Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
IV. Sabbath: Worship: Creed
The Old Village Choir
Benjamin Franklin Taylor (1819–1887)
I HAVE fancied, sometimes, the Bethel-bent beam,
That trembled to earth in the patriarch’s dream,
Was a ladder of song in that wilderness rest,
From the pillar of stone to the blue of the blest,
And the angels descending to dwell with us here,        5
“Old Hundred,” and “Corinth,” and “China,” and “Mear.”
“Let us sing to God’s praise,” the minister said.
All the psalm-books at once fluttered open at “York”;
Sunned their long dotted wings in the words that he read,
While the leader leaped into the tune just ahead,        10
And politely picked up the key-note with a fork;
And the vicious old viol went growling along
At the heels of the girls, in the rear of the song.
All the hearts are not dead, not under the sod,
That those breaths can blow open to heaven and God!        15
Ah, “Silver Street” flows by a bright shining road,—
Oh, not to the hymns that in harmony flowed,—
But the sweet human psalms of the old-fashioned choir,
To the girl that sang alto—the girl that sang air!
Oh, I need not a wing—bid no genii come        20
With a wonderful web from Arabian loom,
To bear me again up the river of Time,
When the world was in rhythm, and life was its rhyme—
Where the streams of the years flowed so noiseless and narrow,
That across it there floated the song of the sparrow—        25
For a sprig of green caraway carries me there,
To the old village church, and the old village choir,
Where clear of the floor my feet slowly swung,
And timed the sweet pulse of the praise that they sung,
Till the glory aslant from the afternoon sun        30
Seemed the rafters of gold in God’s temple begun!
You may smile at the nasals of old Deacon Brown,
Who followed by scent, till he ran the tune down;
And dear Sister Green, with more goodness than grace,
Rose and fell on the tunes as she stood in her place,        35
And where “Coronation” exultingly flows,
Tried to reach the high notes on the tips of her toes!
To the land of the leal they have gone with their song,
Where the choir and the chorus together belong.
Oh be lifted, ye gates! Let me hear them again—        40
Blessèd song, blessèd singers! forever, Amen!

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