“The damps of death are coming fast,
My father, o’er my brow;
The past with all its scenes has fled,
And I must turn me now
To that dim future that in vain
My feeble eyes descry;
Tell me, O father, in this hour,
In whose stern faith to die.
“In thine? I’ve watched thy scornful smile,
And heard thy withering tone,
Whene’er the Christian’s humble hope
Was placed above thine own;
I’ve heard thee speak of coming death
Without a shade of gloom,
And laugh at all the childish fears
That cluster round the tomb.
“Or is it in my mother’s faith?
How fondly do I trace
Thro’ many a weary year long past,
That calm and saintly face;
How often do I call to mind,
Now she is ’neath the sod,
The place—the hour—in which she drew
My early thoughts to God.
“’Twas then she took this sacred book,
And from its burning page
Read how its truths support the soul,
In youth and failing age;
And bade me in its precepts live,
And by its precepts die;
That I might share a home of love,
In worlds beyond the sky.
My Father, shall I look above,
Amid this gathering gloom,
To Him whose promises of love
Extend beyond the tomb?
Or curse the Being who hath blessed
This checkered path of mine;
Must I embrace my mother’s faith,
Or die, my sire, in thine?
The frown upon that warrior brow
Passed like a cloud away,
And tears coursed down the rugged cheek
That flowed not till that day.
Not—not in mine, with choking voice
The skeptic made reply,
But in thy mother’s holy faith,
My daughter, may’st thou die!