John Banister Tabb, a Catholic priest, teacher, and author of the
poem COMMUNION, was born near Richmond, Virginia, 22 March 1845. A
confederate, he served in the Civil War and was imprisoned by the
North. Afterwards, he left Anglicanism to join the Catholic Church in
1872 and graduated as a priest from St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, on
December 20, 1884. Father Tabb taught English at St. Charles College,
Maryland, until his death on 19 November 1909.
Once when my heart was passion free
To learn of things divine,
The soul of nature suddenly
Outpoured itself in mine.
I held the secrets of the deep
And of the heavens above;
I knew the harmonies of sleep,
The mysteries of love.
And for a moment’s interval
The earth, the sky, the sea –
My soul encompassed each and all,
As now they encompass me.
To one in all, to all in one –
Since love the work began
Life’s everwidening circles run
Revealing God to man.
This poem, which I found in an old book of the world’s great
religious poetry, brings to mind the following two Bible verses:
Job 12:7-10 (New Living Translation)
7 “Ask the animals, and they will teach you.
Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.
8 Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.
Let the fish of the sea speak to you.
9 They all know that the Lord has done this.
10 For the life [soul] of every living thing is in his hand, and
the breath of all humanity.”
Romans 1:20 (New American Standard Bible)
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being
understood through what has been made, so that they are without
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