Project Canterbury

Christian Ballads

By A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.

New York: D. Appleton, 1865.

The Soul-Dirge.


THE organ played sweet music
  Whileas, on Easter-day,
All heartless from the altar,
  The heedless went away:
And down the broad aisle crowding,
  They seemed a funeral train,
That were burying their spirits
  To the music of that strain.


As I listened to the organ,
  And saw them crowd along,
I thought I heard two voices,
  Speaking strangely, but not strong;
And one, it whispered sadly,
  Will ye also go away?
But the other spoke exulting,
  Ha! the soul-dirge,--hear it play!


Hear the soul-dirge! hear the soul-dirge!
  And see the feast divine!
Ha! the jewels of salvation,
  And the trampling feet of swine!
Hear the soul-dirge! hear the soul-dirge!
  Little think they, as they go,
What priceless pearls they tread on,
  Who spurn their SAVIOUR so!


Hear the soul-dirge! hear the soul-dirge!
  It was dread to hear it play,
While the famishing went crowding
  From the Bread of Life away:
They were bidden, they were bidden
  To their Father's festal board;
But they all, with gleeful faces,
 Turned their back upon the LORD.


You had thought the church a prison,
  Had you seen how they did pour,
With giddy, giddy faces,
 From the consecrated door.
There was angels' food all ready,
 But the bidden--where were they?
O'er the highways and the hedges,
 Ere the soul-dirge cease to play!


Oh, the soul-dirge, how it echoed
 The emptied aisles along,
As the open street grew crowded
 With the full outpouring throne!
And then--again the voices;
 Ha! the soul-dirge! hear it play!
And the pensive, pensive whisper,
 Will ye also go away?


Few, few were they that lingered
  To sup with JESUS there;
And yet, for all that spurned Him,
  There was plenty, and to spare!
And now, the food of angels,
  Uncovered to my sight,
All-glorious was the altar,
  And the chalice glittered bright.


Then came the hymn TRISAGION,
  And rapt me up on high,
With angels and archangels
  To laud and magnify.
I seemed to feast in Heaven;
  And downward wafted them,
With angels chaunting round me,
  Good-will and peace to men.


I may not tell the rapture
  Of a banquet so divine;
Ho! every one that thirsteth,
  Let him taste the bread and wine
Hear the Bride and Spirit, saying,
  Will ye also go away?
Or--go, poor soul, forever!
  Oh! the soul dirge--hear it play!

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