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This is a song by Charles Wesley, who wrote his book of hymns in the mid-18th century. 

Hymns in America receive similar treatment to folk songs, as lyrics vary between sects, but church music is less malleable than the secular variety. Each sect usually has its one version that it sticks to, and the author is usually listed, so it's less easy to be cavalier about changing the words. 

Not that I feel so bound. Here I end the lyrics after the third verse, because I like the resulting ambiguity. The verses after #3 are all to do with God's judgment, and heaven or hell, which I find to be too easy an answer. Leaving off after verse three, in contrast, turns the song into something similar to the Hebrew concept of Sheol.

Full lyrics are here.

 

Idumea

And am I born to die,

To lay this body down?

And must my trembling spirit fly

Into a world unknown?

 

A land of deepest shade,

unpierced by human thought —

The dready regions of the dead

where all things are forgot —

 

Soon as from earth I go,

What will become of me?

Eternal happiness, or woe,

Must then my portion be —

 

 


 

The version that Tim Eriksen sings in Cold Mountain is only one of two tunes the song can be set to; the other is the Sacred Harp version.

I like this cover best. It seems to combine the modern and Sacred Harp tunes. 

This one is a few new tunes. It sounds like an experiment.

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