Scripture Verse

God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

Introduction

portrait
Adelaide A. Procter
(1825–1864)

Words: Ad­e­laide A. Proc­ter, in The Eng­lish Wo­man’s Jour­nal, 1858.

Music: Ar­thur S. Sul­li­van, 1876 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Sullivan had been try­ing to set Proc­ter’s words to mu­sic for sev­er­al years, but did not suc­ceed un­til faced with the death of his bro­ther Fred, to whom he was ve­ry close. His bro­ther died a slow death, lin­ger­ing three weeks, and the grief brought forth this won­der­ful mu­sic from Ar­thur’s pen. Though un­suit­ed to con­gre­ga­tion­al sing­ing, it was tre­men­dous­ly pop­u­lar around the be­gin­ning of the 20th Cen­tu­ry.

portrait
Arthur S. Sullivan
(1842–1900)

Lyrics

Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys;
I know not what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

It flooded the crimson twilight,
Like the close of an angel’s psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit,
With a touch of infinite calm,
It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife,
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life,
It linked all the perplexed meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence,
As if it were loth to cease;
I have sought but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ,
And entered into mine.

It may be that death’s bright angel
Will speak in that chord again;
It may be that only in Heav’n
I shall hear that great Amen.
It may be that death’s bright angel
Will speak in that chord again;
It may be that only in Heav’n
I shall hear that great Amen.