Burial of the Dead
And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto
her, Weep not. And He came and touched the bier; and they that bare
him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee,
Arise.—St. Luke vii. 13, 14.
~The Rev. John Keble
WHO says, the wan autumnal soon
Beams with too faint a smile
To light up nature’s face again,
And, though the year be on this wane,
With thoughts of spring the heart beguile?
Waft him, thou soft September breeze,
And gently lay him down
Within some circling woodland wall,
Where bright leaves, reddening ere they fall,
Wave gaily o’er the waters brown.
And let some graceful arch be there
With wreathèd mullions proud,
With burnished ivy for its screen,
And moss, that glows as fresh and green
As thought beneath an April cloud.—
Who says the widow’s heart must break,
The childless mother sink?—
A kinder truer voice I hear,
Which e’en beside that mournful bier
Whence parents’ eyes would hopeless shrink,
Bids weep no more—O heart bereft,
How strange, to thee, that sound!
A widow o’er her only son,
Feeling more bitterly alone
For friends that press officious round.
Yet is the voice of comfort heard,
For Christ hath touched the bier—
The bearers wait with wondering eye,
The swelling bosom dares not sigh,
But all is still, ’twixt hope and fear.
E’en such an awful soothing calm
We sometimes see alight
On Christian mourners, while they wait
In silence, by some churchyard gate,
Their summons to this holy rite.
And such the tones of love, which break
The stillness of that hour,
Quelling th’ embittered spirit’s strife—
“The Resurrection and the Life
Am I: believe, and die no more.”
Unchanged that voice—and though not yet
The dead sit up and speak,
Answering its call; we gladlier rest
Our darlings on earth’s quiet breast,
And our hearts feel they must not break.
Far better they should sleep awhile
Within the Church’s shade,
Nor wake, until new heaven, new earth,
Meet for their new immortal birth
For their abiding-place be made,
Than wander back to life, and lean
On our frail love once more.
’Tis sweet, as year by year we lose
Friends out of sight, in faith to muse
How grows in Paradise our store.
Then pass, ye mourners, cheerly on,
Through prayer unto the tomb,
Still, as ye watch life’s falling leaf,
Gathering from every loss and grief
Hope of new spring and endless home.
Then cheerly to your work again
With hearts new-braced and set
To run, untired, love’s blessèd race.
As meet for those, who face to face
Over the grave their Lord have met.