TEARS.

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 and some surprising 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.

AFFECTING STORY.

FLOW, tears ! Ye have a spell,
A gentle spell, which weaves
Itself o’er my sad heart,
And it dull woe relieves.

Ye are all eloquent,
In your soft, silent flow ;
when, lone and musingly,
I feel my heart sink low.

Ye soothe the aching sense
Of pain, which pressing weights
Upon the troubled soul,
And all its youth decays.

Ye are not for the gaze
Of the cold, scornful eye ;
No mocking look shall rest,
None know, – but purity.

And ye shall mingle
With the dews of even ;
Soft pity may descend
And bear ye up to heaven ;-

May tell how I have wept,
Have agonized alone,
While “rainbow-tinted hopes”
Have faded, one by one,

And, sadder far than all,
The burning anguish wrung
by sin, whose withering touch
Upon my spirit hung ;

And left her taint accurst ,-
Grieving the Holy Dove,
Which fondly hovered there,
An earnest of God’s love.

Flow, tears ! flow on, and calm
This troubled, aching breast ;
your mournful tenderness
Lulls agony to rest.

hope gushes with you ;
Telling of that fair land
Where tears are wiped away
For aye, by God’s own hand.

I will believe, and live.
The cross of Christ I take;
My God accepts my tears
For his dear Jesus’ sake !

THE CHAMBER OF DEATH

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 and some surprising 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. 

 

A most traditional motif of glory in death, to assuage the pain of the living.

THE CHAMBER OF DEATH.

HOW glorious is the dying chamber of the Christian ! It is the very union of time and eternity, a meeting of the living on earth with the angels in heaven. The place is holy, for it is filled with those ministering spirits, waiting for the soul departing from this perishing world for the everlasting habitations of the redeemed. But glorious as this is, it shrinks before the greater glory of him who is present ; Jesus himself is present, and the Holy Spirit is there, to finish the work of salvation. Ah ! how different, could we see the throng in the chamber of the unsaved departing soul. If words cannot express, or imagination conceive, the glory of the former, neither can the horror of the latter be supposed, where the bed is surrounded by fiends, eagerly waiting for their prey. But it is not in this solemn hour only that these unseen spirits are beside us. They are constantly present for good or for evil, in the bustle of the world or the solitude of the lonely. By day and by night we are surrounded by this unseen host, waiting, during all its pilgrimage, on the soul of man. Go into the sick-chamber. Mark all the routine of the sick-bed, the fruitless visit of the physician, the profound sympathy of friends, the prayer of the minister, too often desired only to close the last scene. Ask, then, if there be not to one and all a fast-coming eternity, a message from the Lord in the house, saying, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee ;” and this very night shall that soul see a holy and just God, and hear the question, whether Christ has been indeed precious, and his redemption been indeed the chief desire in life, and the only hope in death.

A Sacred Melody. by William Leggett.

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 and some surprising 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. 

William Leggett (1801 – 1839) appears to have been a very interesting character. The American writer started life in the navy, from which he was discharged due to his penchant for duelling. He found his way into theatre as a critic, and further expanded his writing into political journalism and opinion pieces. An outspoken opponent to slavery, he was an enthusiastic Jacksonian Democrat who was once a writer and editor for the New York Evening Post.

 

A Sacred Melody. by William Leggett.

IF you bright stars which gem the night
Be each a blissful dwelling sphere,
Where kindred spirits reunite,
Whom death has torn asunder here ;
How sweet it were at once to die,
And leave this blighted orb afar, —
Mixed soul with soul, to cleave the sky,
And soar away from star to star.

But, oh ! how dark, how drear, how lone
Would seem the brightest world of bliss,
If, wandering through each radiant one,
We failed to find the loved of this !
If there no more the ties should twine,
Which death’s cold hand alone can sever,
Ah ! then these stars in mockery shine,
More hateful, as they shine forever.

It cannot be ! eacch hope and fear
That lights the eye or clouds the brow,
Proclaims there is a happier sphere
Than this bleak world that holds us now !
There is a voice which sorrow hears,
When heaviest weighs life’s galling chain ;
‘T is heaven that shispers, “Dry thy tears :
The pure in heart shall meet again !”

The Grave. by Washington Irving.

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 and some surprising 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. 

Washington Irving a highly respected writer of the early 19th century wrote the following piece of prose, which I believe comes from the published work The Sketch Book first published in 1819.

The Grave. by Washington Irving.

OH, the grave, the grave ! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment. From this peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down even upon the grave of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb that ever he should have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies mouldering before him ! But the grave of those we loved, — what a place for meditation ! There it is we call up in long review the whole history of the truth and gentleness, and a thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheard in the daily course of intimacy. There it is we dwell upon the tenderness of the parting scene ; the bed of death, with all its stifled grief, its noiseless attendants, its mute, watchful assiduities ; the last testimonial of expiring love, the feeble, fluttering feeling. Oh, how thrilling is the pressure of the hand, the last fond look of the glaring eye, turning upon us even from the threshold of existence ; the faint, faltering accent struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection. Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate ! There settle your account with your conscience, of past endearments unregarded of that departed being, who never can return to be soothed by contrition. If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the brow, of an affectionate parent ; if thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thine arms, t doubt one moment of thy truth ; if thou art a friend, and hast wronged by thought, by word or by deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee ; if thou art a lover, and hast ever given one unmerited pang to the true heart that now lies cold and still beneath thy feet, — then be sure that every unkind look, ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory, and knock dolefully at they soul ; then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groans, and pour the unavailing tear, — bitter, because unheard and unavailing.

Entering In At The Celestial Gate. by W. B. Tappan.

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 and some surprising 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. 

William Bingham Tappan was born in Beverly, Massachusetts 1794. He published a number of volumes of poetry in the first half of the 19th Century. In one of the brief biographies online it is noted Tappan was a “resolute advocate of total abstinence, and opponent of slavery”. He died in West Needham in 1849.

The introductory quote is taken from The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan and first published in 1678. According to the biography link in the previous paragraph, this famous Christian allegory was one of the few books Tappan had access to as an eager young reader.

Entering In At The Celestial Gate. by W. B. Tappan.

“Now just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I look in after them, and behold the city shone like the sun ; the streets also were paved with gold ; and in them walked many men with crowns upon their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. – There were also of them that had wings ; and they answered one another without intermission, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.’ And after that, they shut up the gates ; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.” – Pilgrim’s Progress.”

WOULD I were with them ! They are free
From all the cares they knew below,
And strangers to the strife that we
Encounter in this vale of woe.
From storms of sorrow and of pain
Forever are they garnered in ;
Secure from sad defilement’s stain,
The mildew and the blight of sin.

Would I were with them ! They embrace
The loved ones, lost, long years before ;
What joy to gaze upon the face
That never shall be absent more !
There friends unite, who parted here
At Death’s cold river, O how sadly !
Forgotten are the sigh and tear,
Their hearts are leaping, O how gladly !

Would I were with them ! They behold
Their Saviour, glorious and divine ;
They touch the cups of shining gold,
An d in his kingdom drink new wine.
How flash, like gems, their brilliant lyres
Along the sparkling walls of heaven,
When from the radiance-catching fires,
The song of songs to Christ is given !

Would I were with them ! While without
Are sighs and weeping, they, within,
For every joy and gladness shout
And well they may, who’re free from sin !
O this, indeed, is heaven above ;
This fills the bliss of every soul, –
To grow in holiness and love,
As age on age shall ceaseless roll.

Change Of Worlds. by Rev. J. N. Maffit.

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 and some surprising 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. 

Reverend John Newland Maffit was born in Ireland 1795. He emigrated to the United States in 1819 and became an increasingly successful preacher establishing the Western Methodist or Christian Advocate Church in 1833. He rose to national recognition with political influence. It is reported that he was a charismatic orator, with an engaging and dramatic flair; from his evocative, powerful prose below, I can believe this. His son of the same name was a famous Confederate Naval Officer in the American Civil War.

The introductory quote is taken from a hymn called Psalm 23 by the famous English hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748).

Change of Worlds.

“Though I walk through the gloomy vale,
Where death and all its terrors are,
My heart and hope shall never fail,
For God my shepherd’s with me there.”

THE shafts of death fall thick around us, and this charming world, like the field of strife, is strewn with the dead and dying. The mourners go about the street ; they follow the young, the lovely, the beautiful, the good, to their long home, — the silent grave. The mournful knell chimes to their measured pace, and mingles its sepulchral tone with the burst of sorrow.
But in all the circumstances of woe, attendant on the departure of those we love from the busy scenes of life, there is to the Christian much consolation, when he feels assured that they had witnessed a good confession. Seeing they have escaped these storms and billows of life’s tempestuous sea, and conscious that they are safe in the port of endless bliss, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are forever at rest, we feel resigned, — knowing that our loss is their infinite gain. Indeed, we rejoice, rather than mourn ; for truly our separation will be a very short one, and our meeting with happy connections, O how joyful ! Then shall we breathe our native air, and taste the fruit of that delightful clime where all is fertile, rich, and fragrant.
Among the many evidences of the power of Christianity, nothing can be more convincing than the last hours of a dying saint who bears a bright testimony to the truth of its doctrines. What a sublime scene ! Behold him on the margin of a river, wrapped about with the garments of salvation, and preparing to step into its cold waters. He enters, singing as he goes. The ministering angels pilot him over. He gains the opposite shore. Sister spirits welcome him home. He joins the celestial company. He mounts, he flies, he soars. He reaches his eternal home. He is forever at rest.

Smitten Of God. Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?

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 and some surprising 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. 

I find this lovely piece of prose quite fascinating. There is no author listed and no date, but the text appears to be referring to a number of deaths which occurred in the community within a few days. I suspect, as the author refers to the deceased as ‘tender flowers’, that they were possibly children. It is very moving.

The quotes used are not cited, but “why stand ye gazing up into heaven ?” is taken from Acts 1:11, two men (angels) in white robes ask this to the disciples who are still gazing skyward after Jesus’ rather rapid ascension. In full it reads: ‘Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manners as ye have seen him go into heaven.’ The quote “smitten of God, and bereaved” is from Isaiah 53:4. However, the quote “a gloom on the face of Nature” is a little more intriguing. It actually originates from a letter published in The Massachusetts Spy (a newspaper published by Isaiah Thomas). The letter was describing the infamous day of May 19, 1780 known as New England’s Dark Day. The Boston Chronicle of June 8 1780 quoted the Massachusetts Spy and in full it reads: ‘During the whole time a sickly, melancholy gloom overcast the face of nature. Nor was the darkness of the night less uncommon and terrifying than that of the day; notwithstanding there was almost a full moon, no object was discernible, but by the help of some artificial light, which when seen from the neighbouring houses and other places at a distance, appeared through a kind of Egyptian darkness, which seemed almost impervious to the rays. This unusual phenomenon excited the fears and apprehensions of many people. Some considered it as a portentous omen of the wrath of Heaven in vengeance denounced against the land, others as the immediate harbinger of the last day when ‘the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not giver her light.’ ” The last line is a quote from Mark 13:24. The writer is actually describing the effects of what sounds like a massive forest fire which occurred in Canada but whose thick smoke travelled south and darkened the sky of New England in what sounds like a most dramatic way. Many people interpreted this natural phenomenon as a religious warning. Therefore, the quote below does not necessarily date the prose to 1780, but could have been much later as this event of the Dark Day turned into folklore, and even more significantly, local religious discourse which would still have been familiar decades later. How utterly fascinating.

Smitten Of God.

“Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?”

WHO has not felt, when one dearly beloved has been snatched away, an inclination to forget all the things of earth, and to stand idle, helpless, stricken, on the shores of Time ; gazing, longing after the lost, regardless of all that is left ; all love, all remembrance, all hope, swallowed up in the one agonized sense of bereavement ?
” Smitten of God, and bereaved ;” was not this, too written by one who knew of what he spoke ? who had felt the bitter pang of parting ; the awful sense of God’s agency in earthly sorrow ; the struggle between passionate regret and holy submission.
The human soul knows no variety in sorrow for the dead. Whatever else may change in the course of time, this remains the same throughout the ages. Paul, the sainted, the subdued, wrote not those tender words without a swelling of he heart ; and many a mourner since responds to them with tears.
Death has been busy, of late. Many a tender flower, many a “shining mark,” many a household stay and comfort, has he snatched away within a few short days. To many of our friends and fellow-citizens the bright spring heavens seem hung in black, and all the joyous associations that came up with the warm sunshine are changed to images of sadness and despondency. The idea of “a gloom on the face of Nature” is not a mere poetic fiction. To the mourner whose grief is in its fresh bitterness, there seems an absolutely perceptible shadow, like a pall of dark vapor, spread over the gayest objects. Nothing looks as it used. The heart sees not like the careless eyes. We feel as if the sun could never shine again for us.