[Paris—Wednesday, 23 November 1859]
Wednesday 23d The fogs cover us with their impenetrable veils in the mornings and evenings but the middle of each day is a new wonder.
Yesterday was the strange festival of Saint Cecilia. The services were at Saint Eustache. The church was rapidly filling as we arrived people pouring in from every side enough to fill any ordinary church although the morning fog was not yet rolled away and we were hardly seated before American friends surrounded us cutting off with their chatty ways the little hopes we might have cherished of an hours reflextion in the consecrated place. In spite of these retarding influences the moment for the music arrived we had so long hoped for. We had been possessed with a dim foreshadowing of the happiness in store for us but it is a wonderful truth that the Divine essence cannot be explained or forewarned to the Soul but only met and held by it and so it was that the music of St. Cecilia seized us in its arms and kept us warm and fast sheltered by its sacred influences. The centre of the immense church was filled by the musicians to overflowing and they had selected the music of Mozart as most appropriate for their solemn festival. In the pauses incense burned upon the altar and the priests chanted their holy hymns but all this seemed merely the prayerful voice of the people filling the silence while the music lulled. Suddenly it would leap into the air like one instrument and one voice tempered to the gentle submission of a Christian soul. Oh! it was a great Joy and a great uplifting and when the white robed priest delivered us a droning discourse upon the value of music I feared his soul had not been present at our festival.