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THE MELODY OF ST. CECILIA.
“During the sound of the instruments,
Cecilia was singing in her heart.” —
Office of the Church.
Thou glorious Saint of God! in ecstasy I see
The path of shining light thy footsteps left below;
And still I think I hear thy heavenly melody;
Of thy celestial chant e’en here the sounds we know.
Now, of my exiled soul, accept the fervent prayer;
Upon thy virginal heart let my young heart find rest!
Almost unequalled here wast thou, O lily fair,
Immaculately pure, and how divinely blest!
Most chaste white dove of Rome! through all thy life on earth
No other spouse than Christ thy heart desired to find.
He chose thy favored soul, e’en from thy hour of birth,
And made it rich in grace and virtues all combined.
And yet a mortal came, on fire with youth and pride;
He saw how sweet thou wert, thou white celestial flower!
And then, to gain thy love — to win thee for his bride —
He strove with all his strength, from that momentous hour.
Soon bridal feasts he spread, his palace decked with glory,
Bade minstrels play their best, and songs ring loudly there,
While still thy virginal heart sang soft thy Saviour’s story,
Whose echo rose to heaven like incense sweet and rare.
How couldst thou sing, so far from Heaven, thy fatherland,
When seeing near thy side, that mortal bold and frail?
Did not thy heart crave, then, in heaven’s high courts to stand,
And dwell, forever safe, with Christ beyond the veil?
But no! thy harp I hear vibrate like seraph’s singing,
Harp of thy love, whose sound so softly smote the ear;
These words, to Christ thy Lord, in thy sweet chant were ringing:
“Now keep my young heart pure, O Jesus, Spouse most dear.”
Abandonment how true! O wondrous melody!
By that celestial chant thy love now stands revealed —
The love that knows no fear, but sleeps in ecstasy
Upon the Saviour’s Heart, from every ill concealed.
In wide blue skies appeared the radiant white star
That came, to lighten up, with meek and timid glow,
The luminous night that shows, unveiled to us afar,
That virginal love, in heaven, which virgin spouses know.
. . . . . . . .
But here, Valerian dreamed of earthly joy and bliss.
Cecilia! thou alone wast his young heart’s desire.
Ah, when thy hand he gained, he gained far more than this!
That hand showed him a path to better things, and higher.
“O friend! “ to him thou saidst “near me doth watch alway
An angel of the Lord, who keeps me pure as snow,
Who leaves me not alone, neither by night nor day;
E’en in my sleep, his wings protect from harm and woe.
At night, his holy face, with clear and silvery light —
A glory lovelier far than morning sun, — doth shine.
That face to me appears like some blest image bright,
Transparent, marvelous, of God’s own face divine.”
Then cried Valerian: “Show me this angel blest,
That I may give my faith to thy firm word, fair maid;
Or else believe that hate for thee will fill my breast,
And thou, before my wrath, shalt shudder sore afraid.”
O dove, within the rock of God’s strong heart concealed,
No fear hadst thou, that night, of subtlest fowler’s snare:
The Face of Jesus, then, Its light to thee revealed;
His sacred gospels lay upon thy bosom fair.
“Valerian!” that word was said with gentlest smile,
“My heavenly guide, who hears, will answer thy request.
Soon thou his face shalt see; his voice shall thee beguile,
For martyrdom to seek, and thus to find thy rest.
But, ere his face thou see, baptismal grace must make
Thy soul as white as snow, that God therein may dwell.
The one true God Himself thy heart His home shall make,
The Spirit give thee life, that thou mayst serve Him well;
The Word, the Father’s Son, and Son of Mary chaste,
Must immolate Himself, in His vast love for thee,
Upon His altar throne; and there thou must be placed,
Beside that throne, to feed on Him Who died for thee.
Then shall the seraph bright, thee for his brother, claim,
And, seeing in thy heart the home of God his King,
Thee shall he lift from earth’s dark dens of sin and shame;
Thee, to his own abode, that angel then shall bring.”
“Ah! in my heart I feel a new fire burn to-night!”
Transformed by God’s own grace, the young patrician cried.
Oh! come, within my soul to dwell, Thou Lord of light!
Worthy my love shall be of thee, Cecile, my bride!”
In his baptismal robe, the type of innocence,
Valerian, at last, the angel’s face beheld;
In awe he gazed upon that grave magnificence;
That radiant, crown-decked brow his old ambitions quelled.
Fresh roses in his hands did that grand spirit bear,
Pure lilies, dazzling white, to his strong heart he pressed.
In gardens of high heaven had bloomed those blossoms rare,
Beneath the rays of love from their Creator blest.
“O Spouses dear to Heaven! the martyrs’ royal rose
Shall crown your brows,” exclaimed that angel from on high
“No voice on earth can sing, no mortal tongue disclose,
Its value beyond price, that lasts eternally.
I lose myself in God, His attributes proclaim;
But I cannot, for Him, bear pain, though fain would I!
I cannot shed or tears or blood for His dear name;
To prove my love for Him, I cannot gladly die.
Oh! purity is ours, the angels’ special grace, —
Our vast, unbounded joy, that ne’er shall fade away;
But o’er our lofty lot yours hath a loftier place,
For you — you can be pure, and you can die, to-day’
“Of chaste virginity, you see the emblem here,
In these white lilies sweet, — fair gift from Christ the Lamb;
The pure white crown He gives, in glory you shall wear;
And you for aye shall chant the new song to His name.
Your union, spotless, chaste, shall win great souls to God —
Souls that no other spouse, than Christ, shall seek on earth;
And near His heavenly throne, when life’s hard path is trod,
There you shall see them shine, in saintly joy and mirth.”
Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet:
How many souls would I convert to Jesus now.
I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet;
For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou!
Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way
Perfect abandonment — that sweetest fruit of love.
Saint of my heart! oh, soon, bring me to endless day;
Obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!
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