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The Sweet Bye and Bye.

By:Ada Mckay
Date: Tue,27 Oct 2020
Submitter:Ada Mckay

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The Sweet Bye and Bye.

My Mother’s favourite gospel hymn was called “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” and it’s chorus was “we shall meet on that beautiful shore.” {lots of recordings on the internet if you don’t know it!}. Whenever she sent someone a bereavement card she would mention the chorus of this hymn and she was often thanked for the comfort the words gave.

My mother was a Spiritualist all her adult life and she never doubted the existence of the next world and reunions with family already there. I think that many people, Spiritualists or not, know instinctively that death is not the end but we should all remember that it is only the Spiritualist Church which can provide proof of a life hereafter.

This belief in an afterlife has come down through the ages. The Pyramids of Egypt – those tombs of their rulers – were filled with objects to help the deceased in their future existence. They also believed that the only way to have an afterlife was to be mummified and put in a sarcophagus (an Egyptian coffin) which was covered with complex symbols and signs.

The ancient Greeks believed that people had a soul and, like the Egyptians, they believed in life after death. They believed that at death you had to cross the River Styx which was the river of death. The river had a ferry to take you across and the ferryman’s name was Charon. Of course Charon had to be paid for his services so relatives would place a coin in the mouth of the deceased to pay this toll as they believed that someone, who could not pay the fee, would never be able to cross the river and so reach life after death. Today archaeologists have found that even the coffins of humble people they have excavated contain a coin to pay the boatman to ferry them across the river.

Even today many people think of death as crossing a river or a sea. One of the last poems that Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote was called “Crossing the Bar.” In it he refers to his departure from life into death. He speaks of death as going out to sea. The “Bar” is the last piece of land before you reach the sea and he asks that there be “no moaning at the bar” when he is put to sea (that is don’t grieve for me.) I particularly like his last two lines :-
“I hope to see my Pilot (God) face to face when I have crossed the bar.”

A Baptist minister called Robert Lowry wondered why there were so many hymns about the river of death and he thought we should start thinking about crossing the river of life. He determined to write a more cheery hymn and he gave us that well known hymn called “Shall we gather at the river which flows by the throne of God.”

Our Victorian ancestors took a very gloomy view of death and this all started with Queen Victoria who could not reconcile herself to the death of Prince Albert. She started a display of mourning that was very macabre and morose. Widows wore black for 2 years (widows weeds) after a death, eventually moving to grey. Some, and especially the Queen, never wore colour again. Jet jewellery was the only one worn and then there were brooches and rings made from the hair of the deceased. In houses, the mirrors were covered, clocks were stopped at the moment of death, curtains were drawn and a black beribboned wreath was placed on the door. There was even black bordered stationery and black-edged handkerchiefs.

Well, these days we don’t have these morbid customs and in fact when you attend a funeral today we are told that we are there “to celebrate the life of…” which I think is a fine thing. The Salvation Army refers to death as “Promoted to Glory.” All Spiritualists know that death is not an end but a new beginning – new life freed from an aging body with all its related health problems. Silver Birch refers to it as “freeing the imprisoned bird from the cage.” A life of new opportunities, a time to fulfil unattained ambitions. Remember the words of Sydney Carton in Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities.” “It is a far, far better place I go to than I have ever been before.” I have recently become aware of a lovely Prose Poem about death and the afterlife which is often used at funerals. In it death is compared to boarding a ship and the mourners watching it sailing away say “There she goes!” However as it approaches it’s destination on another shore there are others watching for it’s arrival and a glad shout goes up “Here she comes!” What a lovely description of a soul being met by family and friends already there. I often think of death as emigrating over the sea to a new country in which case the chorus of my mother’s favourite hymn is very appropriate.
“In the sweet bye and bye we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

I am offering a free copy of my book “Why I am a Spiritualist” to anyone interested.

Please contact me by email [email protected]
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