Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
402. From “Worship”
By William Wilberforce
FOR them, O God, who only worship Thee
In fanes whose fretted roofs shut out the heavens,
Let organs breathe, and chorded psalteries sound:
But let my voice rise with the mingled noise
Of winds and waters;—winds that in the sedge,        5
And grass, and ripening grain, while nature sleeps,
Practise, in whispered music, soft and low,
Their sweet inventions, and then sing them loud
In caves, and on the hills, and in the woods,
  —A moving anthem, that along the air        10
Dying, then swelling forth in fitful gusts,
Like a full choir of bodiless voices, sweeps,—
Yea, of the great earth that make an instrument,
Awakening with their touch, itself not mute,
Each different thing to difference of tone,        15
Long, harp-like shrillings, or soft gush of sounds;—
Waters,—to earth, as to the air the winds,
Motion and utterance, and that begin
Even at their source the gently murmured hymn,
Rise with the river, with the torrent swell,        20
And at the cataract’s dizzy, headlong leap,
Break forth in solemn and deep bursts of song.
Yet what is all this deep, perpetual sound,—
These voices of the earth, and sea, and air,
That make it seem to us, as if our Earth,        25
Into the silent and unruffled deep
Led forth, with thunder-step, the choir of worlds?
All these,—what are they?—in the boundless void,
An insect’s whisper in the ear of night,
A voice in that of death,—in thine, O God,        30
A faint symphony to Heaven ascending
Amid ten thousand, thousand songs of praise.
Break forth, ye Winds!
That in the impalpable deep caves of air,
Moving your silent plumes, in dreams of flight,        35
Tumultuous lie, and from your half-stretched wings
Beat the faint zephyrs that disturb the air;—
Break forth, ye fiercer harmonies, ye Storms
That in the cavernous and unquiet sea
Lie pent, and like imprisoned thunders beat        40
Your azure confines, making endless moan;—
All sounds, all harmonies, break forth! and be
To these my thoughts and aspirations, voice;—
Rise, rise, not bearing, but upborne by them,—
Rise through the golden gates uplift and wide!        45
In, through the everlasting doors! and join
The multitude of multitudes whose praise
With mighty burst of full accordant sound
Moves Heaven’s whole fabric vast, as move the clouds
That from their swinging censers upward pour,        50
By wings of hovering seraphim disturbed,—
A sound so deep and loud, that at its might
The pillared heavens would fail, and all their frame
Of ancient strength and grandeur sink at once,
But for its soul of sweetness that supports,        55
And mightier harmony that builds them still:—
Ye Winds! ye Storms! all sounds and harmonies,
O thither rise! be heard amidst the throng;
Let them that dwell within the gates of light,
And them that sit on thrones—let seraphs hear,—        60
Let laurelled saints, and let all angels hear,—
A human soul knows and adores its God!


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