About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and six children.
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“Always remember: God opposes the proud.” (leaning into the microphone) “…even when they’re right!”
— Scott Hahn, speaking in Plano, TX

What passion cannot music raise and quell!
published 23 November 2013 by Veronica Brandt

203 St. Cecilia OR YESTERDAY’S FEAST, a piece of non-liturgical poetry praising the power of music. If you have read it before, you won’t mind seeing it again. If you haven’t read it, you are in for a treat.

Best read aloud.

A Song for Saint Cecilia’s Day by John Dryden,

From harmony, from Heav’nly harmony
    This universal frame began.
  When Nature underneath a heap
    Of jarring atoms lay,
  And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
    Arise ye more than dead.
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
  In order to their stations leap,
    And music’s pow’r obey.
From harmony, from Heav’nly harmony
    This universal frame began:
    From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in man.
What passion cannot music raise and quell!
    When Jubal struck the corded shell,
  His list’ning brethren stood around
    And wond’ring, on their faces fell
  To worship that celestial sound:
Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
  Within the hollow of that shell
  That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot music raise and quell!
  The trumpet’s loud clangor
    Excites us to arms
  With shrill notes of anger
    And mortal alarms.
  The double double double beat
    Of the thund’ring drum
    Cries, “Hark! the foes come!
Charge! charge! 'tis too late to retreat!”
  The soft complaining flute
  In dying notes discovers
  The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper’d by the warbling lute.
  Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs, and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains and height of passion,
  For the fair, disdainful dame.
But oh! what art can teach
What human voice can reach
  The sacred organ’s praise?
  Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their Heav’nly ways
  To mend the choirs above.
Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place;
  Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia rais’d the wonder high’r;
When to her organ, vocal breath was giv’n,
An angel heard, and straight appear’d
  Mistaking earth for Heav’n.

Grand chorus

As from the pow’r of sacred lays
  The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s praise
  To all the bless’d above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And music shall untune the sky.