Recently, I took temporary custody of an old Bible, belonging to a family not related to mine. The Bible is in poor condition. It is stuffed with documents of a unique, genealogical nature. Today, the Lovely One and I took digital photographs of the family history pages of the Bible and scanned all the important documents inside it in an effort to preserve their content. Out of curiosity, we also researched the family, opening a computer file and tracing the generations disclosed in the records. We discovered much and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Among the papers are two poems, written by a grieving Sarah Alice McCartney in remembrance of her son, Herman Newton McCartney, who died on 2 Jan 1893, aged 1 year, 11 months, and 20 days. The mother, born 7 Nov 1859 in Ohio, was the wife of Edwin Camden McCartney, born 7 April 1855 in Illinois. What her poetry lacks in literary quality is compensated by tender emotion and spiritual truth. I have transcribed the longer of the poems below:
Is There No Christmas Greeting?
Another Christmas Eve is here
With all its joys and gladness
The most holy day of all the year,
When little hearts are filled with joy,
And eyes o'erflow with brightness.
But the year has brought us sorrow
With tears that fell like rain,
And have we no smile or greeting
For Christmas come again?
Ah! When we think of the little stocking
That hung with brother's across the chair,
And the joy and gladness of our little boys,
When they saw Santa had found and filled them there.
Now laid away with the little shoes
And tresses of curly hair,
And the dainty, little dresses,
That "our darling" used to wear.
Tonight, no one sits in the little armchair.
It stands in a corner dim.
But tonight, my eyes are oft gaping there
and yearning by thinking of him.
And I see through the dusk of a year ago
The image of my darling one's face
As he rocked so merily to and fro
With a by by baby, that cheared the place.
The brown, sparkling eyes, so full of glee,
I almost fancy now I see.
And I seem to hear his sweet voice say
"Mama be glad, and don't cry.
For your baby is blest with Jesus tonight
And singing sweet music with angels on high,
Escaped from the cares of the weary world
To where trouble and sorrow are never told.
Not alone, Mama dear, but with Jesus I dwell
In a beautiful mansion of gold,
Safe with the lambs of the upper fold."
"Only gone before to a happy home,
Where never a heart is sad and lone.
Safe with the joys supernal,
Safe with the blest to bow,
Safe with the love Eternal,
Safe with the master now.
Only at best a little while all you too
Shall be called to come,
And one "little darling" for Mama will wait
And meet you here at the golden gate."
Ah! When I think of my darling there,
My baby, that will never grow old,
And I know he is waiting and watching for me
In that city with streets of gold,
I look up and see a father's face
Behind the clouds that break
And read there in the truth revealed
How wounded hearts by him are healed,
Who maketh no mistake.
So may I take the grief he's give,
And in my heart may his goodness live.
Oh! Who in this world could wake or rest
Without the knowledge that God knows best.
Thy will be done; I will not fear
But try to still each rising murmur
And check the falling tear,
And hush that sigh "it might have been."
And to God's sweet will, respond Amen.
Though on this blessed Christmas Eve,
There's many a tear will fall
For the memories of Christmas
Are remembered by all.
And though there's many a vacant chair
In our homes tonight,
That one year ago was filled
By those we loved, with hearts so glad and light,
But Jesus doeth all things well.
This thought hath reconciled,
That he, whose love excelleth ours,
Hath taken home his child.
So may we with the angels pay
Honor and greeting to Christ's birthday
And if we on this Saviour will trust,
Be humble, repent, and in his forgiveness believe"
He our sorrows will banish , our souls will receive,
And when this short life of probation is oer
We'll join "our dear ones" to part never more.
Written Christmas Eve 1893: by Alice McCartney
(In memory of my baby boy)