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Prayer of a Mother on the Grave of Her Child, by Marcus Heinrich Bresslau (1852)

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Heavenly peace be with thee, spirit of my beloved child! With true love have I loved thee: thou wast the delight of my eyes and heart. As one looks upon the tender blossom of the young tree, and anxiously awaits its first fruits, so did I contemplate thee, saw thee grow, saw thee bloom, and thy image filled my heart with the brightest prospects. But, alas! all this lasted but a short time. I saw how the young tree dropped its crown, how its promising blossoms withered and sank into dust. Scarcely wast thou given to me but thou wast taken away from me; but it is the all-kind Father who gave thee, it is the all-kind Father who took thee; and whether He gives or takes, be His holy name blessed.

We short-sighted children of man cannot survey the endless ways of love eternal; our limited understanding cannot reach Thy inscrutable wisdom. Ruler in heaven! and Ruler on earth! our confined knowledge cannot dive into Thy unfathomable providence. What mortal can presume to question the wisdom of Thy ways, ever-living God! What frail child of the dust dare murmur against the decrees of Thy justice—Almighty God! However deeply my heart mourns at the loss of thee, my child, it would be a grievous sin if I were to allow my sorrow and mourning to degenerate into complaint or even murmuring against Him, “whose ways are not our ways, and whose thoughts are not our thoughts;”[1]cf. Isaiah 55:8-9. and when my mind sinks into melancholy I will address it in the words of the psalmist, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who who is the health of my countenance and my God.”[2]Psalms 42:12 and Psalms 42:5.

But though this resolution to resign myself unto God seems firm in my heart, I am conscious of the fragility of human resolves, of the unstableness of mortal conduct. I beseech Thee, therefore, Omnipotent God, to support me in the carrying out of this intention, to repeat, in the hour of affliction, with the prophet, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope; it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”[3]Lamentations 3:21-23.

And mayest thou, departed spirit of my beloved child, enjoy that peace and bliss which is reserved for us here after, as the inspired psalmist saith, “in Thy presence, O God, only is fulness of joy, at Thy right hand there are delights for evermore.”[4]Psalms 16:11. Amen.

“Prayer of a Mother on the Grave of Her Child” was first published in Marcus Heinrich Bresslau’s collection of teḥinot, Teḥinot Banot Yisrael: Devotions for the Daughters of Israel (1852).

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Notes   [ + ]

  1. cf. Isaiah 55:8-9.
  2. Psalms 42:12 and Psalms 42:5.
  3. Lamentations 3:21-23.
  4. Psalms 16:11.

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