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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Richard Chenevix Trench (1807–1886)

Lines written after hearing some beautiful singing in a Convent Church at Rome

SWEET voices! seldom mortal ear
Strains of such potency might hear;
My soul that listened seemed quite gone,
Dissolved in sweetness, and anon
I was borne upward, till I trod        5
Among the hierarchy of God.
And when they ceased, as time must bring
An end to every sweetest thing,
With what reluctancy came back
My spirits to their wonted track,        10
And how I loathed the common life,
The daily and recurring strife
With petty sins, the lowly road,
And being’s ordinary load.
—Why, after such a solemn mood,        15
Should any meaner thought intrude?
Why will not heaven hereafter give,
That we for evermore may live
Thus at our spirit’s topmost bent?
So asked I in my discontent.        20
But give me, Lord, a wiser heart;
These seasons come, and they depart,
These seasons, and those higher still,
When we are given to have our fill
Of strength and life and joy with Thee,        25
And brightness of Thy face to see.
They come, or we could never guess
Of heaven’s sublimer blessedness;
They come, to be our strength and cheer
In other times, in doubt or fear,        30
Or should our solitary way
Lie through the desert many a day.
They go, they leave us blank and dead,
That we may learn, when they are fled,
We are but vapours which have won        35
A moment’s brightness from the sun,
And which it may at pleasure fill
With splendour, or unclothe at will.
Well for us they do not abide,
Or we should lose ourselves in pride,        40
And be as angels—but as they
Who on the battlements of day
Walked, gazing on their power and might,
Till they grew giddy in their height.
Then welcome every nobler time,        45
When out of reach of earth’s dull chime
’Tis ours to drink with purgèd ears
The music of the solemn spheres,
Or in the desert to have sight
Of those enchanted cities bright,        50
Which sensual eye can never see:
Thrice welcome may such seasons be:
But welcome too the common way,
The lowly duties of the day,
And all which makes and keeps us low,        55
Which teaches us ourselves to know,
That we who do our lineage high
Draw from beyond the starry sky,
Are yet upon the other side
To earth and to its dust allied.        60