Once in an Abbey-church, the whiles we prayed
All silent at the lifting of the Host,
A little bird through some high window strayed ;
And to and fro
Like a wee angel lost
That on a sudden finds its heaven below,
It went the morning long.
And made our Eucharist more glad with song.
It sang, it sang ! and as the quiet priest
Far off about the lighted altar moved,
The awful substance of the mystic feast
All hushed before,
It, like a thing that loved
Yet loved in liberty, would plunge and soar
Beneath the vault in play
And thence toss down the oblation of its lay.
The walls that went our sanctuary around
Did, as of old, to that sweet summons yield.
New scents and sounds within our gates were found ;
The cry of kine.
The fragrance of the field,
All woodland whispers, hastened to the shrine :
The country side was come
Eager and joyful, to its spirit's home.
Far-stretched I saw the cornfield and the plough,
The scudding cloud, the cleanly-running brook,
The humble, kindly turf, the tossing bough
That all their light
From Love's own furnace took —
This altar, where one angel brownly bright
Proclaimed the sylvan creed.
And sang the Benedictus of the mead.
All earth was lifted to communion then.
All lovely life was there to meet its King ;
Ah, not the little arid souls of men
But sun and wind
And all desirous thing
The ground of their beseeching here did find ;
All with one self-same bread.
And all by one eternal priest, were fed.