Background

Illuminating York Poetry: Gregorian Chant at All Saints

Posted on 17 January 2013 | Poem

Voices weave in a pattern old

before Pope Gregory gave his name.

Cantor and response intertwine.

Notes rise and fall. The censor swings.

Perfumed clouds silhouette

on rising air, float down the aisles.
 

Words bewilder in unfamiliar Latin

but beauty wafts with the scent,

lulling thought. We link to times

when the rituals of All Saints Night

were needed, to calm the spirits

of Samhain, and placate the dead.
 

Devils were real, not marionettes

busking a penny on Petergate.

Ghosts lurked in every Viking alley.

Now red and blue glimmer

from fifteenth century glass,

soften faces crammed in pews.
 

Above us, a modern light-show

displays, unheeded. The church

glows with its own warmth:

centuries of candles, lit

by ordinary men and women,

held close in piety – and hope.
- Pauline Kirk