We present this work in honor of German Unity Day.
When Sir Ulrich’s widow in church knelt to pray,
From the church yard toward her floated a lay.
The organ on high did cease to sound,
The priests and the boys all stood spellbound;
The congregation hearkened, old man, child and bride
To singing like a nightingale’s so fair, outside:
“Dear mother, in the church where the sexton’s bell rings,
Dear mother, hark outside how your daughter sings!
For I cannot come to you in the church—ah, nay,
Before the shrine of Mary I cannot kneel to pray,
For I have lost salvation in everlasting time,
For I wedded the waterman with all his black, black slime.
My children—they play in the lake with fishes fleet,
They have fins on their hands and fins on their feet,
Their little pearly frocks no sunlight ever dries,
Not death nor yet a dream can close my children’s eyes.—
Dear mother, oh, I beg of thee,
Wilt thou and all thy servants pray
For my green-haired water-sprites alway,
Will ye pray to the saints and to our Lady kind,
By every church and every cross that on the fields ye find!
Dearest mother, I beseech thee so—
Every seven years I may hither go—
Unto the good priest tell,
The church door he shall open well—
That I may see the candle-light
And see the golden monstrance bright,
That my little children may be told
How the gleam of the Cup is like sunlight gold!”
The organ pealed when the voice sang no more,
And then they opened wide the door—
And while they all inside high mass were keeping,
A wave all white, so white, outside was leaping.