Banner photograph of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery, Bath, North Carolina - Taken by Judith Richards Shubert October 2008

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
- Thornton Wilder

Monday, November 10, 2008


While looking for a copy of "The Graveyard Rabbit" I ran across a book on my shelves published in 1907. POEMS With Power to Strengthen the Soul, compiled by James Mudge, Author of The Best of Browning, Etc. sat there just begging me to open it. I leafed through the pages and upon finding the poem entitled, “The Burial of Moses,” I felt it was perfect to include in a post here at Covered Bridges. I began to research the author, Cecil Frances Alexander, whom I was not familiar with. I should have been, seeing as how she was so prolific and was the author of some of the most beautiful hymns ever written.

Born: Ear­ly Ap­ril 1818, Red­cross, Coun­ty Wick­low, Ire­land
Died: Oc­to­ber 12, 1895, Lon­don­der­ry, North­ern Ire­land

Buried: Ci­ty Cem­e­te­ry, Lon­don­der­ry, North­ern Ire­land

Cecil Frances Alexander was born in Ireland, as my earliest Richards ancestor was said to have been. I have not taken the time to research that fact but have seen others’ work and they conclude John Richards came from Ireland as did his wife, Biddy Cunningham.

Mrs. Alexander was married to William Alexander, of Derry and Raphoe, and later the Anglican primate for Ireland. Cecil Alexander wrote about 400 hymns in her lifetime. She is buried in City Cemetery, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Your Daughters Shall Prophesy,
Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams.
Your Young Men Shall See Visions.
Joel 2:28


Wife of William, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe
Died October 12, 1895

Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, 1867 - 96
Anglican Primate of All Ireland

Photos of her grave are found at Find a Grave and were added to that site by Bob Dennis 11/16/2007

“Burial of Moses” appeared anon. in Dublin University Magazine, 1856 and caused Tennyson to say it was one of the few poems of a living author he wished he had written.


By Nebo’s lonely mountain,
On this side Jordan’s wave,
In a vale in the land of Moab,
There lies a lonely grave.
But no man dug that sepulcher,
And no man saw it e’er;
For the angels of God upturned the sod,
And laid the dead man there.

That was the grandest funeral
That ever passed on earth;
But no man heard the trampling,
Or saw the train go forth.
Noiselessly as the daylight
Comes when the night is done,
And the crimson streak on ocean’s cheek
Grows into the great sun –

Noiselessly as the springtime
Her crest of verdure weaves,
And all the trees on all the hills
Open their thousand leaves –
So, without sound of music,
Or voice of them that wept,
Silently down from the mountain crown
The great procession swept.

Perchance some bald old eagle
On gray Beth-peor’s height,
Out of his rocky eyrie
Looked on the wondrous sight.
Perchance some lion, stalking,
Still shuns the hallowed spot,
For beast and bird have seen and heard
That which man knoweth not.

But when the warrior dieth
His comrades in the war,
With arms reversed and muffled drums
Follow the funeral car;
They show the banners taken,
They tell his battles won,
And after him lead his matchless steed
While peals the minute gun.

Amid the noblest of the land
They lay the sage to rest;
And give the bard an honored place,
With costly marble drest,
In the great minister’s transept height,
Where lights like glory fall,
While the sweet choir sings and the organ rings
Along the emblazoned wall.

This was the bravest warrior
That ever buckled sword;
This the most gifted poet
That ever breathed a word;
And never earth’s philosopher
Traced, with his golden pen,
On the deathless page, truths half so sage
As he wrote down for men.

And had he not high honor?
The hillside for his pall;
To lie in state while angels wait
With stars for tapers tall;
And the dark rock pines, like tossing plumes,
Over his bier to wave;
And God’s own hand, in that lonely land,
To lay him in his grave.

In that deep grave without a name,
Whence his uncoffined clay
Shall break again – most wondrous thought! –
Before the judgment day,
And stand, with glory wrapt around,
On the hills he never trod,
And speak of the strife that won our life
Through Christ, the incarnate God.

O lonely tomb in Moab’s land,
O dark Beth-peor’s hill,
Speak to these curious hearts of ours,
And teach them to be still.
God hath his mysteries of grace –
Ways that we cannot tell;
He hides them deep, like the secret sleep
Of him he loved so well.

- Cecil Frances Alexander

Sources accessed November 10, 2008: Cecil Frances Alexander,CF/life.htm Cecil Frances Alexander Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander

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