476) In the Hour of Death

by R. D. Blackmore (1825-1900)
In the hour of death, after this life’s whim,
When the heart beats low, and the eyes grow dim,
And pain has exhausted every limb–
The lover of the Lord shall trust in Him.
When the will has forgotten the life-long aim,
And the mind can only disgrace its fame,
And a man is uncertain of his own name–
The power of the Lord shall fill this frame.
When the last sigh is heaved, and the last tear shed,
And the coffin is waiting beside the bed,
And the widow and child forsake the dead–
The angel of the Lord shall lift this head.
For even the purest delight may pall,
And power must fail, and the pride must fall,
And the love of the dearest friends grow small–
But the glory of the Lord is all in all.
    From a letter to James Boswell, June 28, 1777, included in Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson:  “Mrs. Williams is, I fear, declining.  Dr. Lawrence says he can do no more.  She is gone to summer in the country, with as many conveniences about her as she can expect; but I have no great hope.  We must all die.  May we all be prepared.
Psalm 23:4  —  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 116:15  —  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Isaiah 57:1-2  —  The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.  Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
I Thessalonians 4:13-14  —  Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
A prayer from the diary of Samuel Johnson, September 1736:
I have this day entered upon my 28th year.  O God, enable me for Jesus Christ’s sake, to spend this year in such a manner, that I may receive comfort from it at the hour of death and in the day of judgment. Amen.
 Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take.
–Classic children’s prayer, 18th century, printed in the widely used New England Primer.