Page:The Methodist Hymn-Book Illustrated.djvu/83

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THE STORY OF THE HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS 71

Scheftler resigned his post in 1652 and returned to Breslau, where he became acquainted with the Jesuits and the writings of the Roman Catholic mystics. He joined the Romish Church, and took the name Angelus Silesius. He became a Roman of the Romanists, entered the order of St. Francis, was ordained priest, and closed his life in the monastery of St. Matthias in Breslau. During his last illness he used this prayer, Jesus and Christ, God and Man, Bridegroom and Brother, Peace and Joy, Sweetness and Pleasure, Refuge and Redemption, Heaven and Earth, Eternity and Time, Love and All, receive my soul.

Scheftler began to write poetry early, and some of his verse was printed when he was sixteen. His Heilige Seelenlust, oder geistliche Hirten-Lieder, dcr in ihren Jesutn -verliebten Psyche, was published at Breslau in 1657, and contains hymns for the Christian year. The Lutherans welcomed these, and Zinzendorf included seventy-nine of them in his Singe- itnd Bet-Biichlein^ 1727. His best hymns are perfect in style and rhythm, concise and profound. The mysticism is chastened and kept in bounds by deep reverence and by a true and fervent love to the Saviour. He is much the finest of the post-Reformation Romanist hymn- writers.

Wesley wrote more than thirty translations from the German, French, and Spanish. They are somewhat free renderings, but they catch the fire and force of the original. Wesley s thoughts were turned in this direction by his inter course with the Moravians, and although there is not much original poetry that we can confidently attribute to him, his perfect taste did much to guide his brother Charles.

In his sermon on Knowing Christ after tJi; FlesJi, dated 1789, Wesley says that when he met the Moravians, I translated many of their hymns for the use of our congregations. Indeed, as I durst not implicitly follow any man, I did not take all that lay before me, but selected those which I judged to be most Scriptural, and most suitable to sound experience. He tried to avoid wvey fondling expression, especially the word dear. Yet I am not sure that I have taken sufficient care to pare off every improper word or expression. The Rev. F. W. Macdonald says that Wesley s translations possessed the highest merit to which translation can attain. They are as living and as effective in their new as in their original form. They passed into the spiritual life of Methodism as readily, and with as gracious a power, as the hymns of Charles Wesley himself,

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