THE SOUL-DIRGE

THE organ played sweet music
Whileas, on Easter-day,
All heartless from the altar
The heedless went away;
And, down the broad aisle crowding.
They seemed a funeral train,
That were burying their spirits
To the music of that strain.

As I listened to the organ,
And saw them crowd along,
I thought I heard two voices
Speaking strangely, but not strong:
And one, it whispered sadly,
Will ye also go away?
But the other spoke exulting,
Ha! the soul-dirge, — hear it play!

Hear the soul-dirge! hear the soul-dirge!
And see the feast divine!
Ha! the jewels of salvation,
And the trampling feet of swine!

Hear the soul-dirge! hear the soul-dirge!
Little think they, as they go,
What priceless pearls they tread on,
Who spurn their Saviour so!

Hear the soul-dirge! hear the soul-dirge!
It was dread to hear it play,
While the Famishing went crowding
From the Bread of Life away:
They were bidden, they were bidden
To their Father’s festal board;
But they all, with gleeful faces,
Turned their back upon the Lord.

You had thought the church a prison,
Had you seen how they did pour
With giddy, giddy faces,
From the consecrated door.
There was angels’ food all ready,
But the bidden — where were they?
O’er the highways and the hedges,
Ere the soul-dirge ceased to play!

Oh, the soul-dirge, how it echoed
The emptied aisles along,
As the open street grew crowded
With the full outpouring throng!
And then — again the voices;
Ha! the soul-dirge! hear it play!
And the pensive, pensive whisper.
Will ye also go away?

Few, few were they that lingered
To sup with Jesus there;
And yet, for all that spurned Him
There was plenty, and to spare!
And now, the food of angels
Uncovered to my sight,
All-glorious was the altar,
And the chalice glittered bright.

Then came the hymn Trisagion,
And rapt me up on high,
With angels and archangels
To laud and magnify.
I seemed to feast in Heaven;
And downward wafted then,
With angels chaunting round me,
Good will and peace to men.

I may not tell the rapture
Of a banquet so divine;
Ho! every one that thirsteth,
Let him taste the bread and wine!
Hear the Bride and Spirit saying,
Will ye also go away?
Or — go, poor soul, forever!
Oh, the soul-dirge — hear it play!

-A. CLEVELAND COXE.