Thursday, October 6, 2011

Epitaph: She died to sin

The gravestone for Rosannah Weill (d. 1835) is a tall sandstone tablet with two willows and a large (-ish) urn.

In Memory of
wife of
Abraham Weill
who died Sept. 20,
Aged 23 years & 8 mo.

She died to sin. She died to care.
But for a moment felt the rod;
Then springing on the viewless air,
Spread her light wings and soard to God.

I confess: I had to read the epitaph more than once before I could understand it correctly.

At first I thought it was unusual that the epitaph used the word sin. Eventually I realized that what is most unusual is that this epitaph, written on an adult’s gravestone, is from a hymn named “Death of an Infant.”

I found several versions of the hymn, but none named the author. One attributed the words to Anonymous.

Death of an Infant
As the sweet flower that scents the morn,
But withers in the rising day,
Thus lovely was this infant’s dawn,
Thus swiftly fled its life away.

It died ere its expanding soul
Had ever burnt with wrong desires,
Had ever spurned at Heaven’s control,
Or ever quenched its sacred fires.

Yet the sad hour that took the boy
Perhaps has spared a heavier doom. —
Snatched him from scenes of guilty joy,
Or from the pangs of ills to come.

He died to sin; he died to care;
But for a moment felt the rod;
Then, rising on the viewless air,
Spread his light wings, and soared to God.

Click to enlarge. Look out for Daddy Long Legs!
Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

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