28 April 2011

The Night of Death is Near (Today's Epitaph)

Beneath this Marble repose the remains of
JOHN STUART
who departed this life on the 1st day of February 18?3
In the 60th year of his age.

The day is past and gone
The evening shade appear
O! may you all remember well
The night of Death is near.


Also
MARY STUART
His Wife
Born April 25, 1785
Died April 13, 1879

Fairview Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia

Photo © 2010/1 S. Lincecum
The verse etched in the top of John and Mary Stuart's box tomb is from a hymn written by John Leland in 1792. It is akin to one of the most common of epitaphs: Stranger, stop and cast an eye, / As you are now, so once was I. / As I am now, so you will be, / Prepare for death and follow me.

The second verse of John Leland's hymn continues: We lay our garments by, / Upon our beds to rest; / Soon death shall soon disrobe us all, / Of what is here possessed.

About a hundred years after the death of Mr. Stuart, this hymn was a favorite for gospel singers.

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