15 May 2011

How Blest the Righteous When He Dies!

Yesterday I shared with you a monument dedicated for a wife and child from the Fairview Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia. The pedestal tombstone with a vaulted roof was a memorial to Mrs. Mahulda Alexander and her infant son Samuel F.

A portion of the epitaph for Mrs. Alexander is this four line verse:

"Farewell, conflicting joys and fears,
Where light and shade alternate dwell;
How bright the unchanging morn appears,
Farewell, inconstant world, farewell."

A little Google search reveals this verse is from a hymn written by Anna L. Barbauld about 1809 -- "How Blest the Righteous When He Dies!" Here is this beautiful work in it's entirety:

How blest the righteous when he dies!
When sinks a weary soul to rest,
How mildly beam the closing eyes,
How gently heaves th' expiring breast!

So fades a summer cloud away;
So sinks a gale when storms are o’er;
So gently shuts the eye of day;
So dies a wave along the shore.

A holy quiet reigns around,
A calm which life nor death destroys;
And naught disturbs that peace profound
Which his unfettered soul enjoys.

Farewell, conflicting hopes and fears,
Where lights and shades alternate dwell;
How bright th' unchanging morn appears!
Farewell, inconstant world, farewell!

Life's labor done, as sinks the clay,
Light from its load the spirit flies,
While Heav'n and earth combine to say,
"How blest the righteous when he dies!"


pugbug said...

I love finding the source of an epitaph--almost always a hymn--and reading the entire poem/hymn!

S. Lincecum said...

Me, too! Oftentimes, the entire piece is "epitaph worthy."

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