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Monday 21 February 2011

Monday Mourning ~ The Vacant Chair

New Pinner Cemetery, Middlesex

Susan Sophia Dunsford
May 10th 1899
Left her chair vacant
January 30th 1954
Our wedding day was bright with hopes,
Sweet dreams, anticipations.
Walk softly, for you are treading on my dreams.
To the loving memory I keep of you - Fred.

The vacant chair is a symbol that is often used to remind us that a loved one has now departed and has therefore left a space behind them.
It was especially used to mark the passing of young people and children, but as seen here, is also used for adults as well.

The Vacant Chair

When we gather round our hearth,
Consecrated by the birth,
Of our eldest, darling boy,
Only one thing mars our joy,

Tis the dreary corner, where,
Stands, unfilled, the vacant chair!
Little Mary, bright and blest,
Early sought her heavenly rest,
Oft we see her in our dreams-
Then an angel one he seems!
But we oftner see her, where
Stands, unfilled, the vacant chair

But 'twere sinful to repine,
Much of joy to me and mine,
Has the gentle Sheperd given,
Little Mary is in heaven!
Blessed thought! while gazing where
Stands, unfilled, the vacant chair.

Many parents, kind and good,
Lost to them their little brood,
Bless their Maker night and day,
Thiugh he took their all away!
Shall we, therefore, murmur, where
Stands, unfilled, one vacant chair!

Little Mary! angel blest,
From thy blissful place of rest,
Look upon us! angel child,
Fill us with thy spirit mild,
Keep o'er us thy watchful care,
Often fill the vacant chair.

Richard Coe Jr.

An American Civil War Tribute Song

The Vacant Chair 
We shall meet but we shall miss him,
There will be one vacant chair;
We will linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;
When a year ago we gathered,
Joy was in his mild blue eye,
Now a golden chord is severed,
And our hopes in ruin lie.

At our fireside, sad and lonely,
Often will the bosom swell
At remembrance of the story,
How our noble father fell;
How he strove to bear our banner
Through the thickest of the fight;
And uphold our country’s honor,
In the strength of manhood’s fight.

True, they tell us wreaths of glory
Ever more will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only,
Sweeping o’er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, Oh early fallen,
In thy green and narrow bed.
Dirges from the pine and cypress
Mingle with the tears we shed.

The Battle of Balls Bluff, Virginia, 21st October 1861, in which General McClellan was defeated.
John William 'Willie' Grout of the 15th Massachusetts, was an i8 year old lieutenant who fought with valor and courage. He was killed in aiding the retreat.
Four weeks later Henry S. Washburn, who knew the young lieutenant, thought with with deep emotion of the chair that would be vacant at Thanksgiving and wrote the words of the song in a moment of inspiration. A few weeks after the lines were written, Dr. Root set them to music.

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