The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 88 - 92

For this day loving friends have commissioned a binding of the songbook, his last effort in ministerial office, with the name of "Jesus," his last word, embossed in silver lettering to be placed in his hand in the coffin. What we have here is a testimony and a remembrance that this servant of God, who served the Lord Jesus, is now departed in Him.

Oh, my beloved brothers in ministerial office, and all loving fellow Christians, let us stand firm in this dissolute time; let us faithfully hold to the Lord Jesus, who paid for us with his blood, so that we may depart blessedly in him to a happy awakening on the last day. Amen.

After the last verse was sung Pastor Kindermann left the podium and spoke the blessing, after which the congregation sang the song "Lord, let your servant go in peace." Those present, who may have numbered over 2000, filed up to the altar in order to view the body one last time.

When the coffin was closed, the assembly left the church in the same order as when they arrived. The coffin was placed in the funeral wagon; the funeral procession consisted of over 100 coaches and wagons traveling to the cemetery, "In Holy Peace." There was a large number of people, who could not find a seat in God's house and who stood outside densely lining both sides of the street. It had been a long time since the City of Buffalo had seen such a large and ceremonious funeral procession.

At the cemetery the assembly sang the song "Jesus, my trust," etc. and Pastor Dr. Moldehnke of New York gave a sublime and comforting address at the grave with the words taken from the text of Isaiah 20, 19.

At the conclusion of the address he read a note of commemoration from a member of the Trinity Church who had sent it with a wreath.

Pastor Burk recited the following commemorative verse during the interring of the coffin:

1. Thus you will lay in holy peace,
    Here a dear son finds his rest;
    Take with you, reverend father, as our blessing,

    The beloved laurel, which you have earned!
    Silent tears flow with compassion —
    Each one here has shed so many,
    And our hearts' mournful yearning
    No longer reach to him in tomb and sleep!

2. Dear wife, behind a widow's veil,
    weep for your departed husband!
    Once you extended to your intended
    A hand in love and truth,
    You lived through heavy sorrow
    In the time of the Union's persecution,
    As a reforming king's forces
    Gave him imprisonment as reward.

3. With faith in God you followed the courageous warrior
    far and wide over land and sea,
    A higher power was his guide hand,
    Bringing us safely here.
    Ever since that hand has remained extended
    Those who want to see have indeed beheld,
    That your book was written with tears,
    That what passed, truly happened, according to wise counsel.

4. Now weep, dear daughter and sons,
    Mourn your beloved noble father,
   — How difficult it will be for me
    no longer to hear his words or shine in his light —
    He taught us according to God's intent
    In discipline and admonition he brought us to the Lord,
    That you may not be deceived by falsehood
    You followed him childlike, grateful, pious and content!

5. Now weep for him, abandonned army,
    Mourn for your shepherd, your leader;
    Let every face show its grieving,
    This is quite natural and cannot be otherwise;
    His heart, which we so truly loved, no longer beats,
    By day and night he no longer makes certain
    That no error clouds true teaching
    And that the vigil is ever maintained.

6. Forever now is silenced the familiar voice
    At the pulpit, the altar, the sickbed,
    In gentle allure as in holy rage,

    keeping the enemy from the church door;
    No longer illumines the light of special clarity
    embracing simple, noble truth —
    For so many years you communicated
    the truth, which you beheld!

7. And still he cared enough to deliver the message
    Although he could feel death standing so near,
    Lest after his time through carelessness
    The church were to lose its true teachings;
    This, the army he had led for so long
    taking all of his caring, deserving all his love,
    Should not be torn apart after his departure,
    resting on weak foundation without sanctity and fortification!

8. And you, the synod, which he established,
    Do not hold back your tears!
    You know what has threatened for years —
    Do you see his death as your own?
    You may now encounter many storms
    like a rudderless ship in the sea,
    But if you will, you can survive
    Despite being surrounded by many foes!

9. So mourn fully and thus be comforted,
    Now he wears the warrior's victory crown;
    His spirit enjoys the wonder of salvation,
    He wears his birthright in the light!
    "I see Jesus," he declared
    With steadfast tone amid bitter nearness of death —
    Now he kneels before the eternal throne
    As a conqueror of sin and death!

10.Indeed, this tree, by which we mournfully stand,
     In this beautiful, fresh meadow
     Symbolically shows the higher power,
     Where life eternally blooms,
     Where Eden's river flows and Eden's palms rustle
     Where no cherub defends the gate,
     Where the redeemed sing melodies,
     Which are never heard on this earth!

11.You, however, the one good shepherd of the flock,
     Lord Jesus, look on us in mercy!
     Take care that your people are sustained,

    Make each soul free of error's confusion!
    Be our light and clouds on the journey,
    May you lead us with your almighty hand;
    We extol on you all honor and praise,
    Certain in reaching the Promised Land! — Amen.

Pastor Burk completed the blessing and the coffin was lowered into the grave and covered with earth amid singing. The choir performed more songs as it had in the church.

In the center of the "In Holy Peace" cemetery under the shadow of a tree lie the mortal remains of the man, who for 40 years was active in the Trinity Church of Buffalo, awaiting the day of final judgment.



Closing Remarks


Thus after a difficult and arduous worldly life this pious and loyal servant of Christ departed in the joy of his lord. Of him it could be said in truth as St. Paul could say of himself: "I live yet it is not only me but Christ living in me; thus as I live in the physical world, I live with faith in the Son of God who loved me and offered himself up for me."

His life was a life of faith and from that faith through the grace of God he was steadfast and resolute. He did not strive for his own honor but for that of his Lord Christ and the welfare of his church.

With the high and wondrous gifts, which God the Lord had given him, he very well could have made himself agreeable to men, could have had a fine life of wealth and status both in Germany and here, but he considered such things shameful and vile.

Instead he sought to gain Christ and he may now be found in Him. His seriousness and determination and Christian rigor in all things were not just directed towards others but particularly towards himself; even people outside the church recognized this, as shown by the following passage from a political newspaper of Buffalo: "He was a man of iron will and fearless courage, austere with himself and others. Among his fellow members in faith he was well regarded and even others could not deny his determination and his righteous character."

In his domestic as well as his civic life he reflected the spiritual life of faith, which was in him. In the serious and Christianly rigorous upbringing of his children his love was evident to all. He lived in heartfelt love and unity with his loyal wife, who since 1834 had shared his joy and sorrow for 45 years. In teaching and in life he was a proper role model for his family, his congregation, his students and all who came in contact with him. His hard work and dedication in the study of the Word of God, true church doctrine, and other necessary areas of knowledge was so great that he scarcely gave himself time for recreation. His enemies may slander and tell untruths about this true servant of Christ, whom they have castigated in life with the vileness of their blasphemy and these defamations may still resound after his death but it remains our comfort that it can go no better for this true servant of Christ than it did for the Lord and Master himself, who was defamed as a "seducer" after his own death. We, his family, and many true fellow Christians, ministers and others know how things stood as his death was imminent, that he surrendered his life and his spirit to his Savior in self-abnegation and humility. He handled all internal and external matters, all church-related as well as civic and domestic things not just with the greatest of conscientiousness but with righteous self-acknowledgement and faith in his own unworthiness before God; he knew that he wanted to live only by the grace of his Lord, Jesus. As he lived so he died in utterly childlike faith and sanctity.

May all those who slandered him, may all who repaid his good works with evil, read these lines, look into themselves, and offer heartfelt repentance. Matthew 12, 36.

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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 20, 2006