« AnteriorContinuar »
The evil of my former state .
Was mine and only mine;
Is thine and only thine.
The darkness of my former state,
The bondage-all was mine;
The liberty-is thine.
But Mr. Bonar does not confine himself to the pronouns. The interjections are made to do service, as in hymn 623 :
O these eyes, how dark and blind !
0, these ever-roaming eyes,
O these wayward feet of mine,
The reader will understand that we are responsible for the italics in these quotations, but the punctuation, the marks of admiration, are Mr. Bonar's.
Hymn 315 is, without exception, the most remarkable specimen of “preparation ” that ever found, so far as we know, its way into a hymn book; it is entitled “ The Name of Names," and we allow ourselves to disfigure these pages with but one, the first, stanza:
Father, thy Son hath died
The sinner's death of woe;
Our curse to undergo-
Upon the hateful tree:
By blessing me!
In hymn 747 Mr. Bonar assumes a loftier tone, and gives us a specimen of what the critics call the figure of vision. Thus he commences :
I see the crowd in Pilate's hall,
I mark their wrathful mien;
With blasphemy between.
I feel that I am one;
I recognize my own.
There are men, we are told, to whom nothing is so agreeable as the sound of their own voices. Mr. Bonar does not tell us whether he felt glad to recognize his own voice when, in Scotia, he had that wonderful vision of what was done so many ages ago in Judea—" with blasphemy between.” The presumption is that he rather enjoyed it upon the whole, and that he kept on shouting after he recognized his own voice. We formerly thought that Pat's description of a certain telescope that brought people a mile off so near that you might hear their conversation was a—bull. Mr. Bonar beats that entirely. He hears his own voice in the chorus of a rabble of Jews, not only thousands of miles distant, but hundreds of years ago.
Occasionally Mr. Bonar prepares a hymn of very peculiar meter. His grateful patrons astonish cisatlantic worshipers by inserting in the Sabbath Hymn Book for the service of song in the house of the Lord stanzas like this, found in hymn 384:
If there ever appeared in print a more wretched piece of doggerel than this we have not seen it. The lines ending with the words “ below," " now,” and “shout,” are intended to be a triplet of rhyme. Mr. Bonar might have come nearer if he had taken words out of a dictionary blindfolded; he certainly could not have done much worse.
We saw an intimation in a cotemporary Journal, that our compilers had probably been “taken in and done for" by Mr. Bonar. Having engaged him to make “preparations" for their hymn book, they felt bound to insert what he sent them,
more especially as he made no charge for his “preparations." This is plausible, and evinces a tenderness of feeling on their part. Between the two horns of a dilemma, giving offense to the canny Scot and disfiguring a hymn-book by the insertion of forty or fifty such “preparations,” we should for our parts have chosen differently.
But there are other “novelties” in the Sabbath Hymn Book, some of them by authors whose names are modestly withheld, and for a knowledge of which the public will not, in all probability, evince any distressing anxiety. Hymn 63, entitled “Bless us to-night,” is of this class. We quote stanza No. 2:
In hearts contrite:
Bless us to-night. Pretty good that, isn't it? A parody, you perceive, on “God save the king.” To be sure, there is no such word as con-trite'; but then, barring that, the rhyme is good, which is something. Of hymn 150, which is another anonymous novelty, we cannot say as much. It commences thus :
Amid the splendors of thy state,
O God! thy love appears,
Among a thousand stars. We will not allow ourselves to criticise that stanza. It is too ridiculously soft. But here is a hymn (222) in which, evidently for the sake of the rhyme, we have a totally false idea of a beautiful sentiment of the Saviour's:
Behold the birds that wing the air,
Nor sow nor reap the grain;
Relieves when they complain.
0,w. where from th
There is a poet, as yet unknown to fame, who, judging from internal evidence only, we take to be the author of several of the hymns in this collection. His name is not given. His distinguishing peculiarity is an utter disregard of the tenses. Past and present seem strangely jumbled in his verses, but then his rhymes are, for the most part, faultless. Hymn 279 begins thus:
0, where is he that trod the sea ?
O, where is he that spake?
And slaves their fetters break.
0, where is he that trod the sea ?
O, where is he that spake ?
The dead from slumber wake. Hymn 957 is entitled “The precious Son of Zion," of whom we are told many precious things; among others, in the second stanza:
God did love them in his Son
Long before the world begun. Hymn 529 is from the same source, or from some other poetaster equally ignorant, or equally regardless of his tenses :
Come to the ark, ere yet the flood
Your lingering steps oppose;
Is now about to close. What may be the state of that door just now? The penultimate line seems to imply, to say, indeed, that it did stand (stood) open once; but it must be standing open yet if the last line be true, that it
Is noro about to close. . Hymn 661 we attribute to the same source. We judge, however, only from the strange jumbling of the tenses. In verse 3 it is done without even the excuse of its being necessary for the rhyme's sake:
My pathway is not hid;
Thou knowest all my need;
Follow where thou wilt lead.
That is certainly very prosaic, and the whole hymn is in the same style. The fourth stanza was evidently concocted with violent effort:
Lead me, and then my feet
Shall never, never stray;
Of happiness and day.
Hymn 233 is another novelty.” The author's name is not given. It is under the general head, “Sovereign Decrees of God.” Thus readeth the first stanza :
Ere earth’s foundations yet were laid,
Or heaven's fair roof were (!) spread abroad;
Love stirred within the heart of God. That will do. We need copy no more of it, and comment is unnecessary.
Another candidate for hymnological honors is permitted to have his own way, and to torture the English language at his pleasure in hymn 791. There is certainly a difference between being blesséd and being merely blest, but we never before saw it brought out so clearly. Thus the hymn commences:
Blesséd be God! forever blest,
And glorious be his name!
From everlasting shame.
In the next verse the author indulges in a propensity to iterate which sounds rather flippant:
Th' eternal Life his life laid down
Such was his wondrous plan-
A curse for curséd man!
Bless, then, Jehovah's blesséd name,
And bless our blesséd King!
Forever, ever sing! Readers of sacred poetry are frequently annoyed by the use of feeble expletives. “Do” and “did” are often dragged in