Hope and The Last Rose of Summer

It is no secret that the end of the year can be a depressing time for some. The holiday parties and family gatherings are over—leaving us to say goodbye to loved ones or remember those who departed this year. The decorations and lights come down. The days are dark and cold. The trees are brown and the fields are barren. A year draws to its end, perhaps with reminders of unaccomplished goals and the speed with which life progresses, and we wonder if the next year can bring anything different. For some, the world and the future appear bleak.

The Irish poet Thomas Moore wrote his poem, “The Last Rose of Summer,” reflecting on such themes:

‘Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

Moore takes as his subject the rose whose garden companions are “faded and gone.” His thoughts turn to the loneliness he anticipates as good friends depart in death. Facing such inescapable decay, he asks in despair, “Who would inhabit this bleak world alone?”

David Ward and I wrote the song, “The Bright Rose of Sharon,” to answer Moore’s despair by pointing to Christ, who chose to fade and die alone. Risen, he promises his followers that we will never “inhabit this bleak world alone.” Rather, he strengthens us to proclaim life to the dead. We find strength to count this world as loss in the promise of eternal resurrection with him.

For this week’s post, my friends Jared and Rebecca von Kamp provided a special recording, featuring Rebecca’s classically trained voice.

I pray that you’re encouraged in the dark days of winter that “those who hope in his radiance shall flower anew.”

There’s one day left to enter my end of the year giveaway, featuring a few books that have encouraged me.