Friday, October 26


About twenty years ago, I was doing research for a book on early American history and opened a Revolutionary-era Bible in an antiquarian bookshop in Boston.  I found a poem, written on a scrap of paper interleaved in the pages of the Bible, probably untouched for decades, maybe longer.

The author and date of the poem were not noted, but I matched the handwriting to other inscriptions in the Bible. During the American War for Independence, the Bible had apparently belonged to Lawrence Tribble.  The poem seemed to be his description of the events of the Great Awakening.

I loved the poem and what little of the story I could piece together, so I published it, probably for the first time, in my book, "The Patriot's Handbook."

One man awake,
            Awakens another.
The second awakens
            His next-door brother.
The three awake can rouse a town
            By turning
            The whole place
            Upside down.

The many awake
            Can make such a fuss
It finally awakens
            The rest of us.
One man up,
            With dawn in his eyes,
            Surely then

Amazingly, the poem has now been set to music three times that I know of--including as a single by the CCM band Leland. Most recently, a new setting has been written by Craig Brinks and recorded by Samuel Walker: Awaken by Lawrence Tribble.

It's a perfect reminder as America prepares to go to the polls in this pivotal election.


Simona Gorton said...

Leland's version is one of my favorite songs! I had no idea of its history, though. Wow! Incredible.

rebekah leland said...

what a pretty poem. and such a neat history!