18 July 2011

Why Should We Start, and Fear to Die?

SACRED To the memory of
JOHN NORTON
Who was born July 14th 1808
and died March 15th 1847.
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Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are,
While on his breast I lean my head
And breathe my life out sweetly there.
The poetic finale of John's epitaph is from a hymn written by Isaac Watts about 1707 entitled "Why Should We Start, and Fear to Die?"

Why should we start and fear to die?
What tim’rous worms we mortals are!
Death is the gate of endless joy,
And yet we dread to enter there.

The pains, the groans, the dying strife,
Fright our approaching souls away;
Still we shrink back again to life,
Fond of our prison and our clay.

O, if my Lord would come and meet,
My soul should stretch her wings in haste,
Fly fearless through death’s iron gate,
Nor feel the terrors as she passed.

Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are,
While on His breast I lean my head,
And breathe my life out sweetly there.

Mr. John Norton rests in Lawrenceville Historic Cemetery at Gwinnett County, Georgia.

3 comments:

pugbug said...

When I wrote my 'worm' post, I was thinking that the two final verses would make good epitaphs--and here it is! Bet we'll find more...

cemeterytravel.com said...

I'm glad you posted the whole hymn. It's amazing. Which hymnal does it come from?

S. Lincecum said...

Cyberhymnal.org says it's from "Hymns and Spiritual Songs." I'll bet you can find it in more than one place, though... Sorry for the 4-days-later reply! :-)

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