Read at the Boston celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, 25th 1st mo., 1859. In my absence these lines were read by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
How sweetly come the holy psalms
From saints and martyrs down,
The waving of triumphal palms
Above the thorny crown
The choral praise, the chanted prayers
From harps by angels strung,
The hunted Cameron’s mountain airs,
The hymns that Luther sung!
Yet, jarring not the heavenly notes,
The sounds of earth are heard,
As through the open minster floats
The song of breeze and bird
Not less the wonder of the sky
That daisies bloom below;
The brook sings on, though loud and high
The cloudy organs blow!
And, if the tender ear be jarred
That, haply, hears by turns
The saintly harp of Olney’s bard,
The pastoral pipe of Burns,
No discord mars His perfect plan
Who gave them both a tongue;
For he who sings the love of man
The love of God hath sung!
To-day be every fault forgiven
Of him in whom we joy
We take, with thanks, the gold of Heaven
And leave the earth’s alloy.
Be ours his music as of spring,
His sweetness as of flowers,
The songs the bard himself might sing
In holier ears than ours.
Sweet airs of love and home, the hum
Of household melodies,
Come singing, as the robins come
To sing in door-yard trees.
And, heart to heart, two nations lean,
No rival wreaths to twine,
But blending in eternal green
The holly and the pine!