Sinai (William Billings)

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  • (Posted 2015-05-08)  CPDL #35334:       
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2015-05-08).   Score information: Letter, 1 page, 80 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Oval note edition. Twelve selected stanzas from Relly's hymn added below.
  • (Posted 2015-05-08)  CPDL #35333:     
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2015-05-08).   Score information: 7 x 10 in (landscape), 1 page, 65 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Note shapes added. Three stanzas selected from Relly's hymn added below.

General Information

Title: Sinai
First Line: All you who make the law your choice
Composer: William Billings
Lyricist: James Relly

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: Sacred   Meter: 88. 88. 88

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1786 in The Suffolk Harmony
Description: First published in The Suffolk Harmony, 1786, pp. 45-46. Words by James Relly, 1758, his Hymn 69 of Part 1. Billings used the first of thirty stanzas of Relly's hymn.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

1. All you who make the law your choice,
Attend and hear its dreadful voice,
The voice of words, on Sinai heard,
That voice which Israel greatly feared;
So feared as humbly to implore
That they might hear its sound no more.

2. Lightning, with horrid glare were seen,
Tremendous thunders roared between;
Darkness, with flames encircled round:
The trump of God, its awful sound,
Louder and louder rent the air,
And smote their hearts with deep despair.

3. The trembling multitude, they heard
All that the voice of words declared;
The darkness, fire, and smoke they saw,
The dreadful pomp of Moses’ law,
Who, while the mountains base did make,
Most terribly did fear and quake.

4. I am the Lord, thy God, says He;
Nor shalt thou worship ought but me:
Nor to thyself shalt thou e'er make
An image, nor the likeness take
Of ought in heaven, or earth below,
With reverence unto it to bow.

5. Thou shalt not take My name in vain,
Left thou incur the guilty stain:
Remember keep the Sabbath day,
Thou shalt not work, nor idly play:
To parents thou shalt honor give,
If in the land thou long wouldst live,

6. Murder, never shalt thou do it:
Nor vile adultery commit
Thou shalt not steal: (my statutes hear)
Nor witness falsely shalt thou bear:
Thou shalt not covet, lusting in
What is thy neighbor’s; this is sin.

7. Nor only keep from sin thine hands;
A word, desire, or look offends;
A moment's lust, the smallest flaw,
So fully breaks My holy law,
Though it be but in heart conceived,
As ne'er by thee can be retrieved.

8. Holy and just are God's commands;
Woe to the man who e'er offends
In one small Point, he on him draws
The curse of all the broken laws;
All join in one to damn the wretch
Who's guilty of the smallest breach.

9. In awful truth hath God declared,
The sinner never can be spared;
On his own head shall be his blood,
Who trespasses against his God:
The soul that sinneth, it shall die,
Here and in Hell eternally.

10. Nor can they for their sin atone;
Their sacrifices He'll have none;
Nor will their prayers nor tears accept,
Because His laws they have not kept:
Thus for their sin, e'en for the first,
They're irrevocably accursed.


11. The law is holy, just, and true,
And what it speaks, it speaks to you
Who to be under it desire,
And eagerly thereby aspire
To everlasting life and bliss,
Through works of your own righteousness.

12. But if the gospel sound you'll choose,
Nor him that speaks from heaven refuse,
Prepare to hear the tidings good,
Proclaimed to Man by Jesus’ blood;
Administered with glory, more
Than Sinai's law which went before.

13. No dreadful thunders roaring here,
Nor halting lightnings, causing fear;
Nor earthquake, darkness, smoke, nor flame,
Nor dreadful voice when Jesus came:
But all was glorious, calm, serene,
When God came down to dwell with men.

14. From heaven the flaming cherubs came,
And sung on earth with tongues of flame,
Tidings of endless joy to all
The Sons of Adam great and small;
How that blest morn was born a child,
By whom the law would be fulfilled.

15. Under the law, of woman made,
And, as of all his church, the head;
Perfect obedience unto blood,
To yield the law engaged he stood;
And all its breaches to repair,
By tasting death, Hell, and despair.

16. Divinely born, this wondrous Child
Was holy, harmless, undefiled!
The law He perfectly obeyed,
In action, word, nor thought, e'er strayed
But in the law was His delight,
By doing good both day and night.

17. He knew no sin, was free from guile,
Nor could the tempter him defile:
One God he served in righteousness:
Nor bowed to creature-likenesses:
His name in vain he never took:
Nor holy Sabbath ever broke.

18. Honor to parents he did give;
Nor ceased, while he on earth did live:
Quite free from murder and debate,
Nor did his soul his brother hate:
His nature loathed adulterous fire,
Nor ever felt a base desire.

19. He did not steal with heart, nor hand:
Nor bearing witness, falsely stand:
No evil of his neighbor spake,
Nor coveted with lust to take
Whatever was his neighbor's right,
'Twas always hateful in his sight.

20. But God, with all his heart, He loved:
This His whole life and practice proved:
Next as Himself, yea far above
Himself he doth his neighbor love.
Does unto all men what He would
That they, in all their doings, should.


21. The law, thus pleased, demands, at last.
Atonement for the sin that's past:
He undertook the breach to heal,
Our sin, our curse, our Hell, to feel:
The full extent of punishment,
For all that's sin, he underwent.

22. All chastisements by him were borne,
Wounds, blood, and bruises him adorn;
His nerves all broken; gloomy fears
Rush on him; blood, and sweat, and tears,
Moistening the burning sacrifice,
Gratefully smoking to the skies.

23. Death-pangs, with all the pains of Hell,
In dreadful storms upon Him fell:
Nor may the finite mind conceive;
Nor dare the infidel believe
What unknown torments Jesus felt;
What flames of soul-devouring guilt.

24. With unregarded groans and cries,
Convulsive struggles, dying sighs;
In character of sinners lost,
He fainting, yielded up the ghoft:
Death took him prisoner, him detained,
While the lead charge of sin remained.

25. His holy life, his death and smart;
Tormented soul, and broken heart;
The holy law, more magnified
Than if a thousand worlds had died:
O love! In Him the glorious God,
Redeems his church with his own blood.

26. O glorious truth, with Jesus one!
To all He is, and all that's done
By Him, we've an undoubted right,
There holy in the Father's sight:
Mysterious union! There is known
His person, life, and death our own.

27. Then, O my soul, no longer fear
Old Sinai's thunders; joyful hear
The voice of love, the love of God,
The Voice of Jesus’ richest blood:
Though thou, poor Soul, had nought to give,
The Blood of Jesus bids thee live.

28. Live; lo! He gives his all to thee:
Live now from condemnation free;
Live, since thou haft in Jesus died;
Live, justice now is satisfied:
Forever live, He lives again;
To all He is, urge still thy claim.

29. O Lamb, whoever in Thee believes,
The witness of the truth receives:
How Thou, our Christ, our joy, our bliss,
Art the full end for righteousness,
Of every law (O glorious grace!)
To guilty Adam's sinner race.

30. Hail, Savior of the body, hail!
O'er all our foes didst Thou prevail;
Forever wear the glorious wreath
Of victory over Hell and death:
We see, with joy divinely sweet,
All conquered at thy bleeding feet.