Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Organ

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Organ

By Francis Hopkinson (1737–1791)

[“Description of a Church.” From “Translation of a Letter, written by a Foreigner on his Travels.” The Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings of Francis Hopkinson, Esq. 1792.]

FAR in the west, and noble to the sight,

The gilded organ rears its towering height.

And hark! Methinks I from its bosom hear

Soft issuing sounds that steal upon the ear

And float serenely on the liquid air.

Now by degrees more bold and broad they grow,

And riot loosely through the aisles below;

Till the full organ lifts its utmost voice,

And my heart shudders at the powerful noise!

Like the last trump, one note is heard to sound

That all the massy pillars tremble round;

The firm fixed building shivers on its base,

And vast vibration fills the astonished place;

The marble pavements seem to feel their doom,

And the bones rattle in each hollow tomb.

But now the blast harmonious dies away,

And tapers gently in a fine decay:

The melting sounds on higher pinions fly,

And seem to fall soft oozing from on high;

Like evening dew they gently spread around

And shed the sweetness of heart-thrilling sound;

Till grown too soft, too fine for mortal ear,

The dying strains dissolve in distant air.

Methought I heard a flight of angels rise,

Most sweetly chaunting as they gained the skies;

Methought I heard their lessening sound decay

And fade and melt and vanish quite away.