Song of Birds
T. DeWitt Talmage
There is an important and improving subject to which most people have given no thought, and concerning which pulpits rarely make allusion, namely, the Song of Birds. If all that has been written concerning music by human voice or about music sounded on instrument by finger or breath were put together, volume by the side of volume, it would fill a hundred alcoves of the national libraries. But about the song of birds there is as much silence as though, a thousand years ago, the last lark had, with his wing, swept the door-latch of heaven, and as though never a whip-poor-will had sung its lullaby to a slumbering forest at nightfall. We give a passing smile to the call of a bobolink or the chirp of a canary, but about the origin, about the fiber, about the meaning, about the mirth, about the pathos, about the inspiration, about the religion in the song of birds, the most of us are either ignorant or indifferent. A caveat I this morning file in the High Court of Heaven against that almost universal irreligion. We ought to realize that the first Bible that God ever wrote, and long before the Old Testament and the New Testament, was the Book of Nature.
First, I remark that which will surprise many, that the song of birds is a regulated and systematic song, capable of being written out in note and staff and bar and clef, as much as anything that Wagner or Schumann or Handel ever put on paper. As we pass the grove where the flocks are holding matin or vesper service, we are apt to think that the sounds are extemporized, the rising or falling tone is a mere accident, it is flung up and down by haphazard, the bird did not know what it was doing, it did not care whether it was a long meter psalm or a madrigal. What a mistake! The musician never put on the music rack before him Mendelssohn's "Elijah" or Beethoven's "Concerto in G" or Spohr's "B flat Symphony" with more definite idea as to what he was doing than every bird ...
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