The song started out as a poem, written as a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter called "A Lost Chord," published in 1858 in The English Woman's Journal.
Then, in 1877, is a song composed by Arthur Sullivan put the poem to music, at the bedside of his brother Fred during Fred's last illness. The manuscript is dated 13 January 1877; Fred Sullivan died five days later.
I can't find the Alma Gluck recording of this great song/poem. But, contralto Clara Butt made a recording of the song in 1930.
We'll listen to it first, then to the 1912 Caruso Titanic benefit recording.
Poem by Ms Proctor's volumes of poetry:
Seated one day at the Organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.
I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.
It flooded the crimson twilight
Like the close of an Angel’s Psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.
It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.
It linked all perplexèd meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the Organ,
And entered into mine.
It may be that Death’s bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,—
It may be that only in Heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.
Jimmy Durrante does a spoof on the song, telling all that he found the Lost Chord.
Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock wrote an essay entitled, The Mathematics of the Lost Chord. You can read the essay here.