Harriet Beecher Stowe

"The Old Psalm Tune"

You asked, dear friend, the other day,
Why still my charmed ear
Rejoiceth in uncultured tone
That old psalm tune to hear?

I've heard full oft, in foreign lands,
The grand orchestral strain,
Where music's ancient master's live,
Revealed on earth again,--

Where breathing, solemn instruments,
In swaying clouds of sound,
Bore up the yearning, tranced soul,
Like silver wings around;--

I've heard in old St. Peter's dome,
Where clouds of incense rise
Most ravishing the choral swell
Mount upwards to the skies.

And well I feel the magic power,
When skilled and cultured art
Its cunning webs of sweetness weaves
Around the captured heart.

But yet, dear friend, though rudely sung,
That old psalm tune hath still
A pulse of power beyond them all
My inmost soul to thrill

Those halting tones that sound to you,
Are not the tones I hear;
But voices of the loved and lost
There meet my longing ear.

I hear my angel mother's voice,--
Those were the words she sung;
I hear my brother's ringing tones,
As once on earth they rung;

And friends that walk in white above
Come round me like a cloud,
And far above those earthly notes
Their singing sounds aloud.

There may be discord as you say;
Those voice poorly ring;
But there's no discord in the strain
Those upper spirits sing.

For they who sing are of the blest,
The calm and glorified,
Whose hours are one eternal rest
On heaven's sweet floating tide.

Their life is music and accord;
Their souls and hearts keep time
In one sweet concert with the Lord,--
One concert vast, sublime.

And through the hymns they sang on earth
Sometimes a sweetness falls
On those they loved and left below,
And softly homeward calls,--

Bells from our own dear fatherland
Borne trembling o'er the sea,--
The narrow sea that they have crossed,
The shores where we shall be.

O sing, sing on, beloved souls!
Sing cares and griefs to rest;
Sing, till entranced we arise
To join you 'mong the blest.