The Singers

God sent his Singers upon earth

With songs of sadness and of mirth,

That they might touch the hearts of men,

And bring them back to heaven again.


The first, a youth, with soul of fire,

Held in his hand a golden lyre;

Through groves he wandered, and by streams,

Playing the music of our dreams.


The second with a bearded face,

Stood singing in the market-place,

And stirred with accents deep and loud

The hearts of all the listening crowd.


A grey old man, the third and last,

Sang in cathedrals dim and vast,

While the majestic organ rolled

Contrition from its mouths of gold.


And those who heard the Singers three,

Disputed who the best might be;

For still their music seemed to start

Discordant echoes in each heart.


But the great Master said, "I see

No best in kind, but in degree;

I gave a various gift to each,

To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.


"These are the three great chords of might,

And he whose ear is tuned aright

Will hear no discord in the three,

But the most perfect harmony."


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) , "The Singers", from The Seaside and the Fireside, published 1849