Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Alexander Mack Funeral

On February 19, 1735, to the deep sorrow of his brothers and sisters in the faith ... Alexander Mack died. Notices were promptly sent to all of the surrounding congregations, inviting them to attend his funeral.

The services began with a noonday meal provided by the Germantown congregation. Mack's coffin, made of choice walnut wood, was placed in the "big room" of his house, where his body could be viewed. The house could not hold everyone who attended. In spite of the cold weather, most of the people stood outside. The Pietistic hymn-singing and preaching lasted until sundown.

Julius Sachse described the funeral procession: ...when darkness had fairly set in a cortege was formed. First came flambeau-bearers; then followed the Wissahickon brotherhood chanting the De Profundus alternately with the Ephrata contingent, who sang a hymn specially composed for the occasion. The rear was brought up by the relatives, friends, and Germantown Brethren.

It was an impressive and wierd sight as the cortege, with its burden and flickering torches filed with slow and solemn step down the old North Wales road. A walk of about a quarter of a mile brought them to a graveyard. It was merely a small field, half an acre in extent.

The graveyard was known as the Upper Burying Ground, and was open to all, regardless of faith. When the procession arrived at the grave, the sight was an inspiring one, worthy of the artist's brush - the hermits and the Brethren in their peculiar garb, with uncovered heads and long flowing beards chanting their requiem; the snow-covered ground; the flickering torches; the coffin upon its rude bier; the black, yawning, grave and the starlit canopy above. As the mourners surrounded the grave another dirge was sung while the body was lowered into its resting place.

Source: Counting the Cost: The Life of Alexander Mack, by William G. Willoughby