Friday, August 5, 2011

Epitaph: This languishing head is at rest

The sandstone grave marker near the back of St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery is showing signs of age, but it is still easy to read. It stands at the grave of Samuel T. Conkey (b. 1797, d. 1840).

There are no symbolic carvings, but what it lacks in artistry, it makes up for in information. The gravestone lists his birth date as well as his death date, and it lists his place of birth. Bonus!

In memory of
who was born in Salem
Washington County
N.Y. August 5. 1797.
departed this life
Sept 2. 1840.

This langueshing head is at rest
Its thinking and aching are o’re
This quiet immoveable breast
Is heaved by affliction no more.

Here is the complete version of the Charles Wesley (b. 1707, d. 1788) hymn from which the epitaph is taken:

Ah! lovely appearance of death,
No sight upon earth is so fair;
Not all the gay pageants that breathe,
Can with a dead body compare.

With solemn delight I survey
The corpse, when the spirit is fled,
In love with the beautiful clay,
And longing to lie in his stead.

How blest is our brother, bereft
Of all that could burden his mind?
How easy the soul, that hath left
This wearisome body behind!

Of evil incapable thou,
Whose relics with envy I see;
No longer in misery now,
No longer a sinner like me.

This earth is affected no more,
With sickness, or shaken with pain;
The war in the members is o’er,
And never shall vex him again.

No anger henceforward, or shame,
Shall redden this innocent clay;
Extinct is the animal flame,
And passion is vanished away.

This languishing head is at rest,
Its thinking and aching are o’er;
This quiet immovable breast
Is heaved by affliction no more.

This heart is no longer the seat
Of trouble and torturing pain;
It ceases to flutter and beat,
I never shall flutter again.

The lids he so seldom could close,
By sorrow forbidden to sleep,
Sealed up in eternal repose,
Have strangely forgotten to weep.

The fountains can yield no supplies,
These hollows from waters are free!
The tears are all wiped from these eyes,
And evil they never shall see.

To mourn and to suffer is mine,
While bound in a prison I breathe;
And still for deliverance pine,
And press to the issues of death.

What now with my tears I bedew,
O might I this moment become,
My spirit created anew,
My flesh be consigned to the tomb.

St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio


  1. Wow, that is an amazing hymn. Thank you for providing the whole text. Which hymnal does it come from?

  2. Beautiful hymn! I found it first on (great resource):

    There is a nice history snippet there from Dictionary of Hymnology (1907).

    Click the Instances tabe and it lists (many) hymnals that include this hymn!


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