Sacred Sounds -The Angelus Bird

The bells might be silent all over the world,
  The toll of the Angelus never be heard;
Yet nature, the banner of Christ holds unfurl’d,
And her Mother is blessed by the “Angelus Bird.”

When traveling in the forests of Guinea and Paraguay it is not uncommon to meet with a bird whose music greatly resembles that of an Angelus bell when heard from a distance.

The Spaniards call this singular bird a bell ringer, though it may be still more appropriately designated as the Angelus bird, for, like the Angelus bell, it is heard three times a day, morning, noon, and night.

Its song, which defies all description, consists of sounds like the strokes of a bell, succeeding one another every two or three minutes, so clearly and in such a resonant manner, that the listener, if a stranger, imagines himself to be near a chapel or convent.

But it turns out that the forest is the chapel, and the bell a bird. The beauty of the Angelus bird is equal to his talent; he is as large as a jay, and as white as snow, besides being graceful in form and swift in motion. Whenever the Angelus bird begins to discourse his sweet music, the monkeys protest like evil spirits, and rend the air with their shrill chattering as they scamper up the trees to escape from the unwelcome sound.

THE ANGELUS BIRD

In the woods of Guinea there hovers a bird
Whose plumage is gorgeous and notes are sublime;
Thrice daily its carol is distinctly heard,
Like the sweet, solemn toll of the Angelus chime,
At morning it wakens the echoes around
With the ring of it magical, sacred notes;
At noon can be heard its thrice-uttered sound,
And at eve, tho the forest, its soft measure floats.

‘Tis the “Angelus Bird” of Paraguay s coast,
That chants the grand key of the holiest prayer;
Its altars, the forest- the day god, its host-
The heaven, its vault -what temple so fair!

‘Twould seem that when darkness o’ershadow’d the land
And the light of the Christian was yet to be seen,
That the God of Creation created this grand
Living bell, to intone the pure hymn o’er the scene!

From the moment ‘twas said that the Mother should be
“Hailed Blessed,” all over the earth, by the Word;
E’en the savage afar, by that Southern Sea,
Could hear her true praise in the “Angelus Bird.”

While temples were torn by iconoclast hands,
And the Faith of Redemption shone only in blood,
When the praise of the Virgin, in civilized lands,
Was hushed -it was heard in Paraguay s wood.

The bells might be silent all over the world,
The toll of the Angelus never be heard;
Yet nature, the banner of Christ holds unfurl’d,
And her Mother is blessed by the “Angelus Bird.“

Grant, Mother of God, that a lesson we take,
From this creature so strange, so truly sublime;
Let us honor the bird that such music can make,
May silence ne’er muffle its Angelus chime.   Dr. J. K. Foran

THE APPARITIONS AND SHRINES OF HEAVEN S BRIGHT QUEEN
In Legend, Poetry and History
William J. Walsh

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