That evening the monks’ singing was harmonious and inspired; a young, black-bearded priest was officiating. When he heard the ‘bridegroom who cometh at midnight’2 and ‘the mansion richly adorned’, he felt neither penitent nor sorrowful, but a spiritual peace and calm as his thoughts wandered off into the distant past, to his childhood and youth, when they had sung of that same bridegroom and mansion. Now that past seemed alive, beautiful, joyful, such as it most probably had never been. Perhaps, in the next world, in the life to come, we will remember that distant past and our life on earth below with just the same feelings. Who knows? The bishop took his seat in the dark chancel, and the tears flowed. He reflected that he had attained everything a man of his position could hope for, and his faith was still strong. All the same, there were things he did not understand, something was lacking. He did not want to die. And still it seemed that an integral part of his life, which he had vaguely dreamed of at some time, had vanished; and precisely the same hopes for the future which he had nurtured in his childhood, at the college and abroad, still haunted him.
‘Just listen to them sing today!’ he thought, listening intently. ‘How wonderful!’