“Jerusalem, My Happy Home (Long Sought Home)”


"Jerusalem, my happy home, When shall I come to thee?" (Or "Oh how I long for thee.") The glories of the heavenly city are described, and the people to be found there listed


This is one of those pieces with a very difficult history. The printing in _A Song of Mary_ dates probably from 1601, and is anonymous; there is a different version in British Museum Add. MS. 15225. This latter is signed "F. B. P.," which probably refers to a presbyter with the initials F. B.

It has been claimed that the text is loosely based on St. Augustine. Since no one cites an actual *passage* in Augustine, this is hard to prove. (We should note that Augustine is one of the people listed as being found in heaven, so he probably isn't responsible for that part of the poem!)

The images of Jerusalem itself are largely from the Apocalypse -- e.g. the buildings of precious stones (Rev. 21:19f.), the gates of pearl (Rev. 21:21), the streets of gold (also 21:21).

Most of the characters in the song (David; "Our Lady"; [Mary] Magdalen; Simeon, for whom see Luke 2:25 and following; Zachary=Zacharias, for whom see esp. Luke 1:67 and following) are Biblical, but Ambrose is Bishop Ambrose of Milan, who lived in the time of the emperor Theodosius the Great (died 395), and Augustine (who is not really someone you'd want to meet, the stuck-up predestinarian pig) slightly later.

The original poem, of eighteen or so stanzas, is really rather pedestrian, and few anthologies print it in full. But the first few verses are popular.

Popular enough, in fact, to have been heavily adapted, and from there the waters get muddy. The song appears in the Sacred Harp hymnals, in very short and adapted form, as "Long Sought Home." The Original Sacred Harp, in fact, attributes it to "Francis Baker Priest, about 1750," (note the initials F.B.P.) which tells you how much its attributions are worth! Similarly, the Primitive Baptist Hymnal credits it to Cowper. The music is credited, both in the Sacred Harp and the Christian Harmony, to William Bobo (1865). - RBW


  1. ADDITIONAL: Norman Ault, _Elizabethan Lyrics From the Original Texts_, pp. 325-328, "Jerusalem, My Happy Home" (1 text)
  2. Roud #5053
  3. BI, NrecJMHH


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1941 (Ault); version from c. 1601 in "The Song of Mary"
Keywords: religious nonballad
Found in: Britain US