Clement Clark Moore's Poetry
Clement Clark Moore
Brought to you by the website of Henry Livingston, the author of A Visit From St. Nicholas


The troubles of an Organist I sing;
His duties and his pleasures too.
Nor is his charge a light and trifling thing,
If to his station he be true.

'Tis oft his task, a high and holy end,
By humblest agents, to attain;
To teach th' Almighty's praises to ascend
From simpering minstrels, pert and vain.

When none but thoughts religious, gentle, kind,
Should reign within the sacred choir,
It is his lot, too often, there to find
Low bickerings, envy, mutual ire.

Such jarring instruments must be combine;
To harmonize such discords, strive;
Breathings like these unite with themes divine,
To keep devotion's fire alive.

When to each voice its part he hath assign'd,
And all seems right and order'd well,
Some lurking discontent he oft will find,
Some spirit anxious to rebel.

And where the springs of mental discord lie
'Mid vocal harmony conceal'd,
A touch may bid the choir to fragments fly,
Like blow on glass that's unanneal'd.

One deems it to her dignity a slight
In rank of second to be plac'd;
Another claims a solo as his right;
And in a chorus feels disgrac'd.

Oft 'tis the sense of interest alone
That death to harmony prevents;
And, as in other things, here too is shown
The might of dollars and of cents.

To vex him too, the organ-bellows squeak,
Or finest notes get out of tune;
Some pipes seem sulky, and refuse to speak,
While some, loquacious, speak too soon.

When to emotions that his soul expand
He would, in noble strains, give vent,
And fills with richest harmony each hand,
'Tis chance, the wind is nearly spent.

And all his thoughts sublime to fury change
At him who should the bellows ply;
While th' organ utters fading notes so strange,
They seem to mock him as they die.

Such, in this life, our lot! What's noble, grand,
What bids the thoughts to Heav'n ascend,
May on the working of a menial hand,
Or on a breath of air depend.

But when all's done that human pow'r can do
To make his duties smooth and light,
And movements noiseless glide, and notes are true,
Then let him see his heart be right.

For not on purity and depth of tone,
On science link'd with manual skill
And fancy's flights, must he depend alone
His sacred duty to fulfil.

The gifts of Nature, be they e'er so high,
With all that art can teach, combin'd,
Cannot avail the artist to supply
The want of a religious mind.

He finds it not a victory so hard
To make the conquest of his art,
As from vain worldly thoughts to guard
The secret movements of his heart.

Oh! sacred harmony! what lawless feet
within thy precincts boldly tread!
What vain and reckless triflers there we meet,
Where all should feel a holy dread!

Hence, wanton trills and sliding semitones,
Light-finger'd runs and turns misplac'd,
Bravuras, from the stage, and love-sick moans,
With which God's worship is disgrac'd.

But in this world of discord and of strife,
A beam from Heav'n may reach us still,
And give the organist both heart and life
His arduous duties to fulfil.

For when, obedient to his skilful hand,
In full accord sweet voices rise,
And holy zeal inspires the sacred band,
He mounts in spirit to the skies.

Yes, these are moments of excitement high,
Which hours of misery repay;
Which call big tears of rapture to his eye,
and snatch him from this world away.


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