a sonorous Portuguese sermon rolled over their heads as innocuously as a Thanksgiving discourse over any New England
Do not imagine, by the way, that critical remarks on sermons are a monopoly of Protestantism.
After one religious service in Fayal
, my friend, the Professor
of Languages, who sometimes gave lessons in English
, remarked to me confidentially, in my own tongue, “His sermon is good, but his exposition is bad; he does not expose well.”
Supposing him to refer to the elocution, I assented,--secretly thinking, however, that the divine in question had exposed himself exceedingly well.
Another very impressive ceremony was the Midnight Mass
on New Year's eve, when we climbed at midnight, through some close, dark passages in the vast church edifice, into a sort of concealed opera-box above the high altar, and suddenly opened windows that looked down into the brilliantly lighted cathedral, crammed with kneeling people, and throbbing with loud music.
It seemed centuries away from all modern life,--a glimpse into some buried Pompeii
of the Middle Ages
More impressive still was Holy Week, when there were some rites unknown to other Roman Catholic
For three days the great cathedral was closely veiled from without and darkened within,--every door closed, every window obscured.
Before this there had been seventy candles lighting up the high altar and the eager faces: now these were all extinguished, and through the dark church came chanting a procession bearing feeble candles and making a strange clapping sound, with matracas
, like watchmen's rattles; men carried the symbolical bier of Jesus in the midst, to its symbolical rest beneath the altar, where the three candles, representing