Monday, December 17, 2012

Keep Me Awake, Mother

From the music collection of Susan Hopkins: "Keep Me Awake, Mother" was written by Mrs. M. W. Stratton.  The music was composed by F. Koenigsberg and it was published by J.C. Schreiner & Son in 1863.  The sheet music is available online.

About Mrs. M. W. Stratton, from the book Memorabilia and Anecdotal Reminiscences of Columbia, S.C., by Julia A. Selby and William Gilmore Simms, 1905:
*The "famous Barhamville Institute" was the South Carolina Female Collegiate Institute in Richland district, near Columbia.

Keep Me Awake, Mother
Forward! oh, forward, Time!  stay not thy flight; 
I'm older and wiser, and sadder tonight;
Mother, dear mother, I see thee no more, 
But watch me, O watch me again as of yore;
Let me not slumber, but gaze on life's cares,
With the look of defiance a warrior wears;
Once more to thy bosom a weary one take,
Keep me awake, mother, keep me awake!

I'm tired of earth--I'm tired of life--
Its unfulfilled hopes--its profitless strife;
Still must I onward, my destiny calls, 
Tho' troubles betide or danger appals;
My life-path is cover'd with gloom and decay,
But let me not falter or sleep by the way;
Of glory and honor, a name let me make,
Keep me awake, mother, keep me awake!

Give me stern power of frame and of soul 
To meet all the troubles that over me roll,
Let me not murmur, though working I be
For those whom I see not, or never may see,
Let me plant trees, though they flourish and bloom
When I am away in a far-off tomb;
For those who are coming, care let me take--
Keep me awake, mother, keep me awake!

Dreams of my childhood have faded or flown,
Objects I cherished, repulsive have grown,
All things seem fleeting, no pleasure endures,
But mother, dear mother, the same lot was yours;
Such dreaming, such mourning, hoping and trust,
Such crumbling of air-built castles to dust;
Bravely, as thou didst, my part let me take--
Keep me awake, mother, keep me awake!

Awake to my duties, awake to my trust,
Let me do my task bravely, if toil I must;
But sometimes, oh sometimes, in dreams let me be
The child again, mother, who slept on your knee;
Wipe out, for a moment, my story of life,
Its struggles, its sorrows, its follies and strife,
Some reason of pleasure, of rest let me take--
Then wake me, my mother, oh keep me awake!

And mother, dear mother, when life's nearly o'er, 
And God calls me home to "the echoless shore,"
My tasks are all done, and my busy brain still,
And I have no longer a power or will,
O then, blessed Spirit, O then hover near,
And smooth from my brow the dark shadow of fear;
Then linger near, mother, to watch and to weep,
Then rock me to sleep, then rock me to sleep,
Mother, rock me to sleep.

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