A message from father to daughter

A few days ago we saw an album that my great aunt Ruth gave to her sister, my great aunt Naomi.

The first message in the album comes from the father of those two young ladies, my great grandfather. Here is his message.

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This is undated, but let’s assume it was 1905 for that was when Naomi received the album. It is, of course, biblical. I say of course because my ancestors were strict Baptists and great grandfather had a reputation as a fiery lay preacher. By 1905, though, he was racked with totally debilitating and excruciatingly painful arthritis. In 1901 he had been in Bath at the time of the census, trying bathing in the spring there in a fruitless attempt to alleviate symptoms. No doubt he couldn’t hold a pen and the message written at an angle says, ’copied for father’. I think the bulk of the writing is in the hand of my Great Granny.

The first line reads, O lord my pilot’s part perform and this is clearly based on a poem by William Cowper. The remaining lines, though, I can’t trace. Here’s the whole piece.

O lord my pilot’s part perform; (prayer)
In every dark and trying storm;  (trial)
And when the river I shall see,   (faith)
I then shall sing aloud of thee.   (triumph)

The meaning intended is, I think clear. In the eyes of my ancestors this life was merely preparation for eternal life in the hereafter. I believe this implies that death and entering the Kingdom of God is something much to be desired.

Personally, I’m not a subscriber to that point of view but I’ll respect those folks who are.

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