|Western Cemetery, Dundee|
‘Twas in the year of 1888 and on the 17th of January
That the late Rev. Dr. Wilson’s soul fled away;
The generous-hearted Dr. had been ailing for some time,
But death, with his dart, did pierce the heart of the learned divine.
He was a man of open countenance and of great ability,
And late minister of Free St. Paul’s Church, Dundee,
And during the twenty-nine years he remained as minister in Dundee
He struggled hard for the well-being of the community.
He was the author of several works concerning great men,
In particular the Memoirs of Dr. Candlish and Christ turning His face towards Jerusalem;
Which is well worthy of perusal, I’m sure,
Because the style is concise and the thoughts clear and pure.
And as for his age, he was in his eightieth year,
And has left a family of one son and five daughters dear,
And for his loss they will shed many a tear,
Because in their hearts they loved him most dear.
He was a man of a very kindly turn,
And many of his old members for him will mourn,
Because as a preacher he was possessed of courage bold,
Just like one of Covenanting heroes of old.
But I hope he is landed safe on Canaan’s bright shore,
To sing with bright angels for evermore
Around that golden throne where God’s family doth meet
To sing songs night and day, most sacred and sweet.
The coffin containing the remains was brought on Tuesday evening from Edinboro,
And as the relatives witnessed its departure their hearts were full of sorrow,
And the remains were laid inside Free St. Paul’s Church, Dundee,
And interred on Wednesday in the Western Cemetery.
The funeral service began at half-past one o’clock in the afternoon,
And with people the church was filled very soon,
And the coffin was placed in the centre of the platform,
And the lid was covered with wreaths which did the coffin adorn.
There were beautiful wreaths from the grandchildren of the deceased,
Whom I hope is now from all troubles released
Also there were wreaths from Mrs and Miss Young, Windsor Street, Dundee,
Which certainly were most beautiful to see.
Besides the tributes of Miss Morrison and Miss H. Morrison were a beautiful sight,
Also the tributes of Miss Strong and Mr I. Martin White,
Also Mrs and the Misses Henderson’s, West Park, Dundee,
Besides the Misses White Springrove were magnificent to me.
The members and office-bearers of the church filled the pews on the right,
Which was a very impressive and solemn sight;
And psalms and hymns were sung by the congregation,
And the Rev. W. I. Cox concluded the service with great veneration.
Then the coffin was carried from the church and placed in the hearse,
While the congregation allowed the friends to disperse,
Then followed the congregation without delay,
Some to join the procession, while others went home straightaway.
The procession consisted of the hearse and 47 carriages no less,
Which were drawn up in the Nethergate, I do confess,
And as the cortege passed slowly along the Nethergate,
Large crowds watched the procession and ungrudgingly did wait.
And when the hearse reached the cemetery the Rev. R. Waterson offered up a prayer,
Then the coffin was lowered into the grave by the pall-bearers there;
‘Twas then the friends began to cry for their sorrow was profound,
Then along with the people assembled there they left the burying-ground.
See the poem at McGonagall Online.
This is a good example of the way McGonagall combined reportage with poetry. Norman Watson in Poet McGonagall, suggests that he provided a sort of news service for working class Dundonians, one they found more understandable than the prose of the local newspapers.
Notice how he butters up the the mourners who (presumably) brought the finest wreaths, for all the world like Joan Rivers working the slebs at a Hollywood movie premiere. Not that he was necessarily there. He could have gleaned all this information from the Weekly News.
There is very little information about the deceased reverend (on the internet at least). There is today a St Paul’s Church at 118 Nethergate, although I don’t know if it’s the original building. Free Church of Scotland, of course, the Wee Frees. The Western Cemetery is still accepting tenants, and houses the great and the good of Dundee.