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Dorset labourers -a man just able to read fairly, but uneducated by means of books beyond that point-and then, if effect is to be the test of success, it would not be wise in a highly instructed and refined competitor to enter the lists against him.
But we must draw to an end. To have examined and fixed a curious variety of English, assigning its reasonable limits, and enriching it with thoroughly good poetry, is a very rare achieve ment, accomplished in this case without the slightest shade of pretension or unreality. But this is not quite all. The Dorset Poems are filled with lifelike drawings of manners and customs, and merrymakings and amusements, and joys and sorrows, which are even now passing out of date. A hundred years hence they may be the only remaining record of daily life as it has been and is amongst the labouring and farming classes of this interesting, much abused, and not very well known county.
Art. II. – 1. Hymns and Hymn-books : a Letter, &c. Ву
William John Blew. 1858. 2. The Voice of Christian Life in Song: or Hymns and Hymn
Writers of many Lands and Ages. London, 1858. 3. Select Metrical Hymns and Homilies of Ephraem Syrus :
translated from the Original Syriac. By the Rev. Henry
Burgess, Ph.D. London, 1858. 4. Thesaurus Hymnologicus, sive Hymnorum Canticorum, Sequen
tiarum circa annum MD usitatarum collectio amplissima. H.
A. Daniel, Ph.D. Lipsiæ, 1850-1856. 5. Hymni Latini Medii Ævi. Franc. Jos. Mone. Friburgi
Brisgoviæ, 1853. 6. Hymni Ecclesia e Breviariis quibusdam et Missalibus Galli
canis, Germanis, Hispanis, Lusitanis desumpti. J. M. Neale.
Oxford, 1851. 7. Hymnale secundum usum insignis ac præclaræ Ecclesiæ Saris
buriensis ; accedunt Hy. Eccl. Eboracensis et Hereford. Oxford,
1851. 8. Sacred Latin Poetry. By Richard Chenevix Trench, M.A.
* An account of Dorset would scarcely be complete without some notice of the great appearance of natural politeness in the Dorset peasantry. To strangers this is very striking. The respectful touch of the hat, or curtsy, which are never wanting--the passing salutation-seem almost strange to those accustomed to the manufacturing districts or the home counties. But it is not easy to say what amount of real mansuetude is indicated by these courteous outward observances.
9. Mediæval Hymns and Sequences. Translated from the Latin.
By Rev. J. M. Neale. London, 1851. 10. Hymns of the Eastern Church. Translated from the Greek.
By the Rev. J. M. Neale, D.D. London, 1862. 11. Lyra Germanica: Hymns, &c. Translated from the
German by Catherine Winkworth. London, 1859. 12. Wesleyan Hymnology. By W. P. Burgess, Wesleyan
Minister. London, 1846. 13. A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for the Public Service of
the Church. By the Rev. Charles Kemble. 1855. 14. The Church Psalter and Hymn-book. By the Rev. W.
Mercer, and John Goss, Esq. 1858. 15. Hymns Ancient and Modern, for use in the Services of the Church. London, 1860.
GENERAL impression seems to prevail that the
Psalmody of our Church requires amendment and regulation.' * With these words opened an article on our present subject more than thirty years ago. The interval has been a time of unusual progress; yet the observation might be repeated to-day with as much truth as ever. For while the last quarter of a century has witnessed one of the most remarkable religious movements in the history of our Church, and has left scarcely one stone unturned by controversy in its doctrine, discipline, and ritual ; while every irregularity has been called in question, and every order more or less enforced, hymns have been left to run wild. Their really great importance has been lost sight of amidst a clash of contention over matters of more engrossing interest.
But Hymnology itself has not stood still the while ; as indeed appears by the long array of works at the head of this paper, and a number of others bearing upon the various branches of the subject there represented, as well as by the now familiar use of this very word “Hymnology,' for which a writer of thirty years ago felt constrained to apologize. In fact, not only has the study of hymns become a recognized subject of literary research, but the hymns actually composed far exceed in number those of any equal period, except that which immediately followed the great Wesleyan movement just a century before.
In the days of William of Orange and his immediate successors the religious energies of the people had been laid to sleep under the so-called orthodoxy of those in high places; and when they were awakened by the cry of the Independent Calvinists and early Methodists, they found no channel for their devotions but
Quarterly Review, July, 1828.
the Prayer-book, which many of their leaders abhorred as a 'form, and Tate and Brady's New Version, which they felt to be inadequate to satisfy the cravings of zealous religionists. The leaders could preach and could pray, but the people's demand was for something to sing ; so many hymns, so many tunes, stirring, elevating, experimental. The supply was not slack: Isaac Watts, the schoolmaster's son at Southampton, taunted, it is said, by his father for his fastidious objections to the New Version (then really new), vindicated himself by writing off with great rapidity his own metrical Psalms and original Hymns. The example once set, and the demand increasing with the spread of the revival under the Wesleys, a deluge of hymns was poured out on the land. Charles Wesley alone contributed six hundred ; Dr. Doddridge, the two Battyes, Cennick, Hart, Steele, Toplady, and others, produced each a separate volume of their own; and a multitude of less prolific writers swell the chorus up to the early part of the present century.
The very circumstance of Methodists having adopted hymns kept the Churchmen of those days more strictly to metrical psalms, and it was long before they raised their courage to throw overboard • Tate and Brady,' with all the respectable Church-andState associations attached to them, and ventured to spoil the Egyptians by using hymns from Bethesda. But by degrees the Wesleyan and other like hymns gained a more acknowledged entrance into the Church, and indicated the possibility of some improvement upon the metrical psalms. This was a great step, and for some years Church people were satisfied; but such a feeling could not last; for only so long as Churchmen were content to ignore the order and rationale of their own Prayer-book could they be content to use a collection of hymns from which, more or less intentionally, all that harmonised with the spirit and arrangement of our services had been excluded.
The Nonconformists, for the most part, had written the hymns to supplant the Prayer-book; the Churchman attempted with the same hymns to illustrate it; and the result was, that the more he came to understand and appreciate the latter, the more hopeless he found it to adhere to the former.
But during the first quarter of the present century hymns of a character rather better suited to his purpose began to be written, as those by James Montgomery and Bishop Heber, whose hymns were the means of calling our attention to the subject at the time. But in both of them poetry too frequently was aimed at to the loss of simplicity; and the spirit of the Prayer-book was not quite caught by either the layman or the bishop. Such or nearly such were the English hymns which presented
themselves to the collector when Mr. Hall made the first distinct attempt, under the auspices of the late Bishop of London, to compile a Church Hymn-book. His idea was that the hymns already in use might be arranged to accord with the weekly services of the Church, and, imperfect as his book was, an immense sale has proved that it went some way towards satisfying an acknowledged want. But it was imperfect in two respects. In the first place, the editor misapprehended the principle of our weekly services : instead of seeking the leading point around which the Lessons, Epistle, Gospel, and Collect of each Sunday and Holyday are grouped, and which they combine to enforce, and following out the narrative course of the Christian year as a whole, he merely looked out the contents of each Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel, independently one of another, or some striking text in each, and set against it the hymn most nearly touching upon it. This was his mistake, the other was his misfortune. The Methodist hymns, which formed the staple of his materials, and most of the modern hymns, were not written for our services, and it could hardly be expected that they would fall in with them very well. The labour and ingenuity by which Mr. Hall discovered any special connection between the hymns and the services must have been very great; to us to discover it now, when pointed out, requires not a little pains.
Seeing the blemishes of this first experiment, and the vain attempts at improvement which followed it, the venerable Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, following up a suggestion in our former article, undertook the preparation of a Hymnbook. The error in principle, to which we have alluded, was here avoided; but practically, from having few new sources to draw from, the improvement is less marked than could be wished, and the barbarous curtailing of good hymns (for want, we suppose, of courage to break boldly enough through the old Procrustean system of three verses and the “Gloria Patri,”! which the prolixity and pointlessness of Tate and Brady had entailed upon us) is very disappointing. However large the circulation of these two books, they left many persons unsatisfied. What the Society had failed to do well was taken up by numberless individuals, some to do better, many worse ; and there cannot be less than two hundred hymnals now in use, all published within the last thirty years.
So far up to the present time. Most happily and most wisely, the subject has been left hitherto to individuals to work out. The field has been left open, and an inducement thereby offered to all to work freely and do their best. We have thus obtained a large number of hymns of an improved tone, and showing a more
intimate acquaintance with the subject generally. A very slight comparison of what we have and what we know now with the resources and knowledge of thirty years ago will satisfy us that, in spite of all the disadvantages of the present system, much good has come of it. If it has left much to be done-perbaps much to be undone--yet it has done not a little already ; as may be seen by the great improvement manifested in the interesting collection of Hymns Ancient and Modern' which stands last upon our list. Numberless hymns have been thus elicited, original and translated, which would never have seen the light under other circumstances; they have been sifted through the various tastes of compilers, and tested further by being submitted to popular use. Some have fully established their popularity, some have been as clearly rejected. But a multiplicity of collections quite overwhelming--consequent confusion and corruption of hymns a breach of uniformity more vexatious now than ever, because of the easy intercourse between different localities-charges of heterodoxy-appeals to the Bishops—suppression of hymns-platform tirades and newspaper controversies--all together cry aloud for some 'amendment and regulation.'
Complaints against many of the existing Hymn-books are but too well founded. We should rather eschew the responsibility disturbing the confidence of congregations by pointing out, without being able to remedy, the graver errors of doctrine in the books put into their hands ; but offences most glaring against taste, reverence, consistency, and even grammar, abound to an incredible extent. In the first place, it is scarcely too much to say that most compilers have started without any clear conception of what is a hymn. It is an error as old as the days of St. Augustine, who has laid down a definition of a hymn which, if applied to many of our books, would leave behind a very small residuum. A hymn, he tells us, must be 'praisethe praise of God-and this in the form of song.'
That hymns should be addressed to God one would not expect to find doubted; yet practically this rule has been set aside, not only by those whose doctrine and custom sanction invocations of saints, but by others who have been led to do so by mere love of poetry. Bishop Heber frequently fell into this snare, as in his
• Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid ;
Guide where our Infant Redeemer is laid.' How surprising it is that Pope's celebrated apostrophe to his soul• Vital spark of heavenly flame!' &c.