30 December 2009

Heaven Bore Away the Prize of John T. Whitehead

The tombstone for John T. Whitehead has a lot going on -- a glowing epitaph, quotes, Bible scripture, and symbols of the urn and hourglass.

Sacred To The Memory Of
John T. Whitehead
In All Life's Relations He Exemplified The Virtues Of The Christian And Gentleman, And Won The Love Of All. He Was Beloved By His Family, Cheerful In Company, Conscientious In Spirit, Successful In Business, Patient In Affliction, And Victorious In Death. The Love Of This Community Claimed A Longer Stay, But Higher Attraction Prevailed, Earth Yielded, And Heaven Bore Away The Prize. The Key To His Most Triumphant Death Is Found In His Dying Request, To Be Put Upon His Tomb, "I Am A Man Of Prayer."

Born March 27th, 1816
Died September 11th, 1860

"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

"Let sickness blast, let death devour,
If heaven must recompense our pains.
Perish the grass, and fade the flower,
If firm the word of God remains."

The last quote is from the last verse of a hymn by Charles Wesley, Jr. entitled "The Morning Flowers Display Their Sweets." It references Isaiah 40:6-8 in the Bible.

At the top of Mr. Whitehead's tombstone is an urn. This form of funerary art has been written about before on this blog, and you may read about it here.

Placed near the bottom of the urn is an hourglass that looks to me to be within a lyre without the strings. The hourglass symbolizes the passing of time. The lyre, kin to the harp, may represent heavenly desires.

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