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How Can I Keep from Singing?

[ Roud - ; Ballad Index FSWB353A ; words trad., music Robert Wadsworth Lowry (1869)]

How Can I Keep from Singing? is a Christian hymn with music written by American Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry. The original composition has now entered into the public domain, and appears in several hymnals and song collections, both in its original form and with a revised text.

Doris Plenn learned the original hymn from her grandmother, who reportedly believed that it dated from the early days of the Quaker movement. Plenn contributed the third verse below around 1950, which was taken up by Pete Seeger and from then on by other folk revivalists.

Jennie Manners sang How Can I Keep from Singing? at the Festival at Towersey in 1968.

Bram Taylor sang How Can I Keep from Singing? in 1986 on his Fellside album Dreams and Songs to Sing. This track was also included in 1999 on his anthology Singing! The Bram Taylor Collection. From the 13 June 1987 "final broadcast" of A Prairie Home Companion. Lovely rendition, by Scottish singer Jean Redpath, of a beautiful hymn. In STEREO, thanks to a simulcast FM radio broadcast on Connecticut Public Radio.

This video shows Jean Redpath singing How Can I Keep from Singing? at the 13 June 1987 broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion:

Grace Notes sang How Can I Keep from Singing? in 1993 on their first album, Down Falls the Day.

Cordelia's Dad sang How Can I Keep from Singing? in 1998 on the anthology of songs of Pete Seeger, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.

False Lights sang How Can I Keep from Singing? in 2015 on their album Salvor.

Karina Knight sang How Can I Keep from Singing? on her 2020 album of songs learned from her parents, From the Knee.

Lyrics

Grace Notes sing How Kan I Keep from Singing?

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

Although the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
Bot though the darkness 'round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging;
Since love is lord of heaven and earth,
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 are winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

(repeat first verse)

Links

See also the Wikipedia entry for How Can I Keep from Singing? and the Mudcat Café thread Song history - How Can I Keep from Singing.