In this building, down the ages,
Humankind exalts and grieves;
Here knelt sinners, saints and sages,
Pimps and bishops, nuns and thieves.
Theirs were lessons never learnt,
Prayers we still have need to pray,
Though lakes are drained, and castles burnt,
And forests long have had their day.
Within these walls, I feel so near
To medieval confidence
That in this silence we can hear
The song of faith and innocence;
For men believed in hell and heaven,
And listened for harmonic sounds
From planets numbering simply seven
Which sang upon their daily rounds.
Each had an angel; if you paused
And cocked an ear in place like this,
You heard the harmony they caused,
Knew the propinquity of bliss.
I long to hear that sevenfold tune
Of Saturn Jupiter and Mars,
Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon,
With their angelic avatars,
As in this church they bring us grace
And let our souls like arches rise
Into the miracle of space
Till music takes the place of eyes.
By Paul Griffin