Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Sadness”


By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 14, 2013

This has to be one of the odder songs to have appeared in an LDS hymnbook — it was published in the 1902 LDS Hymnody; I don’t know where/when else it might have appeared, or why it was written. But here it is, with sheet music, a recording played by David Y (our old-time Phantom), and words typed out for the benefit of search engines. Because, you know, I just have a feeling that this song is ripe for a comeback

Or maybe not.

Sadness, by George Careless — audio link




Geo. Careless

This morning in silence I ponder and mourn
O’er the scenes that have passed, no more to return;
How vast are the labors, the troubles and fears,
Of eight hundred millions who’ve toil’d thro’ the year.

How many ten thousands were slain by their foes,
While widows and orphans have nourn’d o’er their woes,
While pestilence, famine and earthquakes appear,
And signs in the heavens throughout the past year!

How many were murdered and plundered and robbed,
How many oppressed and driven and mobbed!
How oft have the heavens bedewed with their tears
The earth o’er the scenes they beheld the past year.



  1. Well that’s one way to start the morning!

    Comment by Gary Bergera — August 14, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  2. Your day can only go up from here, Gary!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 14, 2013 @ 9:53 am

  3. The melody is rather appealing; the words somewhat less so! Careless by name, joyless by nature, then? 😉

    Comment by Alison — August 14, 2013 @ 10:02 am

  4. Well, that was depressing.

    Thanks, Phantom/David for the performance; that was much better than the lyrics.

    Comment by Amy T — August 14, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  5. The words read like a Cormac McCarthy novel, just plain depressing and then it always gets worse at the end. I’ll have to listen to the tune later, in hopes that there is an improvement in there somewhere.

    Comment by kevinf — August 14, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  6. I could understand this in someone’s journal. Poetry expresses feelings. Lots of people do that. Then sometimes they add verses later when they feel more hopeful. But this is a finished product in a hymnal, to be sung together? I don’t get that at all.

    Comment by Carol — August 14, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  7. Should I throw up a bonus Funny Bones? Remind you of this old post? Put up a video of me tap dancing? I need to cheer you all up now!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 14, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  8. Bishop: Welcome to sacrament meeting on this beautiful Sunday. Our opening hymn will be number 287 Sadness and invocation by Br. Jones.

    Just something strange in how that would come across.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 14, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  9. That song is a companion piece to the “Volga Boat and Happy Birthday Song.”

    Happy Birthday! Oh, Happy Birthday!
    There is trouble in the air.
    Children dying everywhere,
    But Happy Birthday. Oh, Happy Birthday.

    That should cheer you all up!

    Comment by Mark B. — August 14, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  10. This should cheer us up:

    Sift through the bushes
    empty the nests
    scatter the seeds
    burning rest
    empty the sky
    lessons to learn
    seasoned we die
    blessings we’ve earned

    Comment by Tom — August 14, 2013 @ 11:34 am

  11. Or how about another one with merry music (this song actually came to mind this morning when I heard the news report):

    They are rioting in Africa,
    They’re starving in Spain,
    There are hurricanes in Florida
    And Texas needs rain.

    The whole world is festering with unhappy souls,
    The French hate the Germans,
    The Germans hate the Poles … [etc.]

    Comment by Amy T — August 14, 2013 @ 11:40 am

  12. The music implies that it was not written as a congregational hymn, but as a tenor solo. (tenor clef melody on top, the traditional treble and bass clef accompaniment on the bottom.) Or maybe tenor solo for the first two verses, with a trio on the final verse?

    In any case, weird.

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 14, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  13. Certainly not in line with Pres. Hinckley’s optimism, is it? Amy, “They’re Rioting in Africa” is an old favorite of mine–sung by the Kingston Trio.

    Comment by Elaine Thatcher — August 14, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

  14. This could go on and on (I’ll leave it to the Phantom to set this to music):

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 14, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  15. Well, that attempt at a link was ugly, wasn’t it?

    Comment by Mark B. — August 14, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

  16. Yeah, but I have the magic edit key.

    Keep those sad, sad songs a-comin’ folks. Who knew there were so many (that are not just somebody done somebody wrong songs, I mean)?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 14, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

  17. Had to go and listen to this to cheer myself up:


    Comment by anne (uk) — August 14, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

  18. On the bright side, at least Bro Careless was careful to keep the music in a major key.

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 14, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  19. #11 Amy

    Yes, the Merry Minuet! I grew up listening to the Kingston Trio version of that gem — perhaps the only song ever to promote nuclear holocaust as a cheery alternative to the status quo.

    Comment by lindberg — August 14, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  20. TOC FTW!

    The Kingston Trio’s version of “The Merry Minuet” was the one I was familiar with as well, Elaine and lindberg, but I enjoyed the one in the link with the extra lines and the explanation that it was written by the man who wrote Fiddler on the Roof. (Didn’t know that!)

    While we’re speaking of sad music and the Kingston Trio, that would suggest adding “Early Morning Rain” to this list, but I’ll save my link for one of the great classic sad songs, one that had the same general message as the Careless song, but with a much greater reach. Here’s Pete Seeger performing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

    Comment by Amy T — August 14, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

  21. Well, since we’ve already gone down the rabbit hole, here’s one of my favorites, Political science by Randy Newman:

    No one likes us-I don’t know why
    We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
    But all around, even our old friends put us down
    Let’s drop the big one and see what happens.

    We give them money-but are they grateful?
    No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful.
    They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them,
    We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them.

    Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old,
    Africa is far too hot
    And Canada’s too cold,
    And South America stole our name.
    Let’s drop the big one
    There’ll be no one left to blame us.

    We’ll save Australia.
    Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo.
    We’ll build an All American amusement park there,
    They got surfin’, too!

    Boom goes London and boom Paris,
    More room for you and more room for me.
    And every city the whole world round
    Will just be another American town.
    Oh, how peaceful it will be,
    We’ll set everybody free
    You’ll wear a Japanese kimono babe,
    And there’ll be Italian shoes for me.

    They all hate us anyhow.
    So let’s drop the big one now,
    Let’s drop the big one now.

    Comment by kevinf — August 14, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

  22. Okay, I take it back. There are other songs that propose nuclear holocaust. Who would have thought?

    Comment by lindberg — August 14, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  23. This is just like the old days of Keepa, with readers throwing in better and better contributions, and cross-talking to each other! I miss those days. Thanks for this, today. (Or is that too cheery to add to this thread?)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 14, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

  24. Here in Seattle, Starbucks has an antidote for songs like these. You go in and order 5 pounds of Javanese Extra Dark Roast Suicide Inhibitor blend, and then when they start to bag it, you just say, “No thanks, I’ll eat it here.”

    Comment by kevinf — August 14, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

  25. How could such a sad post make me smile so much? This was fun. Thanks, everyone.

    Comment by David Y. — August 14, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI