excerpt from 'Italy Volume 2' pp. 282-283 (381 words)

excerpt from 'Italy Volume 2' pp. 282-283 (381 words)

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Italy Volume 2

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Expectation and impatience gradually increased as the night wore, and frequent enquiries were made of choristers and property-boys, who were bustling from chapel to chapel, from orchestra to organ-loft, some with branches, some with ladders, one with a bass-viol, another with a roll of music, and all replying to the incessantly repeated demand of " when will it begin?" with the usual adesso, adesso, (directly, immediately.) About three o'clock the adesso arrived. The choral swell, the blazing torches, the gigantic crucifix, and the crowded procession of priests of every rank and order, opened the service of the Nativity. This service performed in the choir was chiefly musical, and was accompanied by evolutions and changes of place, bows and genuflexions, which, though extremely imposing, were sufficiently wearisome from their inordinate length, and the drowsy hour of the night which they so tediously consumed. This service, which was scarcely seen or heard, except by the distinguished few (English, Poles, and Russians) who were admitted within the choir, lasted for two hours. Then began the procession of the cradle, consisting of the whole body of the clergy present [...] Thence it was borne with solemn chaunts to the chapel of the Santa Croce. In this interval all were in motion, scrambling and crowding from the body of the church, to secure a place in the chapel. The musicians hurrying to the orchestra, prepared from them for the second act of the evening's performance, tumbled over the sprawling crowds which knelt in their path; and the multitude who had been indifferent to the service, were now in eager motion to get a sight of the cradle. Then followed a musical mass; and the culla being at last deposited on the altar, the wearied and exhausted spectators issued forth just as the dome of St. Peter's caught the first light of the morning; and the cupolas and spires which crown the seven hills, rose on the eye above the dim mists of night, in which the  city and its ruins were still involved. I thought I never saw the morning break so welcome, nor the air breathe so fresh, as on leaving the stench, din, glare, and heat which accompanied this vaunted ceremony. This was the moment for that religion of the heart

Whose incense smells of heaven.

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excerpt from 'Italy Volume 2' pp. 282-283 (381 words)


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