‘The Kingdom Come’ from Paradise

 

The following letter was published in the September 1921 issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine.  The letter was written by my grandfather, S. Ralph Harlow. I am in Turkey because of his work here beginning over 100 years ago.  I am writing his story under the category I call ‘The Smyrna Tree’.  Professor Harlow was the Head of the Department of Sociology and Chaplin at the International College, which is now home to NATO’s Allied Land Command.  The play was conducted near the aqueducts in Buca, Turkey. This area was called Paradisio.

To the Editors of the Atlantic Monthly, Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Atlantic,

There are a lot of people out here in Smyrna, and in other parts of the Near East, who are very grateful to you for publishing in your March issue that beautiful little play by Florence Converse, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

Each year we hold a student conference here at Smyrna.  The conference is held on the campus of the International College at Paradise.  (We did not name the place.  The Romans called it Paradiso long years ago.

We try to make good on the name).  This year there were delegates from the Balkans, Asia Minor, Greece, Syria, and Egypt.

On one evening of the conference, just at sunset, we presented Miss Converse’s “Thy Kingdom Come.”  Faculty, students, and faculty children took part.   Some three hundred watched the play in reverent silence.  The play was given outdoors, in a little natural theatre on a hillside overlooking a valley where the ruins of old Roman aqueducts added to the impressiveness of the hour.   In the background was a hill that might have been Calvary.  Natural rocks formed the tomb.

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Paradise’s Performance of “Thy Kingdom Come” (S. Ralph Harlow)

The parts had been studied for weeks, and the costumes were perfect.  The speaking and the action were so natural that one forgot for the time that it was but a presentation.  It thrilled with present life.  Of course the conference helped create an atmosphere almost ideal, and the play was given the week following the Eastern Easter.  We left out a little of the doughboy slang, which many of these students would not have understood, and we added one thing.  As the angels came over the brow of the hill, to roll the stone away, a chorus of girls, hidden in a cleft of rocks below in the valley, sang, —

 

Christ the Lord is risen to-day,

                                    Alleluia!

                        Sons of men and angels say,

                                    Alleluia!

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Student Angels (S. Ralph Harlow)

 

There was truly a thrill as those clear young voices carried the song of triumph through verse after verse.  It seemed as if angelic voices had joined the earthly choir.

Cordially yours,

S. Ralph Harlow