Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three willows

In 19th-century cemeteries, weeping willow trees are a popular gravestone symbol for mourning.

The gravestone for Joseph Freich (d. 1842) has not one willow, but three. They overlap neatly forming a small, symmetric willow grove.

In memory of
who departed this
life February 15th,
1842; aged 53 Y;
1 month, & 26 days.

The epitaph is taken from a rather to-the-point old hymn. The lyric writer is not known.

See how the wicked kingdom
Is falling every day,
And still our blessed Jesus
Is winning souls away;
But O how I am tempted,
No mortal tongue can tell,
So often I’m surrounded
With enemies from hell.

With weeping and with praying,
My Jesus I have found,
To crucify old nature,
And make his grace abound.
Dear children, don’t be weary,
But march on in the way;
For Jesus will stand by you,
And be your guard and stay.

If sinners will serve Satan,
And join with one accord,
Dear brethren, as for my part,
I’m bound to serve the Lord;
And if you will go with me,
Pray give to me your hand,
And we’ll march on together,
Unto the promised land.

Through troubles and distresses,
We’ll make our way to God;
Though earth and hell oppose us,
We’ll keep the heavenly road.
Our Jesus went before us,
And many sorrows bore,
And we who follow after,
Can never meet with more.

Thou dear to me, my brethren,
Each one of you I find.
My duty now compels me
To leave you all behind;
But while the parting grieves us,
I humbly ask your prayers,
To bear me up in trouble,
And conquer all my fears.

And now, my loving brothers,
I bid you all farewell!
With you my loving sisters,
I can no longer dwell.
Farewell to every mourner!
I hope the Lord you’ll find,
To ease you of your burden,
And give you peace of mind.

Farewell, poor careless sinners!
I love you dearly well;
I’ve labored much to bring you
With Jesus Christ to dwell,
I now am bound to leave you—
O tell me, will you go?
But if you won’t decide it,
I’ll bid you all adieu!

We’ll bid farewell to sorrow,
To sickness, care, and pain,
And mount aloft with Jesus
For evermore to reign;
We’ll join to sing his praises
Above the ethereal blue,
And then, poor careless sinners
What will become of you?

Old Saint Peters Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

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