A Song for St. Cecilia's Day
From harmony, from heavenly harmony, This universal frame began: When nature underneath a heap Of jarring atoms lay, And could not heave her head, The tuneful voice was heard from high, 'Arise, ye more than dead!' Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry, In order to their stations leap, And Music's power obey. From harmony, from heavenly harmony, This universal frame began: From harmony to harmony Through all the compass of the notes it ran, The diapason closing full in Man. What passion cannot Music raise and quell? When Jubal struck the chorded shell, His listening brethren stood around, And, wondering, on their faces fell To worship that celestial sound: Less than a God they thought there could not dwell Within the hollow of that shell, That spoke so sweetly, and so well. What passion cannot Music raise and quell? The trumpet's loud clangour Excites us to arms, With shrill notes of anger, And mortal alarms. The double double double beat Of the thundering drum Cries Hark! the foes come; Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat! The soft complaining flute, In dying notes, discovers The woes of hopeless lovers, Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute. Sharp violins proclaim Their jealous pangs and desperation, Fury, frantic indignation, Depth of pains, and height of passion, For the fair, disdainful dame. But O, what art can teach, What human voice can reach, The sacred organ's praise? Notes inspiring holy love, Notes that wing their heavenly ways To mend the choirs above. Orpheus could lead the savage race; And trees unrooted left their place, Sequacious of the lyre; But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder higher: When to her organ vocal breath was given, An angel heard, and straight appear'd Mistaking Earth for Heaven. GRAND CHORUS. As from the power of sacred lays The spheres began to move, And sung the great Creator's praise To all the Blest above; So when the last and dreadful hour This crumbling pageant shall devour, The trumpet shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die, And Music shall untune the sky!
Born on August 9, 1631, John Dryden was the leading poet and literary critic of his day and he served as the first official Poet Laureate of England
Date Published: 1687-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/song-st-cecilias-day