I went to church down by the seacoast far;
After the bell rang, prayerful spirits fled:
The notes that sprang out from the steel guitar,
They bounced around like balls inside my head,
And all rolled off down some meandering way
Where neither ear nor tongue nor mind could follow;
Weary and vexed, my thoughts floated astray,
My hungry heart all overstuffed yet hollow.
No sense in all this jangling earthly show
Of Who it is behind that curtain dwells,
Whose might and glory round the planet go,
More so than solar fire or ocean swells.
Though folk come here with hearts pure as they can,
Yet this music draws man’s worship to man.
Two hours later, I made for the line
Where foaming breakers rush to meet the sand,
The burbling, tinkling shallows, clear and fine,
With softest breath of melting bubbles spanned.
And out beyond them, rumbling from the deep,
Great waves like organs swell their booming strain,
The mighty rhythm of their crash and leap—
How ancient and ageless the sea’s refrain.
Each sound keeps steady measure in its place,
And in sweet, solemn harmony they blend,
Forever singing canticles of grace,
Of unprobed wonder, glory without end.
On contemplation’s tide my heart floats free,
On the immortal music of the sea.
Oh, that the melodies we play and sing
In His house—He Whose Hand brought forth the waves—
Gave off a little of that hallowed ring
That man’s soul, hungering to worship, craves!
Patterns of steady grace would join the sounds,
That all our hearts and tongues might pray in song,
Harmonies like the waves that roll their rounds,
Made, by their very order, sweet and strong.
Their task, to lift the mortal mind and heart
On contemplation’s tide to the Divine,
Him Who in might and beauty reigns apart,
Yet deigns to dwell here veiled in bread and wine.
So may we learn in our own artistry
A lesson from the music of the sea.