When I was a young girl, my precious Grandma Marion used to recite this poem to me from memory every chance she could. To this day, I can't make it through without tearing up.
Away in a country lone churchyard,
The grave of dear Minnie is seen,
The daisies are blooming around it,
Bedecking its verdure so green.
No headstone is placed there to mark it,
No roses bloom fragrant and fair,
No sweet-scented jasmine or violets
Shed perfume abroad in the air.
But sacred that grave is and holy,
And angels who pass in their flight,
Know well that what sleeps there in darkness,
Will awaken again in God's light.
For there lies a lamb of Christ Jesus
Who was just ten years old,
When the Good Shepherd came on her birthday
And carried her home to His fold.
Her father who wrought as a navvy,
Had always been careless and wild,
Yet, despite a life that was sinful,
This man had a love for his child.
Each day at the hour of noontide,
His dinner the little maid brought,
Far off from their home on the moorland,
To the place on the line where he wrought.
Not often he spoke, as unhappy oft
Was he, and churlish and grim,
Yet his voice took a tone that was softer,
Whenever the child was with him.
One midsummer day she hastened,
Ten years old was she on that day,
And deep in her heart there was something
She longed to her father to say.
But she scarce knew how to begin it,
So she spoke of his work nearly o'er,
And how he e'er long would be leaving
This place to go seeking for more.
But somehow her plan proved a failure,
And so she just said it out plain,
"May I speak to you, father, of Jesus,
The Lamb Who for sinners was slain?"
His brow on a sudden flashed scarlet,
As maddened with anger cried he,
"Ne'er again will you to utter
A word about Jesus to me!"
At that, the young face grew o'erclouded,
Her wistful eye tearful and dim,
She turned away, homeward proceeding,
And not a word more said to him.
The rage of the man had been sudden,
Soon gone was its hurricane wild!
"I have vexed my poor lassie," he murmured,
And rose up to follow his child.
But crossing the railroad, he stumbled,
And falling down close by the rail,
He lay there, while on like a whirlwind,
There came the swift rush of the mail.
But Minnie had noticed her father
Fall down in the path of the train,
And quick as a bird she rushed forward
To help him his feet to regain.
But vain were her efforts to raise him,
She ran into danger instead,
The train left her father sore wounded,
But crushed by its wheels she lay dead.
Men carried him home all unconscious,
Unconscious a long while he lay,
Then slowly his eyelids he opened
Once more to the light of the day.
"Oh, Minnie, my Minnie, forgive me,
Come here, little darling, to me,
Forgive me, and tell me of Jesus,"
But never a word answered she.
"Oh, Minnie, my Minnie, forgive me,
I'm sorry for speaking so wild,
Forgive me and tell me of Jesus,
And if He will save me, my child."
But her lips, cold in death, never answered,
Another drew near him instead,
To tell him of what had befallen,
And that his dear Minnie was dead.
He asked them to bring him her Bible,
And begged them to read him some word,
That would tell him the story of Jesus
And how to draw near to the Lord.
They read him the prodigal story
They turned to the publican's prayer,
When a paper fell out of her Bible,
Which the hand of his child had placed there.
"What is it, some writing of Minnie's?"
They lifted the paper and read
The words that were on it, a prayer,
Traced there by the hand of the dead.
"On this my tenth birthday, Lord Jesus,
As a birthday present give me,
That my father may have salvation,
And pardon and mercy from Thee."
"Thy prayer is answered, my darling,'
He exclaimed, with a strange glad cry,
"Late come, but the blessing has found me,
She'll know it alone in the sky.
"For angels will carry the message,
Will tell the glad news in heaven,
That her prayer is heard and answered,
Her father is saved and forgiven."
So, Minnie's last prayer was thus answered,
And the birthday present was given,
Though not upon earth did she have it,
It found her with Jesus, in heaven.