[Editor: This poem by Agnes Neale was published in Shadows and Sunbeams (1890).]
When the wild wind storm of music
Sweeps through choir and pillar’d aisle,
And the very air around us
Seems to palpitate the while—
When the full, triumphant chorus
Peals from roof to floor around,
Each grand swell or softer cadence
Blent in waves of silver sound,
Bend your ear a little closer:
Listen to the undertone
Running through the whole glad chorus
With a low half-sobbing moan,
Like some soul in anguish mortal —
Listen to its cry again;
Heard, though low, yet how distinctly,
Like a spirit-wail of pain.
It is nothing but the music
Of the lower, minor keys,
Yet how great, how wide the difference
In the glad joy notes and these.
Yet all music has its minors,
Each sweet song its undertone;
Nothing would be wholly perfect
Played in glad joy notes alone.
So no life can be all sunshine,
So some storms must ever rise,
If we would be truly happy,
If we would have brightest skies.
Like the minor keys of music,
Sorrows make our lives more sweet;
And the undertone of sadness
Makes our song of life complete.
When beyond this world of sorrow
We shall join the white-robed throng;
When our voices, tuned to gladness,
Join heaven’s grand triumphant song —
There, where sadness never enters,
There will be no undertone;
Life’s best chords in heaven shall never
Answer to life’s spirit-moan.
Yet, I think, when all is gladness,
When the name of pain shall cease,
We will bless our God for sorrow,
Thank Him for life’s minor keys.
Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 92-93
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