Sung at a Baptizing, August 3, 1800.
The first of many of poems by Maria Grace Saffery on the subject of baptism, an ordinance that formed a significant part of the church life at Brown Street in Salisbury. Baptism for the Baptists meant ‘immersion’, not sprinkling or pouring, as was the practice among the Anglicans, Presbyterians, Independents, and most other sects in England at that time. The dominant verse used by Baptists for confirming the mode of immersion was Romans 6:4 – ‘Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’ Note the frequent use of ‘wat’ry tomb’ by Saffery (and others on this website) to symbolize being buried ‘into death’, and of ‘rising’ out of the water to emblemize ‘newness of life’.
From the still flood, where faith indeed,
The Saviour’s voice can hear;
Let each unhallowed foot recede,
While she alone draws near.
To her dissolving eye reveal’d,
Fair shines the liquid grave,
That Jesu’s holy form conceal’d,
When humbled in the wave.
Taught by his dear expiring breath,
She bids her children come, 10
And take the image of his death,
Within the wat’ry tomb.
Tho’ but the semblance of his woes,
Their prostrate bodies bear;
All the large bliss that from them flows
Their glowing souls shall share.
Yes, ye that love his mystic grave,
Shall brighter deeps explore;
Embosom’d in the radiant wave,
That rolls on glory’s shore. 20
Text: Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.A.2, p. 3, Angus Library, Oxford; also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 74.