I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are by American and European authors including some surprisingly famous names. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog.
Friedrich Adolf Krummacher (1767 – 1845) was a German theologian and writer. His son Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher and Emil Wilhelm Krummacher were also clergymen. This particular piece is fascinating in its philosophical pairing of the personifications of Sleep and Death; going so far as creating empathy for the Angel of Death. One way of finding solace in the permanent sleep.
DEATH AND SLEEP. By Krumacher.
IN brotherly embrace walked the Angel of Sleep and the Angel of Death upon the earth. It was evening. They laid themselves down upon a hill not far from the duelling of men. A melancholy silence prevailed around, and the chimes of the evening bell, in the distant hamlet, ceased. Still and silent, as was their custom, sat these two beneficent genii of the human race, their arms entwined with cordial familiarity, and soon the shades of night gathered around them. Then arose the Angel of Sleep from his moss-grown couch, and strewed with a gentle hand the invisible grains of slumber. The evening breeze wafted them to the quiet dwelling of the tired husbandman, enfolding in sweet sleep the inmates of the rural cottage, from the old man upon the staff, down to the infant in the cradle. The sick forgot their pain ; the mourners their grief ; the poor their care. All eyes closed. his task accomplished, the benevolent Angel of sleep laid himself again by the side of his grave brother. “When Aurora awakes,’ exclaimed he, with innocent joy, ” men praise me as their friend and benefactor. Oh, what happiness, unseen and secretly, to confer such benefits ! How blessed are we to be the invisible messengers of the Good Spirit ! How beautiful is our silent calling ! ” So spake the friendly Angel of Slumber. The Angel of Death sat with still deeper melancholy on his brow, and a tear, such as mortals shed, appeared in his large dark eyes. ” Alas ! ” said he, “I may not, like thee, rejoice in the cheerful thanks of mankind ‘ they call me, upon the earth, their enemy and joy-killer.” “Oh, my brother,” replied the gentle Angel of Slumber, “and will not the good man, at his awakening, recognise in thee his friend an benefactor, and gratefully bless thee in his joy ? Are we not brothers, and ministers of one Father ? ” As he spake, the eyes of the Death Angel beamed with pleasure, and again did the two friendly genii cordially embrace each other.