Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


My post the other night about dreaming about a lost chord inspired this reminiscence by my friend Emily Dietrich: "My mom used to play this song called 'The Lost Chord' and sing with it.  She said she sang it when her parents forbade her from seeing a boyfriend or when something else dramatic happened.  It's quite a dramatic song.  It starts small and gets huge."

John replies: I've never heard the song, but I know the poem, written in the 1850s or '60s by an Englishwoman named Adelaide Procter. Sir Arthur Sullivan set the poem to music; he was better known for some theatrical work written with someone named Gilbert.

Some sources give the poem's title as "A Lost Chord," but I've always known it as "The Lost Chord." A memorable and sympathetic poem. I'd love to hear the music. Caruso recorded the song.

Seated one day at the Organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.

I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

It flooded the crimson twilight,
Like the close of an Angel's Psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.

It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.

It linked all perplexéd meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.

I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the Organ,
And entered into mine.

It may be that Death's bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,
It may be that only in Heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.

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