29 March 2011

The Lost Chord

The Telegram’s Russell Wangersky writes about his dream of composing that one perfect sentence.

It is the writer’s dream:

I want to write that one single, clear clean note, but I want to write it in words: is that too much to ask for?

Just once. Just to write it once. And rest.

I mean, if it was music you would know instinctively exactly what I’m talking about.

You’d recognize it the moment you heard it; would recognize it the moment it curled threads into your ears. The way it fit and filled and hung there, complete.

If it was music.


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 Heav'n
I shall hear that grand Amen.

Those are the last two stanzas of a poem written in 1853.  An organist played one perfect chord that “quieted pain and sorrow” and “linked all perplexed meanings into one perfect peace.”

And although he tried many times to find it again, the organist could never again find the chord.

Sir Arthur Sullivan set it to music in 1877.:

Writers, musicians and other artists likely all share a very similar dream. Perhaps it is one expression of the fire of creativity that burns inside them.

- srbp -