« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
A PROCESSION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT IN THE CATHEDRAL OF AMIENS.
I CAN almost fancy that I see it now, as I saw it for the first time on such an evening as this. The stupendous height of the vaulted roof; the rich foliage of the piers; the tall lancet arches throwing themselves upward; the interlacings of the decorated window-tracery; the richness of the stained glass; the glow of the sunlight on the southern chapels; the knotted intricacies of the vaulting ribs; the flowers and wreaths and holy symbols, that hung self-poised over the head ; the graceful shafts of triforium; the carved angels, that with outstretched wings keep guard over the sacred building; the low, yet delicately carved choir-stalls; the gorgeous altar, faintly seen beyond them; the sublime apse, with its inimitably slim lancets, carrying the eye up higher and higher, through the dark cloister-gallery, through the blaze of the crimson clere-story to the marble grandeur of the fretted roof; lights and carving and jewels, and gold, and the sunny brightness of the nave, and the solemn grayness of the choir; these are all but accessories to the scene. The huge nave-piers rise from the midst of a mighty multitude; the high-born lady; the peasant mother, with her infant; the gray-headed laborer; the gay bourgeoisie; the child that knows only the sanctity of the place; the strong man and the cripple; the wise and the unlearned ; the great and the small; the rich and the poor; all meet as equals. The sweet music floats along from the choir; the amen bursts from the congregation. Now the organ, at the west-end, takes up the strain, sweetly and solemnly, like the music of far-off angels, and as the holy doors open, pours forth the hymn, “The banners of the King come forth.” White-robed boys strew the way with rose-leaves ; there is the gleaming and the perfume of silver censers; there are the rich silver crosses and the pastoral staff; there is the sumptuous pall that covers the Host; there is an endless train of priests with copes and vestments bright as the hues of a summer sunset, gemmed with jewels of many lands, lustrous with gold, and chased with flowers, and wreaths, and devices of pearl ; but each and all bearing, though in different forms, that one symbol, the cross. Right and left the crowd part as the train passes, and as the pall is borne by, every knee is bent, every head bowed. And now the soft breathings of the organ die away; voice, and clarionet, and flute take up the hymn. “The banners of the King” move statelily down the nave; and in every pause of the strain, not a sound is to be heard save the silver chime of the falling censer chains. Now they enter the north aisle ; now they bear up again towards the choir; now they wind among its chapels ; fainter and fainter arises the holy hymn as they recede eastward ; now with faint mellowed sweetness it steals from the distant shrine of our Lady; now it is silent, and the organ
Death lies on her, like an untimely frost
“DEAR mother, is it not the bell I hear?"
“ Yes, my child ; the bell for morning prayers. It is Sunday to-day.”
“I had forgotten it. But now all days are alike to me.
Hark! it sounds again, louder, louder. Open the window, for I love the sound. The sunshine and the fresh morning air revive me. And the church bell, -0 mother,-it reminds me of the holy Sunday mornings by the Loire,—so calm, so hushed, so beautiful! Now give me my prayerbook, and draw the curtain back, that I may see the green trees and the church-spire. I feel better to-day, dear mother."
It was a bright, cloudless morning in August. The dew still glistened on the trees; and a slight breeze wafted to the sick-chamber of Jacqueline the song of the birds, the rustle of the leaves, and the solemn chime of the church-bells. She had been raised up in bed, and, reclining upon the pillow, was gazing wistfully upon the quiet scene without. Her mother gave her the prayer-book, and then turned away to hide a tear that stole down her cheek.
At length the bells ceased. Jacqueline crossed herself, kissed a pearl crucifix that hung around her neck, and opened the silver clasps of her missal. For a time she seemed wholly absorbed in her devotions. Her lips moved, but no sound was audible. At intervals the solemn voice of the priest was heard at a distance, and then the confused responses of the congregation, dying away in inarticulate murmurs. Ere long the thrilling chant of the Catholic service broke upon the ear. At first it was low, solemn, and indistinct; then it became more earnest and entreating, as if interceding and imploring pardon for sin; and then arose louder and louder, full, harmonious, majestic, as it wafted the song of praise to heaven-and suddenly ceased. Then the sweet tones of the organ were heard,-trembling, thrilling, and rising higher and higher, and filling the whole air with their rich, melodious music. What exquisite accords !-what noble harmonies !—what touching pathos! The soul of the sick girl seemed to kindle into more ardent devotion, and to be wrapt away