Bunhill Fields was a burial ground for dissenters/non-conformists in London who died in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here lie John Bunyan, Hercules Collins, John Gill, Thomas Goodwin, Joseph Hart, William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys, John Owen, Susanna Wesley, and many more. The following poem weaves together some of the names and lines of the saints whose bodies lie here awaiting the resurrection.
Tread softly! sure the foot’s on hallowed ground,
For many a saint of God is resting here;
The busy hum of City life’s outside—
Within the railings lies the dust that’s dear.
Some that were mourned by loved ones who were left;
Some for whom countless tears were often shed;
For they live on in many hearts to-day—
In prose, in poem, whether sung or read.
We see the wondrous Bard of Bedford’s tomb;
Here rests the precious dust of Joseph Hart;
Dear Isaac Watts, not very far to seek—
Quite close, within the sound of busy mart.
John Owen lies within these sacred, walls;
And Gill is here, and many more the same;
Old Andrew Gifford, Rosewell, Goodwin, too,
All spoke the truths the Bible teaches plain.
Macgowan’s lines will surely reach the heart,
A hidden chord be touched as on we read;
For “sinner saved by grace” is here the strain—
Such minds, so taught, are on this point agreed.
But when we reach the plains above we’ll know
That Jesus Christ has everything done well;
And with dear Swain we’ll laud His wondrous love,
Who plucked us “as a burning brand from hell.”
There Samuel Stennett’s “raptured eyes shall see
The Saviour’s lovely face” he sang of here;
And Burder’s “warmer heart in brighter world”
Shall “shout that God is love” in accents clear.
But Bunhill Fields is full of wondrous tales,
And true ones, too, of favoured saints of old
Who served their Master spite of pain and loss;
Cared not for glory, but for truth were bold.
The sovereign grace of God—that sweetest sound
To man who’s taught his sinful heart to know—
Was striven for at mighty cost by those
Whose bones lie mingled with the dust below.
What wondrous sight ’twill be on that great day
When Jesus, coming down the parted skies—
The resurrection morn—to meet the saints,
Will call His blessed ones and with them rise!
Good Lady Erskine, Rippon, Cromwells, too,
And many more the pen would fail to name;
The spots are given where all of these are laid;
Go, search your quest were surely not in vain.
Descriptions some you’ll find within this book,
Entrancing stories, witching tales are here;
There’s Fleetwood’s famous name and old DeFoe’s,
And Lady Page, whose sufferings are clear.
And when you’ve read the tales that here are told—
A few culled from the page of history’s lore—
The writer will be very well repaid
If Bunhill Fields you love a little more.
M. J. L.
From Alfred W. Light, Bunhill Fields (London: C. J. Farncombe & Sons, 1913), vii-viii.