Babylon is Fallen

Every now and then I come across a song or a piece of music that grabs me and excites me. I don’t know for sure where “Babylon is Fallen” originated. Some research shows:

“Babylon is Fallen is a church hymn of North American origin, printed in Sacred Harp, No. 117. G.W. William’s article “Babylon is Fallen: The Story of a North American Hymn” in The Hymn, Volume 44, April 1993, pp. 31-35, said: “The original six-stanza text was by Richard McNemar and first appeared in the Shaker hymnal Millennial Praises, Containing a Collection of Gospel Hymns … Adapted to the Day of Christ’s Second Appearing (Hancock, Mass.), 1813.”

Actually, I’m not convinced. It may be that it was first published here but I think that the origins go back to the English Civil War and the Puritans. Some evidence can be found that the opening of the film “Winstanley” had this song sung by the marching Diggers. According to reports the director was meticulous for historical accuracy.

In my view, the song was carried through history by oral tradition to the Americas where it found a home in the Shaker community.
Modern-day singing of this son can be found in the “Sacred Harp” singing tradition (Check Youtube etc) but the version here comes from more of an English folk tradition which is likely to be close to the original. The words are thrilling for those who await the Lord’s Return.

Hail a day so long expected
Hail the year of full release
Zion’s walls are now erected A
nd the watchman’s published piece
Throughout Shiloh’s wide dominion
Hear the trumpets loudly roar
Babylon is fallen is fallen is fallen
Babylon is fallen to rise no more

All of Earth should stand with wonder W
hat is this that’s come to pass
Murmuring like a distant thunder
Crying Oh alas alas
Swell the sound ye kings and nobles
Priests and people rich and poor
Babylon is fallen is fallen is fallen
Babylon is fallen to rise no more

Blow the trumpets on Mt Zion
Christ shall come a second time
Ruling with a rod of iron
All who now as foes combine
Fables garment sweet rejected
And our fellowship is o’er
Babylon is fallen is fallen is fallen
Babylon is fallen to rise no more

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