April 16: Lincoln Assassination (Easter Sunday 1865)
The Rev. Charles H. Hall (Epiphany’s Rector) Like many preachers throughout the country, Hall’s 1865 Easter sermon had to be replaced at the last moment. The first and last paragraphs of Hall’s discourse, “A Mournful Easter” appear below. On the following Wednesday, Hall was one of four Washington clergy to lead Lincoln’s White House funeral.
“The words of the Burial service are the appropriate words of this troubled Easter morning. We had prepared to leave behind us the gloomier thoughts of the tomb, and decking it, as it were, with flowers and palm branches, to gaze with serene eye steadfastly on the glorious morning of the Resurrection; to forget for a while the instinctive repugnance of the human heart at the short interval of the grave; to look beyond it to the abodes of our expected reward, where tears shall be wiped from all eyes, and the disquieting fears which beset us here in the world of chances and changes would give way to eternal repose and joy. But we are called in the providence of God to look more at the sorrows than the joys that surround the Christian’s hope; to weep with those who weep rather than dwell upon the topics of our exulting hope.”
“May God give comfort to the afflicted families, whose losses will make Good Friday memorable in our national records. May He give repentance to the wretched criminals who have stained their hands, wantonly and stupidly in innocent blood, before they are called upon to meet the just punishment of their atrocities. May He give us grace to understand the seriousness and solemnity of our duties to the government over us; and as He only can, bring good out of this evil.”