by John Dryden (1631 - 1700)

From harmony, from heav'nly harmony
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
From harmony, from heav'nly harmony
This universal frame began:
When Nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay,
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high:
"Arise, ye more than dead."
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's pow'r obey.
From harmony, from heav'nly harmony
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Thro' all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

What passion cannot Music raise and quell!
When Jubal struck the corded shell,
His list'ning brethren stood around,
And, wond'ring, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell
That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell!

The Trumpet's loud clangor
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger,
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thund'ring Drum
Cries: "Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, 't is too late to retreat."

The soft complaining Flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling Lute.

Sharp Violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs, and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains, and height of passion,
For the fair, disdainful dame.

But O! what art can teach,
What human voice can reach,
The sacred Organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heav'nly ways
To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre;
But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder high'r:
When to her Organ vocal breath was giv'n,
An angel heard, and straight appear'd,
Mistaking earth for heav'n.

As from the pow'r of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the blest above,
So, when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The Trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky.

About the headline (FAQ)

In Händel's setting, each stanza is a separate movement:

1.    Overture: Larghetto e staccato—allegro—minuet
2.    Recitative (tenor): "From harmony, from heavenly harmony"
3.    Chorus: "From harmony, from heavenly harmony"
4.    Aria (soprano): "What passion cannot music raise and quell!"
5.    Aria (tenor) and Chorus: "The trumpet's loud clangour"
6.    March
7.    Aria (soprano): "The soft complaining flute"
8.    Aria (tenor): "Sharp violins proclaim their jealous pangs"
9.    Aria (soprano): "But oh! What art can teach"
10.   Aria (soprano): "Orpheus could lead the savage race"
11.   Recitative (soprano): "But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher"
12.   Grand Chorus with (soprano): "As from the power of sacred lays"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

Research team for this text: Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor] , Dave Evan Thomas

This text was added to the website: 2006-06-12
Line count: 64
Word count: 351