PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinners towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-daies world transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the starres heard, the souls blood,
The land of spices, something understood.
STILLNESS, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give an useful lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books.
WHATSOEVER worship, honour, and service is done to our ever-blessed Redeemer and most bountiful Benefactor, it is all here acknowledged, & after a most peculiar manner, & with a special respect to him, performed. Whatsoever strength we can derive from our feasting with Christ upon his sacrifice, and from the oblation we make of ourselves, souls and bodies, unto him, with most powerful prayer and thanksgivings; whatsoever comfort we can enjoy in communion with God, and in communion with his Church; whatsoever peace we can have in renewing our covenant of friendship with him, in remission of sins, in receiving the power of the Holy Ghost, in hopes of eternal life, in all holy intercourse between heaven and us: all this is to be expected, and may be obtained, in the celebration of this holy sacrament.
BUT, from the arms of silence – list! O list!
The music bursteth into second life;
The notes luxuriate, every stone is kissed
By sound, or ghost of sound, in mazy strife;
Heart-thrilling strains, that cast, before the eye
Of the devout, a veil of ecstasy!
In the past I have written an introduction to the Festival, but these four passages say much more than I can hope to about the place of music, ceremonial and readings in the liturgy of the church. I would only add a word of welcome to the Festival, and express the hope that it may live up to the words of George Herbert, William Cowper, Bishop Joseph Hall and William Wordsworth.