Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A prayer and a poem by Julia Margaret Cameron - March and July 1871

Julia Margaret Cameron and her daughter Julia Hay Norman
unknown photographer

Julia Margaret Cameron wrote a prayer during her first pregnancy with her daughter, Julia, dated,July 8, 1838. It is entitled, 'Prayer written when I quickened with my first child'. In October, 1871, she  included it in a letter to her son, Hardinge, who was living in Ceylon. This prayer was written on one sheet of paper separated into four leaves by lines across each section.

Prayer written when I quickened with my first child by Julia Margaret Cameron

Most merciful Lord God who in Thy loving kindness dost bestow upon me blessings which I deserve not & in Thy mercy dost spare me punishments which I most justly deserve listen oh listen I beseech thee to the voice of this Thy Servant who would lift up her heart in thanksgiving & pour out her soul in prayer to Thee. With every power of my heart do I thank & praise thee most holy God for the blessed hope and promise of offspring which thou hast granted me. Oh perfect I beseech Thee the great work of creation which Thou hast now quickened with the breath of life my in due time be safely born into the world and may thro Thy care & blessing be preserved to be a comfort to its Parents and thro Thy grace 7 guidance a glory to Thy Church. Preserve me if such by Thy will thro' the pain and peril of Childbirth and spare my life, enabling me thro Thy assistance to perform my duties to Thee, to my best beloved and darling Husband, and to the Child or Children with which Thou mayst bless me. enable me with a firm soul and a steady heart to support the hour of my trial feeling strong in Thy strength and resting firm dependence on the promise that Thou wilt allow no danger to befal me no accident or evil to come near to hurt me which is not ordered in Thy wisdom for my clerical good & that of those most dear to me. And on this hope do I most heavenly Father wholly & entirely set my trust, only beseeching Thee if Thou should'st think fit to remove me from this world to bestow in mercy a double portion of Thy tender care on my poor desolate husband and Motherless Child. For my Husband I more especially entreat Thy protection. In mercy hear the cry of my soul and be unto him a Father and a Friend, a God of love and of Campassion, a Saviour, a Comforter and a Redeemer. Most blessed Lord forsake him neither by night nor by day. take thy watch about his path and about his bed and direct all his ways. Thou alone dost know how fondly dear This my husband is to me, how great is his tenderness, how true is his love. Thou knowest that I have only been too prone to make him my earthly Idol and thus have feared to offend Thee-thou knowest also that his constant tenderness has sweetened every hour of my life & that my only grief has been that his faith is not yet fixed on the Saviour, the Rock of Ages in whom I trust & to whom I make my prayer. Thine eye canst see what no human eye has beheld & my secret sorrow is not hidden from thee. If it be then Thy will that I should die in Childbirth my last prayer is that Thou shouldst grant me in death the blessing I have so earnestly desired in life and enlighten his mind so as to enable him to see more clearly & to believe more fully spiritual things. Grant that in becoming a Parent his heart may be touched with Thy mercies and He may more earnestly seek & desire Thy favour, and when he seeks oh grant in mercy that he may find. Open to him the veil of Thy sanctuary and engrave upon his soul the blessed truths of thy gospel so that the Saviour may become to him his only hope & the Saviour's blood seal him with the seal lof redemption. When he is in affliction and his widowed heart doth mourn for heaviness do Thou send him that peace which this world cannot give-comfort him with Thy love and enable him to fix a steady eye of faith on the hope which is my abiding trust & joy that we may thro' our Saviour's merits be finally reunited in the realms of bliss above-and having implored This thy Heavenly Care and Watchfulness for one who is more dear to me than tongue can tell I would beseech thee to calm my mind and enable me to leave this earthly scene without regret having made my peace with Thee. Now that I have time left me on earth may I endeavour unceasingly to finish the work of my salvation and to prepare my mind simply to believe and that i may believe may I be constant in prayer fervent in spirit serving the Lord. Now whilst I have health may I make the Saviour my friend so that if the dangers of Childbearing are great I may bear them with a quiet soul having made my peace with Thee. And in the hour of death let not my heart be troubled but enable me to enter Eternity with humble faith in that Redeemer who is sufficient to save the greatest of sinners who pout their trust in him. But should I be spared to rise from my bed of sickness and know the fullness of a Mother's joy oh grant that I may live to praise and magnify Thy Holy name for all thy mercies towards me. Grant me the assistance of Thy Spirit in enabling me to watch over the body & soul of my Infant & spare me to be a tender and loving wife to my husband giving us both joyful and contented hearts that we may gratefully receive the blessings of which a Parent's heart must be full. And when possessing the gifts-may we not forget the Giver of all good but so walk in this world as to secure a continuance of thy mercy both here and in the world to come. through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour & Redeemer.

The following poem, Farewell of the Body to the Soul, was written by Julia on March 19, 1871 and included in a letter to her son, Hardinge in Ceylon, on October 19th, 1871.

Farewell of the Body to the Soul by Julia Margaret Cameron

Sweet soul of mine! my closest dearest Friend
Forgive me ere we part all injury done
All warfare now between us has an end
Thy frail companion now his race has run

How oft when soaring with a wish divine
I've dragged thee down, and laid thee in the dust
Tricked with false promise glorious hopes of thine
Dwarfed all thy stature, made thy brightness rust

And thou didst ne'er resent, but oft and oft
In the night watches would'st invoke me still
In accent loud and strong-or sweet and soft
To give thee liberty to have Thy will

How oft in playful combat we would strive
If sweet cajolery would win the race
Now thy pure essence free of me shall live,
We part sweet soul! Smile on my pallid face.

Thou wingst thy flight art thou of me so tired?
Let us be friends at least-oh why that start?
Thou find'st thy freedom oft so much desired
Forgive and love me-flow-distinct-apart

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