As my church choir gets ready for All Souls Day, we are practicing The Guardian's Farewell by David Haas, which utilizes the last lines of John Henry Newman's 1865, The Dream of Gerontius.
All of us are touched by the power of the poem. Although Haas has made some modifications, what follows is Newman's text.
SOFTLY and gently, dearly-ransomed soul,
In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
And, o’er the penal waters, as they roll,
I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.
And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance.
Angels, to whom the willing task is given,
Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou liest;
And Masses on the earth and prayers in heaven,
Shall aid thee at the Throne of the most Highest.
Farewell, but not forever! Brother dear,
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.
Daniel Chester French, The Angel of Death and the Sculptor, 1889