Catholic Poetry

Catholic Poetry September 11, 2011


[During the ceremonies of Dedication of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, May 25th, 1879, birds entered at windows near the high altar, and sang.]

‘Twas true Religion’s holiday,
And benediction from on high
Came down, ‘midst priest array
And multitude, to sanctify
A great Cathedral beautiful,
In a great city’s Sunday lull.

Winged visitants flew o’er the scene,
And sang as though an angel choir,
While worshippers of happy mien
Lifted their hearts like flames of fire,
In praise and joy, in joy and praise,
To God for that bright day of days.

United woke the harmonies
Of Faith and Nature; all a’tune,
The arches, as the tops of trees,
Resonant spread with music’s croon.
The voice of man, the song of bird,
And strains from instrument were heard.

Praise was full in the sacred house—
Joy was complete, and holy words
Told glories of the Saviour’s spouse.
Chanted the blithe Cathedral birds
Sweet intervals of artless song
The capitals and aisles along.

Unseen an angel company
Watches the altar, where the Lord
Of nations dwells for thee and me,
O Christian pious, and they ward
The Holy of Holies, as of old
The ark of God, of wood and gold.

This is my faith, and for my sense,
The presence of outer forms
That lure to heaven, that turns me thence,
Are as soft zephyrs ‘midst rude storms;
And so my fancy searches words
To celebrate Cathedral birds!


George F. Phelan, ed., Gleanings From Our Own Fields: Being Selections From Catholic American Poets (New York: P. O’Shea, 1881), 67-69.

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