Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20
Words: Margaret Mackay, in The Amethyst; or Christian’s Annual, 1832. The introduction to the hymn reads:
Sleeping in Jesus. By Mrs. Mackay of Hedgefield. This simple but expressive sentence is inscribed on a tombstone in a rural burying ground in Devonshire, and gave rise to the following verses.
I had been driven in a friend’s pony-carriage through some of the exquisite green lanes in Devonshire,wrote the author of this hymn the year before her death. “We paused at Pennycross, attracted by a rural burial ground, and went in to look at the graves. It was a place of such sweet, entire repose as to leave a lasting impression on the memory.
There were no artificial walks or decorations, but the grass was very green, and there no unsightly signs of neglect. On one of the stones were the words,Sleeping in Jesus.It was in such entire keeping with the lovely and peaceful surroundings that it clung to my thoughts. On arriving at home I took a pencil and commenced writing the hymn, little thinking that it would be inscribed on many tombstones.
Sankey, pp. 115–17
Asleep in Jesus! Blessèd sleep,
From which none ever wakes to weep;
A calm and undisturbed repose,
Unbroken by the last of foes.
Asleep in Jesus! Oh, how sweet,
To be for such a slumber meet,
With holy confidence to sing
That death has lost his venomed sting!
Asleep in Jesus! Peaceful rest,
Whose waking is supremely blessed;
No fear, no woe, shall dim that hour
That manifests the Savior’s power.
Asleep in Jesus! Oh, for me
May such a blessèd refuge be!
Securely shall my ashes lie
And wait the summons from on high.
Asleep in Jesus! time nor space
Debars this precious
On Indian plains or Lapland snows
Believers find the same repose.
Asleep in Jesus! Far from thee
Thy kindred and their graves may be;
But there is still a blessèd sleep,
From which none ever wakes to weep.