“The Dying Preacher (Hick's Farewell)”


"The time is swiftly rolling on When I must faint and die, My body to the dust returned And there forgotten lie." The dying preacher bids farewell to his wife and remembers his family fondly. He bids his fellow preachers to do their work well


In the Sacred Harp (which has a much-shortened text), this is called "The Dying Minister" and the tune is said to have been written by E. Dumas in 1854.

The attribution of this song to someone named Hicks seems strong, given the number of versions with his name in the title, but of course there were a lot of, um, hick preachers out there. The most famous Hicks in American religious history is surely Elias Hicks (1748-1830), a Quaker who eventually caused a split within that denomination. But this *really* doesn't sound like the work of a Quaker.

That leaves Berryman Hicks, whose career was researched by Jackson (_White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands_, pp. 203-205). He was a "noted revivalist," and a poet and violinist. Though this attribution too has its problems; he became "financially embarrassed for a large amount," and was apparently dropped from his (Baptist-affiated) church. On the other hand, that might explain the cranky tone of the piece.

The mid-nineteenth century seems to have witnessed a number of these "Preacher's Confession" sorts of pieces. No doubt it was the usual situation of the elderly frowning on the degenerate morals of the young. - RBW

Properly speaking, this should be "Hicks's Farewell." - PJS the nitpicker

And I thought I was the only one who remembered such things! Of course, this particular error is more that of the transcriber than the singer.... - RBW

"More sung against than singing?" - PJS

Cross references


  • Dillard Chandler, "Hick's Farewell" (on OldLove)
  • Texas Gladden, "Hicks' Farewell" (on LomaxCD1702)
  • Doc Watson & Gaither Carlton, "Hick's Farewell" (on FOTM, WatsonAshley01)


  1. Randolph 617, "The Dying Preacher" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 530, "Hicks' Farewell" (1 text)
  3. Fuson, pp. 73-74, "Hick's Farewell" (1 text)
  4. SharpAp 122, "Hicks's Farewell" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
  6. ADDITIONAL: Original Sacred Harp, 1971 Denson Revision, p. 83, "The Dying Minister" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Roud #2869
  8. BI, R617


Alternate titles: “The Minister's Last Goodbye”
Author: probably Rev. Berryman Hicks 1778-1839)
Earliest date: 1835 (Southern Harmony)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)