1840–1904

Introduction

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Born: Au­gust 1, 1840, near Mi­a­mi, Mis­sou­ri.

Died: No­vem­ber 30, 1904, at his home in Da­yton, Vir­gin­ia.

Buried: Day­ton Ce­me­te­ry, Day­ton, Vir­gin­ia.

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Biography

Al­dine was the son of John Kief­fer and Ma­ry Funk (daugh­ter of Vir­gin­ia mu­si­cian Jo­seph Funk), and hus­band of Eliz­a­beth Jo­se­phine Ham­man.

Dur­ing the Am­er­i­can civil war, he served in the 10th Vir­gin­ia Vol­un­teer In­fan­try.

He was one of the found­ers of the Kief­fer-Rue­bush Gos­pel mu­sic pub­lish­er in Day­ton, Vir­ginia, and ed­it­ed the Mu­sic­al Mil­lion and Fire­side Friend per­i­od­i­cals.

Publications

Poem

Hagar and Ishmael

Wearily a woman wanders
Through Beersheba’s barren sands,
While the sterile waste around her
To the glowing sky expands;
And the fervid sky gleams fiercely,
Pouring down its furnace heat
On the sad Egyptian, Hagar,
And the faint lad at her feet.

Flying from a jealous mistress
And from Abram’s tender care,
Son and servant in the desert,
Ready now to perish there;
Faint with terror, thirst and hunger,
Wearily they onward go,
Speechless in the fiery anguish
Of that fearful hour of woe.

For the water in the bottle
All was spent, and parched and dry
Shone the yellow sands around them
Underneath a cloudless sky;
Not a sigh or sound of pity
Reached them from the wastes around,
Death alone seemed walking near them
In that solitude profound.

God of Israel! how the weeping
Heart sank then in Hagar’s breast—
When the lad could smile no longer
Tho’ by mother lips caressed;
When his hand slipped thro’ her fingers
Limp and listless, like a band,
And the weak knees with their burden
Sank upon the glowing sand.

There amid the scanty shadow
Of a thorn bush growing near,
Hagar cast the lad, and with him
All that now to her was dear,
And withdrew a bow-shot from him
In her misery and grief,
For she could not look upon him,
Powerless to yield relief.

Dark eyed, dark haired child of Hagar,
Ishmael, thou were nothing then,
Left to die beneath a thorn bush—
Far from tents of kindred men—
Oh! could Sarah then have seen thee,
Her fierce anger would have grown,
To a tender fount of pity
Even had her heart been stone.

God of Abram! how the mother
Prayed that fierce and fateful hour.
None hath told us, none may ever,
But she prayed a prayer of power;
For while moaning in her anguish
For her dying, darling boy
Forth an angel swept from heaven
With a message of great joy.

Saying, What doth ail thee, Hagar?
Quickly lift thy weeping eyes—
Lo, a fountain bursts to glad thee,
Glancing to these burning skies—
Seek the lad and fill thy bottle,
God hath heard thy mournful cry,
Paran’s land awaits to bless thee—
Journey on, thou shalt not die.

Who can paint the grateful gladness
Of that weary woman’s heart,
As she saw the clear, cool fountain
Into living freshness start;
Lifted up the boy, caressed him,
Called him back to life again,
Kissed him—blessed him—and then journeyed
Forth to find the tents of men.

Yet the sands drift in the desert
Of Beersheba’s drear domain,
And the fearless sons of Ishmael
Pitch their tents on Paran’s plain,
And God’s promise unto Hagar
Standeth steadfast to this day—
While the restless ages moving
Slowly wear the worlds away.

God of Abram! still have mercy
On the Ishmael of today,
And the weary Hagar flying
From a Sarah’s wrath away;
Grant a Paran for their dwelling
And Thy love to be their guide
Through the waste and barren places
In life’s wilderness so wide.

Adapted from Aldine Silliman Kieffer
Hours of Fancy, 1881

Sources

Lyrics

Music