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• Deathless Principle ! arise !' &c.-should ever be admitted as appropriate to the worship of God, grand though they be as poetry. And this brings us to the third point in the definition, namely, that a hymn must be in the form of song ; for song is not poetry. Addison's well-known paraphrase
• The spacious firmament on high,
Their Great Original proclaim,' &c. &c.if it is poetry, is certainly not song, yet has been brought by old associations into many Hymn-books.
Happy would it be both for writer and reader if these were the only offences against which we have to protest. It is a painful thing to speak reproachfully of labours of love, when they are spoilt and tend to spoil by errors of taste and judgment; yet the hidden wound is the most dangerous, and to be cured must be uncovered ; and our proposed amendment of hymns ought not to be marred by passing over the faults of well-intentioned but ill-judging compilers.
The following breaches of good taste and reverence must be truly lamentable in their effects on the undisciplined mind, and as truly repulsive to persons of education
• The world, with Sin and Satan,
In vain our march opposes ;
And sing the song of Moses.'
My God, till I received Thy stroke,
How like a beast was I !
*Lord, break these bars that thus confine,
These chains that gall me 'so;
“ Loose him and let him go.” And these, let it be observed, are from no obsolete collections, but from hymnals in use in churches, and advertised for sale within the last twelvemonth. :
Another common fault in hymnals of a certain class is one which is inconsistent in Englishmen, whose national boast has ever been manliness, and inexcusable in Churchmen possessed of a Bible and Prayer-book, the language and tone of which are unequalled in noble simplicity. To deny a place to healthy sen
timent would be to reject a gift of the Almighty ; but surely the following puerilities and prettyisms are unbearable :
The Infancy of Jesus.
Thine eyes how bright they shine!
When Mary's look meets Thine !
That play with Mary's hair
This very moment bear.'
· The True Shepherd. "I was wandering and weary When
Saviour came unto me;
And the world had ceased to woo me;
O silly souls, come near me !
I am the Shepherd True.
He took me on His shoulder,
And tenderly He kissed me;
And said how He had missed me.
And I thought,' &c. &c. The following words put into the mouth of the Saviour, yet to be rehearsed by the people, are from a hymn on the text, 'She is not dead, but sleepeth :'
6“ Refreshed by still waters, in green pastures fed,
The day is gone by; I am making thy bed." In keeping with thesė, but not with a duly reverent approach to God, are such epithets profusely applied to Christ as 'sweet' and * dear,' which no man would use in supplication to an equal of like nature with himself; and the free use of the word JEHOVAH, incommunicable name,' for which the Hebrews and all Christian translators after them ever substituted · Lord.' The many lesser offences in English hymns must have often tried the patience
, and disturbed the devotion, of worshippers; but their name is Legion, and they set at defiance every rule in turn of grammar
, rhyme, metre, and good sense. Here are two short extracts, would-be pathos of which is most provoking :
Nay, I cannot let Thee go
You use no other friend 80 ill.' The manifest inconsistency of setting a congregation to sing hymns of a purely and personally experimental character has been most strangely overlooked. The earlier hymn-books teem with examples of this public self-anatomy, e. g. :-
What sinners value, I resign.'
To call in vain on me!
Through paths of vanity.'
• 'Tis a point I long to know;
Oft it causes anxious thought;
Am I His, or am I not?' Can this be a legacy left us by the high-pew system, when men, curtained in oak and red baize, may have thought they came to church for their private orisons ?
We leave to divines the errors of doctrine which have crept in unawares from all sides with the subtle flow of the metre,—the pill of heresy silvered with rhyme. It is a sad truth, that every one who was dissatisfied with the obvious teaching of the Prayerbook and Articles has sought a vent for his opinions in a hymnbook. The Calvinist has Calvinized, and the sympathizer with Rome has Romanized, the services of his Church by his hymns; and although good theologians would no more think of grounding an argument on a hymn than on an impassioned sermon, yet the unwary may easily imbibe false notions from either.
We leave to the working parish-priest the duty of guarding against fine writing to the detriment of that plainness of speech
0 essential to the poor, yet so unaccountably forgotten by those would-be specially-popular writers the Methodists, who think nothing of using ineffable,' 'omnipotent,' 'beauteous,' 'timorous,' and the like, instead of their common synonyms, and indulge freely in such stilted phrases as
Infinite grace! Almighty charms!
and often, in consequence, come down suddenly to a bathos all the worse by contrast, as
Shout, О earth, in rapturous song,
Let your strains be sweet and strong.' “At sign of Him yon Seraphs bright
Exulting clap their wings.' We leave to the church musician the innumerable cases of false accentuation, merely stating from experience that many lines convey a different sense, when accented musically, from that which the author, who only read his lines, intended ; many are left with no sense at all.
It will be a pleasure to us and the reader to pass from this fault-finding, to discover, if possible, the causes on one side, and the remedy on the other. The primary cause we take to be this :—We have started to provide hymns without what military men would call a basis of operations ;' and this not because we have it not, but because we have overlooked it. We have compiled hymnals ad nauseam upon all sorts of plans, while we had in our hands a frame-work asking to be furnished, and offering a principle for our guidance in which all agree. We went on as if a hymn-book was to be an independent servicebook, instead of being a complement to the Prayer-book; and thus it happens that our hymns, in their tone, their style, their character, and their spirit, jar sadly with our prayers and lessons, whereas they ought to form with them an integral part of one well-harmonized whole, Take, for example, a hymn-one in itself unobjectionable—from the Hymn-book of the Christian Knowledge Society. Let us suppose ourselves in one of our old parish churches, the very type of liturgical worship, consistency, reverence, and solemnity, on the Sunday after Ascension, where the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Communion Service are said, it may be chorally or not, so it be done in the spirit of our Church's worship. All is in keeping until after the third collect, when Hymn 65 is given out; instantly we must shake off the sense of supplication with which we joined in the prayers, and make ready for
Salvation ! Oh the joyful sound !
'Tis pleasure to our ears,
A cordial for our fears.'
Salvation ! Le the echo fly
The spacious earth around !
Conspire to raise the sound.
And then, with equal promptitude, we must subside from this apostrophe (all well in its place) into a state of mind fitted for the solemn invocations of the Litany. Cases of this kind are common enough, if not quite so bad ; and we leave it to the compilers who provide, and the clergy who select, the hymns, to decide who is most to blame. We would earnestly urge on both that every hymn to be telling must be well placed; that it must bear a relation, not only to the whole service of the day, but to that particular part which precedes or follows it.
It may seem to some that all these restrictions would result in the production of a book of which it might be said (as one compiler complacently says of his own) that any recommendations it may possess are chiefly negative (!); that so much concession to the prejudices of the many users would eliminate all that is striking and forcible. It may be asked in reply, Is this the case with our Prayer-book ? Yet was not that subjected to the most rigorous revision, and does it offend in any one of the above points ?
This, however, admits of no doubt, that there is much which is as it ought not to be in our present hymn-books; and the feeling is beginning to gain ground, that, if we go much longer without change for the better, we shall grow worse. A remedy has already been proposed, and it is this which has given rise to these observations. A motion was brought before the Convocation of Canterbury in the early part of last year by the Archdeacon of Coventry (and carried in the lower house, though afterwards thrown out by the Bishops) urging the formation of a Committee who should prepare the draft of a hymn-book with select paraphrases of the Book of Psalms, and with the Canticles pointed for chanting, which, if approved by Convocation, may be submitted to Her Majesty, with an humble prayer that she would authorise its use in such congregations as may be disposed to accept it.'* Passing over all minor questions as to the source and application of authority, we take the motion as' broadly suggesting the permissive, but not enforced, use of a hymn-book bearing the imprimatur' of the Church of England. We are at a loss to discover whether this is meant to withdraw de facto the present assumed liberty of using others, and to throw back all who are not disposed to accept' this upon the Old and New Versions, which hitherto alone rejoice in a Royal licence.
There is no doubt at first sight something like hardship in such a use of the high hand of authority—such an arbitrary