Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Epitaph: Behold the gaping tomb!

It is not unusual to see a star or two on a mid-1800s gravestone. The gravestone for Mary Ann George (d. 1843) has five of them.

A five-pointed star is sometimes understood to represent the five wounds of Christ. Could that be the intended meaning of the five stars on Mary Ann’s gravestone?



In Memory of
Mary Ann,
daut’r of Enoch
& Jane George,
died May 2, 1848,
aged 17 Y. 7 M. & 21 D.
Let this vain world engage no more,
Behold the gaping tomb!
It bids us seize the present hour,
Tomorrow death may come.

The epitaph is from a popular source, the poem “Death and Burial of a Young Person” by Anne Steele (b. 1716, d. 1778), an English poet, Baptist preacher, and hymn writer.

When blooming Youth is snatch’d away
By Death’s resistless Hand,
Our Hearts the mournful Tribute pay
Which Pity must demand.

While Pity prompts the rising Sigh,
O may this Truth, imprest
With awful Pow’r—I too—must die—
Sing deep in ev’ry Breast.

Let this vain world engage no more;
Behold the gaping Tomb!
It bids us seize the present Hour,
To-morrow Death may come.

The Voice of this alarming Scene,
May ev’ry Heart obey;
Nor be the heav’nly Warning vain,
Which calls to watch and pray.

O let us fly, to Jesus fly,
Whose pow’rful Arm can save;
Then shall our Hopes ascend on high,
And Triumph o’er the Grave.

Great God, thy Sov’reign Grace impart,
With cleansing, healing Pow'r;
This only can prepare the Heart
For Death’s surprising Hour.


Chester Baptist Cemetery, Morrow County, Ohio

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