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GOSPEL SINGERS 
AND THEIR SONGS 



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BY 

F. D. HEMENWAY, D.D. 

AND 

CHAS. M. STUART, B.D. 



NEW YORK: HUNT &> EA TON 

CINCINNATI: CRANSTON & STOWE 

1892 






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Copyright, 1891. by 

HUNT & EATON, 

NEW YORK. 



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Theology and music unite and move on, hand in hand, 
through time, and will continue eternally to illustrate, embel- 
lish and enforce, impress, and fix in the attentive mind the 
grand and important truths of Christianity. ANDREW LAW. 



It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were 
as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thank- 
ing the Lord ; and when they lifted up their voice with the 
trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised 
the Lord, saying, For he is good ; for his mercy endureth 
forever : that then the house was filled with a cloud, even 
the house of the Lord. 2 CHRON. v, 13. 



NOTE. 



*T*HE substance of this volume appeared in 
more extended form in the " Life and 
Select Writings " of the late Professor Hem- 
enway, of Garrett Biblical Institute. The 
abridgment was supervised .by Rev. Charles 
M. Stuart, who edited the original work and 
who is also responsible for the added chapters 
on the hymns- of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries. For the matter contained in these 
additional chapters free use was, made of Nut- 
ter's Hymn Studies, Tillett's Annotated Hymn-- 
Book of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 
Duffield's English Hymns, Hatfield's The Poets 
of the Church, and " Hymn Notes," contrib- 
uted by Professor F. M. Bird to The Independ- 
ent, for which acknowledgments are here made. 



CONTENTS. 



, 

CHAPTER I. Page 

The Singer and the Song 9 

CHAPTER II. 
Hymns of the Ancient Church 25 

CHAPTER III. 
Earlier Mediaeval Hymns . ; . . . 42 

CHAPTER IV. 
Later Mediaeval Hymns . 56 

CHAPTER V. 
Hymns from German Authors 74 

CHAPTER VI. 
Earlier English Hymns 93 

CHAPTER VII. 
Watts and Wesley = 104 

CHAPTER VIIL 
Hymns of the Eighteenth Century 125 

CHAPTER IX. 
Hymns of the Nineteenth Century. 148 

Notes 187 



GOSPEL SINGERS. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE SINGER AND THE SONG. 

A S we turn our attention to lyric poetry in 
general, the first thing which impresses 
us is its antiquity. The oldest human litera- 
ture has come to us in this form. The most 
ancient books of the Hindus, and, as many 
think, the most ancient of all human _books, 
are the famous Vedic hymns, which, by the 
most moderate calculation, are nearly three 
thousand years old. The entire number 
of these is one thousand and twenty-eight ; 
and as early as 600 B. C. their verses, words, 
and syllables had been carefully enumer- 
ated. The oldest of the Chinese sacred books 
is the third of the ante-Confucian classics 
called by them the Book of Odes frag- 
ments of which are seen scattered over tea- 
chests and other articles of Chinese manu- 



10 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

facture. As to the relative antiquity of the 
Vedas in Hindu literature and the Book of 
Odes in Chinese literature there is no differ- 
ence of opinion ; but it is impossible to deter- 
mine with certainty, or even a high degree of 
probability, the absolute age of either. The 
general estimate of those most competent to 
form an opinion on the subject is that both 
may date from one thousand to twelve hun- 
dred years before Christ ; thus, in the matter 
of age, ranking with the Davidic psalms. 

Coming to Christian lyric poetry, we are at 
once struck with its vast extent and incom- 
parable wealth. It is estimated that in the 
German language alone there are eighty thou- 
sand Christian hymns, 1 and in the English 
forty thousand. Even as early as 1751, says 
Kurtz, in his Church History, J. Jacob V. 
Moser collected a list of fifty thousand printed 
hymns in the German language. 

Not only is the gross amount so consider- 
able, its diffusion is still more to be noted. 
Next to the Christian sacred books, nothing 
in literature has been so multiplied as copies 
of Christian hymns. Copies of some of these 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. II 

may be counted literally by the million. They 
rival the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Com- 
mandments in their hold on human memories. 
There are not a few into whose memories 
verses of hymns came earlier than verses of 
Scripture, and they will be more likely to 
speak them with their dying breath. 

A hymn is the most subtle and spiritual 
thing which a man can create. It must be in 
fact, if not in form, a transcript of his high- 
est and holiest experiences ; for the distin- 
guishing characteristic of lyric poetry is the 
stamp it bears of the personal consciousness. 
The most perfect expressions of the Christian 
creed and life are found in the hymns of the 
Church. As influences for good they are at 
once subtle and powerful, swaying our natures 
as nothing else can. "What care I," says 
Falstaff, " for the bulk and big assemblage of 
a man ? Give me the spirit, Master Shallow, 
give me the spirit." Now, the spirit of hu- 
manity and of the Christian Church, in v a sense 
infinitely higher than Shakespeare's hero could 
understand, is found in lyric poetry as no- 
where else. The subtle essence, the delicate 



12 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

hues, the delicious fragrance, and ethereal beau- 
ty of spiritual character are here most vari- 
ously and beautifully exhibited. 

Bishop Wordsworth, in the somewhat elab- 
orate essay on Christian hymns prefixed to his 
Holy Year, complains that while the ancient 
hymns are distinguished by self-forgetfulness, 
the modern are characterized by self-conscious- 
ness. As illustrative examples he cites the 
following : " When I can read my title clear, ' ' 
" When I survey the wondrous cross," " I hold 
the sacred book of God," " My God, the spring 
of all my joys;" and he also quotes, as illus- 
trating not only this egotistical character, but 
also a certain reprehensible self-assurance", 
and a familiar and even amatory style of ad- 
dress, 

" Jesus, lover of my soul, 

Let me to thy bosom fly," 

which he says he has heard " given out to be 
sung by every member of a large, mixed con- 
gregation, in a dissolute part of a populous 
and irreligious city." 

Seldom were words ever written which be- 
tray a more absolute want of comprehension 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. 13 

of the whole subject of lyric poetry. Its one 
grand, distinguishing characteristic is the fact 
that we see here, as nowhere else, the glory of 
individual life and experience. It must be 
confessed that there are hymns which illustrate 
some of the objectionable tendencies pointed 
out by the distinguished prelate ; but certainly 
the hymns he specifies show very clearly how 
a hymn can be a genuine lyric, reflecting most 
clearly and vividly the individual conscious- 
ness and yet be thoroughly free from obtrusive 
egotism. The most perfect 'and most univer- 
sally intelligible model of religious poetry holds 
such language as the following: " The Lord is 
my shepherd ; / shall not want. He maketh 
me to lie down in green pastures : he leadeth 
me beside the still waters." Wiser was Lu- 
ther, who used to thank God for these same 
little words these words of personal confes- 
sion and appropriation. It is comparatively 
unimportant whether the hymn stand in the 
singular or plural number; the one thing 
essential is that it be a crystallization of per- 
sonal thought and experience. The great 
hymns of the Church the hymns of the ages 



14 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

hymns which stand pre-eminent as expres- 
sions of the life of God in the soul of man 
are almost uniformly such as come most di- 
rectly out of the experience of the writer. 
Charles Wesley's hymns are eminently autobi- 
ographic. That grand hymn which has so long 
held the place of honor in both English and 
American Methodist hymn-books, " O for a 
thousand tongues to sing," was written on 
the first anniversary of Mr. Wesley's spiritual 
birth. Equally evident is it that his holiest 
aspirations and his most blissful experiences 
are given voice in such hymns as " O love 
divine, how sweet thou art ; " " Love divine, 
all love's excelling;" "Vain, delusive world, 
adieu." Two of his hymns, very familiar to 
Methodists, were addressed to his wife on her 
birthday : 

" Come away to the skies, my beloved, arise, 
And rejoice in the day thou wast born." 

" Come, let us ascend, my companion and friend, 
To a taste of the banquet above." 2 

The connection of the hymn " God moves 
in a mysterious way " with Cowper's personal 
history is well known. 3 John Newton's most 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. 1 5 

characteristic, though by no means most 
famous or most beautiful, hymn is a mere tran- 
script of his spiritual autobiography : "I saw 
one hanging on the tree."* The hymn of Anne 
Steele which is most universally known and 
most frequently used, "Father, whate'er of 
earthly bliss," is beyond question the simple 
outbreathing of her personal trust and submis- 
sion beneath the heavy burdens of sorrow 
which she, more than others, was called to 
bear. 5 Charlotte Elliott's " Just as I am " is 
the expression of the experience into which 
she herself had come after long and painful 
preparation. John Keble's most frequently 
used hymn, " Sun of my soul," exhibits the very 
characteristic which is so offensive to Bishop 
Wordsworth. 6 And, as we look through the 
whole range of hymnology, and consider the 
hymns which all agree to understand, to love, 
and to use, we shall find the great majority of 
them to be couched in the language of per- 
sonal confession and appropriation, such as 
shows them to be the outpouring of the most 
sacred and most spiritual experiences. 

As a means of Christian influence hymns are 



l6 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

most serviceable, and sometimes well-nigh ir- 
resistible. The pure waters of holy song will 
sometimes make their way into places dark 
and deathful, which no other influence from 
heaven can reach. A few years since a little 
party of American travelers, happening to be 
in Montreal, took occasion to visit the cele- 
brated Grey Nunnery, one of the wealthiest 
religious houses on this continent. As we 
were being conducted through the establish- 
ment we came to the school-room containing 
the orphan children, kept there as one branch 
of their charities. For our entertainment the 
children were set to singing. What was our 
surprise and delight to hear them sing our 
common Protestant Sunday-school hymns, 
such as " I have a Father in the promised 
land," " I want to be an angel," " There is a 
happy land I " What other form of evan- 
gelical influence could have made its way so 
successfully through the bolts and bars of that 
convent ? 

There is a familiar incident connected with 
one of Phoebe Gary's hymns which may. well 
be taken as representative of a very large class 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. \J 

of similar instances showing the power of sa- 
cred song. A few years since two men, Amer- 
icans one middle-aged, the other a young 
man met in a gambling-house in Canton, 
China. They had been engaged in play to- 
gether during the evening, and the young man 
had lost heavily. While the older one was 
shuffling the cards for a new deal, his com- 
panion leaned back in his chair and began 
mechanically to sing a fragment of Miss 
Gary's exquisite hymn, " One sweetly solemn 
thought." As these words, so tender and so 
beautiful, fell on the ear of the man hardened 
in sin, dead memories in his heart came to life 
again. He sprang up excitedly, exclaiming: 
"Where did you learn that hymn? I can't 
stay here! " And, in spite of the taunts of 
his companion, he hurried him away, and con- 
fessed to him the story of his long wanderings 
from a happy Christian home. At the same 
time he expressed his determination to lead a 
better life, and urged his companion in sin to 
join him. The resolution was kept, the man 
was reclaimed, and the story of his recovery 
came back to bless Miss Gary before slu died. 



1 8 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

This hymn, God's invisible angel, had gone 
with the man through all those weary years 
of sin, and finally led him back to purity and 
salvation. 

An oft-repeated incident connected with 
one of the best hymns of Charles Wesley well 
illustrates the power of this means of influ- 
ence. The only daughter of a wealthy and 
worldly nobleman was awakened and con- 
verted at a Methodist meeting in London. 
This was to her father an occasion of bitter 
grief and disappointment, and he at once set 
about winning her back to her former associa- 
tions. Having vainly tried other means to 
draw her away from her newly found faith, he 
at last formed a plan the object of which was 
to bring to bear upon her the combined influ- 
ence of her former most intimate associates 
and friends, and that, too, under such condi- 
tions that she would be unable to resist it. 
He arranged to invite to his own home a 
number of her gay and worldly associates, hop- 
ing by their influence to entangle her again 
in the meshes of fashionable dissipation. The 
company assembled, and all in high spirits 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. 19 

entered upon the pleasures of the evening. 
According to the plan preconcerted, several 
of the party took their turn in singing a song, 
of course selecting such as comported with the 
gayety and worldliness of the occasion. Then 
the young lady herself, being an accomplished 
musician, was called upon. She distinctly 
saw that the critical hour had come. Pale, 
but composed, she took her seat at the piano, 
and, after running her fingers over the keys, 
sang these verses of Charles Wesley's incom- 
parable hymn : 

" No room for mirth or trifling here, 
For worldly hope, or worldly fear, 

If life so soon is gone ; 
If now the Judge is at the door, 
And all mankind must stand before 

The inexorable throne ! 

" No matter which my thoughts employ 
A moment's misery or joy ; 

But O ! when both shall end, 
Where shall I find my destined place? 
Shall I my everlasting days 

With fiends or angels spend ? 

" Nothing is worth a thought beneath, 
But how I may escape the death 
That never, never dies ; 



20 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

How make mine own election sure ; 
And, when I fail on earth, secure 
A mansion in the skies. 

" Jesus, vouchsafe, a pitying ray ; 
Be thou my guide, be thou my way 

To glorious happiness. 
Ah ! write the pardon on my heart, 
And whensoe'er I hence depart, 

Let me depart in peace." 7 

She had conquered. Truths so solemn and 
weighty, borne on soul-moving music, and il- 
lustrated by the humility and heroism of her 
who now sat in her own father's house, in the 
midst of this joyous company, alone with God, 
could not be resisted. The father wept aloud, 
and afterward himself became a trophy of his 
daughter's courage and fidelity. 

As an instrument of expression song is 
equally serviceable. It gathers up into itself 
our sweetest, saddest, most heroic, and most 
spiritual experiences. When the soul comes 
to its divinest heights song is sure to be there. 
If it is not already in waiting the inspired soul 
at once creates it, as did Mary the " Magnificat " 
and Simeon the " Nunc Dimittis." Rarely was 
there ever witnessed a scene of more thrilling 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. 21 

interest than that of the reunion of the Old 
and New School divisions of the Presbyterian 
Church, which took place in Pittsburg in May, 
1869. On the day appointed the two bodies 
met in their respective places, and then, hav- 
ing formed in the street in parallel columns, 
joined ranks, one of each assembly arm in 
arm with one of the other, and so marched to 
the place where the services were to be held. 
As the head of the column entered the church, 
already crowded, save the seats reserved for 
the delegates, the audience struck up the 
hymn, "Blow ye the trumpet, blow," and 
when all were in their places, " All hail the 
power of Jesus' name! " After the reading 
of the Scriptures came the hymn of Watts, 
" Blest are the sons of peace." The interest 
of the occasion culminated when Dr. Fowler, 
the moderator of the New School Assembly, 
at the close of his remarks, turned to Dr. 
Jacobus, the moderator of the Old School As- 
sembly, and said : " My dear brother modera- 
tor, may we not, before I take my seat, per- 
form a single act symbolical of the union 
which has taken place between the two 



22 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

branches of the Church ? Let us clasp hands !" 
This challenge was immediately responded to, 
when all joined in singing the grand old dox- 
ology of Bishop Ken, " Praise God, from 
whom all blessings flow ! " And at the con- 
clusion of Dr. Jacobus's remarks, amid flow T 
ing tears and with swelling hearts, the thou- 
sands present joined in singing the precious 
hymn, written just about a century before, by 
that grand and tuneful Baptist minister, John 
Fawcett, himself a convert of George White- 
field, "Blest be the tie that binds." Little 
did those happy Presbyterians think or care 
that two of the hymns for this hour of their 
supreme gladness were furnished by Method- 
ists, one by a Congregationalist, one by an 
Episcopalian bishop, and one by a Baptist. 

And so do hymns bear interesting and con- 
clusive testimony to the catholicity of Chris- 
tianity and the essential unity of the Church. 
In them we see what is essential and perma- 
nent as contrasted with that which is merely 
formal and ephemeral. They do, indeed, re- 
flect the surface of the Christian consciousness, 
whose phenomena are continually changing ; 



THE SINGER AND THE SONG. 2$ 

but the hymns which have a life so permanent 
as to be accounted the " hymns of the ages " 
come out of the very depths of that conscious- 
ness. For the most part, such hymns do not 
so much illustrate the variety and separations 
of the Church as its oneness. Christianity is 
simply the one life of Jesus Christ, and, how- 
ever multitudinous may be the channels 
through which it flows, it is every-where and 
always one. And so our hymnody is a visible 
evangelical alliance, where Catholic and Prot- 
estant, Oriental and Occidental, the ancient 
and the modern, Calvinist and Arminian, 
Unitarian and Evangelical, blend indistinguish- 
ably in the one grand and universal song. One 
of the best illustrations of this is furnished in 
the history of a hymn which all Protestant 
Christians agree to place in the very front rank 
of hymns, " Rock of ages, cleft for me." Its 
author, Mr. Toplady, was one of the best and 
bitterest of Mr. Wesley's opponents, the points 
of difference between them being mainly such 
as were involved in the Calvinistic controversy. 
Especially was he disgusted at the Wesleyan 
doctrine of Christian perfection as being, in his 



24 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

view, inconsistent with the doctrines of grace ; 
and so he wrote this hymn, which expresses 
the utter nothingness qf human merit, and 
represents the soul as finding its only refuge 
in the merit of Christ, giving to it this contro- 
versial title : " A living and dying prayer for 
the holiest believer in the world." The hymn 
was at once caught up by Christian people, and 
by none more eagerly than by the Methodists, 
against whom it was written, and who to-day 
sing it as heartily as they do the hymns of 
Charles Wesley himself. Thus did -Mr. Top- 
lady the hymn-writer demonstrate his one- 
ness with the very people against whom Mr. 
Toplady the polemic had leveled his keenest 
shafts. 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 25 



CHAPTER II. 

HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 

TN our attempts to illustrate this subject of 
hymnology we must labor under one embar- 
rassment. Many of the most notable hymns 
were written in other languages than, ours, and 
a lyric poem never bears translation well. That 
adjustment of sound to sense, of rhyme and 
meter to thought, which makes a poem perfect 
in one language, if once it be disturbed for 
purposes of translation, can never be perfectly 
restored. When these beautiful crystals of 
thought and feeling are broken, their high and 
peculiar value is gone. At the best we can 
only use the fragments, in each of which may 
be seen some gleam of the original glory, to 
help us to conceive what that glory really was. 
Some of the best and most eminent hymns, 
whose names are as household words, have 
never been known, and can never be known by 
us in their true and proper character. We do 



26 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

not see them face to face ; and that image of 
them which is reflected in the best translation 
is more or less distorted and imperfect. They 
have lost in great measure their distinctive 
poetic character the music of numbers, the 
nice adjustment of epithets, the delicate hues 
of spiritual beauty, and many of those gleams 
of personal life and experience which consti- 
tute the peculiar charm of lyric poetry. 

The oldest hymn of the Christian Church 
outside of the Bible is that known as the " Tris- 
agion," or, more commonly, by its Latin name, 
" Tersanctus " " Thrice holy." It is the 
earliest of the many echoes which the song of 
the seraphim, as heard by Isaiah, has awakened 
in Christian literature. Neither its precise date 
nor author, nor the circumstances of its origin, 
can now be ascertained. 8 All we are quite 
certain of is that it goes back to the second 
century of Christian history to that age which 
touched upon the work of the apostles them- 
selves and that it has from the first held its 
place in the holy of holies of Christian worship ; 
for it is found in all- the ante-Nicene liturgies as 
well as in the principal ones of later times. 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 27 

j- ' 

With the exception of one or two brief doxol- 
ogies, it contains the oldest uninspired words 
of Christian praise in any language. It runs 
through the Christian centuries like a thread of 
gold, joining in one the praises of devout hearts 
in every age and clime. Even in the words of 
translation in which we know it its simplicity 
and beauty, its strength and majesty, are most 
evident: 

" It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we 
should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto 
thee, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God. 
Therefore with angels and archangels, and all the com- 
pany of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name, 
evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord 
God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. 
Glory be to thee, O Lord most high ! " 

With this hymn should be mentioned an- 
other not unlike it in spirit and history. It 
also originated probably in the second century, 
though if we give much place to internal evi- 
dence we must assign to it an origin some- 
what later than the " Tersanctus." From the 
earliest times these have been associated to- 
gether, both having held a place in the com- 
munion service. We refer to the " Gloria in 



28 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Excelsis," 9 a longer hymn than the " Tersanc- 
tus " and more emotional; of wider scope and 
burning utterances, " with whose ringing ac- 
cents of praise mingles the miserere of con- 
scious sin." It begins among the angels, tak- 
ing up the strains of angelic rapture which 
once it was permitted to mortal ears to hear, 
" Glory to God in the highest, and on earth 
peace, good-will to men ; " but speedily does 
it come down into this mortal and sinful life, 
taking up with solemn iteration the one prayer 
of guilty humanity, " Have mercy upon us." 
We are told that the early martyrs were wont 
to sing this hymn on their way to their death; 
and yet, like the blessed Christ, whose nature 
and offices are in it so distinctly reflected, it is 
equally suited to all who dwell in this mortal 
body : 

" Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good- 
will to men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we glorify 
thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord 
God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O 
Lord, the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ ; O Lord God, 
Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the 
sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest 
away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou 
that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 29 

Thou that sittest at the 'right hand of God the Father, 
have mercy upon us.- For thou only art holy ; thou 
only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy 
Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father." 

There is still another hymn which is in 
many regards more notable than either of 
those already mentioned. It is at once a hymn 
and a creed ; or, rather, as Mrs. Charles beau- 
tifully says, " It is a creed taking wing and 
soaring heavenward ; it is Faith seized with a 
sudden joy as she counts her treasures, and 
lays them at the feet of Jesus in a song; it 
is the incense of prayer rising so near the rain- 
bow round about the throne as to catch its 
light and become radiant as well as fragrant- 
a cloud of incense illumined into a cloud of 
glory." We refer to the " Te Deum Lauda- 
mus," J " perhaps the grandest anthem of Chris- 
tian praise ever written. It is not necessary 
to give it in full in this place, for scarcely any 
thing in Christian literature is more familiar ; 
but we will not forego the satisfaction of tran- 
scribing a few of its grand sentences- sen- 
tences which have been heard in every great 
cathedral in the world, and wakened the echoes 
of every clime beneath the sun : 



30 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

" We praise thee, O God ; we acknowledge thee to be the 
Lord. All the earth doth worship thee, the Father ever- 
lasting. To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and 
all the powers therein. To thee cherubim and seraphim 
continually do cry, Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sab- 
aoth. Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy 
glory. The glorious company of the apostles praise thee. 
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee. The 
noble army of martyrs praise thee. The holy Church 
throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee. . . . 
Day by day we magnify thee ; and we worship thy name 
ever, world without end." 

*** 

These three great anonymous hymns of the 
early Church never assumed a perfect metrical 
form, but only that of measured prose, in this 
regard resembling the songs and snatches or 
fragments of song which are found in the New 
Testament itself. But what is wanting in po- 
etical structure is more than made up in dig- 
nity, simplicity, and universal intelligibleness. 
With little loss they have been translated into 
many of the languages into which the Bible 
itself has gone ; and every-where they stand 
to express the catholicity of Christianity and 
the unity of believers. They belong peculiarly 
and exclusively to no sect or section of the 
Church, but equally to the entire Church. 
Neither Churchman nor Romanist can claim 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 31 

exclusive proprietorship in them, but, like the 
Bible itself, of which they are so evidently the 
offspring, they belong to all who " profess and 
call themselves Christians," of every tongue 
and clime. 

We may not leave these earliest Christian 
hymns without reflecting upon the grand and 
sacred mission they have fulfilled. They have 
lifted heavenward the worship of countless 
millions. They have gone through the world 
like sweet-voiced angels, leading our discord- 
ant natures into harmony. In the cathedral, 
the humble village church, the cell of the 
monk, the palace of the king, the tent of the 
norhad ; in the catacombs, by the martyr's 
stake ; beneath arctic skies and torrid suns ; 
in Asia, Africa, Europe, America, the islands 
of the sea; wherever the angel having the 
everlasting Gospel to preach has gone there 
have this blessed trio gone too. And in the 
supreme hour of mortal life they have been 
uttered by the bedside of the dying, lifting 
the soul into heavenly rapture even from the 
depths -of mortal, agony. So it is that men 
are 



32 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

" Learning here, by faith and love, 
Songs of praise to sing above." 

The oldest uninspired Christian hymn which 
can with certainty be traced to its author was 
written by Clement of Alexandria, who died 
not later than 220 A. D. Of his personal his- 
tory we know comparatively little ; but as to 
his intellectual and spiritual life we have better 
information. He represents the famous city 
of Alexandria, which, more than any other, 
was the meeting-place between the life of the 
East and the West. Here was originated the 
Hellenistic dialect of the Greek language, 
which has for its precious contents the Septu- 
agint version of the Old Testament, the writ- 
ings of Philo and Josephus, and the books of 
the New Testament. One of his teachers 
came from Ionia, the birthplace of the grand- 
est poem in all literature ; another from Ccele- 
Syria, the vigor and glory of whose civilization 
is to-day most eloquently attested by the won- 
derful ruins at Baalbec ; another still came from 
Assyria, a name suggestive of all that is ven- 
erable in antiquity and illustrious in achieve- 
ment ; while yet another came from Italy, but 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 33 

originally from Egypt. He became familiar 
with Jewish lore at the school of Tiberias, and 
he learned Christianity from Pantaenus, who 
stood at the head of the Academy in Alex- 
andria. When Pantsenus left this position to 
enter upon a mission to the heathen of India 
and the East Clement became his successor, 
and he in turn was succeeded by his own dis- 
ciple, Origen, the most eminent and learned of 
all the Christian fathers of the third century. 
It is probable that the persecution under Sep- 
timius Severus, A. D. 202, compelled Clement 
to flee from Alexandria, and we hear of him 
about ten years later visiting Jerusalem, and 
from thence to Antioch, commended to the 
Antiochans by the Bishop of Jerusalem as " a 
virtuous and tried man, and one not alto- 
gether unknown to them." 

There is a special interest connected with 
Clement's hymn as being the earliest versified 
Christian hymn, and so the distinguished 
leader of a shining host. It has been very 
justly described as " a collection of images in- 
terwoven like a stained window, of which the 

eye loses the design in the complication of 
3 



34 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

colors, upon which may be traced, as in quaint 
old letters on a scroll, winding through all the 
mosaic of tints, Christ all in all." There are 
several metrical versions accessible to the En- 
glish reader, but the strictly literal rendering 
of Mrs. Charles will give a more just idea of its' 
substance, though none at all of its poetic 
structure and beauty : 

" Mouth of babes who cannot speak, 

Wing of nestlings who cannot fly, 

Sure guide of babes, 

Shepherd of royal sheep, 

Gather thine own artless children 

To praise in holiness, 

To sing in guilelessness, 

With blameless lips, 

Thee, O Christ ! Guide of children. 
***** 

Lead, O Shepherd 
Of reasoning sheep ! 
Holy .One, lead, 
King of speechless children ! 
The footsteps of Christ 
Are the heavenly way ! 
Ever-flowing word, 
Infinite age, 
Perpetual light, 
Fountain of mercy, 
Worker of virtue, 
Holy sustenance 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 35 

Of those who praise God, Christ Jesus 

The heavenly milk 

Of the sweet breasts 

Of the bride of graces 

Pressed out of thy wisdom ! 

These babes 

With tender lips nourished 

By the dew of the Spirit replenished 

Their artless praises, 

Their true hymns, 

O Christ, our King ! 

Sacred rewards 

Of the doctrine of life, 

We hymn together ; 

We hymn in simplicity, 

The mighty child, 

The chorus of peace, 

The kindred of Christ, 

The race of the temperate ; 

We will praise together the God of peace." n 

The eminent biblical scholar Rev. E. H. 
Plumptre has made an excellent metrical ver- 
sion, which may be helpful in bringing us 
face to face with the original. We transcribe 
two stanzas : 

"Shepherd of sheep, that own 
Their Master on the throne, 
Stir up thy children meek 
With guileless lips to speak, 
In hymn and soul, thy praise. 



36 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

O King of saints, O Lord ! 
Mighty, all-conquering Word ; 
Son of the highest God, 
Wielding his wisdom's rod ; 
Our stay when cares annoy, 
Giver of endless joy ; 
Of all ; our mortal race 
Saviour of boundless grace 

O Jesus, hear! 

* * * * 

Lead us, O Shepherd true ! 
Thy mystic sheep, we sue. 
Lead us, O holy Lord, 
Who from thy sons dost ward, 
With all-prevailing charm, 
Peril and curse and harm ; 
O path where Christ hath trod ; 
O way that leads to God ; 
O word, abiding aye ; 
O endless light on high, 
Mercy's fresh-springing flood, 
Worker of all things good ; 
O glorious life of all 
That on their Master call- 
Christ Jesus, hear." 

But that version of the hymn which is most 
distinctly lyrical in its character, though it de- 
parts very widely from the archaic simplicity 
of the original, is the one commencing 

Shepherd of tender youth. 
It was made by the late H. M. Dexter, D.D., 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 37 

editor of The Congregationalist newspaper, 
published in Boston. This version is now very 
widely used, and is met with in most of the 
leading hymnals both of America and Great 
Britam. It is of special interest and signifi- 
cance that this oldest of our versified hymns is 
so full of Christ, and, at the same time, so clear 
in its recognition of his relation to children. 
May the singing of it by the churches in this 
latter day bring us into more perfect sympathy 
with that Saviour who pronounced upon child- 
hood the benediction which carries in its bo- 
som all blessed possibilities : " Of such is the 
kingdom of God ! " 

But the most conspicuous figure in ancient 
hymnody is that of Ambrose, the famous 
bishop of Milan and pastor of Monica, the 
the mother of Augustine. He was a man of 
unusual breadth and energy of character, and 
it was given him to achieve a remarkable his- 
tory. The son of a prominent civil officer, he 
was himself governor of the province of Milan, 
and as such was present to keep the peace in 
a large popular assembly convened to consider 
the matter of electing a bishop, when, by the 



38 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

voice of a child, he was himself designated for 
the office. After what was doubtless a sincere 
but ineffectual attempt to resist the will 'of the 
people in this regard, he was baptized, dis- 
tributed his property to the poor, and eight 
days after was inducted into the episcopal of- 
fice. He performed the duties of this high 
office with zeal truly apostolic, asserting, as no 
man had ever done before him, the loving in- 
tolerance of Christianity as against heathen 
religions. Over more than one emperor he 
exerted a strong, if not absolutely command- 
ing, influence. Theodosius the Great vener- 
ated him as father, and openly declared that 
he was the only bishop worthy of the title. 
. When, in a fit of passion, this same Theodosius 
inflicted terrible cruelties upon the rebellious 
Thessalonians, Ambrose refused to admit him 
to the altar until he had done public penance. 
A special interest attaches to Ambrose be- 
cause of his connection with the personal his- 
tory of the distinguished Augustine, one of the 
greatest men of his time or of any time. For 
thirteen years had Monica carried on her heart 
the great burden of a wayward son, waiting 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 39 

upon God in faith and prayer, and ministering 
to him with maternal patience and tenderness. 
The stubbornness and rebellion of the young 
man seemed to mock all her hopes, and she 
sought refuge and strength in the sympathy 
of the good Ambrose. With bitter weeping, 
she poured her solicitude and sorrow into his 
ear. "Wait," said the man of God, "wait 
patiently ; the child of these tears cannot per- 
ish." The event justified the prophecy; for 
before Monica's star went down the sun of 
Augustine rose. 

Of all the men of the ancient Church the 
impress of Ambrose upon her hymnody is 
deepest. Though the tradition which connects 
his name with the " Te Deum Laudamus " is 
not to be trusted, yet to him must be accord- 
ed the higher honor of having introduced the 
singing of psalms, and especially antiphonal 
and responsive singing, in the Western Church. 
There are about a dozen hymns extant which 
the Benedictine editors ascribe to Ambrose, 
besides a very considerable number of the 
same general character which are designated 
Ambrosian. They are all remarkable for dig- 



40 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

nity and simplicity, both in style and struct- 
ure, and the permanence of their life and wide 
extent of their influence would seem to indi- 
cate that a\hymn " when unadorned is adorned 
the most." Born in the midst of theologic 
strife, these hymns have served not only as 
instruments of devotion, but as weapons against 
heresy, and for fifteen hundred years have been 
counted among the choice treasures of Chris- 
tian literature. Among the best of these hymns 
of Ambrose, in their most approved English 
translations, are : 

Now doth the sun ascend the sky, 

translated from the Latin original, which Dan- 
iel calls Ambrosian, by the Rev. Edward Cas- 
wall ; this hymn was chanted by the priest- 
hood, in full choir, at the death-bed of William 
the Conqueror in A. D. 1087 ; and 

The morning kindles all the sky, 13 

translated by Mrs. Elizabeth Charles, the author 
of the Schonberg-Cotta Family. Another ver- 
sion, by Rev. Dr. A. R. Thompson, begins : 
The morning purples all the sky. 

A third Ambrosian hymn of importance is, 



HYMNS OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH. 41 

Redeemer of the nations, come. 14 
It is difficult for us fully to appreciate the 
mission and influence of these ancient hymns. 
They served not only as channels of devotion, 
but as witnesses for the truth and as safe- 
guards against error. The testimony which 
Augustine himself gives as to the influence of 
the church music on his heart may well be 
taken as truthfully illustrative of the value of 
this feature of public religious service. " The 
hymns and songs of thy Church moved my soul 
intensely. Thy truth was distilled by them 
into my heart. The flame of piety was kin- 
dled, and my tears flawed for joy." ia This 
practice of singing had been of no long stand- 
ing at Milan. It began about the year when 
Justina persecuted Ambrose (A. D. 386). The 
pious people watched in the church, prepared 
to die with their pastor. Augustine's mother 
sustained an eminent part in watching and 
praying. Then hymns and psalms, after the 
manner of the East, were sung with a view of 
preserving the people from weariness ; and 
thence the custom spread through the Chris- 
tian churches. 16 



42 GOSPEL SINGERS. 



CHAPTER III. 

EARLIER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 

ROM the testimony of Augustine, quoted 
at the close of the preceding chapter, we 
are led to understand that hymns and music 
were all the time coming into greater promi- 
nence in the services of the Church. As was 
therefore to be expected, the number of hymns 
representing the mediaeval period of Christian 
history, which, in round numbers, may be taken 
as extending from the close of the fifth cent- 
ury to the close of the fifteenth (500-1500), is 
many times greater than those representing 
the ancient Church. At the beginning of the 
sixth century it is doubtful if there were in all 
one hundred Christian hymns in addition to 
the Jewish psalms, which were then doubtless 
widely used. When Luther arose it is esti- 
mated that there were at least one thousand. 
As compared with those of the ancient Church 
mediaeval hymns are less extensive but more 
intensive. They comprehend less, but ex- 



EARLIER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 43 

press more, and so are more likely to be used 
with loving interest. As was to be expected, 
the development of church life continually 
tended to more elaborate and impressive cere- 
monial, and hence church music seems to have 
undergone a process of rapid development. 
Hymns began to appear in greater numbers, 
and were appropriated to a greater variety of 
ecclesiastical uses. But they came very wide- 
ly to be regarded as intended mainly for pub- 
lic service, the exclusive property of the church 
and choir. Hence, instead of simple lyrical effu- 
sions, as were many of the Jewish psalms, 
suited to the individual, the family, and child- 
hood, we recognize a tendency to make the 
hymn a stately and formal matter, fitted to 
hold a place in grand and impressive church 
ceremonials. In the earlier part of this me- 
diaeval period we find the hymns clustering 
about the person and offices of Jesus Christ 
and of the Holy Ghost ; but in the latter part 
of this period some of the most famous such, 
for instance, as the " Celestial Country " and 
the " Dies Irae " look forward to the second 
advent and the future life, though others were 



44 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

devoted to the praise of saints and the cele- 
bration of relics. But in all this period, as 
well as in the preceding, the hymns which have 
become universal and permanent are those 
which express, in directest and simplest man- 
ner, the deep aspirations of the devout heart 
for salvation and life through the offices of 
the Saviour and the power of the Holy Ghost. 
Bernard's " O sacred head, now wounded," 
Gregory's "Veni, Creator Spiritus," King 
Robert's " Veni, Sancte Spiritus," and the 
" Veni, Redemptor Gentium " of Ambrose 
are illustrations in point. 

The earliest of these mediaeval hymns which 
have come to a wide celebrity were written by 
Venantius Fortunatus, an Italian gentleman, 
scholar, priest, and finally bishop, who was 
born about A. D. 530, and died A. D. 609. 
As in many other instances, these songs are 
more famous than the singer. Indeed, it is 
not probable that his name would have come 
down to these later Christian centuries had it 
not been made illustrious by his justly cele- 
brated hymns. That hymn of his called from 
its opening words " Vexilla Regis Prodeunt " 



EARLIER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 4$ 

has been pronounced by Dr. John Mason 
Neale " one of the grandest in the treasury of 
the Latin Church." It was composed to cele- 
brate the reception of certain relics by his pa- 
troness and friend Queen Radegund, and 
Gregory, Bishop of Tours, previous to the con- 
secration of the church at Poictiers. It came 
at once to be used as a processional hymn, 
and, from the character of the theme, in those 
services of the Church devoted to the memory 
of our Saviour's passion and death. 17 Several 
English versions of this hymn have been made, 
among the best of which is one by Rev. John 
Chandler: 

The royal banner is unfurled ; 

and one by Dr. John Mason Neale : 
The royal banners forward go. 

Of these the first is best suited for general use 
as a hymn, though the second represents the 
original more faithfully and vividly. 

There is another hymn of Fortunatus 
" Salve Festa Dies " some of the associations 
of which are still more notable. It was the 
most widely used of all the processional hymns 



46 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

during the Middle Ages. It was sung by Je- 
rome of Prague in the midst of his dying ago- 
nies. Cranmer translated it into English, and 
wrote a letter to King Henry VIII. requesting 
its formal authorization for use in the churches, 
together with other similar hymns and lita- 
nies. This translation of Cranmer has been 
lost, but the letter is still preserved among 
the state papers of Great Britain. Several 
English versions of this hymn have been made, 
one of the best of which is that commencing 

Welcome, happy morning ! age to age shall say. 18 

Contemporary with Fortunatus was Gregory 
the Great, born of a noble family in Rome 
about 550, and dying 604 a man equaled 
by no other of his time and by very few of 
any time. A monument of his relation to 
church music is the Gregorian chant, which 
places him not by the side of Ambrose in this 
regard, but clearly above him. This was in- 
tended for the choir and the people to sing 
in unison. It is one of the many interesting 
facts connecting the name of Gregory with 
Great Britain that the first attempt to intro- 



EARLIER MEDIEVAL HYMNS. 47 

duce this chant into the churches resulted in 
a tumult in which many lives were lost. 

Another of the most interesting associations 
of Gregory with English-speaking peoples is 
through the great hymn which is prevailingly 
ascribed to him, "Veni, Creator Spiritus." 
By many this hymn has been attributed to 
Charlemagne, but by most, and with better 
reason, to Gregory. 19 No other hymn has 
had more honorable recognition in the serv- 
ices of both the Catholic and Protestant di- 
visions of the Church. It has been used at the 
coronation of kings, the creation of popes, the 
consecration of bishops, the opening of synods 
and conferences, and the ordination of minis- 
ters. After the Reformation it was one of the 
first hymns translated into both German and 
English, and has doubtless in these versions 
come to its best -and most spiritual uses. 
Bishop Cosin's English version was intro- 
duced into the Book of Common Prayer 
in 1662, and later into the Methodist Disci- 
pline, the ordinal of which was taken sub- 
stantially from the English prayer-book. At 
no point in the services of either the Episcopal 



48 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

or Methodist Church is the effect more impres- 
sive than when, after the solemn hush of si- 
lent prayer, the bishop and clergy take up 
responsively, 

" Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire, 
And lighten, with celestial fire," etc. 

On account of a slight irregularity in the meter 
of the last two lines this version of Bishop 
Cosin is not found in many of the hymn- 
books, though it has very properly been given 
a place in the Methodist Hymnal. Many other 
versions of this hymn into English have been 
made, most of them within the last half cent- 
ury. One of the best is that commencing 

... O come, Creator, Spirit blest ! 

Still another hymn of Gregory, translated by 
Ray Palmer, is found in recent collections : 

O Christ, our King, Creator, Lord ! 

With Gregory's " Veni, Creator Spiritus " 
should be associated one of somewhat later 
date, but almost equally notable in character 
and history ; namely, the " Veni, Sancte Spir- 
itus," which has been pronounced by an emi-. 



EARLIER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 49 

nent authority " the loveliest of all the hymns 
in the whole circle of Latin poetry.-' Its au- 
thor was Robert II., King of France, who was 
born 972, came to the throne 997, and died in 
1031. We know little of his life; but it has 
been well said that if we knew nothing the 
hymn itself gives evidence of having been 
composed by one " acquainted with many sor- 
rows and also with many consolations." Of 
the former, the history of the troublous times 
in which the king lived is sufficient proof; of 
the latter, the hymn is sweetly expressive. 
The king was a great lover of music, and used 
sometimes to go to the church of St. Denis 
and take direction of the choir at matins and 
vespers, and sing with the monks. It is said 
by Dean Trench that some of his musical as 
well as hymnic compositions still hold their 
place in the services of the Catholic Church. 
The extraordinary perfection of the hymn 
" Veni, Sancte Spiritus " has made it exceed- 
ingly difficult to produce a satisfactory ver- 
sion. 

Of the many excellent versions of this pre- 
cious hymn, that of Ray Palmer is one of the 



50 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

best and most musical, though it departs from 
the very simple measure of the original : 

Come, Holy Ghost, in love. 20 

Two hymnists of lesser note stand about 
midway between Gregory the Great and King 
Robert ; namely, Andrew of Crete, who* was 
born about 660 and died in 732, and John of 
Damascus, who died about a half century 
later. Both were born in that oldest of cities, 
Damascus, which, from the time of Abraham, 
has stood forth, always with distinctness and 
sometimes with commanding influence, in the 
history of the world. The former, in his later 
years, was Archbishop of Crete. He partici- 
pated in the monothelite controversy, which 
even then agitated the Church in some locali- 
ties, at first giving his influence in favor of 
this heresy, but afterward strongly against it. 
One of the best known of the hymns from his 
pen which are still retained by the Churches 
is that commencing 

Christian, dost thou see them ? 2l 

The original was written for use in the second 
week of the great fast of Lent, and this fact is 



EARLIER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 5 1 

very clearly reflected in the hymn itself. The 
translation is by Dr. Neale. One other hymn 
of similar character, from this same author, 
has found a place in some modern hymn- 
books : 

O the mystery passing wonder. 

More interest attaches to the personal his- 
tory of John of Damascus, as he is also more 
eminent as a hymn-writer. Born at Damascus, 
he was for some years a priest in Jerusalem, 
where he also held, an important civil office 
under the caliph. He was an accomplished 
scholar, and entered into the theological con- 
troversies of his time with great zeal and elo- 
quence. But as many another has done, he 
held " the unsheathed sword of controversy 
until its glittering point drew down the light- 
ning." He retired from the lists, and spent 
the last years of his life in literary and relig- 
ious exercises in a convent between Jerusalem 
and the Dead Sea. He has been called the 
greatest poet among the Greek fathers, as he 
is also the last. His best known hymn, 

The day of resurrection, 89 



$2 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

was written as a hymn of victory, and was 
" sung at the first hour of Easter morning, 
when, amid general exultation, the people 
were shouting, ' Christ is risen.' " Its intrinsic 
excellence is only equaled by its appropriate- 
ness to the soul-stirring occasion. " Of the 
many hymns of the Church which celebrate 
the resurrection, perhaps no other one in com- 
mon use was written so near the very spot 
where this crowning miracle of our holy relig- 
ion actually occurred." 

St. Joseph of the Studium, born in the isl- 
and of Sicily 808, and dying 883, is repre- 
sented in our modern collections by several 
hymns. 

The most popular of his hymns is the one 
commencing 

O happy band of pilgrims. 

The version is by Dr. Neale, and is a general 
favorite a bright and joyous Christian hymn. 
Joseph was early driven from his native island 
to Thessalonica, where he was first a monk and 
ultimately an archbishop ; but in consequence 
of the fierce iconoclastic persecution, was 



EARLIER MEDIEVAL HYMNS. 53 

obliged to betake himself to the covert of the 
Western Church. Later he was taken by pi- 
rates, and enslaved in the island of Crete ; but 
it is said of him that he *' made use of his cap- 
tivity to bring his captors in subjection to the 
faith." Afterward he betook himself to Rome, 
from which place he went into exile with his 
friend Photius. Recalled from this, he devoted 
himself to literary pursuits, and wrote many 
hymns, most of which, however, being in praise 
of saints, are little known. 

In this general period of Christian history 
lived that man who may rightly be designated 
the illustrious leader of the most of hymn- 
writers in our own language the Venerable 
Bede. Few men of this period stand so fully 
commended to our attention and our admira- 
tion. Noble in character, profound in scholar- 

> 

ship, unwearied in labors, wise and zealous in 
his devotion to the Church, he was a man to be 
both revered and loved. It is said of him that 
he took great delight in the singing of hymns, 
and in his last sickness, when his asthma pre- 
vented his sleeping, he was wont to solace 
himself in this way. Among the hymns for 



54 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

which the modern Church is indebted to Bede 
are: 

The great forerunner of the morn. 
A hymn of glory let us sing. 

A hymn for martyrs sweetly sing. 

This last is perhaps the best known. It was 
inserted in the earlier editions of the Hymns 
Ancient and Modern, the version being changed 
from that of Dr. Neale. The original has stan- 
zas of eight lines, each of which begins and 
ends with the same line. To illustrate, we 
transcribe two stanzas : 

" Fear not, O little flock and blest, 
The lion that your life oppressed ; 
To heavenly pastures ever new 
The heavenly Shepherd leadeth you ; 
Who, dwelling now on Zion's hill, 
The Lamb's dear footsteps follow still ; 
By tyrant there no more distressed, 
Fear not, O little flock and blest. 



And every tear is wiped away 
By your dear Father's hand for aye ; 
Death hath no power to hurt you more 
Whose own is life's eternal shore. 



EARLIER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 55 

Who sow their seed, and sowing 1 weep, 
In everlasting joy shall reap, 
What time they shine in heavenly day, 
And every tear is wiped away." 

Another of these hymns shows still more 
power of lyrical expression, and is not unsuited 
for use in the congregations : 

" A hymn of glory let us sing ; 
New hymns throughout the world shall ring ; 
By a new way none ever trod 
Christ mounted to the throne of God. 

" The apostles on the mountain stand, 
The mystic mount in holy land ; 
They, with the virgin mother, see 
Jesus ascend in majesty. 

" The angels say to the eleven, 
Why stand ye gazing into heaven ? 
This is the Saviour, this is he ; 
Jesus hath triumphed gloriously. 

" They said the Lord should come again, 
As these beheld him rising then, 
Calm, soaring through the radiant sky, 
Mounting its dazzling summits high. 

" May our affections thither tend, 
And thither constantly ascend, 
Where, seated on the Father's throne, 
Thee, reigning in the heavens, we own ! " 



56 GOSPEL SINGERS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

LATER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 

JN a desolate region near the river Seine, in 
the north-easterly part of France, is a wild 
valley inclosed by mountains, which in the 
eleventh century was a nest of robbers, and for 
that reason was called " The Valley of Worm- 
wood ; " but after the banditti were driven out 
it was called Clairvaux " Clear Valley." 
Here, in 1115, was established a monastery of 
the Cistercian Order, with a young man of 
twenty-four as abbot, famous in history as 
Bernard of Clairvaux. So magical was his in- 
fluence that speedily this sterile valley became 
one of the great centers of power for all Eu- 
rope, rivaling even Rome itself. From it were 
sent out missionaries to all parts of France, 
Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, England, 
Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden for the estab- 
lishment of new monasteries, or the reforma- 
tion of old ones ; so that at the time of Ber- 
nard's death, thirty-seven years later, there 



LATER MEDIEVAL -HYMNS. - 57 

were no less than one hundred and sixty mon- 
asteries which had been formed under his 
influence. 

Bernard was .born in a small town in Bur- 
gundy in the year 1091, and was educated at 
the University of Paris. His father was a 
knight, his mother .a saint. To this superior 
woman, as to the mothers of Augustine and 
the Wesleys, must be attributed much of the 
strength of character exhibited by her remark- 
able son.. She brought all her children 
seven sons and a daughter as soon as -they 
saw the light, to the altar, that she might sol- 
emnly consecrate them to God ; which conse- 
cration she followed up by wise, tender, patient, 
and loving instruction. As a result, strong re- 
ligious impressions were early made upon the 
mind of Bernard, who was the third of her 
sons, and after his mother's death they ma- 
tured into his taking the vows of monastic 
devotion. 

Bernard was altogether the grandest man of 
this dark time. Luther calls him " the best 
monk that ever lived." In. his personal influ- 
ence he was mightier than kings or popes, and 



$8 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

was often the chosen and trusted counselor of 
both. He was repeatedly sought as bishop for 
influential centers in the Church, but steadily 
refused all ecclesiastical preferment. 

What distinguished Bernard above all other 
men of his time, and most men of all time, 
was the union in his character of a piety singu- 
larly ardent and spiritual with transcendent 
administrative ability. Almost the only man 
fully worthy to be compared with him in this 
regard is John Wesley. He was both contem- 
plative and practical. He felt the full power 
of the forces of the invisible world, and under 
their pressure he brought to bear upon 
the outward world a many-sided activity. He 
felt himself to be in the world on God's errand. 
"I must," he says, "whether willing or un- 
willing, live for him who has acquired a prop- 
erty in my life by giving up his own for me." 
" To whom am I more bound to live than to 
him whose death is the cause of my living ? 
To whom can I devote my life with greater 
advantage than to him who promises me the 
life eternal ? To whom with greater necessity 
than to him who threatens the everlasting fire ? 



LATER MEDLEY AL HYMNS. 59 

But I serve him with freedom, since love brings 
freedom. To this, dear brethren, I invite you. 
Serve in that love which casteth out fear, feels 
no toils, thinks of no merit, asks no reward, 
and yet carries with it a mightier constraint 
than all things else." In such words as these 
do we see the secret of his wonderful and sub- 
lime life. 

Seven poems from the pen of Bernard have 
been preserved ; but most of his hymns which 
are in use are from one of these different ver- 
sions of different parts. The best known of 
these hymns are : 

O sacred head now wounded. 
Of Him who did salvation bring. 
We sinners, Lord, with earnest heart. 
Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts. 
Jesus, the very thought of thee. 
O Jesus, King most wonderful. 
O Jesus, thou the beauty art. 83 

The first of these is the most famous, and 
indeed one of the most distinguished of all 
mediaeval hymns. In its present form it is a 



60 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

translation of a translation, and hence is, in a 
special sense, a monument of the unity of the 
Christian Church. Its first translator into 
German, and in some sense co-author, was 
that prince of German hymnists, Paul Ger- 
hardt; while the translator into English w'as 
the distinguished American Presbyterian, Dr. 
James W. Alexander. In this version the 
hymn is adopted in most English hymnals of 
recent date ; the only ones showing any dis- 
position to pass it by being those of the so- 
called liberalistic faith, it being unacceptable 
in them because of the prominence it gives to 
the death of Christ. Dr. Philip Schaff says: 
" This classical hymn has shown an imperish- 
able vitality in passing from the Latin into the 
German and from the German into the En- 
lish, and proclaiming in three tongues, and in 
the name of three confessions the Catholic, 
the Lutheran, and the Reformed with equal 
effect, the dying love of our Saviour and our 
boundless indebtedness to him." It was this 
hymn which the missionary Schwartz sang, 
literally with his dying breath. Indeed he was 
thought to be already dead, and his friend and 



LATER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 6l 

fellow-laborer, Gericke, with several of the 
native Tamil converts, began to chant over his 
lifeless remains this hymn of Bernard, which 
had been translated in Tamil, and was a spe- 
cial favorite with Schwartz. The first verse was 
finished without any sign of recognition, or 
even of life, from the still form before them ; but 
when the last clause was over, the voice which 
was supposed to be hushed in death took up 
the second stanza of the hymn, completed it 
with distinct and articulate utterance, and then 
was heard no more. His spirit had risen on 
this hymn into the society of angels and the 
presence of God. 

By an eminent authority Adam of St. Vic- 
tor is pronounced " the greatest of the Latin 
hymnologists of the Middle Ages." So little 
is known of his personal history that it is still 
a matter of uncertainty whether he was born 
in the island of Great Britain or in Brittany in 
France, though probably the latter. He pur- 
sued his studies at Paris, and his works show 
him to have been a man of thorough literary and 
theological culture. He was contemporary 
with Bernard of Clairvaux, but seems to have 



62 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

outlived him by at least a quarter of a century. 
He was the most prolific as well as elegant 
hymn-writer of the mediaeval period, leaving be- 
hind him about one hundred hymns, of which 
at least one half are of acknowledged excellence. 
As often happens, however, his hymns have a 
special charm and subtlety which seem almost 
indissolubly connected with the language in 
which they were written, and so have baffled the 
translators. Very few of them have come into 
our own language in a form which either does 
justice to the original, or is well suited for use 
in public worship. Miller, in his Singers and 
Songs of the Church^ quotes two from the 
People s Hymnal: 

The Church on earth with answering love. 
The praises that the blessed know. 

The famous hymns of this period are " The 
Celestial Country," the " Stabat Mater," and 
the " Dies Iras ; " which have been pronounced, 
and in the order given, the most beautiful, 
the most pathetic, and the most sublime of 
mediaeval poems. 

The author of the first was Bernard of 



LATER MEDIEVAL HYMNS. 63 

Cluny, of whom we know almost nothing save 
the name, and that he lived in the first half of 
the twelfth century. Even the place of his 
birth is a matter of uncertainty, most author- 
ities placing it in Morlaix, in Bretagne ; others 
in Morlas, in .the Pyrenees Mountains, while 
one author gives his birthplace to England, 
and classes him with her illustrious writers. 

Bernard's great poem " De Contemptu 
Mundi " contains three thousand lines, writ- 
ten in a meter so difficult as to give color to 
the claim of the author that he could never 
have written without the special help and 
inspiration of God. Each line in the orig- 
inal consists of three parts, the first two of 
which rhyme with each other, while the lines 
themselves are in couplets of double rhyme. 
The music of the original is easily recognized, 
even by those who are not familiar with the 
Latin tongue : 

" Hora novissima, tempora pessima, sunt vigilemus 
Ecce minaciter, imminet arbiter, ille supremus, 
Imminet, imminet, et mala terminet asqua coronet 
Recta reniuneret, anxia liberet, aethera donet." 24 

A portion of this poem was translated a few 



64 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

years since by Dr. Neale, and given to the 
public under this title " The Rhythm of Ber- 
nard de Morlaix, Monk of Cluny, on the Ce- 
lestial Country " from which version have 
been taken the hymns in common use from 
Bernard. These are : 

The world is very evil. 

Brief life is here our portion. 
For thee, O dear, dear country. 
Jerusalem, the golden. 

The editor of The Seven Great Hymns of the 
Mediczval Church calls this last poem " a descrip- 
tion of the -celestial land, more beautiful than 
ever before was wrought out in verse." " The 
hymn of this heavenly monk," says Christo- 
phers, " has found its way into the hearts of 
all Christians, and into the choirs and public 
services of all Christian churches." Perhaps 
no other hymns on heaven -are more widely 
used, or more strictly ecumenical, than those 
which have been made from this poem. It 
may not be without interest to read the testi- 
mony of the author of the version as to the 
music to which these words should be sung: 



LATER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. 65 

" I have been so often asked to what tune the 
words of Bernard should be sung that I may 
here mention that of Mr. Ewing, the earliest 
written, the best known, and, with children, 
the most popular ; that of my friend, the Rev. 
H. L. Jenner, perhaps the most ecclesiastical ; 
and that of another friend, Mr. Edmund Sed- 
ding, which, to my mind, best expresses the 
meaning of the words." Of these the tune 
Ewing is in common use in the American 
churches, and is certainly fully deserving of 
the honor of being permanently associated 
with " Jerusalem, the golden." 

The " Stabat Mater " was written a hundred 
years later by Jacobus de Benedictus, a man of 
a noble Italian family, and a jurist of eminent 
distinction. Broken-hearted at the death of 
his wife who lost her life by an accident at a 
theater he renounced the world to join the 
order of St. Francis, seeking by self-inflicted 
physical tortures to chastise -his soul into sub- 
mission and peace. It is also related, though 
this has been questioned, that his sorrows drove 
him to insanity and death. 

The hymn is characterized in a pre-eminent 
5 



66 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

degree by tenderness and pathos ; in these re- 
gards surpassing all other hymns of the Latin 
Church. One of the best translations of it is 
that made by our own distinguished scholar 
and statesman, the late General John A. Dix, 
ex-Governor of the State of New York. 

We quote a few lines of this version, which 
is faithful and felicitous in diction and 



measure : 25 



" Near the cross the Saviour bearing 
Stood the mother lone, despairing, 

Bitter tears down-falling fast ; 
Wearied was her heart with grieving, 
Worn her breast with sorrow heaving, 

Through her soul the sword had passed. 

" Ah ! how sad and broken-hearted 
Was that blessed mother, parted 

From the God-begotten One ; 
How her loving heart did languish, 
When she saw the mortal anguish 

Which o'erwhelmed her peerless Son ! 

" Who could witness, without weeping, 
Such a flood of sorrow sweeping 

O'er the stricken mother's breast ? 
Who contemplate, without being 
Moved to kindred grief by seeing, 

Son and mother thus oppressed ? 



LATER MEDIEVAL HYMNS. 6/ 

" For our sins she saw him bending, 
And the cruel lash descending 

On his body stripped and bare ; 
Saw her own dear Jesus dying, 
Heard his spirit's last outcrying, 

Sharp with anguish and despair. 

" Gentle mother, love's pure fuuntain ! 
Cast, O cast on me the mountain 

Of thy grief, that I may weep ; 
Let my heart, with ardor burning, 
Christ's unbounded love returning, 

His rich favor win and keep." 



There is a companion hymn to this, written 
by the same author, which has but recently 
been brought to the attention of the Christian 
public." It is called the " Mater Speciosa," 
as might the other be called the " Mater Do- 
lorosa." From the oblivion of centuries it has 
been rescued by editors and translators of the 
present generation, Dr. Neale having given his 
English version of this hymn to the public in 
1866. As the "Stabat Mater" represents 
Mary standing at the cross, the " Mater Spe- 
ciosa " represents her by the manger. As, 
therefore, the first is a hymn for Good Friday, 
the latter is a Christmas hymn of singular del- 



68 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

icacy, beauty, and warmth of feeling. We - 
quote a part of Dr. Neale's version : 

" Full of beauty stood the mother 
By the manger, blest o'er other, 

Where her little one she lays-; 
For her inmost soul's elation, 
In its fervid jubilation, 

Thrills with ecstasy of praise. 

"O ! what glad, what rapturous feeling 
Filled that blessed mother, kneeling 

By the sole-begotten One ! 
How, her heart with laughter bounding, 
She beheld the work astounding, 

Saw his birth the glorious Son ! 



"Jesus lying in the manger, 
Heavenly armies sang the stranger, 

In the great joy-bearing part ; 
Stood the old man. with the maiden, 
No words speaking, only laden 

With this wonder in their heart. 

" Mother, fount of love still flowing, 
Let me, with thy rapture glowing, 

Learn to sympathize with thee ; 
Let me raise my heart's devotion 
Up to Christ with pure emotion, 

That accepted I may be " 

But the great hymn of this period, and of all 



LATER MEDLEVAL HYMNS. 69 

periods, is the " Dies Irae." It is commonly 
attributed to a Franciscan monk of the 
thirteenth century- Thomas of . Celano-^-but 
the evidence as to the identity of the author is 
by no means conclusive. Thomas was a per- 
sonal friend as well as pupil of St. Francis, 
and was selected by Pope Gregory to write 
his life. His native home was in a small town 
in the kingdom ,of Naples; but so little is 
known of him that not even the dates of his 
birth and death can be accurately given. In 
truth, then, this great hymn may be fitly char- 
acterized as " a solemn strain, sung by an in- 
visible singer." " There is a hush in the great 
ch6ral service of the universal Church, when 
suddenly, we scarcely know whence, a single 
voice, low and trembling, breaks the silence ; 
so low and grave that it seems to deepen the 
stillness, yet so clear and deep that its softest 
tones are heard throughout Christendom and 
vibrate through every heart grand and echo- 
ing as an organ, yet homely and human, as if 
the words were spoken rather than sung. And 
through the listening multitudes solemnly 
that melody flows on, sung not to the multi- 



7O GOSPEL SINGERS. 

tudes, but ' to the Lord/' and therefore carry- 
ing with it the hearts of men, till the singer is 
no more solitary ; but the self-same, tearful, 
solemn strain pours from the lips of the whole 
Church as if from one voice, and yet each one 
sings as if alone to God." 

The hymn has been a force in the world of 
letters as well as that of religious thought and 
experience. It has passed into upward of two 
hundred translations, and has called forth the 
admiration of the most eminent scholars. The 
sturdy Dr. Johnson confessed, with Sir Walter 
Scott, that he could not recite it without tears. 
Mozart made it the basis of his celebrated 
requiem, and became so intensely excited by 
the theme as to hasten his own death. With 
what power do those few stanzas burst upon us 
in Scott's " Lay of the Last Minstrel ! " 

" Then mass was sung, and prayers were said, 

And solemn requiem for the dead, 

And bells tolled out their mighty peal, 

For the departed spirit's weal ; 

And ever in the office close 

The hymn of intercession rose ; 

And far the echoing aisles prolong 

The awful burden of the song 



LATER MEDIAEVAL HYMNS. Jl 

' Dies irae, dies ilia, 
Solvet saeclum in favilla ; ' 

While the pealing organ rung ; 
Were it meet with sacred strain 
To close my lay, so light and vain, 
- Thus the holy fathers sung: 

" That day of wrath, that dreadful day, 
When heaven and earth shall pass away, 
What power shall be the sinner's stay? 
How shall he meet that dreadful day ? 

" When, shriveling like a parched scroll, 
The flaming heavens together roll ; 
When louder yet, and yet more dread, 
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead ! ' 

" O ! on that day, that wrathful day, 
-When man to judgment wakes from clay, 
Be thou the trembling sinner's stay, 
Though heaven and earth shall pass away ! " 

This version by Sir Walter Scott is not 
strictly a translation, nor yet an imitation, but 
rather one of the many echoes which the " Dies 
Irae " has awakened in the literature of the 
world. It is, however, faithful to the spirit of 
the original, and of remarkable power. The 
hold which it had on the mind of its eminent 
author was shown by his frequent repetition of 
it in the delirium of his final illness. 



72 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

As already stated, the versions of this hymn 
may be counted by the hundred. A single 
author collected about eighty versions into the 
German language alone. A large number of 
excellent versions have been made into our 
own language by Irons, Coles, Earl Roscom- 
mon, Crashaw, Stanley, General Dix, and 
others. Several of these are of marked excel- 
lence ; but that of Dean Stanley has pome ad- 
vantages for being set to music, white it is at 
the same time very faithful as a translation. 
The opening line of this version is : 

Day of wrath ! O dreadful day ! 

The version of Dr. Irons will, howe~r, be 
thought by many to represent more vividly 
the spirit of the original, though the meter is 
such as to make it very difficult to find irvusic 
for it adapted to the ordinary use of a congre- 
gation. From this version we transcribe : 

" Day of wrath ! O day of mourning ! 
See ! once more the cross returning, 
Heaven and earth in ashes burning ! 

" O what fear man's bosom rendeth, 
When from heaven the Judge descendeth, 
On whose sentence all dependeth ! 



LATER MEDLEVAL HYMNS. 73 

" Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth, 
Through earth's sepulchers it ringeth, 
All before the throne it bringeth ! 

" Death is struck, and nature quaking, 

All creation is awaking, 

To its Judge an answer making ! 

" Lo ! the book, exactly worded, 
Wherein all hath been recorded ; 
.Thence shall judgment be awarded ! 

" What shall I, frail man, be pleading ? 
Who for me be interceding, 
When the just are mercy needing ? 

" Righteous Judge of retribution, 

Grant thy gift of absolution 

Ere that reckoning day's conclusion ! " 

About a century earlier dates the more joy- 
ous but less famous counterpart of the " Dies 
Irae," known as the " Dies Ilia." Its author 
is unknown. It is well represented in the ex- 
cellent version of Mrs. Charles : 

Lo ! the day, the day of life ! 



74 GOSPEL SINGERS. 



CHAPTER V. 

HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 

^ "P HE hymns of Germany have been her true 
national liturgy. In England the worship 
of the Reformed Church was linked to that of 
past ages by the Prayer-book ; in Germany by 
the hymn-book." We can mark some connec- 
tions between the hymns and music of the 
Middle Ages and the psalmody of the German 
Church, showing the steps by which the one 
passed over into the other. 

The humble beginnings of German hymnol- 
ogy, which have come to a development so mar- 
velously rich, were made in the ninth century. 
In the time of Charlemagne the only part 
which the people were allowed to take in the 
services of the church was to chant the " Kyrie 
Eleison " in the litany, and that only on ex- 
traordinary occasions, such as the great feasts, 
processions, and the consecration of churches. 
But in Germany during the following century 
short verses in the vernacular were introduced 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 75 

at such times, of which the refrain was " Kyrie 
Eleison," and this was the beginning of hym- 
nody in the German language. The oldest 
German Easter hymn dates from the twelfth 
century. The Latin hymn, " In the midst of 
life," one sentence of which stands in the En- 
glish Prayer-book in the order for the burial 
of the dead, and is said actually to have been 
taken by Robert Hall as a text for the prepa- 
ration of a sermon, under the impression that 
it was a sentence of holy Scripture, was writ- 
ten by Notker, a learned Benedictine, near the 
beginning of the tenth century. It was sug- 
gested to him as he was watching some work- 
men who were building the bridge of Martins- 
burg at the peril of their lives. The hymn at- 
tained to a wonderful celebrity, and was even 
used as a battle-song, until finally its use in 
this way was forbidden on account of its being 
supposed to exercise a magical influence. It 
was early translated into German, and this 
version formed a part of the service for the 
burial of the dead as early as the thirteenth 
century. 

The Flagellant fanaticism exerted an impor- 



?6 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

tant influence in fostering and establishing the 
practice of singing hymns in the vernacular of 
the people. Processions of these pious pil- 
grims would go through the towns and cities 
singing hymns and chants which found ready 
access to the hearts of the people, and became 
a very influential factor in this extraordinary 
movement. The great Hussite movement, 
which stirred the Church more profoundly and 
interested some of the most cultured and spir- 
itual men of the fifteenth century, gave new 
impetus and dignity to this tendency, so that 
really useful popular hymns were originated. 
In 1 504 a considerable volume of hymns, which 
had been in use among the " Bohemian Breth- 
ren," was published by Lucas, one of their 
bishops. In the fifteenth century German 
hymns came to be used in special services and 
solemnities of the Church, and, in some cases, 
even at the principal service and at mass. 
Mixed hymns, half Latin and half German, 
also contributed their influence to breaking 
down the barrier between the learned clergy 
and the common people, and also between the 
Church and the home. Translations and adap- 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 77 

tations of the old Latin hymns now begin to 
appear. In this later mediaeval period, too, we 
mark for the first time a type of hymn which 
has too often since then re-appeared, and some- 
times in forms peculiarly shocking and profane. 
Secular and love songs were, by slight changes, 
appropriated to religious uses, carrying the 
original melody with them into the service of 
religion. 

But it was reserved for the Church of the 
Reformation to show the true office of the 
hymn and to illustrate its character. As the 
warmth of spring releases the streams from 
their icy fetters, and calls back again their rip- 
pling melodies, so did the light and warmth 
of the Reformation era bring back into the 
homes and hearts of the people their long-lost 
music. This is illustrated in the sudden and 
extraordinary multiplication of hymns, and the 
great variety of uses to which they were ap- 
propriated. When Luther arose there were 
not, so far as can now be told, more than one 
thousand hymns in the entire Church ; now 
there are more than one hundred thousand. 
Then the hymn wa^s something grand, formal, 



78 ' GOSPEL SINGERS. 

artistic, suited for liturgical use, the peculiar and 
exclusive property of the priest, the choir, and 
the temple ; now the Church is beginning to 
learn that the whole universe is set to music ; 
that the echoes of the " morning stars " are 
always resounding in our air ; that wherever 
there is a worshiper there may be, and ought 
to be, a hymn. As the earliest Christian hymn 
whose author can be identified is suited es-- 
pecially to childhood and the life of the home ; 
as the " Magnificat " and the " Nunc Dimit- 
tis " were primarily private and personal rather 
than public and liturgical ; as the psalms of 
the Jews touch upon all conditions of their life, 
many of them seeming to be for the household 
or the individual rather than the great assem- 
bly, so again hymns became the liturgy of the 
people, and the words of joyous, holy song 
shook the world. 

Martin Luther was so passionately fond of 
music that it used -to be said of him that his 
soul could find its fullest expression only 
through his flute amid tears. "Music, "said 
he, " is one of the most beautiful and noble 
gifts of God. It is the best solace to a man in 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 79 

sorrow ; it quiets, quickens, and refreshes the 
heart. I give music the next place and the 
highest honor after theology." A similar tes- 
timony he bears also to poetry, confessing that 
he has been " more influenced and delighted 
by poetry than by the most eloquent oration 
of Cicero or Demosthenes." His enemies 
said of him that he did more harm by his 
hymns than by his sermons; and Coleridge 
says "he did as much for the Reformation by 
his hymns as by his translation of the Bible." 
Thirty-seven of Luther's hymns have been 
preserved, some of them being versions of the 
Hebrew psalms, others versions of the old 
Latin hymns, while still others are original 
both as to form and subject-matter. The 
earliest of these is believed to be that one the 
English version of which commences, 

Flung to the heedless winds, 27 

which was called forth by the martyrdom of 
two young Christian monks, who were burnt 
alive at Brussels. Interpreted by such an 
event, it is a sublime and characteristic testi- 
mony to the same faith which is so resplen- 
dent in Luther's entire history. But his great 



80 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

hymn, and perhaps, taken all in all, his most 
characteristic production, is that commencing 
" Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott " "A strong 
tower is our God." Rough and rugged, full 
of strength, but with little beauty, it is emi- 
nently worthy of him whose very words were 
half battles. It was composed at the time 
when the evangelical princes delivered their 
protest at the second Diet of Spires, in 1529, 
from which event the name " Protestant " had 
its origin. The hymn at once became one of 
the watchwords of the Reformation, as it has 
since come to be regarded the national hymn 
of Germany. After Luther's death, one day 
Melanchthon was at Weimar, with his banished 
friends Jonas and Creuziger, and heard a little 
girl singing this hymn in the street. " Sing 
on, my little maid," said he ; " you little know 
what famous people you comfort." 

One of the very best of the many English 
versions of this hymn is that by Rev. Dr. 
Hedge, commencing 

A mighty fortress is our God. 38 

Even more characteristic is Carlyle's version : 
A safe stronghold our God is still. 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 8 1 

This hymn has had a notable history. As its 
origin was coincident with the Protestant 
name, so it has ever been regarded as one of 
the great representative hymns of the Protest- 
ant Church. It was sung by that noble Chris- 
tian hero Gustavus Adolphus on the morning 
of the day on which he sealed his fidelity to 
God with his blood. 

The hymn of Gustavus Adolphus 89 is, in 
many regards, more perfect and better suited 
for ordinary use than that of Luther. It seems 
to have come from the royal author whose 
name it bears, but in what precise form can- 
not now be determined. It has, however, 
been conjectured that thVsubstance of it, and 
perhaps much of the language, was written by 
Gustavus, and that, his chaplain, Fabricius, 
threw it into its perfect metrical form ; but it 
cannot now be determined whether the origi- 
nal was in Swedish or German, though, as 
representing the king himself, the former would 
seem to have special interest. There are few 
better hymns of Christian trust and courage 
than this. A community in our own land, on 
that terrible Monday when we learned of the 



82 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

disastrous defeat at Bull Run, found in this 
old battle-hymn words adapted to the trying 
emergency : 

" Fear not, O little flock, the foe 
Who madly seeks your overthrow ; 

Dread not his rage and power ; 
What though your courage sometimes faints? 
This seeming triumph o'er God's saints 

Lasts but a little hour." 

The Hussite movement was represented in 
the fifteenth century by the " Bohemian 
Brethren," and among these Christians, even 
before Luther arose, a very considerable psalm- 
ody was developed. This was one important 
source of the hymnody of the Lutherans. 
Both in doctrine and life the Church of the 
Reformation was not a little indebted to such 
" reformers before the Reformation " as Huss 
and Jerome. 

Rev. Michael Weisse (died 1540), a German 
minister in Bohemia, translated many of the 
Bohemian hymns and added some of his own. 
The first line of the hymn by which he is rep- 
resented in many modern collections is, 
Christ the Lord is risen again. 

Rev. Bartholomew Ringwaldt was born at 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 83 

Frankfort-on-the-Oder in 1530, spent his life 
as a Luth'eran pastor at Langfeld, in Prussia, 
and died in 1598. Many of his hymns were 
born of the sufferings which he and his people 
endured from " famine, pestilence, fire, and 
floods." The hymn 

Great God, what do I see and hear ? 

was suggested by that greatest of hymns the 
" Dies Irae." It has marked power, though it 
must be confessed that the meter of the En- 
glish version is not well suited to the dignity 
and solemnity of the theme. 

Contemporary with Ringwaldt was the 
Rev. Martin Boehme (Behemb) (1537-1621), 
author of the very beautiful and comprehensive 
hymn which Miss Winkworth has translated, 
" Lord Jesus Christ, my life, my light." 

Rev. George Weiszel (1590-1635), the author 
of the hymn translated by Miss Winkworth, 
"Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates," was 
born at Donnau, in Prussia, and spent the last 
year of his life as pastor at Konigsberg. The 
hymn above mentioned exhibits rare felicity 
in lyric expression, and we are well prepared 
to believe that his influence may be traced in 



84 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

the more numerous hymns of his junior con- 
temporary in Konigsberg, Professor Simon 
Bach (died 1658), who composed one hundred 
and fifty hymns and religious poems. 

What Luther was among the singers of the 
Reformation era such was Paul Gerhardt (1606- 
1670) in the period of the Thirty Years' War. 
Indeed, as a writer of hymns he decidedly out- 
ranks his great master and leader. Luther is 
represented in the world of song by thirty- 
seven hymns. But very few of these are now 
used, especially outside of Germany. Ger- 
hardt is represented by one hundred and 
twenty-three hymns, some of which are among 
the most spiritual and most ecumenical of 
modern hymns. Some of the choicest hymns 
of John Wesley are translated from this older 
master, who, in a higher sense than Wesley, 
" learned by suffering what he taught in song." 
Among the hymns in common use are: 

O sacred head now wounded. 
Extended on a cursed tree. 
Here I can firmly rest. 
Jesus, thy boundless love to me. 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 85 

Commit thou all thy griefs. 
Give to the winds thy fears. 

Gerhardt has been called " the prince of 
German hymn-writers." His hymns have pen- 
etrated all ranks of society, and into the com- 
pany of all classes of worshipers, and are emi- 
nently songs of the heart. The mother of the 
eminent German poet Schiller taught them 
to her child, and some of them continued to 
be favorites with him during his life. Doubt- 
less these hymns must be recognized as one 
factor, and it may be a very important factor, 
in the education of him who has "been pro- 
nounced, next to Goethe, the greatest poet of 
Germany. 

The excellent hymn-version of the Creed, 

We all believe in one true God, 

one of the most perfect compositions of the 
kind ever written, and specially suited for use 
on sacramental occasions and fellowship and 
covenant meetings, was written by Rev. To- 
biah Clausnitzer (1619-1684). He was edu- 
cated at Leipsic, was sometime chaplain of 
the Swedish forces during the " Thirty Years' 



86 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

War," and was finally settled as pastor in the 
Palatinate. 

Few hymn-writers of the eighteenth cent- 
ury stand so eminent as scholar, preacher, 
and poet as Johann Andreas Rothe (1688 
1758). For many years he was intimately as- 
sociated with the famous Count Zinzendorf, 
and pastor at the scarcely less celebrated 
Herrnhut. He wrote a learned work on the 
Hebrew Bible. To his power as a preacher 
Count Zinzendorf bears most emphatic testi- 
mony : " The talents of Luther, Spener, 
Francke, and Schwedler were united in him." 
Some of the count's hymns were dedicated 
to him, and he dedicated to the count his own 
best-known hymn 

Now I have found the ground wherein. 
This hymn is specially dear to Methodists, not 
only because of its superior merit, but also 
because of the wealth of associations which 
cluster about it. It represents the Moravians, 
who, under God, were instrumental in bring- 
ing the Wesleys into spiritual life and liberty. 
It was translated by John Wesley, whose best 
work in hymnology consisted in bringing the 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 87 

precious spiritual hymns of the Germans into 
the English language, thus making them ac- 
cessible to the multitudes of which he be- 
came the spiritual leader. Almost the last 
words of Mr. Fletcher, of Madeley, were two 
lines from the second verse of this hymn : 

" While Jesu's blood, through earth and skies, 
Mercy free, boundless mercy- cries." 

Few hymns in any language are so full of 
devout and tender expression as those of Ben- 
jamin Schmolke (1672-1737). His father was 
a clergyman. Benevolent friends assisted him 
to enter upon his studies in the University of 
Leipsic, but he was soon able to do some- 
thing toward defraying his own expenses by 
publishing some of his earlier poems. The 
whole number of hymns written by him was 
more than one thousand. As Rist said of 
himself, so might Schmolke say: "The dear 
cross has pressed many songs out of me." 
He was the subject of severe and extraordi- 
nary personal afflictions. A destructive con- 
flagration, which destroyed half the town in 
which he lived, involving the people in great 
suffering, the loss of two of his children by 



88 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

death, his own hopeless invalidism by paral- 
ysis, and finally his total blindness from the 
same cause, were the dark background with 
which contrasts the radiant glory of such 
words of resignation and trust as 

" My Jesus, as thou wilt ! 

may thy will be mine ! 
Into thy hand of love 

1 would my all resign. 
Through sorrow, or through joy, 

Conduct me as thine own, 
And help me still to say, 
My Lord, thy will be done." 

The best known hymns of Schmolke are : 
Welcome, thou Victor in the strife. 
My Jesus, as thou wilt. 

The great poet in the Mystical School in 
German hymnology was Gerhard Tersteegen 
(1697-1761). From Catherine Winkworth's 
Christian Singers of Germany we condense 
the following account of this most remarkable 
and interesting man. He was the son of a 
respectable tradesman, and after such educa- 
tion as he could get at the grammar-school 
of his native place, was apprenticed to his 
elder brother, a shopkeeper at Muelheim. 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 89 

Here, under the influence of a tradesman, he 
was converted, and was led to devote himself 
to the service of God. As his days were oc- 
cupied, he used sometimes to pass whole nights 
in prayer and fasting. That he might have 
more freedom for spiritual exercises, he left 
his brother, and took up the occupation of 
weaving silk ribbons, living for some years en- 
tirely alone in a cottage, except that in the 
day-time he had the company of the little girl 
who wound his silk for him. His relations 
who seem to have been a thriving and money- 
getting set of people were so ashamed of this 
poor and peculiar member of the family that 
they refused even to hear his name mentioned, 
and when he was sick he suffered great priva- 
tions for want of care. 

His spiritual experiences were at first marked 
by violent contrasts. Upon the peace and 
comfort of his early Christian life a season of 
darkness supervened, and for five years he was 
the subject of extreme and painful doubts. 
From this fearful dungeon in " Doubting Cas- 
tle " he was suddenly and gloriously delivered, 
and in his gratitude wrote with his own blood 



90 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

a new covenant of self-dedication. He began 
at once to devote himself to the spiritual wel- 
fare of those about him. Soon he found him- 
self entirely occupied with a sort of unofficial 
ministry, which speedily took permanent form 
and became his life-work. Peremptorily de- 
clining all pecuniary assistance, he opened a 
dispensary for his support, making it a means 
of ministering to the souls as well as the 
bodies of men. So famous did he become in 
this double ministry that people came to him 
from other lands England, Holland, Sweden, 
and Switzerland so that he found his strength 
and resources taxed to their utmost. But 
amid it all he maintained an unvarying humil- 
ity, affectionateness, devoutness, and simplicity. 
From such a life none but the most spiritual 
hymns could come, and Tersteegen's are high- 



ly and justly prized. Among them are : 

Lo ! God is here ! Let us adore. 
God calling yet ! Shall I not hear ? 
Thou hidden love of God, whose height. 
O Thou to whose all-searching sight. 
Though all the world my choice deride. 



HYMNS FROM GERMAN AUTHORS. 9! 

Two famous Moravians, both bishops, made 
very material contributions to the hymnology 
of this period Count Zinzendorf and Bishop 
Spangenberg. The history of Nicolaus Lud- 
wig Zinzendorf (i 700-1760) is too well known 
to require any sketch of it here. In an emi- 
nent sense he stands in church history and in 
hymnology as a representative Moravian, hav- 
ing renounced his civil honors and cares to de- 
vote himself to the religious work of the Mo- 
ravian Brethren. The hymns 30 by which he is 
best known are all in versions made by John 
Wesley : 

Eternal depth of love divine. 

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness. 
I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of God. 

The last of these is very familiar and very 
precious to all who look to Wesley as their 
spiritual father. The second was written on 
the island of Saint Eustatius on his return 
from visiting the Moravian missionaries in the 
West Indies. 

Bishop Aug. Gottlieb Spangenberg (1704- 
1792) is second only to Count Zinzendorf him- 



92 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

self in the history of the Moravian Church, 
and was greatly his superior in theological cult- 
ure. In 1735 he became an assistant of Zin- 
zendorf at Herrnhut, and acted as a kind of 
missionary bishop to the Moravian churches 
in England, the West Indies, and North 
America. In Georgia he came in contact with 
John Wesley, who had gone out with Ogle- 
thorpe as a missionary to the Aborigines. 
The meeting was a most memorable one for 
Wesley, and was one important means of 
bringing him to a .realizing sense of his great 
want. 

This good bishop is represented in English 
hymnology by John Wesley's version of one 
of his very choicest hymns, such as indeed a 
bishop might write : 

High on his everlasting throne. 



EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. Q3 



CHAPTER VI. 

EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. 

TN many important particulars English hymns 
are distinguished from those of every other 
language. Many of them are translations of 
the best and most famous hymns of other 
tongues. Nearly all the great hymns of the 
mediaeval time are represented by English ver- 
sions. This is true also of the most cherished 
and most spiritual of the French and German 
hymns. The great body of English hymns 
have been produced in the modern period of 
church history, and hence reflect the most re- 
cent phases of church life and work. As among 
English-speaking peoples evangelical move- 
ments have taken a greater variety of form, 
and have incorporated more various methods 
than have been employed elsewhere, so here 
the hymn has been appropriated to a greater 
variety of uses. In addition to the ordinary 
demands of public worship and the necessities 
of the individual life, which, though they do not 



94 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

essentially change, are yet all the time becom- 
ing more perfectly interpreted and more ade- 
quately expressed, there are many institutions 
which have been called into existence by the 
life of the Church in this period. The modern 
prayer-meeting, revival meetings, conferences, 
conventions, synods, Sabbath-schools, and re- 
form movements have all created a demand 
for a special type of religious service. Hence, 
in no other language is there so great a variety 
of hymns ; in no other has the hymn been 
more perverted and degraded from its proper 
character, and in no other is the vast and va- 
ried wealth of hymnology more fully exhibited. 
The oldest English hymn now in common 
use " The Lord descended from above " 31 
is a translation of some verses of the eight- 
eenth psalm, made by Thomas Sternhold, who 
died in 1549. He was " Groom of the Robes " 
to Henry VIII. and Edward VI. He made a 
metrical version of the first fifty-one psalms, 
which, with versions of the remainder made by 
John Hopkins, were attached to the Book of 
Common Prayer. As to the character of these 
men, as shown by this work, doubtless the 



EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. 9 5 

judgment of quaint old Thomas Fuller will be 
generally approved : " They were men whose 
piety was better than their poetry ; and they 
had drunk more of Jordan than of Helicon." 
And yet the psalm above cited fully vindicates 
by its own intrinsic excellence the taste and 
judgment of those who have so long kept it in 
its seat of honor. 

With this should be associated that transla- 
tion of the one hundredth psalm made by 
William Kethe: 

All people that on earth do dwell. 32 
Of its author we know almost nothing, not 
even the dates of his birth and death. He 
was a clergyman, was sometime a chaplain in 
the" army, and shared the exile of Knox, in 
Geneva, in 1555. The psalm was first pub- 
lished in 1561, and is not only one of the old- 
est, but also one of the most ecumenical of 
English hymns. 

The name of Bishop John Cosin (1594-1672) 
is deserving of most honorable mention, be- 
cause of his translation of the " Veni, Creator 
Spiritus " " Come, Holy Ghost, our souls in- 
spire." Few men of his time held a greater 



96 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

variety of distinguished positions or received 
more flattering testimonials of personal popu- 
larity and influence. Though made to feel the 
virulent opposition of his Puritan enemies, 
and to suffer from their unjust charges of 
leaning toward popery, yet he stands in the 
history of the Church fully vindicated, and a 
noble example of a man true to the Church, 
and true also to his own convictions. He ex- 
pended his emoluments and the profits arising 
from the sale of his works liberally for the 
cause of learning and religion, founding no less 
than eight scholarships at Cambridge. His one 
hymn has a higher place of honor than any 
other in our language, having for two centuries 
and a half maintained its place in the service 
for the ordination of elders. It is a most sat- 
' isfactory instance of " poetic justice," in a sense 
much fuller and more perfect than that in which 
the phrase is ordinarily used, that the hymn 
of Gregory, who taught Britain her first lesson 
in practical Christianity, should be the only 
one which has been given a place in the ritual 
of the English Church. 

Another bishop whose hymns have come to 



EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. 97 

almost equal honor, and in some regards even 
superior, is Thomas Ken (1637-1711). Early 
left an orphan his mother dying when he was 
but five and his father when he was fourteen 
he was brought up by his half-sister, the wife 
of the celebrated Izaak Walton. He was edu- 
cated at Oxford ; was first rector of Bright- 
stone, in the Isle of Wight, and afterward 
Bishop of Bath and Wells. King Charles used 
to say : " I must go and hear Ken he will tell 
me of my faults." He was one of the seven 
bishops imprisoned and brought to trial -for re- 
sisting the tyranny of James II. His most 
enduring monument is his " Morning and Ev- 
ening Hymns." Says one writer: " Had he 
endowed three hospitals he would have been 
less a benefactor to posterity." His grand 
old doxology in long meter is heard wherever 
the English language is spoken. It is almost 
as catholic as the English Bible itself. The 
following hymns are his : 

Glory to thee, my God, this night. 
Awake, my soul, and with the sun. 
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. 



98 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Though the name of Nahum Tate (1652- 
1715) is eminent in English hymnology, yet 
the associations connected with it are not all 
grateful. His active life commenced as clergy- 
man of a country parish in Suffolk, from which 
he subsequently removed to London. But in- 
temperance and improvidence cast a blight 
over his life and a shadow upon his memory. 
In connection with Nicholas Brady he pre- 
pared the metrical version of the Psalms 
which is now printed in the Book of Common 
Prayer in place of the older one of Sternhold 
and Hopkins, which version Montgomery 
justly characterizes as being '* nearly as inani- 
mate as the former, though a little more 
refined." Nicholas Brady (1659-1726), his 
associate in this work, studied at Christ College, 
Oxford, and was graduated at Trinity College, 
Dublin. He was afterward chaplain to a 
bishop and prebend to the Cathedral of Cork, 
and later in life taught a school in Richmond, 
Surrey. 

The Psalter of Tate and Brady was first pub- 
lished in 1696, with tunes in 1698, and with a 
supplement of hymns in 1703. From this 



EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. 99 

work several hymns in common use have been 
taken, though it is impossible to determine 
which were written by Tate and which by 
Brady. Among them are the following : 

O render thanks to God above. 

O God, we praise thee, and confess. 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night. 

As pants the hart for cooling streams. 

O Lord, our fathers oft have told. 

Even at this day the thoughtful student can 
hardly take into his hands a book more suggest- 
ive or more stimulating than Mason's Self- 
Knowledge. In depth, solidity, clearness, and 
comprehensiveness it has few equals in our 
language. The young person who makes it 
the subject of constant and loving study is sure 
to be richly rewarded. John Mason, the hymn- 
writer (died 1694), was grandfather of the John 
Mason who was the author of this treatise. 
Little is known of his life, save that for twenty 
years he was rector of a parish in Buckingham- 
shire, where he was very highly esteemed for 
his piety and his devotion to his flock. Baxter 
called him " the glory of the Church of En- 



100 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

gland." In 1683 he published his Spiritual 
Songs, to which were afterward added Peniten- 
tial Cries, mainly from the pen of Rev. Thomas 
Shepherd. Many traces of these hymns of 
Mason are found in the later works of Watts, 
Pope, and the Wesleys. Of the one hymn of 
his which is most used, David Creamer says 
that it is " certainly one of the best specimens 
of devotional poetry in the English language." 
The hymn is : 

Now from the altar of our hearts. 

One hymn from the Penitential Cries of 
Thomas Shepherd (1665-1739) has been pre- 
served in most of our modern hymn-books, 
though in a form so much changed from the 
original as almost to destroy its identity. 
Indeed, in most books the hymn is credited to 
Mr. G. N. Allen, who made the alterations, 
rather than to Mr. Shepherd, the original 
author. It begins 

Must Jesus bear the cross alone ? 33 

The earliest of the considerable number of 
Baptists who have been eminent as English 



EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. IOI 

hymn-writers is Joseph Stennett (1663-1713), 
who spent his life as pastor of a small congre- 
gation of Seventh-day Baptists in the city of 
London. He was also accustomed to preach 
to other congregations on the first day of the 
week, which makes it pretty certain that his 
sympathy with his people was as Baptists 
rather than as Sabbatarians. In addition to his 
duties as pastor he also, for some years, 
received young men into his house to be 
trained for the ministry. He died in his forty- 
ninth year, and among his last words were : " I 
rejoice in the God of my salvation, who is my 
strength and my God." He published two 
small collections of original hymns- Hymns for 
the Lord's Supper and Hymns on the Believer s 
Baptism. His familiar hymn, 

Return, my soul, enjoy thy rest, 

is one of the most frequently used of our Sab- 
bath hymns. 

There is one English hymn, dating probably 
from the sixteenth century, whose history is 
specially interesting. It comes from an old 
Latin hymn which Dean Trench assigns to the 



102 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

eighth or ninth century. We refer to that 
dearest of all our hymns on heaven, 



Jerusalem, my happy home. 



34 



In a very old book of religious songs now kept 
in the British Museum it stands with this title : 
" A Song, Made by F. B. P., to the Tune of 
Diana." It has been conjectured doubtfully 
by most, but confidently by some that " F. B. 
P.' ' is an alias for Francis Baker, Priest, who 
was for a long time confined as a prisoner in 
the Tower, so that this is one of the many 
hymns which have come up out of the depth 
of suffering and bitter wrong. A later and 
more beautiful form of this hymn " O mother 
dear, Jerusalem " was given to the public by 
David Dickson in the early part of the seven- 
teenth century. 

The hymn as it appears in our modern 
hymn-books is considerably altered from the 
text as found in the book in the British Mu- 
seum. It is called by Miller " the hymn of 
hymns," and certainly holds a very warm place 
in the hearts of Christian worshipers in every 
communion. A young Scotchman on his 



EARLIER ENGLISH HYMNS. 103 

death-bed in the city of New Orleans several 
years ago was visited by a Presbyterian minis- 
ter. He continued to shut himself up from the 
good man's efforts to reach his heart. Some- 
what discouraged, at last the visitor turned 
away, and scarcely knowing why, began to 
sing, " Jerusalem, my happy home." A tender 
chord was touched in the heart of the young 
man. With tears he exclaimed : " My dear 
mother used to sing that hymn ! " The tender 
memories awakened by the hymn opened his 
heart to religious truth. He was led through 
penitence into peace, and thus was made ready 
for the " happy home " whither his mother had 
already preceded him. 



104 GOSPEL SINGERS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

WATTS AND WESLEY. 

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748) is pronounced 
by Montgomery the " father of modern 
hymnody " " almost the inventor' of hymns 
in our language." He was son of a school- 
master, and deacon of an Independent church 
in Southampton, England, a locality which is 
embalmed in the imagery of some of his 
hymns. So precocious in intellect was he 
that almost his earliest cry was for a book ; 
and he actually commenced the study of Latin 
at four, of Greek at nine, of French at ten, 
and of Hebrew at fourteen, and this intellect- 
ual activity was continued through a long and 
most fruitful life. Says Dr. Johnson : " Few 
men have left behind such purity of character 
or such monuments of laborious piety. He 
has provided instruction for all ages, from 
those who are lisping their first lessons to 
the enlightened readers of Malebranche and 
Locke." And the judgment of this extraordi- 



WATTS AND WESLEY. IO5 

nary critic in the matter of hymns is sufficiently 
indicated by such sentences as the following : 
" It is sufficient for Watts to have done better 
than others what no one has done well." " His 
devotional poetry is, like that of others, un- 
satisfactory. The paucity of its topics enforces 
perpetual repetition, and the sanctity of the 
matter rejects the ornaments of figurative dic- 
tion." 

Only as a writer of hymns is the fame of Dr. 
Watts pre-eminent. When, at the age of 
eighteen, on a certain Sabbath, he was com- 
plaining to one of his fellow-worshipers at the 
Independent chapel where his father was dea- 
con of the character of the hymns sung there, 
the reply was : " Give us better, young man." 
He accepted the challenge, and the church 
was invited to close the evening service, with 
a new hymn commencing : 

" Behold the glories of the Lamb 

Before his Father's throne ; 
Prepare new honors for his name, 

And songs before unknown" 35 

a hymn which is retained in many of our hymn- 
books, and is still sung with reverence and de- 



IO6 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

light. Such was the beginning of the most il- 
lustrious career as a hymn-writer which, with 
not more than a single exception, it has ever 
been given to mortal to fulfill. The author of 
that first hymn has made more material con- 
tributions to the apparatus of Christian wor- 
ship in the English tongue than any other 
man, and his hymns are familiar and precious 
wherever that language is spoken. Less pro- 
lific and less versatile than some others, espe- 
cially than Charles Wesley, with whom he is 
most frequently compared, with less of poetic 
genius and less of spiritual fervor and joy, his 
hymns are so devout, so scriptural, so catholic, 
and so simple, and, in the main, so correct in 
diction and in sentiment, that they meet a 
general want more perfectly than any other. 
Though Wesley wrote seven or eight thousand 
hymns, and Watts only six hundred and ninety- 
seven, yet it is probable that more of Watts 's 
hymns are in common use than of Wesley's. 
A recent writer says : " Judging from the re- 
sults of an examination of seven hundred and 
fifty hymn-books, it is safe to assign to Watts 
the authorship of two fifths of the hymns 



WATTS AND WESLEY. IO/ 

which are used in public worship in the En- 
glish-speaking world." In the Hymns and 
Songs of Praise, one of the best and most 
broadly representative of the hymn-books used 
by the Calvinistic churches of this country, 
Watts is represented by one hundred and 
ninety-one hymns and Charles Wesley by 
ninety- nine; while in the Methodist Hymnal 
Watts has but seventy-eight and Wesley three 
hundred and seven. The facts as to actual 
use, however, may be considerably different 
from what would be indicated by these figures; 
and we need but to glance over the list of 
Watts's leading hymns to be convinced that 
they constitute a very large proportion of the 
staple hymns for public religious service. 
Among the most eminent of these are such as 
the following: 

Alas ! and did my Saviour bleed. 
Am I a soldier of the cross? 
Before Jehovah's awful throne. 
Blest are the sons of peace. 
Come, sound his praise abroad. 



IO8 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Come, let us join our cheerful songs. 
Come, ye that love the Lord. 
Father, how wide thy glory shines. 
From all that dwell below the skies. 
Give me the wings of faith to rise. 
He dies ! the friend of sinners dies. 
How vain are all things here below. 
How beauteous are their feet. 
I'll praise my Maker while I've breath. 
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun. 
Let every tongue thy goodness speak. 
My God, the spring of all my joys ! 
O God, our help in ages past. 
The heavens declare thy glory, Lord. 
There is a land of pure delight. 
Unveil thy bosom, faithful tomb. 
When I can read my title clear. 
When I survey the wondrous cross. 
Why do we mourn for dying friends ? 
Why should we start and fear to die ? 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 1 09 

Some of these hymns are in a special sense 
autobiographic. Nearly all of them bear in a 
marked degree the stamp of the poet's per- 
sonal experience. It has been alleged that the 
hymn, 

How vain are all things here below, 

was written on the occasion of the rejection 
of his offer of marriage to Elizabeth Singer. 

To the character of the scenery about South- 
ampton are doubtless due some of the most 
striking and beautiful passages of his hymns. 
It is situated on the south coast of England, 
at the head of Southampton Water, between 
the Itchen on the east and the Anton on the 
west, with the Isle of Wight in the distance, 
at the mouth of the bay. This island is sepa- 
rated from the main-land by an interval of 
from one to six miles, and serves as a vast nat- 
ural breakwater, making this port one of the 
safest and most eligible in the United King- 
dom. The scenery of the island is of remark- 
able beauty, and the climate so salubrious that 
in one part the death-rate is lower than in 
any other locality in the United Kingdom. 



110 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

The tradition is that these conditions furnished 
the costume of expression for the hymn, 

There is a. land of pure delight. 

Certain it is that the language is such as ex- 
actly suits them, and by their aid we feel its 
force and beauty. 

There is little doubt that the imagery of 
one of the verses of another hymn may have 
been suggested by the same associations. 
Only one familar with the sea and accustomed 
to study its various moods would have been 
so felicitous in seizing upon and interpreting 
the most perfect symbol of rest which nature 
contains water in repose : 

" There I shall bathe my weary soul 

In seas of heavenly rest, 
And not a wave of trouble roll 

Across my peaceful breast." 

The hymn in which this verse stands has 
been perhaps as often used as- any of his 
hymns. It was sung on the field of Shiloh, 
the night after the battle, under circumstances 
of peculiar impressiveness. A Christian offi- 
cer had been severely wounded, and, being 



WATTS AND WESLEY. Ill 

unable to help himself, lay all night on the 
field. Says he : " The stars shone out clear 
above the dark battle-field, and I began to 
think about God, who had given his Son to 
die for me, and that he was up above the 
glorious stars. I felt that I ought to praise 
him even while wounded on that battle-ground. 
I could not help singing : 

' When I can read my title clear 

To mansions in the skies, 
I'll bid farewell to every fear, 

And wipe my weeping eyes.' 

There was a Christian brother in the brush 
near me. I could not see him, but I could 
hear him. He took up the strain. Another, 
beyond him, heard and joined in, and still 
others too. We made the field of battle ring 

with the hymn of praise to God. " 

/ 

/ Many volumes might be filled with illustra- 
tive anecdotes bearing upon the use of some 
line, stanza, or whole hymn even, which Watts 
has written. The full history of his hymns, if 
it could be written, would be a great part, and 
a very interesting part, of the history of Prot- 
estant Christianity among English-speaking 



112 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

peoples for the last hundred years. Scarcely 
another couplet in the entire range of hymnol- 
ogy has been so often quoted in the great 
crisis-hour of individual spiritual history as 

" Here, Lord, I give myself away, 
Tis all that I can do." 

Few verses appropriate to the dying hour are 
so often quoted, and with such satisfying ef- 
fect, as 

" Jesus can make a dying bed 

Feel soft as downy pillows are, 
While on his breast I lean my head, 

And breathe my life out sweetly there." 

And how often have the lines of the previous 
verse been the experience of God's children; 

" O would my Lord his servant meet, 

My soul would stretch her wings in haste ! " 

Dr. Doddridge wrote to Watts of the pow- 
erful effect produced by the singing of one of 
his hymns in his own congregation. He had 
preached from Heb. vi, 12: "Followers of 
them who through faith and patience inherit 
the promises ; ' ' and at the close of the ser- 
mon gave out the hymn, 

" Give me the wings of faith to rise." 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 113 

So perfectly suited were these words to the 
matter of the discourse, and so tender the as- 
sociations awakened, that many could not sing 
for their emotion, and many sung amid tears. 

It is an interesting fact that the last words 
which fell from the lips of John Wesley were 
written by Watts. When the supreme mo- 
ment came he was struggling to repeat that 
grand hymn of gratitude and victory: 

" I'll praise my Maker while I've breath, 
And when my voice is lost in death 
Praise shall employ my nobler powers." 

This hymn Wesley began on earth, but fin- 
ished it, if he ever finished it at all, "before 
the throne of God." 

Some of the very best of the hymns of Watts 
owe their present perfection and much of their 
usefulness to the finishing touches of John 
Wesley. The hymn "^Before Jehovah's awful 
throne " is an instance in point. As at first 
written it commenced : 

" Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice, 
Let every land his name adore ; 

The British isles shall seent the noise 

Across the ocean to the shore. 
8 



114 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

" Nations attend before his throne, 
With solemn fear, with sacred joy," etc. 

Wesley dropped the first verse altogether, and 
changed the first two lines of the second to 
read : 

" Before Jehovah's awful throne, 
Ye nations, bow with sacred joy ; " 

thus making a suitable beginning for a hymn 
which is almost unequaled in our language for 
strength and majesty. 

Many of the hymns of Watts are a part of 
the universal language of English-speaking 
Christians, and are almost as sure to be known 
as the Bible itself. But a few of them have 
been selected by the critics as entitled to 
special mention because of their rare perfec- 
tion as lyric poems. The two most frequently 
mentioned with the highest praise are : 

My God, the spring of all my joys. 
When I survey the wondrous cross. 

As examples of special felicity in versifying 
t he Psalms the following have been quoted : 

O God, our help in ages past. 

The heavens declare thy glory, Lord. 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 115 

The other great name in Christian hym- 
nody is that of Charles Wesley (1708-1788). 
He wrote more hymns and, we will add, 
more good hymns than any other ten men 
who have written hymns in the English lan- 
guage. Watts wrote less than seven hundred, 
Doddridge less than four hundred, Mont- 
gomery less than two hundred, while Charles 
Wesley wrote from seven to eight thousand ! 
Of course, some of these are such as not 
even his most ardent admirers can find much 
pleasure in reading, but others exhibit a 
wealth and beauty of lyrical expression truly 
marvelous. A prominent actor in the most 
important evangelical movement since the 
days of the apostles, his hymns have the 
rare merit of reflecting every significant 
phase of that movement ; so that if the 
question be asked to-day, What is Method- 
ism as a creed, an experience, a life? a more 
adequate answer can be found in these hymns 
than anywhere else, not excepting the Ser- 
mons of John Wesley or the Institutes of 
Richard Watson. No man can sing them 
heartily and habitually, " with the spirit and 



1 1 6 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

the understanding also," without coming to a 
just and discriminating sense of the real genius 
of Methodism. 

In unusual measure these hymns bear the 
stamp of the author's personal history and ex- 
perience. Even his letters to her who after- 
ward became his wife were often written in 
verse ; and when we remember that he was at 
this time a clergyman, forty years of age, and 
leading a most active and laborious life, we 
shall realize how absolutely irrepressible his 
poetic proclivities must have been. 

The Wesleyan Hymn-book of Great Britain 
contains six hundred and twenty-seven of his 
hymns, and many others are met with, scat- 
tered through the various hymnals of other 
denominations. Robert Southey says of them 
that they have been " more devoutly com- 
mitted to memory " and " oftener repeated on 
a death-bed " than any others. But life is a 
more just and adequate test than death, and 
with even more emphasis may it be said that 
no hymns have ministered to the wants of the 
human soul, in the great crisis of spiritual his- 
tory, more frequently or more helpfully than 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 117 

these. We hear among them voices for all 
phases and grades of spiritual experience, and 
all forms of Christian work awakening con- 
viction, penitence, pardon, assurance ; rejoic- 
ing in sins forgiven, in communion with God, 
in prospect of heaven ; the closet, the family, 
the church ; evangelistic work, charitable work, 
reform work, every thing which lies between 
the fearful ruin wrought by sin and the glori- 
ous consummation of the work of human re- 
covery. Every condition in life, every occu- 
pation, and almost every event is here repre- 
sented. Among his general captions we find : 
" Hymns for Watch-Nights," " New- Year's 
Day," "The Lord's Supper," "The Nativity 
of Our Lord," " Our Lord's Resurrection," , 
" Hymns Occasioned by the Earthquake," 
" Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecu- 
tion," " Hymns for Methodist Preachers," 
" Hymns for the Use of Families," " Hymns 
for Children," " Prayers for Condemned Male- 
factors," " Hymns for the Nation," " Funeral 
Hymns," etc. Among the titles of individual 

* ' ~ 

hymns are such as these : " For a Family in 
Want," "To be Sung at Tea-table," "Fora 



Il8 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Persecuting Husband," "At Sending a Child 
to a Boarding-school," "A Collier's Hymn," 
"For an Unconverted Wife," "For One Re- 
tired into the Country," " A Wedding-song," 
" On Going to Work ; " and the more common 
captions, such as " For Sabbath," " Bereave- 
ment," "Sleep," " Morning and Evening." To 
many a devout Methodist these hymns have 
been, as indeed they are suited to be, " the 
key of the morning and the bolt of the night." 
Indeed, these hymns, beautiful and felicitous 
as they often are in the mere matter of expres- 
sion, seldom seem like mere words, but like 
" a heart poured out into a heart a child-like, 
dependent human, heart into the great, infi- 
nite, tender heart of God." 

One of the most notable of Charles Wesley's 
hymns is that known as "Wrestling Jacob," 
beginning, " Come, O thou Traveler unknown." 
Watts said of it : "I would rather be the au- 
thor of that single poem than of all the 
hymns which I have ever written." John 
Wesley indicated his own estimate of this tes- 
timony by incorporating it into the biograph- 
ical notice of his brother in the Minutes of 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 119 

the Conference at the time of his death. 
Dean Trench says of it : " Though not emi- 
nently adapted for liturgic use, it is yet quite 
the noblest of Charles Wesley's hymns." 36 
Considered as a poetical composition, this 
opinion might be generally acquiesced in ; but 
considered as a hymn, this can by no means 
be true. It neither belongs to" the highest 
class of Christian hymns, nor does it satisfy 
the highest conditions of utility. It is by no 
means from the mere accident of being with- 
out music well suited for popular use that it is 
so seldom heard, even in the social meetings, 
but because it is not well suited to answer the 
purpose of a hymn. But its eminent script- 
uralness, its deep spirituality, its felicity of 
style, its vividness, and its thoroughly sus- 
tained interest from beginning to end bear 
eloquent testimony to the wonderful genius of 
the author. 

Robert Southey pronounces " Stand the 
omnipotent decree ' ' " the finest lyric in the 
English language ; " but if the judgment of 
those who have made much 'use of the Wes- 
leyan hymns and so have made up their 



120 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

judgment by the test of experience rather 
than of literary taste is of any value, there 
are many finer among the hymns of Mr. Wes- 
ley. 

The hymn, " O for a thousand tongues to 
sing," which has from the first occupied the 
place of honor in the Methodist hymn-books 
of Great Britain and America, was written on 
the first anniversary of his spiritual birth, and 
so is, doubtless in an eminent degree, the out- 
pouring of his own rapturous emotions. 



" Come away to the skies, -my beloved, arise, 
And rejoice in the day thou wast born ; " 



and 

" Come, let us ascend, my companion and friend, 
To a taste of the banquet above," 

were both addressed to his wife on her birth- 
day. 37 

But beyond question the most popular, if 
not the most famous, of Charles Wesley's 
hymns is "Jesus, Lover of my soul." Says 
Henry Ward Beecher : " I would rather have 
written that hymn than to have the fame of 
all the kings that ever sat on the earth. ... 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 121 

It will go on singing until the last trump brings 
forth the angel-band ; and then, I think, will 
mount up on some lip to the very presence of 
God." "Two lines of this hymn," says Rev. 
Theodore L. Cuyler, " have been breathed fer- 
vently and often out of bleeding hearts. When 
we were once in the valley of death-shade, 
with one beautiful child in the new-made grave 
and the other threatened with fatal disease, 
there was no prayer which we said oftener than 
this: 

' Leave, O leave me not alone ! 
Still support and comfort me ! ' 

We do not doubt that tens of thousands of 
other bereaved and wounded hearts have tried 
this piercing cry out of the depths." Of the 
origin of this hymn it is only certainly known 
that it was written in 1739 and appeared in a 
volume of Hymns and Sacred Poems (1740) 
with the title, " In Temptation." 

One of the most solemn and impressive of all 
these hymns of Charles Wesley reflects the 
scenery of Land's End even more vividly than 
do any of Watts's that of Southampton. The 



122 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

second verse of the hymn " Thou God of glo- 
rious majesty " reads as follows : 

" Lo ! on a narrow neck of land, 
'Twixt two unbounded seas, I stand 

Secure, insensible ; 
A point of time, a moment's space, 
Removes me to that heavenly place, 

Or shuts me up in hell." 

The hymn above mentioned as praised by 
Southey " Stand the omnipotent decree " 
doubtless derives much of its special interest 
and impressiveness in that it was written " For 
the Year 1756 " a time when men were ap- 
palled by the terrible calamity of the great 
Lisbon earthquake. Read in the light of this 
fearful catastrophe, the sublimity of its almost 
unequaled utterances is fully evident. 
Come, let us join our friends above, 

was a special favorite with John Wesley. It 
is the concluding part of what was originally a 
long poem of more than a hundred lines ; which 
poem has been divided into four hymns, which, 
in the Methodist Hymnal, are made to follow 
each other in proper order. The part com- 

mencing, 

Come, let us join pur friends above, 



WATTS AND WESLEY. 123 

is a tender and beautiful tribute to the mem- 
ory of the pious dead. One of the most tender 
traditions of the later years of John Wesley is 
that which represents him as having, on one 
occasion, come to the chapel in City Road, 
where he was to preach that evening, and as 
the shades of the evening were gathering 
around him, standing with his head bowed on 
his hand, as if holding communion with the 
invisible world ; and then giving out this 
hymn, in which he seemed to gather up the 
precious memories which bound him to the 
first band of heroic workers, of which he was 
then almost the sole survivor : 

" Come, let us join our friends above 

That have obtained the prize, 
And on the eagle-wings of love 

To joys celestial rise. . . . 

" One family we dwell in Him, 

One church above, beneath, 
Though now divided by the stream, 

The narrow stream of death. 
One army of the living God, 

To his command we bow ; 
Part of his host have crossed the flood. 

And part are crossing now. 



124 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

"Our old companions in distress 

We haste again to see, 
And eager long for our release, 

And full felicity. 
E'en now by faith we join our hands 

With those that went before ; 
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands 

On the eternal shore." 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

HYMNS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 

'"THE service rendered to vital Christianity 
in the eighteenth century by the hymns of 
Watts and Wesley cannot be over-estimated. 
" As vestals in those dark days they kept the 
sacred flame alight ; and when the Spirit of 
the Lord breathed upon the land they were 
the first songs of awakened Christianity. 
Warming cold devotions, rebuking lifeless or- 
thodoxy, testifying against Arian error, they 
performed in the first century the real service 
which evangelical hymns have performed in 
other periods for the Church. In the very 
dawn of church history the Arian bishop, Paul 
of Samosata, banished from the churches the 
hymns which had been in use since the second 
century, because they were addressed ' to 
Christ as God,' and interfered with the prog- 
ress of Arian error. As Frederick the Great 
and his clique found- the Gesangbuch a bar to 
the progress of rationalist tenets, and sought 



126 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

to tone down its rich evangelism to the neutral 
tint of a negative theology, so the Arianism 
of the eighteenth century, finding a formida- 
ble obstacle in the Trinitarian doxologies then 
attached to the Psalter, and an invincible foe 
in Watts's hymns, demanded that nothing 
should be sung in worship but the Psalms of 
David. Many independent congregations, it 
is believed, were preserved from the infection 
of Arian error by nothing else than the intro- 
duction of hymn-books." 

The channel having been opened, there be- 
gan at once to rise a tide of song which has 
not since gone down. It has widened and 
deepened until the whole earth has been blessed 
by its ministry. The hymn-book is now and 
every-where the companion of the Bible and 
prayer-book. If one wants to realize the power 
of hymnology as an aid to devotion let him 
conceive, if he can, the quality of a social re- 
ligious service without song. 

Among Watts's contemporaries none so 
nearly approaches the master singer as the 
saintly Philip Doddridge (1702-1 751). He, like 
Watts, had an ancestry which had honorably 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. I2/ 

suffered persecution for conscience' sake, and 
his early training was largely in the hands of a 
devoted mother, eminent for intelligence and 
piety. Very beautiful is the tribute paid by 
Doddridge to his parents. " I was brought 
up," he says, " in the early knowledge of re- 
ligion by my pious parents, who were in their 
character very worthy of their birth and edu- 
cation ; and I well remember that my mother 
taught me the history of the Old and New Tes- 
taments, before I could read, by the assistance 
of some blue Dutch tiles in the chimney-place 
of the room where we commonly sat ; and the 
wise and pious reflections she made upon those 
stories were the means of enforcing such good 
impressions. on my heart as never wore out." 

When the testing time came and it came 
early young Doddridge proved himself worthy 
of his lineage. Confronted with the problem 
of getting an education with slight means, he 
promptly declined the Duchess of Bedford's 
offer to see him through Cambridge University 
and comfortably settled in a living because it 
was conditioned upon his entering the minis- 
try of the Established Church. 



128 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

At twenty-one he accepted a call to Kib- 
worth, in Leicestershire, the limitations of 
whose opportunities he sets forth as follows : 
" It is one of the most unpolite congregations 
I ever knew, consisting almost entirely of 
farmers and graziers, with their subalterns. I 
have not so much as a tea-table in my diocese, 
although above eight miles in extent, and but 
one hoop petticoat in the whole circuit ;. and 
were it not for talking to the cattle, admiring 
the poultry, and preaching twice every Sab- 
bath I should certainly lose the organs of 
speech." 

In 1729 he was called to minister to the 
Castle Hill congregation at Northampton, 
where his life-work was done and where he la- 
bored indefatigably for more than a score of 
years as pastor, teacher, and author. There 
he married Miss Mercy Maris in 1730, and 
here were produced his admirable commentary 
on the Scriptures and his learned, lectures on 
divinity. The Rise and Progress of Religion in 
the Soul is a devotional classic, and has been 
singled out as the most useful book of its kind 
produced in the eighteenth century. It has 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 1 29 

passed through numberless editions in our own 
language, and has been translated into a large 
number of other languages to 'the edification 
of thousands. To this work more than to any 
other the Church is indebted for Wilberforce 
and his scarcely less noted defense of Chris- 
tianity ; and multitudes of others from all 
conditions of life have been led to Christ for 
pardon and life through its searching and win- 
ning evangel. 

As choice and useful as his justly famous 
prose classic, and appealing to an even wider 
constituency of readers, are some of Dodd- 
ridge's hymns. Most of them were composed 
in connection with his sermons. They were 
intended to summarize in song -the doctrine of 
the discourse which might thus find a hearing 
denied to it otherwise. In the striking figure 
of the Rev. Dr. James Hamilton : " If amber 
is the gum of fossil trees, fetched up and floated 
off by the ocean, hymns like these are a spirit- 
ual amber. Most of the sermons to which 
they originally pertained have disappeared for- 
ever ; but, at once beautiful and buoyant, these 
sacred strains are destined to carry the devout 



130 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

emotions of Doddridge to every shore where 
his Master is loved and where his mother- 
tongue is spoken." 

There are few hymns more closely identified 
with Methodist class and prayer meetings than 
the jubilant " O happy day, that fixed my 
choice," which was appended to a sermon on 
2 Chron. xv, 15. Well might Montgomery 
say : " Blessed is the man who can take the 
words of this hymn and make them his own 
from a similar experience." There is no strain 
in heaven or on earth which charms the ear 
even of the spiritually dull as does the glow- 
ing rapture of a soul new born into the king- 
dom. His " Hark ! the glad sound, the Sav- 
iour comes," which was written to be sung at 
the close of a Christmas sermon based upon 
Luke iv, 18, 19, is, in the judgment of many, 
his masterpiece. Lord Selborne denominates 
it "as sweet, vigorous, and perfect a composi- 
tion as can any where be found." Other fa- 
miliar hymns are : " Lord of the Sabbath, 
hear our vows," written for a sermon on " the 
rest which remaineth for the people of God " 
(Heb. iv, 9); " How gentle God's commands," 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 131 

a fine example of his gentler manner, and his 
metrical conclusion of a sermon on I Pet. v, 7 ; 
" Grace, 'tis a charming sound," appended to 
a sermon on Eph. ii, 5 ; and "Awake, my 
soul, stretch every nerve," a paraphrase in 
stirring measure of the apostolic exhortation in 
Phil, iii, 12-14. O ne of his choicest composi- 
tions, beginning, " While on the verge of life 
I stand," was suggested by a dream in which 
the author seemed to meet with Christ, and re- 
ceive from the Master words of commendation 
and blessing. 

The closing scenes of Dr. Doddridge's life 
were a fitting crown to the beauty of its un- 
folding. Exposure brought on a serious trou- 
ble, to get rid of which he sailed to Lisbon, 
whence, as he said to a friend, he could as well 
go to heaven as from his own Northampton 
study. He steadily failed in body, but was 
more than compensated in the exaltation of 
his communings with God. Frequently he 
exclaimed to his wife : " Such delightful and 
transporting views of the heavenly world as my 
Father is now indulging me with no words 
can express." Cure was not in the climate, 



132 GOSPEL SINGERS. 



and soon after the arrival in Lisbon his saint- 
ly soul went home to God. The longings of 
the pure heart were fulfilled ; the perfect joy 
was his at last. 

" Where Jesus dwells my soul would be, 
It faints my much-loved Lord to see ; 
Earth, twine no more about my heart, 
For 'tis far better to depart." 

When Mr. Spurgeon, the famous English 
divine, was a child, he was brought under the 

t 

influence of the Rev. Richard Knill, a preacher 
and missionary of rare unction and eminent 
personal qualities. One day at morning 
prayers Mr. Knill, taking the lad upon his 
knee,, said, solemnly,- in the presence of the 
family : " This child will one day preach the 
Gospel, and he will preach it to great multi- 
tudes. I am persuaded that he will preach 
in the chapel of Rowland Hill." He then 
gave the boy sixpence to learn the hymn : 

" God moves in a mysterious way, 
His wonders to perform." 

And a promise was exacted that when, accord- 
ing to the prediction, he did preach in Row- 



\ 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 133 

land Hill's chapel, that hymn should be sung. 
Years after, in an emergency, Mr. Spurgeon 
was invited to preach in Rowland Hill's chap- 
el, and consented on condition that the hymn 
" God moves in a mysterious way " should be 
sung. The request was cheerfully acceded to 
and the invitation accepted. It would be im- 
possible to describe the emotions of the 
preacher as he brought to mind the remarka- 
ble series of providences connecting his pres- 
ence in that pulpit with the memorable scene 
of his childhood days. 

The hymn sung under these extraordinary 
circumstances was written by William Cowper 
(1731-1800), "the most popular poet of his 
generation, and the best of English letter- 
writers," as his biographer Southey declares. 
It is said to have been composed under cir- 
cumstances no less extraordinary. According 
to one tradition, Cowper on a certain occasion 
thought he had been divinely ordered to a par- 
ticular part of the River Ouse, there to drown 
himself. The driver of the carriage missed 
his way, and upon returning home the poet 
wrote this hymn. Another tradition is that it 



134 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

/ 

was written during a solitary walk in the fields 
when the poet had a presentiment of returning 
insanity. Montgomery refers to it as a lyric 
of high tone and character, and rendered aw- 
fully interesting by the circumstances under 
which it was composed in the twilight of de- 
parting reason. This hymn was the last con- 
tributed by Cowper to the Olney collection 
that undying " monument to perpetuate the 
remembrance of an intimate and endeared 
friendship " between himself and $he Rev. 
John Newton. 

- It is to Cowper also that we owe the hymn 
which, perhaps, more than any other is the 
favorite of the social prayer-meeting and camp- 
meeting, and which has aided thousands of in- 
quiring hearts to the decision that brings spir- 
itual light and life " There is a fountain filled 
with blood." Literary criticism has had no 
friendly word for this hymn ; but it has made 
its way to almost universal favor and use. A 
historian! of the literature of the eighteenth 
century says : " This hymn still finds its place 
amid the familiar utterances of piety, but we 
cannot think, is often used by any congrega- 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 13$ 

tion of worshiping people in these days." In 
this country it would be perfectly safe to say 
that it is one of the very few hymns known 
and loved by nearly every congregation of 
worshiping people. The history of its use in 
the general revivals in this land and in Britain 
would show that tens of thousands had sent 
up to God on the wings of this hymn the jubi- 
lant thought of their hearts as they recalled 
"the fountain filled with blood " which had 
" washed all their sins away.' ' An interesting in- 
cident is related of its being sung by mill hands 
in a factory-room at Belfast, Ireland, v with so 
much fervor that the manager an unbeliever 
was fain to withdraw lest he should dissolve 
his professed atheism in tears of contrition. 

From Cowper, too, we have that most ex- 
quisite of aspirations, " O for a closer walk 
with God," which v has gone into the hymnody 
of all Churches ; " Far from the world, O Lord, 
I flee," which was inspired by witnessing the 
intense devotion of a fellow-worshiper in Jthe 
church at Huntingdon; and "Jesus, where'er 
thy people meet," which was written for the 
opening of a social prayer-room at Olney. 



136 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

The pathos and tragedy of Cowper's life are 
too well known to need rehearsing here. The 
mental malady to which he was predisposed 
from early youth took an aggravated form at 
three separate periods of his life, unseating 
reason and rendering work impossible ; and 
" the poet who of all English artists has written 
the noblest hymns for depth of religious feel-, 
ing and for loveliness of quiet style ; whose life 
was blameless as the water-lilies which he 
loved and the way of life of which on silent 
streams he made his own ; whose heart 
breathed the sweetest air of natural piety, and 
yet could sympathize with the supersensuous 
world in which Guyon lived, died in ghastly 
hopelessness, refusing comfort to the last." 

" O poets, from a maniac's tongue was poured the death- 
less singing ; 

O Christians, to your cross of hope a helpless hand is 
clinging. 

O men, this man, in brotherhood your weary paths be- 
guiling, 

Groaned inly, while he taught you peace, and died while 
you were smiling." 

Altogether different from the gentle Cow- 
per was his friend, the Rev. John Newton 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 137 

(1725-1807), at whose suggestion the Olney 
hymn-book was undertaken, and who contrib- 
uted by far the larger proportion of the collec- 
tion. He was a native of London, blessed 
with a pious mother whose influence was sad- 
ly counteracted by an indifferent father. The 
young Newton went to sea and abandoned 
himself to the most vicious practices. A copy 
of The Imitation of Christ was providentially 
brought under his notice. An impression was 
made which was re-enforced by exposure to 
imminent peril from shipwreck. The outcome 
was a happy conversion, and, as the epitaph 
which he wrote for himself records, " John 
Newton, clerk, once an infidel and libertine, 
a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich 
mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 
preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to 
preach the faith he had long labored to de- 
stroy." For some time after his conversion 
Newton was in the slave-trade, but subsequent 
enlightenment convinced him of its inhuman 
nature. He secured a position on shore, made 
his first attempt at preaching in 1758, and in 
1764 became curate at Olney.' In 1799 he 



138 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

moved to London, where, eight years later, he 
died. 

Newton's hymns, with few exceptions, are 
very ordinary. The exceptions, however, rank 
with the most popular and most widely used 
" How tedious and tasteless the hours," which 
has articulated the outpouring of many a saint 
who felt it to be the transcript of his own. ex- 
perience, has been in every edition of the 
Methodist Episcopal Hymn- Book from its first 
edition. "Safely through another week," a 
favorite hymn for Sabbath morning worship, 
was originally written as a hymn for Saturday 
evening and modified for use on the Lord's 
day. " How sweet the name of Jesus sounds " 
is Newton's lyrical expression of the thought 
suggested by Sol. Song i, 3, " Thy name is as 
ointment poured forth." It is one of the 
choicest hymns in our language, and a worthy 
companion of that sweetest of mediaeval strains 
from the lyre of Bernard of Clairvaux, "Je- 
sus, Dulcis Memoria," of which it is said to be 
an echo. "Amazing grace, how sweet the 
sound," is manifestly autobiographic, and with 
his " In evil long I took delight " shows how 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 139 

keen his contrition and thorough his repentance 
were. " Come, my soul, thy suit prepare," has 
had extended popularity as a favorite with 
Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, who was wont to have 
his congregation sing it just before the prayer 
in public service. " Though troubles assail 
and dangers affright," a hymn especially dear 
to souls who have seen trouble, has a verse 
commonly omitted from the church collections 
for theological reasons, but which represents 
the superb trust of the writer : 

" We may, like the ships, 

By tempest be tost 
On perilous deeps, 

But cannot be lost. 

" Though Satan enrages 

The wind and the tide, 
The promise engages, 

The Lord will provide." 

Such a thought was only natural to one who 
had been almost miraculously preserved from 
shipwreck, and transformed from a servant of 
slaves to a minister of Jesus Christ. Other 
favorites are the fine hymn of the Church, 
" Glorious things of thee are spoken," sug- 



140 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

gested by the eighty-seventh Psalm ; " Mary 
to the Saviour's tomb," based upon the narra- 
tive in John xx, 11-16; "'Tis a thing I long 
to know," which so strikingly sets forth the 
longing of many an honest follower of Jesus 
for assurances of acceptance ; " While with 
ceaseless course the sun," one of our most 
effective New Year hymns ; and " One there 
is above all others," the rhythmical setting of 
a thought which has cheered many an outcast 
and brought comfort to the friendless. 

Detail has been allowed to Cowper and 
Newton which cannot here be given the other 
hymnists of this period. Their Olney collec- 
tion, which, next to the productions of Watts 
and the Wesleys, ranks as the most important 
of the century, would justify this. The revival 
opened the fountains of melody in many hearts 
which in one way or another found their way 
into the general tide of church song. 

From John Byrom (1691-1763), a Lancashire 
worthy of strong feeling, in whom faith burned 
like " a hidden flame," we have the fine Christ- 
mas hymn, " Christians, awake, salute the happy 
morn;" and from Robert Seagrave (born 1693), 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 141 

whose zeal for the promotion of godliness in 
the Established Church was not fully appre- 
ciated by his superiors, the useful and popular 
" Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings." 

Joseph Grigg (1719-1768) was the author of 
some admirable lyrics, but chiefly remarkable 
for his "Jesus, and can it ever be?" which 
was written when the poet was ten years old. 

William Hammond (1719-1783), a graduate 
of Cambridge University and a probable con- 
vert of Whitefield's, who subsequently became 
a minister in the Moravian Church, gave to 
the Church the vigorous and heart-stirring, 
"Awake, and sing the song," and that fine 
prayer-song, " Lord, we come before thee now." 

Joseph Hart (1712-1768), who for the last 
eight years of his life was an eminently success- 
ful pastor, out of the depth of an extraordi- 
nary experience produced one of the tenderest 
invitation hymns ever written, " Come, ye sin- 
ners, poor and needy." 

John Cennick (1717-1755), who, like Ham- 
mond, went from the Methodists to the Mora- 
vians, furnished " Jesus, my all, to heaven is 
gone," and " Children of the heavenly King," 



142 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

which, however, owe much to editorial emen- 
dation. Cennick was also the author of the in- 
vocation and thanksgiving inscribed on John 
Wesley's family tea-pot, which is still preserved. 

Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795) and Samuel 
Stennett (1727-1795) were Baptist preachers 
and sons of Baptist preachers. To the former 
we owe, " Witness, ye men and angels, now," 
and to the latter, " On Jordan's stormy banks 
I stand." 

Robert Robinson (1/35-1790) and John 
Fawcett (1739-1817), also Baptist ministers, 
were both converted under Whitefield, and 
became the authors of imperishable hymns. 
From the former we have, " Come, thou 
Fount of every blessing," and from the lat- 
ter, "Blest be the tie that binds," which 
latter was written upon his determination to 
stay with the humble Wainsgate parish after 
having received and accepted the call to an 
influential church in Lpndon. 

The author of " Hail, thou once despised 
Jesus," was John Bakewell (1721-1819), one of 
John Wesley's most useful local preachers, 
and, according to the inscription on his tomb, 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 143 

one who " adorned the doctrine of God our 
Saviour eighty years, and preached his glori- 
ous Gospel about seventy years." At Bake- 
weH'shome Thomas Olivers (1725-1799) com- 
posed that ode of singular power and beauty, 
" The God of Abraham praise," of which 
Montgomery says : " There is not in our lan- 
guage a lyric of more majestic style, more ele- 
vated thought, or more glorious imagery. It 
was written for a Jewish melody furnished 
by Signer Leoni, which had charmed Olivers. 

"All hail the power of Jesus' name" has 
been denominated the Methodist " Te Deum." 
It was written by Edward Perronet (died 1792), 
a comrade of the Wesleys, until separated from 
them by doctrinal differences, and a son of Rev. 
Vincent Perronet, vicar of Shoreham, Kent, 
always the steadfast and ardent friend of the 
Wesley brothers. 

Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778) was the 
son of a British army officer and a native of 
Surrey, England. During a visit to Ireland 
he was converted under the preaching of a 
fervent but unlettered local preacher, and ma- 
triculated at Trinity College, Dublin, to study 



144 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

for the ministry. At eighteen his reading of 
Dr. Manton's sermons decided his bias toward 
Calvinism, and at twenty-two he was ordained 
a minister in the Established Church. He was 
an impressive preacher and popular, and his 
power as a controversialist was great. The 
acrimonious debate with Wesley has been al- 
ready referred to. It was given to Toplady to 
write the hymn " Rock of ages," by some con- 
sidered the finest hymn in our language, and 
one of the most widely usefuHn any language. 
From Wales came the exquisite strains 
of William Williams (1717-1791), whose 
"O'er those gloomy hills of gladness" is a 
noble missionary. hymn sung for years before 
missionary societies were founded ; and whose 
" Guide me, O thou great Jehovah," is a gen- 
eral favorite. 

John Berridge (1716-1793) was a zealous 
minister of the Established Church, who itin- 
erated extensively, despite the protest of his 
ecclesiastical caretakers, and who, a bachelor 
himself, wrote a marriage hymn, " Since Jesus 
freely did appear," which is found in several 
important collections. 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 145 

A few hymns composed by women have 
come down to us from this period. " Father, 
whate'er of earthly bliss," was written by Anne 
Steele (1716-1778), of whom it has been said 
that " no woman, and but few men, have writ- 
ten so many hymns which have had general 
acceptance in the Church." She was reared 
in comfortable circumstances among the hills 
of Hampshire, near Southampton, England. 
An injury received while young involved many 
years of suffering, and the drowning of her 
intended husband on the day preceding the 
day set for their marriage added great sorrow 
of heart. Her tender and beneficent minis- 
tries among the villagers and her gracious dis- 
position endeared her greatly to all. In death 
she uttered the triumphant testimony, " I 
know that my Redeemer liveth." 

Selina Shirley (1707-1791), daughter of 
Washington, Earl of Ferrers, and wife of 
Theophilus Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon who 
is credited with the hymn beginning in most 
collections with the line, " When thou, my 
righteous Judge, shalt come," was one of the 

most remarkable women of her time. Her 
10 



146 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

piety and liberality were equally conspicuous, 
and in an age when it required courage to be 
religious at all, even in church circles, her re- 
ligion was as ardent as it was sincere. Even 
George III. "wished there was a Lady Hunt- 
ingdon in every diocese in the kingdom," when 
a bishop complained of her zeal for godliness. 
Her house was the favorite resort for the lead- 
ers of the evangelical revival, and she was often 
their companion on preaching tours. She 
founded Trevecca College in South Wales, for 
the education of young men for the ministry, 
and before her death consented to the organ- 
ization of the "Connection" which bears her 
name. Among her chaplains were Romaine 
and Whitefield, and with the latter she may 
be said to have founded the Calvinistic branch 
of Methodism. Dying at eighty-four, she could 
fairly say, " My work is done. I have noth- 
ing to do but to go to my Father." 

"How blest the righteous when he dies," a 
hymn much in use at funerals, was written by 
Mrs. Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825), who 
is, perhaps, more widely known by her " Ode 
to Life," which Wordsworth committed to 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 147 

memory, and, though " not in the habit of 
grudging people their good things," wished 
" he had written these lines : " 

" Life ! We've been long together, 
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather ; 
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear, 
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear ; 
Then steal away, give little warning, 

Choose thine own time ; 

Say not, ' Good-night/ but in some brighter clime 
Bid me 'Good-morning.' " 



148 GOSPEL SINGERS. 



T 



CHAPTER IX. 

HYMNS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. 

HE tide of hymn-writing which began to 
gather under the influence of the Wesley- 
an revival of the eighteenth century rose to a 
flood before the middle of this century, and 
shows no sign of abatement. " Every man 
hath a psalm," and in some way or other finds 
a publisher. Each denomination has its own 
collection, which incorporates material from 
every source, and becomes in turn a source by 
inviting special contributions. To attempt an 
enumeration of the hymn- writers of this cent- 
ury would be to defeat the purpose of this 
work, which is simply to give some account of 
the origin and historyof familiar hymns. 

It is a spring day in 1822. A missionary 
meeting is in progress at the Wesleyan Chapel 
in Liverpool. The learned and saintly Adam 
Clarke presides. The speaker is a man in mid- 
dle life. He is of medium height, and has 
a thin, clear, intelligent countenance. His 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 149 

suit of black is adorned with voluminous breast 
ruffles, after the fashion of an earlier day. The. 
address which has touched his hearers to a 
lively interest in the absorbing theme is being 
concluded. The speaker becomes a seer. In 
clear vision he beholds the victorious progress 
of the Christian evangel and the kingdoms of 
our Lord and of his Christ. His heart pours 
itself out in triumphant ascription : 

Hail, to the Lord's Anointed, 

Great David's greater Son ! 
Hail, in the time appointed, 

His reign on earth begun ! 
He comes to break oppression, 

To set the captive free ; 
To take away transgression, 

And rule in equity." 

The service is over ; but Dr. Clarke, charmed 
with the poem which seizes the spirit and ex- 
hibits some of the principal beauties of the He- 
brew bard, begs the manuscript and prints it 
with his commentary on the seventy-second 
Psalm, of which it is a versification. The 
speaker was James Montgomery (1771-1854), 
who has been called by some, but with mani- 
fest exaggeration, " the Cowper of the nine- 



ISO GOSPEL SINGERS. 

teenth century." He was the son of a Mora- 
vian clergyman, and received his early training 
under Moravian influences at the settlement in 
Fulneck,. Yorkshire, England. As shop-boy 
he discovered his bent toward literature, which 
had free exercise when he became editor of 
the Sheffield Iris in 1/94. This journal, as 
the Register, had been edited by Montgom- 
ery's employer, Mr. Gales, who sought refuge 
in America from government persecution for 
radical views. With these views Montgomery 
sympathized, and twice found himself in pris- 
on for their expression. To this imprisonment 
we owe some of his best hymns. The greater 
part of his life was spent in Sheffield, and 
among many beautiful ministries was his care 
for the sisters of his exiled employer. He 
seems to have been subject to occasional de- 
pressions, and from one of these moods we 
have the hymn beginning, " O where shall rest 
be found." In 1814 he formally associated him- 
self with the United Brethren, which is sup- 
posed to have been the occasion of writing 
" People of the living God." His " Hark, the 
song of jubilee," was composed for a mission- 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 151 

ary anniversary, and his " Prayer is the soul's 
sincere desire M was written at the request of 
Rev. E. Bickersteth for the latter's Treatise 
on Prayer. Of his "Angels from the realms 
of glory," it is said by a competent critic that 
" for comprehensiveness, appropriateness of 
expression, force, and elevation of sentiment 
it may challenge comparison with any hymn 
that was ever written in any language or coun- 
try." Montgomery's achievements were not 
limited to hymn-writing. His critical work 
was not inconsiderable, either as to quantity or 
quality. His lectures on literature were re- 
ceived with great favor, and his literary serv- 
ices we.fe recognized by the government which 
had twice imprisoned him with a place on the 
pension list yielding an income of ^150 per 
annum. He died in 1854, and was honored 
with a public funeral. 

It was an exciting day in Scotland, that 
memorable i8th of May, 1843. The General 
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church sat in 
Edinburgh, and citizens of every station were 
canvassing on street, in store, and at the 
hearthstone the probable outcome of the mo- 



152 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

mentous session. Leaders in the Church had 
taken a stand against the abuse of patronage 
and the interference of the civil courts. Would 
they follow their convictions and leave the 
Established Church ? The answer was deci- 
sive and dramatic. " Dr. Welsh, the moderator, 
took the chair, invoked the divine presence, 
and calmly said that the Assembly could not 
be properly constituted without violating the 
terms of union between Church and State. 
He read a protest against any further proceed- 
ings, bowed to the representative of the crown, 
stepped down into the aisle, and walked to- 
ward the door. To follow him Was to forsake 
the old Church, its livings, salaries, manses, 

* 

pulpits, and parishes. Dr. Chalmers had 
seemed like a lion in reverie, and all eyes were 
turned upon him. Would he give up his chair 
in theology ? He seized his hat, took the new 
departure, and after him went more than four 
hundred other ministers with, a host of elders. 
A cheer burst from the galleries. In the street 
the expectant crowd parted and admired the 
heroic procession as it passed. Lord Jeffrey 
was sitting in his room quietly reading when 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 1 53 

some one rushed in, saying : ' What do you 
think ? More than four hundred of them have 
gone out.' Springing to his feet, he ex- 
claimed : ' I am proud of my country. There 
is not another land on earth where such a deed 
could have been done.'" Among the noble 
four hundred was Horatius Bonar, minister of 
the North Church at Kelso, then in the thirty- 
fifth year of his age, and sixth of his ministry. 
Of them all and some of them, like Chalmers, 
Guthrie, and Candlish, are among the most 
gifted of any time none comes nearer the 
heart of the Church at large than this sweet 
psalmist of our modern Israel. His work was 
monumental, and in its reach circled the earth. 
The " Kelso " tracts brought a message of 
mercy to thousands who never saw or heard 
the herald of the message ; and his hymns of 
faith and hope have sung themselves into the 
deepest affections of the saints in all denomi- 
nations. His life was rarely beautiful and 
other-worldly. He lived in an atmosphere of 
prayer. One of his children cherishes the re- 
membrance of " the voice of prayer coming 
from the locked study, where he knelt or paced 



154 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

up and down, sometimes for hours." A young 
servant in the house owed her conversion to 
this. She thought : " If he needs to pray so 
much, what will become of me if I do not 
pray ? " It is impossible that from a heart 
thus turned to heavenly things aught but heav- 
enly music should come. To him we owe that 
loveliest lyric of the heavenly land, " Beyond 
the smiling and weeping," and that most ex- 
quisite of personal testimonies, "I heard the 
voice of Jesus say," which the Anglican 
Bishop Fraser, of Manchester, declared to 
be " the finest hymn in the English language." 
When asked to designate his own favorite, Dr. 
Bonar selected the one beginning, "When the 
weary seeking rest," a beautiful poem con- 
structed on the theme of Solomon's prayer in 
the temple, concluding each stanza with the 
refrain : 

" Hear then in love, O Lord, the cry 
In heaven, thy dwelling-place on high." 

Perhaps the most general favorite in the 
Church, if we may judge by its distribution 
among the denominational collections, is the 
hymn, " I lay my sins on Jesus'," which, pro- 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 1 55 

ceeding in joyful triumph at the redemption 
in Christ, closes appropriately with an earnest 
longing for the ripeness of character which 
comes from a life fully consecrated to Christ. 
Other favorites are the " Pilgrim Song ; " "A 
few more years shall roll ; " " I was a wandering 
sheep," which has been used with telling em- 
phasis in revival-meetings ; and " Thy way, not 
mine, O Lord," a tender and trustful song of 
the heart. Dr. Bonar's hymns were composed 
under varied circumstances. "Sometimes," 
we are told, " they were timed by the numbers 
of the trickling brook that babbled near him ; 
sometimes attuned to the ordered tramp of 
the ocean, whose crested waves broke on the 
beach by which he wandered ; sometimes set 
to the rude music of the railway train that hur- 
ried him to the scene of duty; sometimes 
measured by the silent rhythm of the midnight 
stars that shone above him." The rich legacy 
bequeathed by this saint to the Church in his 
devotional poetry will become more and more 
apparent as it becomes better known. It is 
doubtful if the century will pVoduce a singer 
whose tones are at once so rich and various, 



156 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

and so thoroughly imbued with the spirit of 
praise. ' 

Widely different in spirit and outcome from 
the movement in Edinburgh was the so-called 
Tractarian movement which agitated the En- 
glish establishment during the third and fourth 
decades of this century. Like the Wesleyan 
movement, it began in Oxford University, and 
was in some measure a protest against the 
evangelicalism engendered by the spread of 
the Wesleyan spirit. The contention of its 
promoters was for a restoration of the very 
ecclesiasticism against which Wesley had re- 
belled, and which the most devoted and earnest 
part of the Church regarded as the deadliest 
foe to real spiritual life and activity. The out- 
come was as might have been expected. While 
some of its adherents remained in the 
Church of England, not a few went over to 
Rome. This movement had its singers, and 
it is with them we have to do. Earliest, 
and in some respects chiefest, among them 
was John Keble (1792-1866), whose Chris- 
tian Year, issued in 1827, is, perhaps, the 
most popular book of devotional poetry (the 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 157 

> 

Psalms always excepted) in literature. From 
this work we have the beautiful morning 
and evening hymns, "New every morning is 
the love," and " Sun of my soul, thou Saviour 
dear," based respectively upon Lam. iii, 22, 
23, and Luke xxiv, 29. The impression which 
this work made upon the public mind was 
almost revolutionary. It prepared the way 
for the rapid spread of Tractarianism, and, 
singularly enough, by its free handling of re- 
ligious subjects, opened the path also for the 
advent of biblical criticism, than which Tracta- 
rianism dreaded nothing more. According to 
Dean Stanley, The Christian Year has taken 
its place next to the Authorized Version and 
Prayer-Book, far above the Homilies and Ar- 
ticles. " For one who would enforce an argu- 
ment by quoting the eleventh article, or the 
homily on Charity," he says, " there are a hun- 
dred,, who would appeal to The Christian Year" 
Perhaps the most noticeable quality in Keble's 
hymns is the knowledge of Scripture displayed. 
The thought is lucid, the diction vivid, and 
there is a spiritual fervor which makes them 
universally acceptable. 



158 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

The very year (1833) from which the Trac- 
tarian movement is commonly reckoned, a 
Church of England clergyman was impatiently 
waiting at a Mediterranean sea-port to take 
passage home. He was sick in body and anx- 
ious in mind. An orange boat was ready to 
sail. He secured passage, and the homeward 
voyage was begun. But the boat was be- 
calmed and the impatient spirit sought solace 
in verse-making. Here, on June 16, was writ- 
ten the hymn, " Lead, kindly Light, amid the 
encircling gloom," which for beauty of sug- 
gestion and felicity of expression stands al- 
most unrivaled in our tongue. The writer was 
John Henry Newman (1801-1890), then a 
presbyter in the Church of England, and, as 
the incumbent of St. Mary's, a teacher of 
almost unparalleled influence with. Oxford stu- 
dents. He took his place in the current agi- 
tation, and became at once the most influen- 
tial of its leaders. He entered the Roman 
communion in 1845 '> ' m l %79 he was designated 
a cardinal, and in 1890 he died. 

Belonging to the same coterie was Frederick 
William Faber (1815-1 863), whose hymns have 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 159 

a sweetness and tender suggestion which en- 
dears them to all lovers of sacred poetry. He 
was, like Newman, a magician with words, 
and not a little of the spell which both exercise 
in their writings lies in the fascination of felicit- 
ous phrasing. There is, perhaps, no more win- 
ning interpretation of the heart's longing for 
heaven than his " O paradise, O paradise ! " or 
no more enrapturing melody for a pilgrimage 
song than his " Hark, hark, my soul ! angelic 
songs are swelling.' ' Many a discouraged work- 
er has taken heart again by the ringing remem- 
brance that 

" Right is right, since God. is God, 
.And right the day must win." 

And, despite its alleged questionableness of 
doctrine and faultiness of figure, hosts of .wor- 
shipers find comfort and inspiration in remem- 
bering that 

" There's a wideness in God's mercy, 
Like the wideness of the sea." 

The Tractarian movement gave an impetus 
to the study of the Latin and Greek Church 
fathers which was not without its effect upon 



hymnody. The hymn-writers of the early 



l6o GOSPEL SINGERS. 

centuries were again made vocal in translations, 
and some of our most cherished lyrics are from 
these sources. Kasily chief among all the 
workers in this field was John Mason Neale 
(1818-1866), whose "Jerusalem, the golden," 
has made known to us " the sweetest of all the 
New Jerusalem hymns of heavenly homesick- 
ness which have taken their inspiration from 
the last two chapters of Revelation." Dr. 
Neale's career reads like a romance. His 
championship of the extreme views advocated 
in the Tractarian movement subjected him to 
the crudest persecution. Although his life 
was divided between stupendous toil and the 
most abounding labors of piety and benevo- 
lence, he was under the inhibition of his bishop 
for fourteen years, and was once burned in 
effigy. His work was of the hardest and his 
income a pittance. He wrote children's stories 
for bread, and was manifestly content to serve 
the Church he loved, though she heeded not 
his loyalty and regarded with suspicion his sin- 
cere and enthusiastic devotion. Next to Dr. 
Neale stands Edward Caswall (1814-1878), 
who has given us " Jesus, the very thought of 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. l6l 

thee," the unapproachably fine translation of 
Bernard's famous " Jesu dulcis memoria," and 
" My .God, I love thee not because I hope for 
heaven thereby," the scarcely less famous hymn 
of Francis Xavier. To John Chandler (1806- 
1876), whose service in this line entitles him 
to rank with Neale and Caswall, we are in- 
debted for the hymn beginning, " The royal 
banner is unfurled," a rendering of " one of the 
grandest hymns in the treasury of the Latin 
Church," the Passion hymn of Venantius For- 
tunatus. 

Contributions were also brought in from the 
German sources, the principal worker in this 
field being Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878), 
who rendered this service not. so much to fur- 
nish specimens of German hymn-writing "as in 
the hope," as she herself says " that these utter- 
ances of Christian piety, which have comforted 
and strengthened the hearts of many true 
Christians, in their native country, may speak 
to the hearts of some among us to help and 
cheer those who must strive and suffer, and to 
make us feel afresh what a deep and true 

communion of saints exists among all the chil- 
11 



1 62 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

dren of God in different Churches and lands." 
To Miss Jane Borthwick, a native of Scotland, 
who, with her sister, published a valuable se- 
lection from the Hymns from the Land of Lu- 
ther, we owe the hymn, " My Jesus, as thou 
wilt," which has already had a wonderful his- 
tory in bringing a message of comfort to hearts 
stricken with bereavement. 

The services to hymnody rendered by, Miss 
Winkworth and Miss Borthwick naturally sug- 
gest the further contributions to the service of 
song made by female writers. Harriet Auber 
(1773-1862) was born in London, and was a 
devout member of the Church of England. 
She had a fine literary taste, and her render- 
ing of the Psalms ranks with the best produced 
in this century. Psa. Ixxii becomes in her 
version the favorite missionary hymn, " Has- 
ten, Lord, the glorious time;" and Psa. Ixxxi 
the equally popular hymn of praise, " O God, 
our strength, to thee our song." 

Mrs. Felicia D. Hemans (1794-1835), in spite 
of the most discouraging circumstances, be- 
came one of the most popular poets of her day. 
That she undervalued her own work is manifest 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 163 

from her expressed regret " that the necessities 
of providing for a family obliged her to waste 
her mind upon. mere desultory effusions." Two 
verses of the hymn by which she is represented 
in most of our hymnals, " Calm on the bosom 
of thy God," are inscribed on her tomb in 
the church at Dublin, Ireland, where she is 
buried. 

Mrs. Margaret Mackay (born 1801) is a Scotch 
story- writer and poet, who, from the quiet 
aspect of a Devonshire cemetery and the con- 
cordant inscription upon a headstone, " Sleep- 
ing in Jesus," received the suggestion which 
gave us that cherished hymn, "Asleep in Jesus, 
blessed sleep." 

There is, perhaps, no more beautiful ex- 
pression of devout faith and child-like trust 
than is found in the hymn, " Father, I know 
that all my life," by Anna Lsetitia Waring 
(born 1820), a native of South Wales and a 
singer of unusual gifts. 

That hymn, an especial favorite with chil- 
dren, " I think when I. read that sweet story 
of old," was written in a stage-coach by Mrs. 
Jemima Luke (born 1813), wife of an Inde- 



164 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

pendent minister in England, while on her 
way to a school festival. 

Elizabeth Codner (born 1835), who writes, 
" Lord, I hear of showers of blessing," is also 
the wife of a clergyman living in London, and 
is favorably known for her benevolent activity. 
The hymn was born out of a heart anxious for 
the salvation of some young friends who had 
been greatly impressed with the recital of 
events connected with the revival in Ireland in 
1860. While quietly communing with herself 
and longing to impress upon the young people 
an individual appeal "without effort," she says, 
" words seemed to be given me, and they took 
the form of this hymn." Few hymns have 
been more serviceable in evangelistic work. 

Who that ever heard Mr. Ira D. Sankey sing 
"The ninety and nine " will ever forget the 
melting pathos and infinite tenderness of its 
loving suggestion ? The tune was his own, and 
came into his mind during a service at which 
the topic presented was " The Good Shepherd." 
The hymn was written by Mrs. Elizabeth C. 
Clephane (1830-1869), of Melrose, Scotland, 
who wrote it for a periodical edited by Dr. Ar- 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 165 

not, and who passed into the presence of the 
Good Shepherd a few years before her hymn 
was winged with music for its world-wide flight. 
A city pastor was called to the bedside of a 
young woman dying of consumption. School 
associations had brought her under the influ- 
ences of a teacher hostile to the Christian, and 
indifferent to any, religion. The girl was high- 
ly cultivated, and argued the claims of religion 
with the pastor as if the contest were not for 
life and death, but for dialectical supremacy. 
His importunity at length annoyed her. She de- 
clined to further discuss the topic, and upon 
allusion to it would turn her face to the wall. 
Finally, the pastor, addressing her by name, said 
earnestly : " I have not called to argue with you 
another word, but before leaving you to meet 
the issues of eternity I wish to recite a hymn." 
He then repeated with touching emphasis the 
hymn "Just as I am, without one plea," and 
left her. He thought it would not be worth 
while to call again, but the imminence of death 
and peril of soul were too great to be de- 
nied any help he might offer, and he went to 
her once more. She turned to face him. In 



1 66 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

her sunken eyes was a gleaming radiance and 
upon her face an ineffable light. Placing her 
wasted hands in his, she said, with deep emo- 
tion : 

"Just as I am, without one plea, 
But that thy blood was shed for me, 
And that thou bidd'st me come to thee, 
O Lamb of God, I come ! I come ! " 

" O, sir," she said, " Tve come, Pve come!" 
This is but one instance among hundreds in 
which this hymn has made an appeal denied 
to argument and the logician's skill, and 
brought the human soul and its divine Sa- 
viour into at-one-ment. The writer of the hymn 
was Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), a native of 
Brighton, England, and blessed with an an- 
cestry famous for intellectual and spiritual at- 
tainments. At twenty-two she became, and 
through her long life continued, an invalid. 
At thirty-three she was brought into a rich re- 
ligious experience through the ministry of the 
saintly Caesar Malan, of Switzerland, and annu- 
ally kept the day on which it occurred as a 
sacred festival. Her now famous hymn ap- 
peared in 1836, and was written for the Inva- 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. l6/ 

lid's Hymn-Book, a work compiled by her, and 
to which, in its several editions, she contrib- 
uted over a hundred hymns. In the furnace 
of much bodily pain and sorrow of heart were 
her exquisite hymns fashioned. Years of pa- 
tient suffering went into their making, and not 
unlikely imparted that quality which makes 
them a store-house of consolation for God's 
chastened and chosen ones. From her pen 
also came that matchless petition for perfect 
loyalty in every dispensation, " My God, my 
Father, while I stray," which so pathetically 
hints of a brave heart suffering. 

" Then when on earth I breathe no more 
The prayers oft mixed with tears before, 
I'll sing upon a happier shore 
' Thy will be done, thy will be done.' " 

Of this and the hymn " Just as I am," Miss 
Frances R. Havergal says : " There is a beau- 
tiful fitness in the fact that these two far thrill- 
ing chords were struck by the same hand. 
For only the heart that said ' Just as I am ' 
can truly say ' Thy will be done.' " 

The Miss Havergal quoted above was her- 
self a singer of verses as sweet and helpful as 



1 68 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

her piety was deep and gracious. She was 
born at Astley, Worcestershire, England, De- 
cember 14, 1836. Her father was an accom- 
plished minister and musician, and the daugh- 
ter early developed a passion for music and 
unusual gifts of composition. Fancying that 
her choice of the musician's vocation was a 
self-gratification, she even prayed that the gift 
might be withdrawn if a peril to her spiritual 
life. Her prayer was " to be white at any 
cost." The gift was consecrated to divine 
uses, and became a ministry of blessing to 
multitudes. Visiting at a friend's home, she 
asked God for the conversion of some uncon- 
verted inmates and a special blessing upon the 
others, and the prayer was signally granted. 
Her joy poured itself out in her well-known 
and searching consecration hymn, " Take my 
life, and let it be." Too ill to attend church 
on Sunday, the chiming bells called out from 
her heart the stirring response, " Tell it out 
among the nations that the Lord is King." 
Miss Havergal died in 1879. Her life literally 
went out in song. 

A hymn which has won wide and abiding 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 169 

popularity is " Nearer, my God, to thee," the 
metrical rendering of Jacob's vision at Beth-el 
recorded in Gen. xxviii, 11-19. It was writ- 
ten by Mrs. Sarah Flower Adams (1805-1849), 
the gifted daughter of one of the founders of 
English journalism, and a member of the con- 
gregation organized by the eloquent William 
Johnson Fox, to whose collection the hymn 
was contributed. In some quarters its use has 
been objected to on the grounds that its 
author was a Unitarian, and that it contains 
no reference to Christ. This objection might 
with equal force be urged against large sec- 
tions of the Old Testament. Allied " Chris- 
tian" emendations have been tried upon the 
hymn, but have found no acceptance. x If one 
may judge from poetical expression in a dra- 
matic composition (not an absolute test, it is 
true), Mrs. Adams was as orthodox as the 
most sensitive could require. In a lovely 
hymn from her Vivia Perpetua she sings : 

" Part in peace Christ's life was peace, 

Let us live our life in him ; 
Part in peace Christ's death was peace, 

Let us die our death in him ; 



I/O GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Part in peace Christ promise gave 

Of a life beyond the grave, 
Where all mortal partings cease : 
Brethren, sisters, part in peace." 

Certain it is that her life was one of beautiful 
ministry, and her death was radiant with the 
spirit of resignation and hope. 

Richly supplementing the songs of the sister- 
hood are the melodies of their brother singers. 
The hymnist who of all others I'm the early 
part of the century ranks next to Montgomery 
in the contribution of serviceable hymns for 
congregational worship is Thomas Kelly (1769- 
1855). He was a native of Ireland and a min- 
ister of the Established Church until his fervor 
led to differences with his superiors. Later, 
from conviction, he became a dissenter. He 
was a scholar, poet, musician, and evangelist. 
Having independent means, he gave unstint- 
edly to every good cause, and after an extended 
term of blessedly diligent, laborious, and fruit- 
ful service he died at a ripe age. Among his 
best hymns are the missionary hymn, " On 
the mountain's top appearing," based upon 
Isa. lii, 7 ; the hymn of the Church, " Zion 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. I /I 

stands with hills surrounded," based upon Psa. 
cxxv, 2 ; and " We sing the praise of him who 
died," based upon Gal. vi, 14, a hymn of which 
Sir Roundell Palmer says, " I doubt whether 
Montgomery ever wrote any thing quite equal 
to this." 

Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) was a 
Church of England clergyman whose life is 
full of singularly noble and pathetic touches. 
After years of arduous and loving service 
among a rough, seafaring people on the Devon 
coast he is ordered to the Continent for a re- 
spite and in the hope of restoring shattered 
health. He goes and returns. The hope is 
futile* But he must go again. He insists 
upon preaching once more. His hardy fisher 
people and their little ones throng the church. 
He speaks to them of the broken body and 
shed blood of the Saviour. They listen breath- 
lessly as to a dying man. He bids them fare- 
well and seeks his room. On the evening of 
the same day he places in the hands of a friend 
the words of that peerless evening hymn, 
"Abide with me, fast falls the eventide," and 
soon after goes abroad to die. 



172 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Like Lyte in talents and devotion was Reg- 
inald Heber (1783-1826), who, after a brilliant 
university career, accepted the bishopric of 
Calcutta, arid in three years wore out his life 
in unremitting toil. Three hymns, all eminent 
in their way, we owe to him. His " Holy, 
holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," is perhaps 
the most perfect hymn of ascription in our 
language. The pre-eminent missionary hymn, 
"From Greenland's icy mountains," was writ- 
ten in a few hours to meet the demand of his 
father-in-law for a hymn to be sung at a mis- 
sionary service the next day. " Brightest and 
best of the sons of the morning," although 
criticised as an "apostrophe to a star," is nev- 
ertheless one of our best Christmas hymns. 

Bernard Barton (1784-1849), the " Quaker 
poet," sometimes restive under the routine of 
his duties as bank clerk, gave to the Church that 
noble testimony to its most convincing apology, 
" Walk in the light, so shalt thou know." 

Henry Kirke White (1785-1806), the youth 
of promise who had Southey for his enthusi- 
astic biographer and Lord Byron for his eulo- 
gist, and from whom, 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 

" When life was in its spring, 
And his young muse just waved her joyous wing, 
The spoiler swept that soaring lyre away 
Which else had sounded an immortal lay," 

gave us his experience in passing from doubt 
to assurance in the hymn, " When marshaled 
on the nightly plain." 

James Edmeston (1791-1867), author of 
" Saviour, breathe an evening blessing," was a 
London architect, and this favorite hymn was 
written, we are told, after reading in Salte's 
Travels in Abyssinia the words, " At night 
their short evening hymn, ' Jesus forgives us,' 
stole through the camp." For years this hymn 
was part of the evening service in the church 
where its author worshiped. 

The general choir includes singers of almost 
every station in life and of almost every degree 
of culture. Sir Robert Grant (1785-1838), the 
accomplished Governor of Bombay, India, 
contributes the touching litany cry, " Saviour, 
when in dust to thee," and the joyous hymn 
of gratitude and praise, " O worship the King 
all glorious above." 

Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), the distin- 



1/4 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

guished scholar and diplomatist, writes that 
triumphant hymn of the cross, " In the cross 
of Christ I glory," which to some may seem 
an anomaly, since its author was a leader 
among the English Unitarians, whose creed 
has no place for the cross. 

Sabine Baring-Gould, an Episcopal clergy- 
man of varied culture and an industrious stu- 
dent, contributed " Onward, Christian sol- 
diers," which ranks in the very front of our 
few good soldier songs. 

Edward Mote (1797-1836), a Baptist min- 
ister in England, wrote " My hope is built on 
nothing less " when a layman, and the refrain, 

" On Christ, the solid rock, I stand, 
All other ground is sinking sand," 

flowed into his mind while on his way to busi- 

* 

ness. 

George Keith, a London bookseller, is cred- 
ited (upon evidence, however, which is by 
no means conclusive) with writing one of the 
noblest lyrics and richest possessions of the 
Christian Church, the hymn " How firm a 
foundation, ye saints of the Lord," which is 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 

based upon the quartette of texts, I Pet. i, 4; 
Isa. xli, 10 ; xliii, 2 ; and xlvi, 4. 

To Thomas Moore (1779-1852), poet, mu- 
sician, and man of the world, we are indebted 
for the familiar "Come, ye disconsolate," the 
resounding song of Miriam, " Sound the loud 
timbrel," and that sweetest, tenderest, and 
most touching of lyrics, " O thou who driest 
the mourner's tear." 

Hugh Stowell (1799-1865), a churchman of 
broad sympathies and strongly evangelical, 
gave us " From every stormy wind that 
blows," than which none is dearer to the hearts 
of devout people. 

Dean Henry Alford (1810-1871), eminent 
in scholarship and in service to the universal 
Church of Christ, describes in thrilling lines 
his vision of the Church triumphant in the 
hymn " Ten thousand times ten x thousand," 
and rang out the glorious call for the Church 
militant, " Forward be our watchword," writ- 
ten for an occasion which did not take place 
until after its author had passed away. 

A hymn of the heavenly land, sung every- 
where, and an especial favorite with children, 



170 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

* 

" There is a happy land," was written by a 
Scotch teacher, Andrew Young, who found 
himself charmed by an Indian tune and com- 
pelled to write a hymn for it. 

The list of American hymn-writers, until 
within a quite recent date, was not large. But 
now in this country, as in England, the inter- 
est in psalmody and the demand for new col- 
lections are so great as to call out a multitude 
of singers, many of whose compositions find a 
more or less permanent place in the general 
church choir. 

Of the early singers perhaps the most in- 
fluential is Thomas Hastings (1784-1872), a 
Presbyterian layman whose services to church 
music cannot be overestimated. Of his hymns 
perhaps the most popular are : " Gently, Lord, 
O gently lead us," which appeared first in 
Spiritual Songs for Social Worship " (1832), 
edited by Dr. Hastings and Lowell Mason 
(1792-1872); the missionary hymn, "Hail to 
the brightness of Zion's glad morning," based 
upon Isa. lii, 7 ; and the funeral hymn, " Jesus, 
while our hearts are bleeding." 

One of the happy illustrations that in a 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 

hymn-book denominational differences are dis- 
regarded is found in the fact that the favorite 
Methodist hymn of consecration, " Lord, I am 
thine, entirely thine," was written by an emi- 
nent Presbyterian divine, Samuel Davies (1723- 
1 761), who succeeded Jonathan Edwards as pres- 
ident of Princeton College. It was manifestly 
written as a communion hymn, its title being 
." Self-dedication at the table of the Lord." 

A hymn endeared to many by its connec- 
tion with the most sacred hours of sorrow is 
"I would not live alway," which was written 
by an Episcopalian clergyman and well-known 
philanthropist, W. A. Muhlenberg (1796-1877). 
The hymn, the authorship of which was then 
unknown, was presented for adoption by a 
committee of which Dr. Muhlenberg was one, 
and rejected as being " good, but sentimental." 
Dr. Muhlenberg himself voted for its exclusion. 
Dr. H. U. Onderdonk, who had presented it, 
secured its reconsideration and adoption. In 
after years Dr. Muhlenberg said of this com- 
position, " I do not believe in the hymn at 
all ; it does not express the feelings of the 

saint, and I should not write it now." 
12 



1/8 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

What is probably the most popular hymn 
of the Church, " I love thy kingdom, Lord," 
was written by a Congregationalist, Dr. Timo- 
thy D wight (1752-1847), the eminent theolo- 
gian and president of Yale College, whose life 
is one of the romances of scholarship. 

The hymn-book further illustrates how a 
simple service may be multiplied and made 
indefinitely useful. There are several singers 
of just one song that is, of just one song 
which has commanded the general suffrage for 
its incorporation in the standard collections. 
Such are some of our hymns of heaven. 

Mrs. Lydia Baxter (1809-1874), a devout 
and active member of the Baptist Church, gave 
us " There is a gate that stands ajar," which 
has shown the way into the beautifuL city for a 
host which else might have passed it un- 
noted. 

S. Fillmore Bennett, a physician, wrote 
" There's a land that is fairer than day," and, 
it is said, dashed it off in fifteen minutes upon 
hearing the remark from a friend that things 
" would be all right by and by." 

So also the favorites, " In the Christian's 



.NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 179 

home in glory," by Samuel Young Harmer, a 
Methodist minister ; " My heavenly home is 
bright and fair," by William Hunter (1811- 
1877), also a Methodist minister ; " I will sing 
you a song of that beautiful land," by Mrs. 
Helen Huntington Gates, a member of the 
Presbyterian Church and author of the song so 
much admired by President Lincoln, begin- 
ning " If you cannot cross the ocean ;" and " O, 
think of the home over there," by D. W. C. 
Huntington, of Genesee Conference in the 
Methodist Church ; and " Safe in the arms of 
Jesus," by Mrs. Francis Jane (Crosby) Van 
Alstyne (born in 1823), the blind singer, who 
composed this hymn in fifteen minutes at the 
request of Mr. G. W. Doane, the musician, 
who furnished her the theme. Mrs. Van Al- 
styne, who writes as "Fanny Crosby," is the 
ready writer of over five thousand hymns, 
some of which have become widely popular in 
Sunday-school and social meetings. 

To this category belong also some names 
cherished for hymns of Christian experience. 
Such are Mrs. Elizabeth -Payson Prentiss(i8i8- 
1878), author of the devotional classic, Step- 



180 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

ping Heavenward, who has given us the favor- 
ite prayer-song, " More love to thee, O Christ," 
and Mrs. Phoebe Hinsdale' Brown (1783-1861), 
whose " I love to steal awhile away " was 
written under circumstances of touching inter- 
est. She was wont to seek the seclusion of a 
grove near her humble home that she might 
have an opportunity for religious meditation 
and prayer. Her visits there were miscon- 
strued by a neighbor, who roughly told Mrs. 
Brown of her suspicions. " I went home," 
the latter says, " and that evening was left 
alone. After my children were all in bed ex- 
cept my baby I sat down in the kitchen with 
my child in my arms, when the grief of my 
heart burst forth in a flood of tears. I took 
pen and paper and gave vent to my oppressed 
heart in what I called ' My apology for my 
twilight rambles. Addressed to a lady.' " 
When prepared for Nettleton's Village Hymns 
the poem was altered to its present form. 

A few native hymns have been found worthy 
to rank among the first favorites in the uni- 
versal Church. Such is the hymn " My faith 
looks up to thee," written by Ray Palmer 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. l8l 

(1808-1887), a Congregational minister who 
served successful pastorates in the State of 
New York, and was for years Corresponding 
Secretary of the American Congregational 
Union. This hymn was composed when the 
author was twenty-two years old and a school 
teacher in New York city. " It was born in 
my heart," he says, " and demanded expres- 
sion. There was not the slightest thought of 
writing for another eye, least of all of writing 
a hymn for Christian worship. I gave form to 
what I felt by writing the stanzas with little 
effort. I recollect I wrote them with very 
tender emotion, and penned the last line with 
tears:" Another beautiful hymn by this writer 
is the one beginning, " Jesus these eyes have 
never seen." It was Dr. Palmer's favorite, 
and he passed away with the words of one 
verse upon his lips : 

" When death these mortal eyes shall seal, 

And still this throbbing heart, 
The rending veil shall thee reveal, 

All-glorious as thou art." 

Another hymn which has had wide accept- 
ance is " One sweetly solemn thought," written 



1 82 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

by Phcebe Gary (1824-1871). The hymn ap- 
pears in two forms. The original was written 
in 1852 after Sunday morning service in " the 
little back third-story bedroom " of a friend's 
house in New York. The revised form, which 
constitutes the basis of the hymnal versions, 
was written by her for a book of Hymns for 
All Christians, compiled by herself and her 
pastor, Dr. Deems. A familiar story of its 
blessed work is that a young man, thought- 
lessly singing it in a gambling-house in China, 
aroused the conscience of a fellow-gambler, 
who subsequently became converted. 

A hymn which is exceedingly and deserv- 
edly popular here, and which will steadily 
commend itself to an ever-enlarging audience, 
is the stirring soldier-song, " Stand up, stand 
up for Jesus." It was written by George Duf- 
field (1818-1883), a prominent Presbyterian 
minister, during the revival in Philadelphia in 
1857. Called to the bedside of a dying fellow- 
worker, Dr. Duffield asked what message he 
should take to the association under whose aus- 
pices the revival was being carried forward. 
"Tell them," said the dying man, " to stand up 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 183 

for Jesus." Dr. Duffield preached on the follow- 
ing Sunday from the words, " Stand therefore, 
having your loins girt about with truth," etc., 
and read the verses as a concluding exhortation. 
Our national hymn, one of the noblest and 
most inspiring ever written, was composed in 
1832 by Samuel Francis Smith (born 1808), 
then a theological student, afterward a Baptist 
pastor of repute. It was suggested by the tune 
" America, " which the author found in a Ger- 
man music-book given to him by Lowell Ma- 
son. The same author has given us one of 
our most popular missionary hymns, " The 
morning light is breaking," which was contrib- 
uted to the Psalmist in 1843. 
- There is nothing more interesting in a re- 
view of hymnody than the disclosure that to 
reach the heart of humanity one must sing of 
redemption. The singer may, or may not, 
have his affiliations with the evangelical 
Church ; but if his song is to live and to pass 
into the current of men's thought it must sing 
"The praise of Him who died," or of the 
hopes begotten in Him who died, " the just for 
the unjust, that he might bring us to God." 



1 84 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

Thus our most exquisite Christmas hymn, 
"Calm on the listening ear of night," which 
Oliver Wendell Holmes pronounces " one of 
the finest and most beautiful hymns ever writ- 
ten," was composed by E. H. Sears (1810- 
1886), a leading minister in the Unitarian de- 
nomination. Another Christmas hymn, "It 
came upon the midnight clear," by the same 
author, is much and justly admired. 

Oliver Wendell Holmes (born 1809) is an- 
other " singer of the liberal faith " who has 
contributed a hymn, " O love divine, that 
stooped to share," which for its pronounced 
and acceptable Christian sentiment has been 
incorporated into many denominational collec- 
tions. There are few nobler lyrics of adora- 
tion than the same writer's " Lord of all being, 
throned afar." 

William Cullen Bryant (1805-1886), one of 
America's greatest poets, is also classed with 
the Unitarians, which does not prevent his 
" Deem not that they are blest alone " from 
bringing, its suggestion of comfort and conso- 
lation to men and women who are at the 
farthest remove from him theologically. 



NINETEENTH CENTURY HYMNS. 185 

There is not in any collection a more exqui- 
site and tenderly suggestive hymn of Christ's 
love than that given by John Greenleaf Whit- 
tier (born 1807) in his 

" We may not climb the heavenly steeps 
To bring the Lord Christ down ; 

In vain we search the lowest deeps, 
For him no depths can drown. 

" But warm, sweet, tender, even yet 

A present help is he ; 
And faith has yet its Olivet, 

And love its Galilee." 

Thus it has ever been. " From the day 
when Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang the first 
Christian hymn to the latest that has entered 
our modern hymn-books one name, which is 
above every name, has made all its music." 
And thus it will ever be. 

" Christ, Son of God, and Christ, the Son of n:an, 
Christ on the cross and Christ in kingly reign ! 
So sang the saints when first the song began; 
So shall- it rise, a never-ending strain." 



NOTES. 



1 Dr. Schaff says that the number of German hymns 
cannot fall short of one hundred thousand. Dean George 
Ludvig von Hardenberg, of Halberstadt, in 1786 pre- 
pared a catalogue of first lines of seventy-two thousand 
seven hundred and thirty-three hymns, and the number, 
not completed then, has been greatly increased since. 

a Of these two hymns the first was composed for his 
wife's twenty-ninth birthday, October 12, 1755 ; the 
second seems to have been generally " for Christian 
friends," and appeared in the author's Hymns and Sa- 
cred Poems, 1749. It was. of this latter hymn that the 
saintly Fletcher said : " When the triumphal chariot of 
perfect love gloriously carries you to the top of perfec- 
tion's hill ; when you are raised far above the common 
heights of the perfect ; when you are almost translated 
into glory, like Elijah then you may sing this hymn." 

3 Said to have been composed during a solitary walk 
in the field, when the poet was tortured by an apprehen- 
sion of returning madness. It was the last he ever wrote 
for the famous Olney collection. 

4 Part of the hymn found in the Olney collection, en- 
titled " Looking at the Cross," and beginning 

" In evil long I took delight, 

Unawed by shame or fear, 
Till a new object struck my sight, 

And stopped my wild career." 



1 88 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

6 A selection from a poem of ten stanzas, entitled 
" Desiring Resignation and Thankfulness," the first 
stanza of which is 

" When I survey life's varied scene, 

Amid the darkest hours, 
Sweet rays of comfort shine between, 

And thorns are mixed with flowers." 

8 From the " Evening Hymn " in the Christian Year. 
The original has fourteen stanzas, of which the third, 
seventh, eighth, and last three verses are usually given in 
hymn collections. 

7 This, one of Wesley's "Hymns for Children," is 
given entire in the Methodist Hymnal, No. 968, and be- 
gins : " And am I only born to die ? " Two stanzas are 
here omitted. 

8 The " Trisagion " is said to have been first intro- 
duced into the Liturgy in the reign of the younger The- 
odosius (408-450), but it is probably much older. Tra- 
dition has it that it was supernaturally communicated to 
the terror-stricken population of Constantinople during 
an earthquake by St. Proclus (A. D. 434). 

9 The " Gloria " consisted originally of the few words in 
Luke ii, 14, to which subsequent additions were made 
first in the Greek, then in the Latin Church' until in 
the fifth century it is found substantially in its present 
form. 

10 There is a legend to the effect that Ambrose com- 
posed and sang the " Te Deum " by inspiration when he 
baptized Augustine ; also, that they sang it responsively. 
This latter suggestion has been poetically wrought out 
by Mrs. Margaret J. Preston in " The First Te Deum." 
See her Colonial Ballads, 1887. It is generally be- 



NOTES. 189 

lieyed to be a composite of some Greek morning hymns 
and metrical renderings of scriptural passages. 

11 The best authorities doubt the genuineness of this 
hymn, claiming that while it is beautiful and interesting, 
it probably belongs to a later age. 

19 See Methodist Hymnal, No. 885. 

13 See Methodist Hymnal, No. 233. 

14 Dr. Schaff calls this the best of the Ambrosian 
hymns, full of faith, rugged vigor, austere simplicity, and 
bold contrasts. We subjoin the first and last stanzas 
(of seven) in Dr. Ray Palmer's translation : 

" O Thou, Redeemer of our race ! 
. Come, show the Virgin's Son to earth ; 
Let every age admire the grace ; 
Worthy a God thy human birth ! 



" With light divine thy manger streams 

That kindles darkness into day ; 
Dimmed by no night henceforth, its beams 

Shine through all time with changeless ray." 

Trench calls the translation by John Franck one of the 
choicest treasures of the German hymn-book, and 
Bunsen says it is ." even deeper and lovelier than the 
Latin." See Lyra Germanica, First Series, page 186. 

16 Confessions, ix, 6, " How greatly did I weep in thy 
hymns and canticles, deeply moved by the voices of thy 
sweet-speaking Church ! The voices flowed into mine 
ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart, 
whence the agitation of my piety overflowed, and my 
tears ran over, and blessed was I therein." 

18 Confessions, ix, 7. 



GOSPEL SINGERS. 

17 The original is still in use in the Roman Church, 
being sung on Good Friday, during the procession in 
which the consecrated host is carried to the altar. This 
hymn is selected as one of "the seven great hymns of 
the mediaeval Church," by the editor of a work bearing 
that name, and published by A. D. F. Randolph & Co., 
New York. 

18 This famous hymn is said by Rev. John Ellerton, the 
translator, to be, with the same author's " Crux ben- 
edicta nitet," the earliest instance of elegiac verse in 
Christian song. The transfusion of Ellerton's, which 
finds a place in the hymn collections, is in a different 
measure from the original, which runs : 

"Salve festadies, toto venerabilis aevo, 
Qua Deus infernum vicit, et astra tenet, 
Salve festa dies, toto venerabilis asvo." 

Throughout the poem the first two lines of this verse 
form the third line of the other verses alternately. The 
festal day referred to is Easter. 

19 Besides Charlemagne and Gregory the authorship 
has been claimed for Rabanus, Archbishop of Mayence 
(776-856). Dry den's version in English has been com- 
mended by Warton as " a most elegant and beautiful 
little morsel, and one of his most correct compositions." 
It opens : 

" Creator Spirit, by whose aid 
The world's foundations first were laid, 
Gome, visit every pious mind ; 
Come, pour thy joys on human kind ; 
From sin and sorrow set us free, 
And make thy temples worthy thee." 

20 The translation by Ray Palmer is found in the 
Methodist Hymnal, No. 284. Miss Winkworth furnishes 



NOTES. 



191 



a translation of this hymn from the German for the 
Lyra Germanica, which, according to competent author- 
ity, is a finer translation than any that profess to be 
from the Latin. We give the second and third stanzas : 

u Come, Father of the poor, to earth ; 
Come, with thy gifts of precious worth ; 
._ Come, Light of all of mortal birth ! 

" Thou rich in comfort ! Ever blest 
The heart where thou art constant guest, 
Who giv'st the heavy laden rest." 

81 See Methodist Hymnal/No. 1047, where" it has been 
considerably altered. Dr. Neale, the translator, thinks it 
" extremely pretty " as a song, but not intended for 
church use. 

82 Methodist Hymnal, No. 230. It is still in use in the 
Greek Church, and Neale, in his Hymns of the Eastern 
Church (page 92),, quotes a graphic account of the cel- 
ebration in which it is sung. 

23 The hymns of Bernard, cited here, are all in the 
Methodist Hymnal, the second and fourth being espe- 
cial favorites with our people. " Of him who did salva- 
tion bring " was at one time credited to Charles Wes- 
ley ; the matter and style of the poem betraying, as was 
thought, the Wesleyan genius. It was discovered after- 
ward in a book of translations by A. W. Boehm (1673- 
1722), and has since been properly assigned. "Jesus, 
the very thought of thee," has been denominated " the 
sweetest and most evangelical (as the " Dies Irae" is the 
grandest, and the " Stabat Mater" the most pathetic) 
hymn of the Middle Ages." Trench, selecting fifteen of 
the forty-eight or fifty quatrains for his " Latin Poetry," 
remarks : " Where all was beautiful, the task of selecting 
was a hard one." 



192 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

84 The late Rev. S. W. Duffield essayed a translation, 
preserving the original measure, thus : 

" These are the latter times ; these are not better times; 

Let us stand waiting ; 
Lo ! how, with awfulness, He first in lawfulness, 

Comes arbitrating." 

"Of the "Stabat Mater" (Dolorosa) Dr. Schaff says: 
" It is the most pathetic . . . hymn of the Middle Ages, 
and occupies second rank in Latin hymnology. Sug- 
gested by the incident related in John xix, 25, and the 
prophecy of Simeon (Luke ii, 35), it describes, with 
overpowering effect, the piercing agony of Mary at the 
cross, and the burning desire to be identified with her, 
by sympathy, in the intensity of her grief. It furnished 
the text for the noblest musical compositions of Pales- 
trina, Pergolesi, Haydn, and others. . . . The soft, sad 
melody of its verse is untranslatable.", 

20 The " Stabat Mater " (Speciosa) was brought to pub- 
lic notice through the researches of A. F. Ozanam (1852), 
and introduced more particularly to American readers 
by Dr. Philip Schaff in an article in Hours at Home, 
May, 1867. The question of authorship is not settled, 
and Dr. Coles argues a twofold authorship of the hymns 
from internal evidence. 

"Methodist Hymnal, No. 911. The two martyrs re- 
ferred to are Henry Voes and John Esch, whose mar- 
tyrdom took place in 1523. Alter the fires were kin- 
dled they repeated the Apostles' Creed, sang the " Te 
Deum," and prayed in the flames : "Jesus, thou Son of 
David, have mercy upon us !" The original poem con- 
sists of twelve nine-line stanzas, and begins : 

" Ein neues Lied wir heben an." 



NOTES. 193 

The tenth stanza is the basis of the hymn quoted. Pro- 
fessor Bayne, in his recent Life of Luther, speaks of it 
as a " ballad rugged, indeed, and with little grace or 
ornament of composition, but tingling, every line of it, 
with sincerity and intensity." The meter is preserved 
in the following : 

" With joy they stepped into the flame, 

God's praises calmly singing. 
Strange pangs of rage, amazement, shame 

The sophists' hearts are wringing : 
For God they feel is here." 

28 Methodist Hymnal, No. 166. The imagery of the 
hymn is derived from the forty-sixth Psalm. The hymn 
has commonly been assigned to 1529; but the recent 
discovery 'of a print dating apparently from February, 
1528, has led Kostlin to assign the hymn to 1527, the 
year of the pestilence, and of Luther's severest spiritual 
and physical trials. Dr. Bayne says of Luther's hymns : 
" It may be said generally that they are characterized by 
a rugged but fundamentally melodious rhythm, a piercing 
' intensity and expressiveness, with tender, lovely, pictur- 
esque touches here and there. Above all, they are sin- 
cere. They seem to thrill with an intensity of feeling 
beyond their power of expression, like the glistening 
of stars whose silence speaks of God." 

"Methodist Hymnal, No. 569. The authorship of 
this hymn was long ascribed to Altenburg, a pastor in 
Thuringia ; but recent researches, according to Miss 
Wirtkworth, have made it clear that he only composed 
the chorale, and that the hymn itself was written down 
roughly by Gustavus himself, after his victory at Leipsic, 
and reduced to regular verse by his chaplain, Dr. Fab- 
ricius, for the use of the army. 
13 



194 GOSPEL SINGERS. 

30 Zinzendorf was a prolific writer. He is said to have 
composed about two thousand hymns, many of which 
were produced extemporaneously. The Brethren took 
them down and preserved them. Zinzendorf says of 
them, in speaking of his services at Berlin : " After the 
discourse I generally announce another hymn appro- 
priate. When I cannot find one, I compose one ; I say, 
in the Saviour's name, what comes into my heart." 
Quoted by Josiah Miller. 

31 Methodist Hymnal, No. 152. The second verse of 
the hymn, as written by Sternhold, was : 

" On cherubs and on cherubims 

Full royally he rode, 
And on the wings of all the winds 

Came flying all abroad." 

Duffield says it is related of the learned Scaliger 
whether father or son is not stated that he would rather 
have been the author of this stanza than to have written 
his own works. 

38 Methodist Hymnal, No. u. This was the first 
British composition to which the tune " Old Hundred " 
was united, and, as is seen, gave its own name to the 
tune. The authorship is contested, Duffield, in his 
English Hymns, assigning it to John Hopkins, who, with 
Sternhold, Kethe, and others, published a rendering of 
the Psalms. 

33 Methodist Hymnal, No. 666. The first verse orig- 
inally stood : 

" Shall Simon bear thy cross alone, 

And other saints be free ? 
Each saint of thine shall find his own, 

And there is one for me." 



NOTES. 195 

84 Methodist Hymnal, No. 1044. The hymn has been 
traced to the collection of " Williams and Boden " (1801), 
where it is credited to the Ecktngton. Collection. Duf- 
field conjectures that as Rev. James Boden, one of the 
editors, lived and died near Eckington, Yorkshire, this 
may have been his version of " F. P. B.'s " hymn. For a 
fine critical and historical sketch of this famous hymn 
see W. C. Prime's monograph, '-' O mother dear, Jerusa- 
lem " (New York, third edition, 1865). The Latin hymn 
referred to as given by Daniel ( Thesaurus Hymnologicus) 
consists of forty-eight lines, and begins : 

Urbs beata Jerusalem dicta pacis visio. 
The ""F. B. P." version, as given by Dr. Bonar, opens : 

" Hierusalem, my happy home, 

When shall I come to thee ? 
When shall my sorrows have an end ? 

Thy joys when shall I see ? " 

and contains twenty-six stanzas. 

35 It is only proper to state that the assignment of this 
hymn to that occasion is based upon a tradition which, 
according to Dr. E. F. Hatfield, an authority on the sub- 
ject, " is probably founded on the fact that the hymn ap- 
pears as No. I of his first book." 

36 Dean Stanley says of the same composition : " It is 
not only a hymn, but a philosophical poem, disfigured, 
indeed, in parts by the anatomical allusions to the shrunk 
sinew, but filled, on the whole, with a depth and pathos 
which might well excite Watts to say that ' it was worth 
all the verses he himself had written,' and induce Mont- 
gomery to compare it to the action of a lyrical drama." 




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