The Soul’s Passing.

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 predominantly by American 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. 

This poem below is unattributed in the publication, however, thanks to modern research wunderkind the internet I have discovered it is by Charles H. Hitchings. The poem was published in London in 1851 in a collection of poetry by the author, and surprisingly is not reproduced in full in my publication of The Mourner’s Friend published only a year later. I have included the missing verses at the end, and note where the poem ceases in the 1852 publication. Why was it edited and unattributed? Were the later verses too gritty, was the social realism and references to her lover deemed inappropriate for the American audience? Or, merely a necessity of space! How interesting!

The Soul’s Passing. by Charles H Hitchings but unattributed in publication.

IT is ended! – all is over!
Lo, the weeping mourners come,-
Mother, father, friend and lover,
To the death-incumbered room;
Lips are pressed to the blessed,
Lips that evermore are dumb.

Take her faded hand in thine, –
Hand that no more answereth kindly;
See the eyes were wont to shine,
Uttering love, now staring blindly;
Tender-hearted speech departed,-
Speech that echoed so divinely.

Runs no more the circling river,
Warming, brightening every part;
There it slumbereth cold forever,-
No more merry leap and start;
No more flushing cheeks to blushing,-
In its silent home the heart!

Hope not answer to your praying!
Cold, responseless, lies she there.
Death, that ever will be slaying
Something gentle, something fair,
Came with numbers soft as slumbers,-
She is with him otherwhere!

Mother! yes, you scarce would chide her,
Had you seen the form he bore,
Heard the words he spoke beside her,
Tender as the look he wore,
While he proved her how he loved her
More than mother, – ten times more!

Earthly father! weep not o’er her!
To another Father’s breast,
On the wings of love he bore her,-
To the kingdom of the blest;
Where no weeping eyelids keeping,
Dwells she now in perfect rest.

The poem ceases here in The Mourner’s Friend. In Hitchings’ original publication it continues with the following verses:

Friend! He was a friend that found her
Amid blessings poor and scant,
With a wicked world around her,
And within a heavenly want;
And supplied her, home to guide her,
Wings, for which the weary pant.

Lover ! Yes, she loved thee dearly!
When she left thee, loved thee best!
Love, she knew, alone burns clearly
In the bosoms of the blest :
Love she bore thee watches o’er thee-
Is the angle in thy breast!

Mourners all! Have done with weeping!
I will tell you what he said,
When he came and found her sleeping;
On her heart his hand he laid-
“Sleep is, maiden, sorrow-laden;
Peace dwells only with the dead.

Wend with me across the river-
Seems so bitter, is so sweet!
On whose other shore for ever
Happy, Holy spirits greet ;
Grief all over friend and lover
In a sweet communion meet !

“Is it bitter father, mother,
lover, friend, to leave behind
All their blessed loves, and other?
Come with me, and thou shalt find,
Where thy spirit shall inherit
Perfect love and perfect mind.

“Love that is to mortals given
Struggles with imperfect will,
Love alone that homes in heaven
Can its perfect self fulfil;
Where, posessing every blessing,
Still it grows and greatens still!

“See, I bring thee wings to bear thee
To the blessed angel home,
Dear ones dead, for ever near thee
From thy side no more to roam;
Love increased, wait thou blessed
Till the living loved ones come!

“O’er the river!” – Lo, she faltered
While he took her by the hand ;
And her blessed face grew altered
As she heard the sweet command.
Father! lover! All was over !
So she passed to the Spirit Land !

Spiritual Support. by Rev. R. L. Carpenter.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

Spiritual Support.

LOOK at Jesus in his hour of darkness, with great drops of sweat, as of blood, rolling from his brow ; with his face on the ground, in the earnestness of his entreaties. Look at him again, as his devotions are just ended, when those who come to apprehend him draw near. Mark the calm self-possession with which he says, Behold I am he, let these go their way. Imagine what a heavenly dignity must have succeeded to the tears that bedewed his face, causing it to glow with a noonday lustre ; that, when the rude officers beheld him, they went backward and fell on their faces. Hear his words of solemn assurance, Thinkest then that I cannot now beseech my Father, and he will give me more than twelve legions of angels ; — and then say, whether his prayers were not indeed heard, and whether the strength that God had given him was not indeed equal to his day, enabling him to finish his allotted works, and empowering him to obtain a far higher point of excellence, than ever could have been his had the cup passed from him. How truly, therefored, did Jesus exclaim, “Father, I know that thou hearest me always!” Like him, then, let us be anxiously careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus : that peace arises from the conviction that all things work together for good to them that love God.

Merry Christmas!

Illustration from "A Visit From St. Nicholas," 1896 Held in the New York Public Library. Courtesy of Greenwich Village History website, image copyright the public doman.

Illustration from “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” 1896
Held in the New York Public Library. Courtesy of Greenwich Village History website, image copyright the public doman.

We wish you a very safe and happy Christmas, and hope you, your friends and family are all safe and well. Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, Joyeux Noël, Merry Christmas!

A Visit from St. Nicholas a poem by Clement Clarke Moore, 1823

Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Death. by Albert Barnes.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

Death.

WHAT woes are caused by death in this world! They are seen everywhere. The earth is “arched with graves.” In almost every dwelling, death has been doing his work of misery. The palace cannot exclude him; and he comes unbidden into the cottage. He finds his way to the dwelling of ice in which the Greenlander and the Esquimaux live ; to the tent of the Bedouin Arab, and the wandering Tartar ; to the wigwam of the Indian, and to the harem of the Turk ; to the splendid mansion of the rich, as well as to the abode of the poor. That reign of death has now extended near six thousand years, and will travel on to future years, –meeting each generation, and consigning the young, the vigorous, the lovely and the pure, to dust. Shall that gloomy reign continue forever? Is there no place where death can be excluded ? Yes: Heaven, –and the object of the Redeemer is to bring us there.

Our Little Brother.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

Our Little Brother

WE loved the silky, golden hair,
That played upon his forehead fair;
The angels loved him, – for so rare
Were such sweet pretty locks of hair.

We loved his brilliant, glistening eye,
So keen, so loving, yet so sly ;
The angels loved him too, – for why
Should they resist his sparkling eye?

We loved his laugh, so gayly ringing,
Joy to our loving bosoms bringing;
The angels joined him in their singing,-
So seraph-like his laugh was ringing.

We loved him. Picture of the mother
Was our sweet bud, our darling brother.
Bright seraphs bore him hence, – another
Gem in thy coronet, dear mother.

We love him now. The sweetest flower
That ever saw a sunlight hour,
Has from our bright domestic bower
Been plucked,- to be in heaven a flower.

The fragrance of that bud in heaven,
Forth reaching to our hearth-stone even,
Shall, if thy grace, O God, be given,
Win us from earthly flowers to heaven.

Resignation. by H. W. Longfellow.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

Resignation

THERE is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside, howsoe’er defended,
But has one vacant chair!

The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,
Will not be comforted!

Let us be patient! these severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
but oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise.

We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers,
May be heaven’s distant lamps.

There is not death! hat seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life Elysian,
Whose portal we call death.

She is not dead,- the child of our affection,-
But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection,
And Christ himself doth rule.

In that great cloister’s stillness and seclusion
By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation safe from sin’s pollution,
She lives, whom we call dead.

Day after day we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air;
Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Behold her grown more fair.

Thus do we walk wit her, and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives,
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
May reach her where she lives.

Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her,
She will not be a child;

But a fair maiden in her Father’s mansion,
Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul’s expansion
Shall we behold her face.

And though at times, impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,
That cannot be at rest;

We will be patient! and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that mus have way.

Mortality.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

“Mortality.”

THEY wither all, the hopes of youth,
The visions of delight,
As fades away the light of day,
Lost in the gloom of night;
And sorrow takes the pace of joy,
And partings come : oh, why
Are those we lean the most upon,
And love the most, the soonest gone?
The dearest, first to die?
The summer sun awakens flowers
Of every shade and hue;
The fox-glove and the wild rose bloom,
Just where they ever grew;
The violet on the sunny bank,
The heath on moor and plain;
But the flowers we cherished most of all
Never return again!

The daisy and the waving grass
Clothe many a hallowed mound,
Where those we strove in vain to keep,
Wrapt in Death’s still and dreamless sleep,
Their early graves have found;
And hearts that once were light and gay,
‘Neath sorrow’s weight are bowed;
And oftentimes a missing face,
A vanished smile, or vacant place,
Makes saddened memories crowd;

And days long gone return,
As in a strange, wild dream;
And voices that we love to hear,
And ringing laughter sweet and clear,
Once more around us seem,-
Forgetful that Death’s hand has traced
A record ne’er be effaced.

But soon the vision fades,
nor voice nor smile remain,-
‘Twas but a picture of the heart,
A fancy of the brain:
The momentary joy is flown,-
We wake to find ourselves alone.

O Life! thy path were dark and drear,
If all our being centred here;
But other paths our feet shall tread,
In brighter worlds and purer spheres,
Unmeasured by the lapse of years,
When Time’s fleet course is fled:
Then let our earthly hopes decay,
And Love’s sweet chords be riven;
In sorrow tried and purified,
Our spirits, blest and sanctified,
will find repose in heaven.

Comforting The Afflicted by Jeremy Taylor.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

“Comforting the Afflicted.”

Certain it is, that as nothing can better do it, so there is nothing greater for which God made our tongues, next to reciting his praises, than to minister comfort to a weary soul. And what greater measure can we have, than that we should bring joy to our brother, who with his dreary eyes looks to heaven and round about, and cannot find so much rest as to lay his eyelids close together, – than that thy tongue should be tuned with heavenly accents, and make the weary soul to listen for light and ease ; and when he perceives that there is such a thing in the world, and in the order of things, as comfort and joy to begin to break out from the prison of his sorrows a the door of sighs and tears, and by little and little melt into showers an refreshment ? This is glory to thy voice, and employment fit for the brightest angel. But so have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death, and the colder breath of the north ; and then the waters break from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels ; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance a while in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter ; he breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters and chains of sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning ; for to be miserable is death, but nothing is life but to be comforted; and God is please with no music from below so much as in the thanksgiving songs of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing, and comforted, and thankful persons.

Thoughts Upon Death. by Blaise Pascal.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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. 

Thoughts Upon Death

When we are in affliction on account of the death of some friend whom we loved, or some other misfortune that has happened to us, we ought not to seek for consolation in ourselves, nor in our fellow-creatures, nor in any created thing ; we should seek it in God alone. And the reason is, that creatures are not the primary cause of those occurrences which we call evils ; but that the providence of God, being the true and sole cause of them, the arbiter and the sovereign, we ought, undoubtedly, to have recourse directly to their source, and ascent even to their origin, to obtain satisfactory alleviation. For, if we follow this precept, and consider this afflicting bereavement, not as the result of chance, nor as a fatal necessity of our nature, nor as the sport of those elements and atoms of which man is formed, – for God has not abandoned his elect to the risk of caprice or chance, – but as the indispensable, inevitable, just, and holy result of a decree of the providence of God, to be executed in the fulness of time ; and, in short, that all which happens has been eternally present and preordained in God ; if, I say, by the teachings of grace we consider this casualty, not in itself, and independent of God, but independent of itself, and according to the will of God, in the justice of his decree, and the order of his providence, which is the true cause, without which it could not have happened, by which alone it has happened, and in the precise manner in which it has, – we should adore in humble silence the inaccessible height of his secrets ; we should venerate the holiness of his decrees, we should bless the course of his providence ; and, uniting our will to the will of God himself, we should desire with him, in him, and for him, those very things which he has wished in us, and for us, from all eternity.

I Thank Thee, God ! For Weal and Woe. by Eliza Cook.

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 predominantly by American authors. 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 Thank Thee, God ! For Weal and Woe.”

I THANK thee, God ! for all I’ve known
Of kindly fortune, health, and joy ;
And quite as gratefully I own
The bitter drops of life’s alloy.

Oh ! there was wisdom in the blow
That wrung the sad and scalding tear,
That laid my dearest idol low,
And left my bosom lone and drear.

I thank thee, God ! for all of smart
That thou hast sent ; for not in vain
Has been the heavy, aching heart,
The sigh of grief, the throb of pain.

What if my cheek had ever kept
Its healthful color, glad and bright? –
What if my eyes had never wept
Throughout a long and sleepless night?

Then, then, perchance, my soul had not
Remembered there were paths less fair,
And, selfish in my own blest lot,
Ne’er strove to soothe another’s care.

But when the weight of sorrow found
My spirit prostrate and resigned,
The anguish of the bleeding wound
Taught me to feel for all mankind.

Even as from the wounded tree
The goodly, precious balm will pour;
So in the riven heart there’ll be
Mercy that never flowed before.

‘Tis well to learn that sunny hours
May quickly change to mournful shade;
‘Tis well to prize life’s scattered flowers,
Yet be prepared to see them fade.

I thank thee, God ! for well and woe;
And, whatsoe’er the trial be,
‘Twill serve to wean me from below,
And bring my spirit nigher Thee.