The egoist journal The Eagle and The Serpent replied to a letter from one M. Wilkebarre in their Volume 1 Number 9 (October 15th, 1899)…
M. WILKESBARRE. – The hymn you justly admire was obviously written in a very cheap lodging house or a steerage-steamer. I, too, have known that bed whereon the martyr, in frantic transport, cries out –
“Oh may I dread
The grave as little as my bed.”
Unless you are a communist you will take the grave every time.
This appears to be a quote from All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night by Thomas Ken (1637 – 1711)…
Teach me to live, that I may dread
the grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
rise glorious at the judgment day.
The Christian Observer Number 70 (October 1843) suggests Mr. Ken was (as they so delicately print) “influenced” by Colloquy with God by Sir Thomas Browne (1605 – 1682)
Sleep is a death; oh make me try,
By sleeping, what it is to die;
And as gently lay my head
On my grave as now my bed.
As Sirfessor Malfew Seklew said, “The few initiate and the many imitate.”