The Old Man's Angelus



An old man sits by the cottage door;
The winds are hushed on the sunlit hills;
He tells his rosary softly o'er,
Till sudden music the silence thrills—
A holy sound which he loves full well,
The clangour sweet of the Angelus Bell.

Raising to heaven his sightless eyes,
He lifts the hat from his long, white hair;
He cannot gaze on the blue bright skies,
But a radiant world to him seems there,
From which the bell's melodious chime
Breaks on the echoing shores of time.

When first it sung from the old church tower
The wondrous words which an angel spoke,
It touched his heart with a mystic power—
His soul to a wider life awoke;
It grew, like a friendly voice, more dear,
Through the saddening lapse of each changing year.

How warm were the hours when life was young!
His heart by a tender tone was thrilled;
Swift fell the words from the eager tongue,
The earth with a strange new joy was filled.
But the Angelus chiming seemed to say:
"Ah, youth and its love-dreams pass away."

Solemn and sweet in the sun-flushed morn,
It woke strong thoughts for the day's long toil;
It fell when the heat of day was borne,
A rain from heaven on parched soil.
It checked at even the weary sigh,
And gently whispered that rest was nigh.

He sinned—it smote on his shrinking ears,
Like the wak'ning angers trump of doom;
He grieves—in its silver tone he hears
Celestial promise of joy to come,
In God's great city, where sin nor pain
Shall ever shadow his heart again.

Pallid and worn, on his bed he lies,
Calm 'neath the angel of death's bright wings;
"There's light," he said, "will the sun soon rise?
Maybe I'd sleep when the Angelus rings."
When the bells rang in the bright'ning day,
The soul of the old man passed away.

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

  1. An old car-driver of the late Charles Bianconi had a great devotion to the Angelus. By, at least, a curious coincidence, he lately died while the Angelus Bell was ringing.