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Notre Dame du Laus

The hymns of Baron de Saint-Priest

Baron Augustin de Saint-Priest, who graduated from the Saint-Cyr school with distinction, became a brilliant captain in the French Army.

Honest, friendly, intelligent, he knew, while cultivating the studies which are attached to his noble profession, how to find time for the arts, particularly for music, where he excelled. He composed religious and military songs, and he left a great number of them. In them one can recognize that energetic and gentle character which made him respected and cherished at the same time. As bold a Christian as he was a military man, he knew how to profess his faith on every occasion. In Poissy, his last French garrison, he conducted the choirs of the Month of Mary every evening: in front of Sebastopol, in the ambushes, he sang to himself in a low voice the hymns he had composed.

He was a captain in the 28th line and had been married for a short time when his regiment was sent to Crimea. The harsh trials of the campaign soon began. The first enemy he had to fight was cholera. His conduct in Crimea, during that terrible winter which claimed so many victims, was of the best. During the night attack against the Russian ambushes, he suddenly was caught in the middle of several hundred enemies with thirty-eight men. The whole army admired his chivalrous bravery. In this incident, his lieutenant was killed next to him, and his second lieutenant, M. Morguet, believing that he was a prisoner, had twice, with six grenadiers, pierced the mass of Russians to free him. A month later, he was wounded, at first judged to be not very serious, but this wound was to put an end to a career that had begun so well. He was able to write an account of this last action to his mother, an incomplete account, because he barely mentions himself, while the report of his battalion commander named him first among the most valiant. The cross of the Legion of Honor was the first prize for his fine conduct. It was brought to him, alas! on his deathbed. Courageous and calm until the end, he used his last days to purify his soul; full of gentleness for those who had loved him and for those about whom he had reason to complain, he asked for the Last Sacraments, received them, and breathed his last in peace, without ever regretting life. He was thirty-three years old.

(Father Huguet)

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