Silver Tones

A poem by Joseph Horatio Chant

A stately church by pious hands erected long ago,
Was found to lack a vesper bell, by which the poor might know
The hour of prayer, the hour of mass, and who had lately died,
The hour when gent and bonny lass, so timid at his side,
Would stand before the surpliced priest, and twain would pledge their troth,
The hour in which the priest would vent on heretic his wrath.
The faithful then were called upon to bring from home and mine
The metal for the holy bell, which must be strong and fine.
In smelting pot of massive size they placed the needed ore;
A molten mass it soon became, but ere in mould they pour,
And thus provide a bell for God to grace His temple fair,
In crowds the people came, to see the metal glowing there.
Then as they passed, with hearts devout, each took a silver coin
And dropped it in the glowing mass--no priest did this enjoin.
They wished to show their grateful love to Him who bore their sin;
A simple form which love took on, not done God's grace to win.
Nor did they hope to win applause from priest and saintly friar;
If God were pleased they asked no more, nor more did they desire;
Nor did they deem their silver lost, though little dreamed they then
The grand result of their small gifts, which now is known to men.
Their coins were for a moment seen, like flakes of snow on sward,
And then they melted out of sight, yet, seen by their blest Lord,
They mingled with the glowing mass, and when in high church tower
The bell was hung and daily rung, all people felt its power.
Its booming tones were soft and sweet, and echoed o'er their hills
In a grand symphony of praise, subduing all their wills,
And calling forth from old and young a burst of rapturous praise.
Their gifts, though small, were not despised; God turned them into lays.
This world is one great smelting pot in which life's ore is cast,
And from it God will some day bring a bell, destined to last
And ring aloud in thunder tones wherever man is found.
Oh, may we, by kind words and deeds, give it a silver sound!
Each word though short, each deed though small, if for the Master's sake
Are said and done, like silver coin, our blessed Lord will take,
And skillfully will blend them with the coarser ore of earth,
And grander music none have heard e'er since time had its birth.
Then from this bell of silver tone will sound o'er hill and vale:
"The work men do in Jesus' name is never known to fail."

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