Lanier agreed to it, and his cantata (set to music by Dudley Buck) was performed at the opening ceremonies of the centennial celebration in May. The event was a proud representation of both North and South.
The crowd gathered in Independence Square (site of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed) to hear Taylor recite his poem, "Centennial Ode." This is the final stanza:
Look up, look forth, and on!
There's light in the dawning sky:
The clouds are parting, the night is gone:
Prepare for the work of the day!
Fallow thy pastures lie
And far thy shepherds stray,
And the fields of thy vast domain
Are waiting for purer seed
Of knowledge, desire, and deed,
For keener sunshine and mellower rain!
But keep thy garments pure:
Pluck them back, with the old disdain,
From touch of the hands that stain !
So shall thy strength endure.
Transmute into good the gold of Gain,
Compel to beauty thy ruder powers,
Till the bounty of coming hours
Shall plant, on thy fields apart,
With the oak of Toil, the rose of Art!
Be watchful, and keep us so:
Be strong, and fear no foe:
Be just, and the world shall know!
With the same love, love us, as we give;
And the day shall never come,
That finds us weak or dumb
To join and smite and cry
In the great task, for thee to die,
And the greater task, for thee to live!
After Taylor's death two years later, John Greenleaf Whittier (who wrote a hymn for the same centennial celebration) assessed the writer's career: "It is perhaps too early to assign him his place in American literature... His Centennial ode [and others]... are sureties of the permanence of his reputation."