Said York: "We're here, dear brother, with the vestry's approbation,
To discuss a little matter that affects the congregation";
"And the choir, too," said Sharkey, giving Brother York a nudge.
"And the choir, too!" he echoed, with the graveness of a judge.
"It was the understanding when we bargained for the chorus,
That it was to relieve us, that is, do the singing for us;
If we rupture the agreement, it is very plain, dear brother,
It will leave our congregation and be gobbled by another.
"We don't want any singing except that what we've bought!
The latest tunes are all the rage; the old ones stand for naught;
And so we have decided-are you listening, Brother Eyer?-
That you'll have to stop your singin', for it flurrytates the choir."
The old man slowly raised his head, a sign that he did hear,
And on his cheecks the trio caught the glitter of a tear;
His feeble hands pushed back the locks white as the silky snow,
As he answered the committee in a voice both sweet and low:
"I've sung the Psalms of David for nearly eighty years;
They've been my staff and comfort and calmed life's many fears;
I'm sorry I disturb the choir, perhaps I'm doing wrong,
But when my heart is filled with praise I can't keep back a song.
"I wonder if beyond the tide that's breaking at my feet,
In the far-off heavenly temple, where the Master I shall greet-
Yes. I wonder when I try to sing the songs of God up higher
If the angel band will chide me for disturbibg Heaven's choir."
A silence filled the little room; the old man bowed his head:
The carriage rattled on again, but Brother Eyer was dead!
Yes, dead! his hand has raised the veil the future hangs before us,
And the Master dear had called him to the everlasting chorus.
The choir missed him for a while, but he was soon forgot!
A few churchgoers watched the door; the old man entered not.
Far away, his voice no longer cracked, he sings his heart's desires,
Where there are no church committees and no fashionable choirs!
-Thomas Chalmers Harbaugh
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