French Broad (William Walker)

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  • (Posted 2018-06-18)  CPDL #50177:         
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2018-06-18).   Score information: 7 x 10 inches (landscape), 1 page, 42 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Notes in four-shape format, as originally published in 1847 (1867 publication is in seven-shape format). All eight stanzas included.

General Information

Title: French Broad
First Line: High o'er the hills the mountains rise
Composer: William Walker
Lyricist: William Walker

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: Sacred   Meter: 88. 88 (L.M.)

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1847 in Southern Harmony, p. 265, for three voices: Treble-Tenor-Bass. Alto part added by William Walker in 1867
Description: Words apparently by William Walker, in eight stanzas (see Jackson 1953a, pp. 122-123). "This song was composed by the author [William Walker] in the fall of 1831, while traveling over the mountains, on French Broad River, in North Carolina and Tennessee" (Southern Harmony 1847, p. 265). "I learned the air of this tune of my dear mother, when only five years old" (William Walker 1867): about 1814. This is related to several English folk songs (Jackson 1953a, No. 97).

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

1. High o'er the hills the mountains rise,
Their summits tower toward the skies;
But far above them I must dwell;
Or sink beneath the flames of hell.

2. Oh, God! forbid that I should fall
And lose my everlasting all;
But may I rise on wings of love,
And soar to the blest world above.


3. Although I walk the mountains high,
Ere long my body low must lie,
And in some lonesome place must rot,
And by the living be forgot.

4. There it must lie till that great day,
When Gabriel's awful trump shall say,
Arise, the judgment day is come,
When all must hear their final doom.


5. If not prepared, then I must go
Down to eternal pain and woe,
With devils there I must remain,
And never more return again.

6. But if prepared, oh, blessed thought!
I'll rise above the mountain's top,
And there remain for evermore
On Canaan's peaceful, happy shore.


7. Oh ! when I think of that blest world,
Where all God's people dwell in love,
I oft-times long with them lo be
And dwell in heaven eternally.

8. Then will I sing God's praises there,
Who brought me through my troubles here
I'll sing, and be forever blest.
Find sweet and everlasting rest.