Taylor, Bayard - A long undulating cry of victory and of joy, Vivant Coelum
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
A Casebook of Otherworldly Music – D Scott Rogo
Case No. 18 - Bayard Taylor
This case comes to us from the author Bayard Taylor (1825-78), who, besides writing two books, translated an authoritative version of Goethe's Faust This case is included in W. F. Prince's Noted Witnesses for Psychic Occurrences (reprint, University Books, 1963) and is quite detailed:
It was, perhaps, an hour past midnight, along the foothills of the Nevadas, when, as I lay with open eyes gazing into the eternal beauty of night, I became- conscious of a deep murmuring sound, like that of a rising wind.
I looked at the trees; every branch was unmoved-yet the sound was increased, until the air of the lonely dell seemed to vibrate with its burden.
A strange feeling of awe and expectancy took possession of me. Not a dead leaf stirred on the boughs; while the mighty sound-choral hymn, sung by ten thousand voices-swept down over the hills, and rolled away like retreating thunder over the plains. It was no longer the roar of the wind. As in the wandering prelude of -an organ melody, note trod upon note with slow, majestic footsteps, until they gathered to a theme, and then came in the words, simultaneously chanted by an immeasurable host, Vivant terrestrial!
The air was filled with the tremendous sound, which seemed to sweep near the surface of the earth in powerful waves, without echo or reverberation.
Suddenly, far overhead, in the depths of the sky, rang a single, clear, piercing voice of unnatural sweetness-beyond the reach of human organs, or any human instrument, its keen alto piercing the firmament like- a straight white line of electric fire. As it shot downward, gathering in force, the vast terrestrial chorus gradually dispersed into silence, and only that one unearthly sound remained. It vibrated slowly into the fragment of a melody, unlike any which had ever reached my ears-long undulating cry of victory and of joy, while the words "Vivant Coelum!" were repeated more and more faintly as the voice slowly withdrew, like a fading beam of sunset, into the abysses of the stars.
Then all was silent. I was undeniably awake at the time, and could recall neither fact, refection, nor fancy of a nature to suggest the sounds. . . . How does the faculty of the brain act, so far beyond our conscious knowledge, as to astound us with the most unexpected images? Why should it speak in the Latin tongue? How did it compose music-which would be as impossible for me as to write a Sanskrit poem?