The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 73 - 77

vital. * [1.] On the day of Mary's Purification, February 2nd, as on the 4th Sunday after Epiphany of this year, he preached for the last time in the church concerning the gospel "of old Simon" and this too was Simon's swan song: "Lord, now let your servant go in peace." This was the text of his departing sermon and on the evening of the same day he held a congregational assembly. On the following day, February 3rd, he became ill and although his energy quickly began to decline, the Lord God blessed the ministrations and medications of his old, true and experienced physician, Dr. Nichels, so that he grew stronger and on March 30th, Palm Sunday, he again went to church and took part in the installation of a newly elected Christian church administrator. And on the following day, Monday morning March 31st, he even presided over the ordination of the candidate, now Pastor C. Sabbann, with the assistance of the Deacon Burk, J. Grabau and H. Stechholz, and gave him the Eucharist. After this blessed ceremony he once again became seriously weak. Some days he was better and great accomplishments resulted. But people still remained hopeful until around the middle of April when a severe cough with heavy expectorating and great difficulty in breathing, along with swelling of the feet, indicated that his death was not far off. And yet right to the end he cared for his congregation and synod in a fatherly way and he kept them all in his praying heart. He believed it was possible that he might recover through God's almighty power and he spoke of much work he thought he could do, should God make him well again, especially the publishing of a book on the old Lutheran church agenda, which he was working on; yet his heart remained joyful and he was ready to surrender himself to the will of his dear heavenly father. In faith he was prepared for his salvation and would gladly die when it was His Will for he was certain of his sanctity in Christ.

On the Thursday before Pentacost, May 29th, his end appeared to be near but towards evening his strength somewhat returned. On Friday he was again weaker, but up to that point he was not


[1.] * For a certain time before and for a certain time during his illness special effort was given to the publishing of the 5th edition of our songbook by him. Return to text

bedridden, rather he sat up or reclined during the day on the sofa or in a large chair. On Friday morning, May 30th, he asked to be led out to the garden for a bit of air. This was done but the heat was too great and he soon after had to be brought back in. On the evening of the same day strong stomach cramps set in, which could only be stopped through certain medications. A severe fever resulted, which still had not dropped by Saturday evening. Even on this day he stood up around midday and sat for a couple of hours on the sofa but then had to return to his bed. On Sunday, June 1st, the first day of Pentacost it seemed certain that the end would come shortly. On the Thursday before he was to celebrate the Eucharist with his son and Deacon Burk, Sr. in the parsonage on the Pentacostal day of repentance. He was happy to celebrate the body and blood of the Lord with his congregational brothers in ministerial office. No one thought that the end would be so near. Now however on the first day of Pentacost he felt and saw that the Lord would call him soon. He took communion from Deacon Burk alone and fortified himself for his journey to heaven.

The second day of Pentacost, June 2nd, dawn broke on the day of his departure to his heavenly home. His loving wife, who had for 45 years taken part in his joy and his sorrow and who was his loyal nurse in the last days of illness both day and night, as well as his daughter, Mrs. Beata Gram, and her husband, both of whom were dear to him, and the loyal mother, who always stood by him with advice and deed, encircled him. His sons, Pastor Wm. Grabau of Cedarburg, Wisconsin and Pastor Joh. Grabau of Bergholz, were telegraphed immediately. The first son did not make it to see his father still alive because of the great distance. Pastor Joh. Grabau however arrived by midday at the deathbed and fortified the loyal, exhausted pilgrim with the dear words of God and choice promises from the gospels, especially the wonderous comfort of the gospel of the day: "God so loved the world." Before noon when some true Christians, the church administrators and the church fathers visited him, he shouted in a steady voice, "Hold steadfastly to God's Word; hold firmly on to the church for it is in danger." As the end came closer and closer, people heard him say the sweet name of "Jesus," and when his son said to him,

"Yes, dear father, the Lord Jesus holds a crown ready for you" he answered while looking up and pointing his finger: "I always see it before my eyes." Among other things he read a beautiful song to his father: "Lord Jesus Christ, Light of My Life." His father moved his lips, at times audibly saying the words, praying from the heart.

He was and remained fully conscious and in full possession of his faculties to the last moment.

At 8PM as his son read the prayer to the song "Lord God, Open the Gates of Heaven" he sighed, "Lord Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, the True God." Then as he recited the church blessing, his spirit flew to God. On the second day of Pentacost, June 2nd, at 8 o'clock in the evening he passed away to live in the joy of the Lord just as his comrade and true companion, the unforgettably dear Professor Winkler, had gone a year earlier on the first day of Pentacost.

His end was truly edifying. No pain, no fear or misgivings, only full faith in the will of God and blessed peace. This was the end of one, who was righteous and who was faithfully certain of the forgiveness of his sins and his justification in Christ. Here lay the frigid body in enlightened repose as a victor and a conqueror, who had fought the good fight, completed the course, kept the faith and now upon whom rested the crown of righteousness.

All the more was the pain for the many true Christians he left behind. They saw their loving husband, father and teacher, who was so faithful, joyful, devout and spiritual, leave this world. They had to fortify their hearts and take comfort. His distress, his sorrow and his misery were at an end; he had borne the yoke of Christ, had died, and now he lived again.

After the church service for the second day of Pentacost a large number of his church children gathered in the parish home around their old, beloved spiritual caregiver to see him one last time. Deacon Burk said a heartfelt prayer for a peaceful and holy redemption. On that evening when he left there were also a number of Christians, among them the old true companion and school teacher, Mr. Aug. Stiemke,

assembled around the bed, sincerely praying for the safe passage of his soul to God. Soon after his departure the report of his death spread through the city like wildfire; on the same night pastors and congregations of the Buffalo synodal bands reported his death via telegraph in an attempt to assemble all the pastors for the funeral, which was to be held on the next Sunday, the feast of the Holy Trinity. The beloved Buffalo congregation, for whom the departed one had been spiritual caregiver here in America since 1839 and in Germany since 1834, immediately held a meeting and exerted great energy to hold a reverent funeral for their dear, blessed pastor. They spared no expense to show their love and respect for him, he who had been hated and despised and slandered by so many irrational men in this city and country for his trueness and decisiveness. In the course of the week the following pastors came for the funeral: Pastor Wm. Grabau, eldest son of the deceased, Pastor C. Gram of Milwaukee, Wis., Pastor A. Lange of Detroit, Mich., Pastor Sabbann of Altamont, Ill., Pastor Ph. Ackermann of Roseville, Mich., Pastor Ch. Hennicke of New York, Pastor Stechholz of Martinville, Dr. Moldehke of New York, and Pastor Mackensen of Canada. On Saturday evening and early Sunday many costly bouquets of flowers were received for the funeral from loving friends, and a beautiful songbook, bound in black and of the latest edition with the name "Jesus" in large silver lettering on the cover.

Thus the body laid in state at the feast of the Trinity, with the above mentioned songbook in hand, in a coffin overlaid in black linen and trimmed with black velvet; on its sides were long silver-plated handles and on the lid was a silver-plated placque with the name and age of the deceased. All this was provided through the love of the congregation. The Lord our God would bountifully repay them and all friends.

The funeral began on Sunday at 11:30 AM in the parish house. The assembly sang a few verses of the song "Lord Jesus Christ, Light of My Life," after which Pastor Stechholz of Martinville gave a heartfelt speech to the assembly, and Pastor Sabbann of Altamont, Ill., said a prayer.

With the singing of more verses of the above-mentioned song the service at the house was concluded.

Now the funeral procession moved to the church. At the head was Deacon Burk, who had been Pastor Grabau's assistant to the Trinity Church for 9 ½ years. Next to him was teacher and sexton to the congregation, Mr. Aug. Stiemke. Then followed the other pastors in office, with the exception of the two sons of the deceased. Then came the flower-strewn coffin, carried by the six trustees of the church.

Immediately after the coffin came the widow of the deceased, led by the eldest son, then the second son with his wife and children, then the daughter with her husband and children. Then followed friends and acquaintances, and finally all who had come together for this funeral in serious and solemn procession.

Upon entry into the house of God the procession was accompanied by somber organ music, composed and performed by Mr. C. F. Baum. The coffin was placed on a catafalque before the black-shrouded altar on which a number of candles burned and the pastors took their places on either side of it.

The congregation sang the song "Christ, You are My Life." Next followed a short reading and lecture by Pastor Ackermann. Then a choral group presented a work based on the 25th Psalm, which had been composed by Mr. Baum for this service and which he conducted. Then followed the funeral sermon, given by Pastor Gram of Milwaukee.

Prayer — Oh, eternal, inscrutable God, with trouble and pain filled hearts we have come to Your House so that we may take leave of our sorrow in Your Holy Word. This, Your True Servant, our teacher, you have taken from the service of the struggling church and have placed him eternal and triumphant where you have clothed him in celestial gleam and glory. We however stand here as lost orphans and a vale of tears laments the irrevocable bereavement. You, Our God, are just in all your works, which You perform, and when our weak understanding cannot fathom your inscutable ways, teach us to bow to your fatherly will in childlike submission.

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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 19, 2006