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darkness in which the moral world is left, the deepest obscurity prevails ; at the words “ Christus est mortuus,” the Pope, the whole body of clergy and the people knelt, and all was silent, when the solemn pause was broken by the commencing of the Miserere, in low, rich, exquisite strains, rising softly on the ear, and gently swelling into powerful sounds of seraphic harmony.

The effect produced by this music is finer and greater than that of any admired art; no painting, statue, or poem, no imagination of man, can equal its wonderful power on the mind. The silent solemnity of the scene, the touching import of the words, “Take pity on me, O God,” passes to the inmost soul, with a thrill of the deepest sensation, unconsciously moistening the eye, and paling the cheek. The music is composed of two choruses of four voices; the strains begin low and solemn, rising gradually to the clear tones of the first soprano, which at times are heard alone; at the conclusion of the verse, the second chorus joins, and then by degrees the voices fade and die away. The soft and almost imperceptible accumulation of sound, swelling in mournful tones of rich armony, into powerful effect, and then receding, as if in the distant sky, like the lamenting song of angels and spirits, conveys, beyond all conception

to those who have heard it, the idea of darkness, of desolation, and of the dreary solitude of the tomb. A solemn silence ensues, and not a breath is heard, while the inaudible prayer of the kneeling Pope continues. When he rises, slight sounds are heard, by degrees breaking on the stillness, which has a pleasing effect, restoring, as it were, the rapt mind to the existence and feelings of the present life. The effect of those slow, prolonged, varied, and truly heavenly strains will not easily pass from the memory.

The service on Easter Sunday is grand and most imposing, insensibly raising the feelings to a true accord with the scene. There under the superb dome built by Michael Angelo, the solemn mass is sung in deep silence, amidst the assembly of priests and princes. The morning was serene and lovely, the sun shone clear and bright through the edifice, giving to its imposing dimensions, and noble architecture, a more than usual splendor. At the end of the great cross, terminating in the grand altar, the Pope is seated, supported on either side by the cardinals and bishops, with their attendant priests. The marble balustrade encircling the altar, is lined within by the guards, and spreading out at the further ends, galleries are extended, destined for royal visitors, princes, and ambassadors, on the one hand, and on the other for strangers of all classes. The vast height of the dome, rising superbly overhead; the magnificent lower altar of fine bronze, relieved by a beautiful railing of white marble, and lighted by lamps which burn continually; the fine effect produced by the gigantic statues lessening in the distant vista, as the eye traverses along the immense space of this noble structure, form a coup d'eil very striking, and singularly fine. At the conclusion of the service, the Pope advancing to kneel at the lower altar, recites the pater-noster, and then proceeded from the church to the balcony in front of St. Peter's, to perform the benediction. The sacred character of this ceremony receives an additional dignity from the fine and commanding aspect of the surrounding scenery. The approach to St. Peter's is very grand, the space within the court immense, and the columns and colonnades most magnificent; while the noble and high buildings of the Vatican are seen towering on the right hand in a broad style of irregular but fine architecture. The long, flat steps, ascending to the wide-spreading gates of the church, run the whole length of the edifice, producing, from their vast extent one of its most striking features; while over the low, squareroofed, and not unpicturesque buildings, in front of St. Peter's, the eye wanders abroad to the distant prospect, to the blue hills, and far-seen glaciers,—the effect being altogether solemn, and fine beyond imagination.

The ample steps of St. Peter's were peopled by thousands of the peasantry, who crowded from every distant part of the Campagna ; those of the higher classes, forming rich and showy groups, were seen on each side, covering the fine, flatroofed colonnades. Below, on the level ground, the whole body of the Papal guards was drawn out in array. Beyond, stood like a deep dark phalanx, the carriages and innumerable equipages, the vivid tints of the brilliant midday sun giving every variety of color, by deepened shade or added brightness. In the central balcony of the church, awaiting the approach of the Pope, were seated the cardinals and prelates, overlooking the numbers in the space below. Expectation prevailed throughout, till his Holiness approached, when in a moment all was still ; every eye turned from the sunny scene to the dark front of St. Peter's, lying deep in the shade, from its massive columns; not a breath, not a sound reached the ear. The deep silence that reigned amid such a concourse was most impressive; the whole scene excited feelings of the deepest interest, as we contemplated the pale, benign, mild countenance and venerable aspect of him who was now bending forward with anxious zeal to bless the surrounding multitude. The deep-toned bell of St. Peter's announced the conclusion of the benediction-solemn sounds, which were instantly answered by the loudpealing cannon of Castle St. Angelo, as likewise by the voices of the musicians, and the clamorous rejoicings of the people.

When night approaches, and the dome of this magnificent temple is hung with lights, all the grandeur of its architecture is displayed. Each frieze and cornice, arch, and gate, and pillar, is enriched with lines of splendid fires, and every steeple, tower, and bulky dome, glittering with light, seems to hang in a firmament of its own, high in the clear dark sky. The long sweeping colonnades form, as it were, a golden circle, enclosing the dark mass of people below, filling the spacious basin of the court, while the waters of the superb fountains, sparkling in the partial gleams of light, are heard dashing amid the hum and murmur of the busy throng; when suddenly, in an instant, the form is changed, the red distinct stars are involved in one blaze of splendid flame, as if the vast machine were moved by the hand of some master spirit.

JOHN BELL, Observations on Italy.

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