At last came the full red ray across the meadow. Alessandro sprang to his feet. In the next second Father Salvierderra flung up his south window, and leaning out, his cowl thrown off, his thin gray locks streaming back, began in a feeble but not unmelodious voice to sing,--
"O beautiful Queen, Princess of Heaven."
Before he had finished the second line, a half-dozen voices had joined in,-- the Senora, from her room at the west end of the veranda, beyond the flowers; Felipe, from the adjoining room; Ramona, from hers, the next; and Margarita and other of the maids already astir in the wings of the house. As the volume of melody swelled, the canaries waked, and the finches and the linnets in the veranda roof. The tiles of this roof were laid on bundles of tule reeds, in which the linnets delighted to build their nests. The roof was alive with them,-- scores and scores, nay hundreds, tame as chickens; their tiny shrill twitter was like the tuning of myriads of violins.
"Singers at dawn From the heavens above People all regions; Gladly we too sing,"
continued the hymn, the birds corroborating the stanza. Then men's voices joined in,-- Juan and Luigo, and a dozen more, walking slowly up from the sheepfolds. The hymn was a favorite one, known to all.
"Come, O sinners, Come, and we will sing Tender hymns To our refuge,"
was the chorus, repeated after each of the five verses of the hymn.
Alessandro also knew the hymn well. His father, Chief Pablo, had been the leader of the choir at the San Luis Rey Mission in the last years of its splendor, and had brought away with him much of the old choir music. Some of the books had been written by his own hand, on parchment. He not only sang well, but was a good player on the violin. There was not at any of the Missions so fine a band of performers on stringed instruments as at San Luis Rey. Father Peyri was passionately fond of music, and spared no pains in training all the neophytes under his charge who showed any special talent in that direction. Chief Pablo, after the breaking up of the Mission, had settled at Temecula, with a small band of his Indians, and endeavored, so far as was in his power, to keep up the old religious services. The music in the little chapel of the Temecula Indians was a surprise to all who heard it.
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