The Bereaved Father Comforts Himself Concerning his Now Sainted Son
Mine art thou still, and mine shalt be,
Who will be this denying?
Not only thou belong’st to me,
The Lord of Life undying
The greatest right hath aye in thee;
He taketh, He demands from me
Thee, O my son, my treasure,
My heart’s delight and pleasure!
If wish avail’d, my soul’s sweet star!
My free choice would I make thee,
Than earth’s fair treasures rather far,
I evermore would take thee.
Would say to thee, Abide with me,
The joy of all my dwelling be,
I ever more shall love thee,
Till death itself remove me.
Thus saith my heart, and meaneth well,
But God doth mean still better;
Great love doth in my bosom dwell,
In God there dwelleth greater.
I am a father, nothing more,
Of fathers God’s the crown and pow’r,
The fountain who is giving
Their being to all living.
I long and yearn for my dear son;
God, by whom he was given,
Wills he should stand beside His throne,
Should live with Him in heaven.
I say, Alas! my light is gone!
God saith, “I welcome thee, my son,
I’d have thee ever near me,
With endless joys would cheer thee!”
O lovely word! O sweet decree!
More holy than we ever
Can think; with God no ill can be,
Mischance, or sickness never,
No care, no want, no oversight,
With God no sorrow e’er can blight;
Whom God cares for and loveth
No trouble ever moveth.
We men much thought and time expend
On our dear ones’ adorning;
Our thoughts and efforts ever bend,
Are planning night and morning
To gain for them a happy place;
And yet how seldom ’tis the case
They reach the destination
We had in contemplation.
How oft a young and hopeful one
From virtue’s path far roameth,
By him through ill example’s done
What Christians ne’er becometh.
Then God’s just anger doth he earn,
On earth he meeteth scoffs and scorn,
His father’s heart he filleth
With pain that nothing stilleth.
Now such can never be my case,
My son is safely yonder,
Appeareth now before God’s face,
Doth in Christ’s garden wander,
Is fill’d with joy, is ever bless’d,
And from heart-sorrow doth he rest,
Sees, hears the hosts so glorious
Who here are watching o’er us.
He angels yonder hears and sees,
Part in their songs he taketh,
And knows all wisdom’s mysteries;
His high discourse he maketh
What none of us can ever know
With all our searching here below,
To none on earth ’tis given,
Reserv’d it is for Heaven.
Ah! could I even draw so near,
Could it to me be given
The faintest sounds of praise to hear
That fill the courts of Heaven,
When prais’d is the thrice holy One,
Who thee hath sanctified, my son!
Joy would my heart be swelling,
Tears from mine eyes be welling.
Would I then say, Stay with me here,
Henceforth I’ll murmur never;
Alas! my son! wert thou but near!
No, but come quickly hither
Thou fiery car, and take me where
My child and all the blessèd are,
Who speak of things so glorious,
O’er every ill victorious.
Now be it so, I’d have it so,
I’ll never more deplore thee;
Thou liv’st, pure joys thy heart o’erflow,
Bright suns shine ever o’er thee,
The suns of endless joy and rest.
Live then, and be for ever bless’d,
I shall, when God wills, yonder
In bliss hereafter wander.
John Kelly, tr. Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs (London: Alexander Strahan, 1867), 333-37.