Saturday, 26 March 2016
A journey through Lent 2016
with Samuel Johnson (46)
During Lent this year, I have been taking time each morning to reflect on words from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the Lichfield lexicographer and writer who compiled the first authoritative English-language dictionary.
Today is Easter Eve [26 March 2016], the day before Easter Day, and we have come to the end of Holy Week and Lent, and to the end of this journey together with Samuel Johnson.
In his last prayer, before receiving Holy Communion on 5 December 1784 and eight days before he died, Samuel Johnson prayed:
Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now, as to human eyes it seems, about to commemorate, for the last time, the death of thy Son Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. Grant, O Lord, that my whole hope and confidence may be in his merits, and his mercy; enforce and accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration available to the confirmation of my faith, the establishment of my hope, and the enlargement of my charity; and make the death of thy Son Jesus Christ effectual to my redemption. Have mercy on me, and pardon the multitude of my offences. Bless my friends; have mercy upon all men. Support me, by the grace of thy Holy Spirit, in the days of weakness, and at the hour of death; and receive me, at my death, to everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
As he lay dying, Samuel Johnson’s final words were: “Iam Moriturus” (“I who am about to die”). He fell into a coma and died quietly at 7 p.m. on 13 December 1784. He was buried in Westminster Abbey a week later.