and PowerPoint slides for both options are given below.

Note: this is not the same as the worship song which starts "There is an endless song".





Downloads


Examples:



Folk choir performance, with backing instruments:



Chancel choir - unaccompanied:



Solo singer, organ backing:



Instrumental - piano:


Lyrics:

My life flows on in endless song:
Above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul,
How can I keep from singing?

What tho' my joys and comfort die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

 I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his
How can I keep from singing?

 When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile,
Our thoughts to them go winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

  Refrain:  (optional)
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul,
How can I keep from singing?

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