I never can see a churchyard old,
	With its mossy stones and mounds, 
And green-trees weeping the unforgot
	That rest in its hallowed bounds ; 
I never can see the old churchyard,
	But I breathe to God a prayer, 
That, sleep as I may in this fevered life,
	I may rest when I slumber there.

Our mother, the Earth, hath a cradle-bed
	Where she gathereth sire and son, 
And the old-world's fathers are pillowed there,
	Her children, every one ! 
And her cradle it hath a dismal name,
	When riseth the banquet's din, 
And pale is the cheek at dance or wine,
	If a song of its sleep break in.

But our mother the Church, hath a gentle nest,
	Where the Lord's dear children lie, 
And its name is sweet to a Christian ear,
	As a motherly lullaby. 
Oh the green churchyard, the green churchyard,
	Is the couch she spreads for all, 
And she layeth the cottager's baby there,
	With the lord of the tap'stry hall !

Our mother the Church hath never a child,
	To honour before the rest, 
But she singeth the same for mighty kings,
	And the veriest babe on her breast ; 
And the bishop goes down to his narrow bed,
	As the ploughman's child is laid, 
And alike she blesseth the dark-brow'd serf,
	And the chief in his robe arrayed.

She sprinkles the drops of the bright new-birth,
	The same, on the low and high, 
And christens their bodies with dust to dust,
	When earth with its earth must lie ; 
Oh the poor man's friend, is the Church of CHRIST
	From birth, to his funeral day ; 
She makes him the Lord's, in her surpliced arms,
	And singeth his burial lay.

And ever the bells in the green churchyard
	Are tolling, to tell ye this ; 
Go pray in the church, while pray ye can,
	That so ye may sleep in bliss. 
And wise is he in the glow of life,
	Who weaveth his shroud of rest, 
And graveth it plain on his coffin-plate,
	That the dead in Christ are blest.

I never can see a green churchyard,
	But I think I may slumber there, 
And I wonder within me what strange disease,
	Shall bring me to homes so fair ; 
And whether in breast, in brain, or blood,
	There lurketh a secret sore, 
Or whether this heart, so warm and full,
	Hath a worm at its inmost core.

For I know, ere long, some limb of mine,
	To the rest, may traitor prove, 
And steal from the strong young frame I wear,
	The generous flush I love : 
I know I may burn into ashes soon,
	With this feverish flame of life ; 
Or the flickering lamp may soon blaze out,
	With its dying self at strife.

And here — I think — when they lay me down
	How strange will my slumber be, 
The cold cold clay for my dreamless head,
	And the turf for my canopy ; 
How stilly will creep the long long years
	O'er my quiet sleep away, 
And oh what a waking that sleep shall know,
	At the peal of the Judgment-day !

Up— up from the graves and the clods around
	The quickened bones will stare ; 
i know that within this green churchyard
	A host shall be born to air ; 
A thousand shall struggle to birth agen,
	From under the sods I tread : 
Oh, strange — thrice strange, shall the story be
	Of the field where they lay the dead !

Oh bury me then, in the green churchyard,
	As my old fore-fathers rest, 
Nor lay me in cold Necropolis,
	'Mid many a grave unblest ; 
I would sleep where the church-bells aye ring out ;
	I would rise by the house of prayer, 
And feel me a moment at home, on earth,
	For the Christian's home is there.

I never loved cities of living men.
	And towns of the dead, I hate ; 
Oh let me rest in the churchyard then,
	And hard by the church's gate ; 
'Tis there I pray to my Saviour CHRIST,
	And I will, till mine eye is dim, 
That, sleep as I may in this fevered life,
	I may rest, at last, in Him.

Arthur Cleveland Coxe

Arthur Cleveland Coxe (May 10, 1818 - July 20, 1896) was the second Episcopal bishop of Western New York.

'CHURCHYARDS' have 2 comments

  1. October 31, 2022 @ 7:59 pm Ralph W. Davis

    As a member of an ACNA/REC parish, Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands, Leesburg, VA, with a new property–with a churchyard a part of it (the only church I’ve heard of, built in the last 100 years, with a graveyard….), I like this very much.


  2. November 1, 2022 @ 12:32 am Wesley Mcgranor

    Cremation distorts the body.


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