This sunrise this morning, framing Mt Rainier (with its shadow cast on the underside of the clouds), made me wish for the eloquence of a poet to describe its glories. Jane Austen had surprisingly little to say about mountains, I discovered, and almost nothing on sunrises. This is the best I could find:
“How much longer do you stay in this heavenly place — till sunrise?” from The Watsons, an unfinished fragment. (see post on finishing fragments)
“Oh, my dear, dear aunt,” [Elizabeth] rapturously cried, “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend!” Pride and Prejudice, chapter 27.
I’m no poet, but a song came to me as I stood on the deck, braving the sub-freezing temperatures to watch the day begin. It’s a Christmas song called What Sweeter Music composed by John Rutter. The community choir that I sing in had just performed it as part of our Christmas concert on Sunday, so it was fresh in my mind. It sets to music a poem by Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674):
What sweeter music can we bring than a carol, for to sing the birth of this our heavenly King? Awake the voice! Awake the string!
Dark and dull night, fly hence away. And give the honour to this day that sees December turned to May. That sees December turned to May.
Why does the chilling winter’s morn smile like a field beset with corn? Or smell like a meadow newly shorn, thus on the sudden? Come and see the cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis he is born, whose quick’ning birth gives life and lustre, public mirth, to heaven and the under-earth.
We see him come and know him ours, who, with his sunshine and his showers, turns the patient ground to flowers. Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come. And fit it is we find a room to welcome him. The nobler part of all the house here is the heart, which we will give him; and bequeath this holly and this ivy wreath. To do him honour, who’s our King, and Lord of all this revelling.
What sweeter music can we bring than a carol, for to sing the birth of this, our heavenly King? The birth of this our heavenly King.
The melody is just as beautiful as the words are. (For a listen, follow this link to YouTube. It’s well worth a couple minutes of your time.) Hope your day started with a bit of beauty too, in word, thought or music.