1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hymns
HYMNS.—1. Classical Hymnody.—The word “hymn” (ὕμνος) was employed by the ancient Greeks to signify a song or poem composed in honour of gods, heroes or famous men, or to be recited on some joyful, mournful or solemn occasion. Polymnia was the name of their lyric muse. Homer makes Alcinous entertain Odysseus with a “hymn” of the minstrel Demodocus, on the capture of Troy by the wooden horse. The Works and Days of Hesiod begins with an invocation to the Muses to address hymns to Zeus, and in his Theogonia he speaks of them as singing or inspiring “hymns” to all the divinities, and of the bard as “their servant, hymning the glories of men of old, and of the gods of Olympus.” Pindar calls by this name odes, like his own, in praise of conquerors at the public games of Greece. The Athenian dramatists (Euripides most frequently) use the word and its cognate verbs in a similar manner; they also describe by them metrical oracles and apophthegms, martial, festal and hymeneal songs, dirges and lamentations or incantations of woe.
Hellenic hymns, according to this conception of them, have come down to us, some from a very early and others from a late period of Greek classical literature. Those which passed by the name of Homer were already old in the time of Thucydides. They are mythological poems (several of them long), in hexameter verse—some very interesting. That to Apollo contains a traditionary history of the origin and progress of the Delphic worship; those on Hermes and on Dionysus are marked by much liveliness and poetical fancy. Hymns of a like general character, but of less interest (though these also embody some fine poetical traditions of the Greek mythology, such as the story of Teiresias, and that of the wanderings of Leto), were written in the 3rd century before Christ, by Callimachus of Cyrene. Cleanthes, the successor of Zeno, composed (also in hexameters) an “excellent and devout hymn” (as it is justly called by Cudworth, in his Intellectual System) to Zeus, which is preserved in the Eclogae of Stobaeus, and from which Aratus borrowed the words, “For we are also His offspring,” quoted by St Paul at Athens. The so-called Orphic hymns, in hexameter verse, styled τελεταί, or hymns of initiation into the “mysteries” of the Hellenic religion, are productions of the Alexandrian school,—as to which learned men are not agreed whether they are earlier or later than the Christian era.
The Romans did not adopt the word “hymn”; nor have we many Latin poems of the classical age to which it can properly be applied. There are, however, a few—such as the simple and graceful “Dianae sumus in fide” (“Dian’s votaries are we”) of Catullus, and “Dianam tenerae dicite virgines” (“Sing to Dian, gentle maidens”) of Horace—which approach much more nearly than anything Hellenic to the form and character of modern hymnody.
2. Hebrew Hymnody.—For the origin and idea of Christian hymnody we must look, not to Gentile, but to Hebrew sources. St Augustine’s definition of a hymn, generally accepted by Christian antiquity, may be summed up in the words, “praise to God with song” (“cum cantico”); Bede understood the “canticum” as properly requiring metre; though he thought that what in its original language was a true hymn might retain that character in an unmetrical translation. Modern use has enlarged the definition; Roman Catholic writers extend it to the praises of saints; and the word now comprehends rhythmical prose as well as verse, and prayer and spiritual meditation as well as praise.
The modern distinction between psalms and hymns is arbitrary (see Psalms). The former word was used by the LXX. as a generic designation, probably because it implied an accompaniment by the psaltery (said by Eusebius to have been of very ancient use in the East) or other instruments. The cognate verb “psallere” has been constantly applied to hymns, both in the Eastern and in the Western Church; and the same compositions which they described generically as “psalms” were also called by the LXX. “odes” (i.e. songs) and “hymns.” The latter word occurs, e.g. in Ps. lxxii. 20 (“the hymns of David the son of Jesse”), in Ps. lxv. 1, and also in the Greek titles of the 6th, 54th, 55th, 67th and 76th (this numbering of the psalms being that of the English version, not of the LXX.). The 44th chapter of Ecclesiasticus, “Let us now praise famous men,” &c., is entitled in the Greek πατέρων ὕμνος, “The Fathers’ Hymn.” Bede speaks of the whole book of Psalms as called “liber hymnorum,” by the universal consent of Hebrews, Greeks and Latins.
In the New Testament we find our Lord and His apostles singing a hymn (ὑμνήσαντες ἐξῆλθον), after the institution of the Lord’s Supper; St Paul and Silas doing the same (ὕμνουν τὸν θεόν) in their prison at Philippi; St James recommending psalm-singing (ψαλλέτω), and St Paul “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ῲδαῖς πνευματικαῖς) St Paul also, in the 14th chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, speaks of singing (ψαλῶ) and of every man’s psalm (ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ψαλμὸν ἕχει). In a context which plainly has reference to the assemblies of the Corinthian Christians for common worship. All the words thus used were applied by the LXX. to the Davidical psalms; it is therefore possible that these only may be intended, in the different places to which we have referred. But there are in St Paul’s epistles several passages (Eph. v. 14; 1 Tim. iii. 16; 1 Tim. vi. 15, 16; 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12) which have so much of the form and character of later Oriental hymnody as to have been supposed by Michaelis and others to be extracts from original hymns of the Apostolic age. Two of them are apparently introduced as quotations, though not found elsewhere in the Scriptures. A third has not only rhythm, but rhyme. The thanksgiving prayer of the assembled disciples, recorded in Acts iv., is both in substance and in manner poetical; and in the canticles, “Magnificat,” “Benedictus,” &c., which manifestly followed the form and style of Hebrew poetry, hymns or songs, proper for liturgical use, have always been recognized by the church.
3. Eastern Church Hymnody.—The hymn of our Lord, the precepts of the apostles, the angelic song at the nativity, and “Benedicite omnia opera” are referred to in a curious metrical prologue to the hymnary of the Mozarabic Breviary as precedents for the practice of the Western Church. In this respect, however, the Western Church followed the Eastern, in which hymnody prevailed from the earliest times.
Philo describes the Theraputae (q.v.) of the neighbourhood of Alexandria as composers of original hymns, which (as well as old) were sung at their great religious festivals—the people listening in silence till they came to the closing strains, or refrains, at the end of a hymn or stanza (the Therapeutae. “acroteleutia” and “ephymnia”), in which all, women as well as men, heartily joined. These songs, he says, were in various metres (for which he uses a number of technical terms); some were choral, some not; and they were divided into variously constructed strophes or stanzas. Eusebius, who thought that the Theraputae were communities of Christians, says that the Christian practice of his own day was in exact accordance with this description.
The practice, not only of singing hymns, but of singing them antiphonally, appears, from the well-known letter of Pliny to Trajan, to have been established in the Bithynian churches at the beginning of the 2nd century. They were accustomed “stato die ante lucem convenire, Antiphonal singing. carmenque Christo, quasi Deo, dicere secum invicem.” This agrees well, in point of time, with the tradition recorded by the historian Socrates, that Ignatius (who suffered martyrdom about A.D. 107) was led by a vision or dream of angels singing hymns in that manner to the Holy Trinity to introduce antiphonal singing into the church of Antioch, from which it quickly spread to other churches. There seems to be an allusion to choral singing in the epistle of Ignatius himself to the Romans, where he exhorts them, “χορὸς γελῳδίαν” (“having formed themselves into a choir”), to “sing praise to the Father in Christ Jesus.” A statement of Theodoret has sometimes been supposed to refer the origin of antiphonal singing to a much later date; but this seems to relate only to the singing of Old Testament Psalms (τὴν Δαυιδικὴν μελῳδίαν), the alternate chanting of which, by a choir divided into two parts, was (according to that statement) first introduced into the church of Antioch by two monks famous in the history of their time, Flavianus and Diodorus, under the emperor Constantius II.
Other evidence of the use of hymns in the 2nd century is contained in a fragment of Caius, preserved by Eusebius, which refers to “all the psalms and odes written by faithful brethren from the beginning,” as “hymning Christ, the Word of God, as God.” Tertullian also, in his description 2nd century. of the “Agapae,” or love-feasts, of his day, says that, after washing hands and bringing in lights, each man was invited to come forward and sing to God’s praise something either taken from the Scriptures or of his own composition (“ut quisque de Sacris Scripturis vel proprio ingenio potest”). George Bull, bishop of St David’s, believed one of those primitive compositions to be the hymn appended by Clement of Alexandria to his Paedagogus; and Archbishop Ussher considered the ancient morning and evening hymns, of which the use was enjoined by the Apostolical Constitutions, and which are also mentioned in the “Tract on Virginity” printed with the works of St Athanasius, and in St Basil’s treatise upon the Holy Spirit, to belong to the same family. Clement’s hymn, in a short anapaestic metre, beginning στόμιον πώλων ἀδαῶν (or, according to some editions, βασιλεῦ ἁγίων, λόγε πανδαμάτωρ—translated by the Rev. A. Chatfield, “O Thou, the King of Saints, all-conquering Word”), is rapid, spirited and well-adapted for singing. The Greek “Morning Hymn” (which, as divided into verses by Archbishop Ussher in his treatise De Symbolis, has a majestic rhythm, resembling a choric or dithyrambic strophe) is the original form of “Gloria in Excelsis,” still said or sung, with some variations, in all branches of the church which have not relinquished the use of liturgies. The Latin form of this hymn (of which that in the English communion office is an exact translation) is said, by Bede and other ancient writers, to have been brought into use at Rome by Pope Telesphorus, as early as the time of the emperor Hadrian. A third, the Vesper or “Lamp-lighting” hymn (“φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόξης”—translated by Canon Bright “Light of Gladness, Beam Divine”), holds its place to this day in the services of the Greek rite. 3rd century. In the 3rd century Origen seems to have had in his mind the words of some other hymns or hymn of like character, when he says (in his treatise Against Celsus): “We glorify in hymns God and His only begotten Son; as do also the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and all the host of heaven. All these, in one Divine chorus, with the just among men, glorify in hymns God who is over all, and His only begotten Son.” So highly were these compositions esteemed in the Syrian churches that the council which deposed Paul of Samosata from the see of Antioch in the time of Aurelian justified that act, in its synodical letter to the bishops of Rome and Alexandria, on this ground (among others) that he had prohibited the use of hymns of that kind, by uninspired writers, addressed to Christ.
After the conversion of Constantine, the progress of hymnody became closely connected with church controversies. There had been in Edessa, at the end of the 2nd or early in the 3rd century, a Gnostic writer of conspicuous ability, named Bardesanes, who was succeeded, as the head of his sect or school, by his son Harmonius. Both father and son wrote hymns, and set them to agreeable melodies, which acquired, and in the 4th century still retained, much local popularity. Ephraem Syrus, the first voluminous hymn-writer whose works remain to us, thinking that the same melodies might be made useful to the faith, if adapted to more orthodox words, composed to them a large number of hymns in the Syriac language, principally in tetrasyllabic, pentasyllable and heptasyllabic metres, divided into strophes of from 4 to 12, 16 and even 20 lines each. When a strophe contained five lines, the fifth was generally an “ephymnium,” detached in sense, and consisting of a prayer, invocation, doxology or the like, to be sung antiphonally, either in full chorus or by a separate part of the choir. The Syriac Chrestomathy of August Hahn (Leipzig, 1825), and the third volume of H. A. Daniel’s Thesaurus Hymnologicus (Leipzig, 1841–1856), contain specimens of these hymns. Some of them have been translated into (unmetrical) English by the Rev. Henry Burgess (Select Metrical Hymns of Ephrem Syrus, &c., 1853). A considerable number of those so translated are on subjects connected with death, resurrection, judgment, &c., and display not only Christian faith and hope, but much simplicity and tenderness of natural feeling. Theodoret speaks of the spiritual songs of Ephraem as very sweet and profitable, and as adding much, in his (Theodoret’s) time, to the brightness of the commemorations of martyrs in the Syrian Church.
The Greek hymnody contemporary with Ephraem followed, with some licence, classical models. One of its favourite metres was the Anacreontic; but it also made use of the short anapaestic, Ionic, iambic and other lyrical measures, as well as the hexameter and pentameter. Its principal authors were Methodius, bishop of Olympus, who died about A.D. 311, Synesius, who became bishop of Ptolemais in Cyrenaica in 410, and Gregory Nazianzen, for a short time (380-381) patriarch of Constantinople. The merits of these writers have been perhaps too much depreciated by the admirers of the later Greek “Melodists.” They have found an able English translator in the Rev. Allen Chatfield (Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets, London, 1876). Among the most striking of their works are μνώεο Χριστέ (“Lord Jesus, think of me”), by Synesius; σὲ τὸν ἄφθιτον μονάρχην (“O Thou, the One Supreme”) and τί σοι θέλεις γενέσθαι (“O soul of mine, repining”), by Gregory; also ἄνωθεν παρθένοι (“The Bridegroom cometh”), by Methodius. There continued to be Greek metrical hymn-writers, in a similar style, till a much later date. Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem in the 7th century, wrote seven Anacreontic hymns; and St John Damascene, one of the most copious of the second school of “Melodists,” was also the author of some long compositions in trimeter iambics.
An important development of hymnody at Constantinople arose out of the Arian controversy. Early in the 4th century Athanasius had rebuked, not only the doctrine of Arius, but the light character of certain hymns by which he endeavoured to make that doctrine popular. When, Period of Arian controversy. towards the close of that century (398), St John Chrysostom was raised to the metropolitan see, the Arians, who were still numerous at Constantinople, had no places of worship within the walls; but they were in the habit of coming into the city at sunset on Saturdays, Sundays and the greater festivals, and congregating in the porticoes and other places of public resort, where they sung, all night through, antiphonal songs, with “acroteleutia” (closing strains, or refrains), expressive of Arian doctrine, often accompanied by taunts and insults to the orthodox. Chrysostom was apprehensive that this music might draw some of the simpler church people to the Arian side; he therefore organized, in opposition to it, under the patronage and at the cost of Eudoxia, the empress of Arcadius (then his friend), a system of nightly processional hymn-singing, with silver crosses, wax-lights and other circumstances of ceremonial pomp. Riots followed, with bloodshed on both sides, and with some personal injury to the empress’s chief eunuch, who seems to have officiated as conductor or director of the church musicians. This led to the suppression, by an imperial edict, of all public Arian singing; while in the church the practice of nocturnal hymn-singing on certain solemn occasions, thus first introduced, remained an established institution.
It is not improbable that some rudiments of the peculiar system of hymnody which now prevails throughout the Greek communion, and whose affinities are rather to the Hebrew and Syriac than to the classical forms, may have existed in the church of Constantinople, even Greek system of hymnody. at that time. Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople in the middle of the 5th century, was the precursor of that system; but the reputation of being its proper founder belongs to Romanos, of whom little more is known than that he wrote hymns still extant, and lived towards the end of that century. The importance of that system in the services of the Greek church may be understood from the fact that Dr J. M. Neale computed four-fifths of the whole space (about 5000 pages) contained in the different service-books of that church to be occupied by hymnody, all in a language or dialect which has ceased to be anywhere spoken.
The system has a peculiar technical terminology, in which the words “troparion,” “ode,” “canon” and “hirmus” (εἶρμος) chiefly require explanation.
The troparion is the unit of the system, being a strophe or stanza, seen, when analysed, to be divisible into verses or clauses, with regulated caesuras, but printed in the books as a single prose sentence, without marking any divisions. The following (turned into English, from a “canon” by John Mauropus) may be taken as an example: “The never-sleeping Guardian, | the patron of my soul, | the guide of my life, | allotted me by God, | I hymn thee, Divine Angel | of Almighty God.” Dr Neale and most other writers regard all these “troparia” as rhythmical or modulated prose. Cardinal J. B. Pitra, on the other hand, who in 1867 and 1876 published two learned works on this subject, maintains that they are really metrical, and governed by definite rules of prosody, of which he lays down sixteen. According to him, each “troparion” contains from three to thirty-three verses; each verse varies from two to thirteen syllables, often in a continuous series, uniform, alternate or reciprocal, the metre being always syllabic, and depending, not on the quantity of vowels or the position of consonants, but on an harmonic series of accents.
In various parts of the services solitary troparia are sung, under various names, “contacion,” “oecos,” “cathisma,” &c., which mark distinctions either in their character or in their use.
An ode is a song or hymn compounded of several similar “troparia,”—usually three, four or five. To these is always prefixed a typical or standard “troparion,” called the hirmus, by which the syllabic measure, the periodic series of accents, and in fact the whole structure and rhythm of the stanzas which follow it are regulated. Each succeeding “troparion” in the same “ode” contains the same number of verses, and of syllables in each verse, and similar accents on the same or equivalent syllables. The “hirmus” may either form the first stanza of the “ode” itself, or (as is more frequently the case) may be taken from some other piece; and, when so taken, it is often indicated by initial words only, without being printed at length. It is generally printed within commas, after the proper rubric of the “ode.” A hymn in irregular “stichera” or stanzas, without a “hirmus,” is called “idiomelon.” A system of three or four odes is “triodion” or “tetraodion.”
A canon is a system of eight (theoretically nine) connected odes, the second being always suppressed. Various pauses, relieved by the interposition of other short chants or readings, occur during the singing of a whole “canon.” The final “troparion” in each ode of the series is not unfrequently detached in sense (like the “ephymnia” of Ephraem Syrus), particularly when it is in the (very common) form of a “theotokion,” or ascription of praise to the mother of our Lord, and when it is a recurring refrain or burden.
There were two principal periods of Greek hymnography constructed on these principles—the first that of Romanos and his followers, extending over the 6th and 7th centuries, the second that of the schools which arose during the Iconoclastic controversy in the 8th century, and which continued for some centuries afterwards, until the art itself died out.
The works of the writers of the former period were collected in Tropologia, or church hymn-books, which were held in high esteem till the 10th century, when they ceased to be regarded as church-books, and so fell into neglect. They are now preserved only in a very small number School of Romanos. of manuscripts. From three of these, belonging to public libraries at Moscow, Turin and Rome, Cardinal Pitra has printed, in his Analecta, a number of interesting examples, the existence of which appears to have been unknown to Dr Neale, and which, in the cardinal’s estimation, are in many respects superior to the “canons,” &c., of the modern Greek service-books, from which all Neale’s translations (except some from Anatolius) are taken. Cardinal Pitra’s selections include twenty-nine works by Romanos, and some by Sergius, and nine other known, as well as some unknown, authors. He describes them as having generally a more dramatic character than the “melodies” of the later period, and a much more animated style; and he supposes that they may have been originally sung with dramatic accompaniments, by way of substitution for the theatrical performances of Pagan times. As an instance of their peculiar character, he mentions a Christmas or Epiphany hymn by Romanos, in twenty-five long strophes, in which there is, first, an account of the Nativity and its accompanying wonders, and then a dialogue between the wise men, the Virgin mother and Joseph. The magi arrive, are admitted, describe the moral and religious condition of Persia and the East, and the cause and adventures of their journey, and then offer their gifts. The Virgin intercedes for them with her Son, instructs them in some parts of Jewish history, and ends with a prayer for the salvation of the world.
The controversies and persecutions of the 8th and succeeding centuries turned the thoughts of the “melodists” of the great monasteries of the Studium at Constantinople and St Saba in Palestine and their followers, and those of the adherents of the Greek rite in Sicily and South Italy Melodists. (who suffered much from the Saracens and the Normans), into a less picturesque but more strictly theological course; and the influence of those controversies, in which the final success of the cause of “Icons” was largely due to the hymns, as well as to the courage and sufferings, of these confessors, was probably the cause of their supplanting, as they did, the works of the older school. Cardinal Pitra gives them the praise of having discovered a graver and more solemn style of chant, and of having done much to fix the dogmatic theology of their church upon its present lines of near approach to the Roman.
Among the “melodists” of this latter Greek school there were many saints of the Greek church, several patriarchs and two emperors—Leo the Philosopher, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus, his son. Their greatest poets were Theodore and Joseph of the Studium, and Cosmas and John (called Damascene) of St Saba. Neale translated into English verse several selected portions, or centoes, from the works of these and others, together with four selections from earlier works by Anatolius. Some of his translations—particularly “The day is past and over,” from Anatolius, and “Christian, dost thou see them,” from Andrew of Crete—have been adopted into hymn-books used in many English churches; and the hymn “Art thou weary,” which is rather founded upon than translated from one by Stephen the Sabaite, has obtained still more general popularity.
4. Western Church Hymnody.—It was not till the 4th century that Greek hymnody was imitated in the West, where its introduction was due to two great lights of the Latin Church—St Hilary of Poitiers and St Ambrose of Milan.
Hilary was banished from his see of Poitiers in 356, and was absent from it for about four years, which he spent in Asia Minor, taking part during that time in one of the councils of the Eastern Church. He thus had full opportunity of becoming acquainted with the Greek church music of that day; and he wrote (as St Jerome, who was thirty years old when Hilary died, and who was well acquainted with his acts and writings, and spent some time in or near his diocese, informs us) a “book of hymns,” to one of which Jerome particularly refers, in the preface to the second book of his own commentary on the epistle to the Galatians. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, who presided over the fourth council of Toledo, in his book on the offices of the church, speaks of Hilary as the first Latin hymn-writer; that council itself, in its 13th canon, and the prologue to the Mozarabic hymnary (which is little more than a versification of the canon), associate his name, in this respect, with that of Ambrose. A tradition, ancient and widely spread, ascribed to him the authorship of the remarkable “Hymnum dicat turba fratrum, hymnum cantus personet” (“Band of brethren, raise the hymn, let your song the hymn resound”), which is a succinct narrative, in hymnal form, of the whole gospel history; and is perhaps the earliest example of a strictly didactic hymn. Both Bede and Hincmar much admired this composition, though the former does not mention, in connexion with it, the name of Hilary. The private use of hymns of such a character by Christians in the West may probably have preceded their ecclesiastical use; for Jerome says that in his day those who went into the fields might hear “the ploughman at his hallelujahs, the mower at his hymns, and the vine-dresser singing David’s psalms.” Besides this, seven shorter metrical hymns attributed to Hilary are still extant.
Of the part taken by Ambrose, not long after Hilary’s death, in bringing the use of hymns into the church of Milan, we have a contemporary account from his convert, St Augustine. Justina, mother of the emperor Valentinian, favoured the Arians, and desired to remove Ambrose from his see. The Ambrose. “devout people,” of whom Augustine’s mother, Monica, was one, combined to protect him, and kept guard in the church. “Then,” says Augustine, “it was first appointed that, after the manner of the Eastern churches, hymns and psalms should be sung, lest the people should grow weary and faint through sorrow; which custom has ever since been retained, and has been followed by almost all congregations in other parts of the world.” He describes himself as moved to tears by the sweetness of these “hymns and canticles”:—“The voices flowed into my ears; the truth distilled into my heart; I overflowed with devout affections, and was happy.” To this time, according to an uncertain but not improbable tradition which ascribed the composition of the “Te Deum” to Ambrose, and connected it with the conversion of Augustine, is to be referred the commencement of the use in the church of that sublime unmetrical hymn.
It is not, however, to be assumed that the hymnody thus introduced by Ambrose was from the first used according to the precise order and method of the later Western ritual. To bring it into (substantially) that order and method appears to have been the work of St Benedict. Walafrid Strabo, the earliest ecclesiastical writer on this subject (who lived at the beginning of the 9th century), says that Benedict, on the constitution of the religious order known by his name (about 530), appointed the Ambrosian hymns to be regularly sung in his offices for the canonical hours. Hence probably originated the practice of the Italian churches, and of others which followed their example, to sing certain hymns (Ambrosian, or by the early successors of the Ambrosian school) daily throughout the week, at “Vespers,” “Lauds” and “Nocturns,” and on some days at “Compline” also—varying them with the different ecclesiastical seasons and festivals, commemorations of saints and martyrs and other special offices. Different dioceses and religious houses had their own peculiarities of ritual, including such hymns as were approved by their several bishops or ecclesiastical superiors, varying in detail, but all following the same general method. The national rituals, which were first reduced into a form substantially like that which has since prevailed, were probably those of Lombardy and of Spain, now known as the “Ambrosian” and the “Mozarabic.” The age and origin of the Spanish ritual are uncertain, but it is mentioned in the 7th century by Isidore, bishop of Seville. It contained a copious hymnary, the original form of which may be regarded as canonically approved by the fourth council of Toledo (633). By the 13th canon of that council, an opinion (which even then found advocates) against the use in churches of any hymns not taken from the Scriptures—apparently the same opinion which had been held by Paul of Samosata—was censured; and it was ordered that such hymns should be used in the Spanish as well as in the Gallican churches, the penalty of excommunication being denounced against all who might presume to reject them.
The hymns of which the use was thus established and authorized were those which entered into the daily and other offices of the church, afterwards collected in the “Breviaries”; in which the hymns “proper” for “the week,” and for “the season,” continued for many centuries, with very few exceptions, to be derived from the earliest epoch of Latin Church poetry—reckoning that epoch as extending from Hilary and Ambrose to the end of the pontificate of Gregory the Great. The “Ambrosian” music, to which those hymns were generally sung down to the time of Gregory, was more popular and congregational than the “Gregorian,” which then came into use, and afterwards prevailed. In the service of the mass it was not the general practice, before the invention of sequences in the 9th century, to sing any hymns, except some from the Scriptures esteemed canonical, such as the “Song of the Three Children” (“Benedicite omnia opera”). But to this rule there were, according to Walafrid Strabo, some occasional exceptions; particularly in the case of Paulinus, patriarch of Aquileia under Charlemagne, himself a hymn-writer, who frequently used hymns, composed by himself or others, in the eucharistic office, especially in private masses.
Some of the hymns called “Ambrosian” (nearly 100 in number) are beyond all question by Ambrose himself, and the rest probably belong to his time or to the following century. Four, those beginning “Aeterne rerum conditor” (“Dread Framer of the earth and sky”), “Deus Creator omnium” (“Maker of all things, glorious God”), “Veni Redemptor Gentium” (“Redeemer of the nations, come”) and “Jam surgit hora tertia” (“Christ at this hour was crucified”), are quoted as works of Ambrose by Augustine. These, and others by the hand of the same master, have the qualities most valuable in hymns intended for congregational use. They are short and complete in themselves; easy, and at the same time elevated in their expression and rhythm; terse and masculine in thought and language; and (though sometimes criticized as deficient in theological precision) simple, pure and not technical in their rendering of the great facts and doctrines of Christianity, which they present in an objective and not a subjective manner. They have exercised a powerful influence, direct or indirect, upon many of the best works of the same kind in all succeeding generations. With the Ambrosian hymns are properly classed those of Hilary, and the contemporary works of Pope Damasus I. (who wrote two hymns in commemoration of saints), and of Prudentius, from whose Cathemerina (“Daily Devotions”) and Peristephana (“Crown-songs for Martyrs”), all poems of considerable, some of great length—about twenty-eight hymns, found in various Breviaries, were derived. Prudentius was a layman, a native of Saragossa, and it was in the Spanish ritual that his hymns were most largely used. In the Mozarabic Breviary almost the whole of one of his finest poems (from which most churches took one part only, beginning “Corde natus ex parentis”) was appointed to be sung between Easter and Ascension-Day, being divided into eight or nine hymns; and on some of the commemorations of Spanish saints long poems from his Peristephana were recited or sung at large. He is entitled to a high rank among Christian poets, many of the hymns taken from his works being full of fervour and sweetness, and by no means deficient in dignity or strength.
These writers were followed in the 5th and early in the 6th century by the priest Sedulius, whose reputation perhaps exceeded his merit; Elpis, a noble Roman lady (considered, by an erroneous tradition, to have been the wife of the philosophic statesman Boetius); 5th and 6th centuries. Pope Gelasius I.; and Ennodius, bishop of Pavia. Sedulius and Elpis wrote very little from which hymns could be extracted; but the small number taken from their compositions obtained wide popularity, and have since held their ground. Gelasius was of no great account as a hymn-writer; and the works of Ennodius appear to have been known only in Italy and Spain. The latter part of the 6th century produced Pope Gregory the Great and Venantius Fortunatus, an Italian poet, the friend of Gregory, and the favourite of Radegunda, queen of the Franks, who died (609) bishop of Poitiers. Eleven hymns of Gregory, and twelve or thirteen (mostly taken from longer poems) by Fortunatus, came into general use in the Italian, Gallican and British churches. Those of Gregory are in a style hardly distinguishable from the Ambrosian; those of Fortunatus are graceful, and sometimes vigorous. He does not, however, deserve the praise given to him by Dr Neale, of having struck out a new path in Latin hymnody. On the contrary, he may more justly be described as a disciple of the school of Prudentius, and as having affected the classical style, at least as much as any of his predecessors.
The poets of this primitive epoch, which closed with the 6th century, wrote in the old classical metres, and made use of a considerable variety of them—anapaestic, anacreontic, hendecasyllabic, asclepiad, hexameters and pentameters and others. Gregory and some of the Ambrosian authors occasionally wrote in sapphics; but the most frequent measure was the iambic dimeter, and, next to that, the trochaic. The full alcaic stanza does not appear to have been used for church purposes before the 16th century, though some of its elements were. In the greater number of these works, a general intention to conform to the rules of Roman prosody is manifest; but even those writers (like Prudentius) in whom that conformity was most decided allowed themselves much liberty of deviation from it. Other works, including some of the very earliest, and some of conspicuous merit, were of the kind described by Bede as not metrical but “rhythmical”—i.e. (as he explains the term “rhythm”), “modulated to the ear in imitation of different metres.” It would be more correct to call them metrical—(e.g. still trochaic or iambic, &c., but, according to new laws of syllabic quantity, depending entirely on accent, and not on the power of vowels or the position of consonants)—laws by which the future prosody of all modern European nations was to be governed. There are also, in the hymns of the primitive period (even in those of Ambrose), anticipations—irregular indeed and inconstant, but certainly not accidental—of another great innovation, destined to receive important developments, that of assonance or rhyme, in the final letters or syllables of verses. Archbishop Trench, in the introduction to his Sacred Latin Poetry, has traced the whole course of the transition from the ancient to the modern forms of versification, ascribing it to natural and necessary causes, which made such changes needful for the due development of the new forms of spiritual and intellectual life, consequent upon the conversion of the Latin-speaking nations to Christianity.
From the 6th century downwards we see this transformation making continual progress, each nation of Western Christendom adding, from time to time, to the earlier hymns in its service-books others of more recent and frequently of local origin. For these additions, the commemorations 6th century downwards. of saints, &c., as to which the devotion of one place often differed from that of another, offered especial opportunities. This process, while it promoted the development of a medieval as distinct from the primitive style, led also to much deterioration in the quality of hymns, of which, perhaps, some of the strongest examples may be found in a volume published in 1865 by the Irish Archaeological Society from a manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. It contains a number of hymns by Irish saints of the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries—in several instances fully rhymed, and in one mixing Erse and Latin barbarously together, as was not uncommon, at a much later date, in semi-vernacular hymns of other countries. The Mozarabic Breviary, and the collection of hymns used in the Anglo-Saxon churches, published in 1851 by the Surtees Society (chiefly from a Benedictine MS. in the college library of Durham, supplemented by other MSS. in the British Museum), supply many further illustrations of the same decline of taste:—such Sapphics, e.g., as the “Festum insigne prodiit coruscum” of Isidore, and the “O veneranda Trinitas laudanda” of the Anglo-Saxon books. The early medieval period, however, from the time of Gregory the Great to that of Hildebrand, was far from deficient in the production of good hymns, wherever learning flourished. Bede in England, and Paul “the Deacon”—the author of a fairly classical sapphic ode on St John the Baptist—in Italy, were successful followers of the Ambrosian and Gregorian styles. Eleven metrical hymns are attributed to Bede by Cassander; and there are also in one of Bede’s works (Collectanea et flores) two rhythmical hymns of considerable length on the Day of Judgment, with the refrains “In tremendo die” and “Attende homo,” both irregularly rhymed, and, in parts, not unworthy of comparison with the “Dies Irae.” Paulinus, patriarch of Aquileia, contemporary with Paul, wrote rhythmical trimeter iambics in a manner peculiar to himself. Theodulph, bishop of Orleans (793-835), author of the famous processional hymn for Palm Sunday in hexameters and pentameters, “Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe Redemptor” (“Glory and honour and laud be to Thee, King Christ the Redeemer”), and Hrabanus Maurus, archbishop of Mainz, the pupil of Alcuin, and the most learned theologian of his day, enriched the church with some excellent works. Among the anonymous hymns of the same period there are three of great beauty, of which the influence may be traced in most, if not all, of the “New Jerusalem” hymns of later generations, including those of Germany and Great Britain:—“Urbs beata Hierusalem” (“Blessed city, heavenly Salem”); “Alleluia piis edite laudibus” (“Alleluias sound ye in strains of holy praise”—called, from its burden, “Alleluia perenne”); and “Alleluia dulce carmen” (“Alleluia, song of sweetness”), which, being found in Anglo-Saxon hymnaries certainly older than the Conquest, cannot be of the late date assigned to it, in his Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences, by Neale. These were followed by the “Chorus novae Hierusalem” (“Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem”) of Fulbert, bishop of Chartres. This group of hymns is remarkable for an attractive union of melody, imagination, poetical colouring and faith. It represents, perhaps, the best and highest type of the middle school, between the severe Ambrosian simplicity and the florid luxuriance of later times.
Another celebrated hymn, which belongs to the first medieval period, is the “Veni Creator Spiritus” (“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”). The earliest recorded occasion of its use is that of a translation (898) of the relics of St Marcellus, mentioned in the Annals of the Benedictine Veni Creator. order. It has since been constantly sung throughout Western Christendom (as versions of it still are in the Church of England), as part of the appointed offices for the coronation of kings, the consecration and ordination of bishops and priests, the assembling of synods and other great ecclesiastical solemnities. It has been attributed—probably in consequence of certain corruptions in the text of Ekkehard’s Life of Notker (a work of the 13th century)—to Charlemagne. Ekkehard wrote in the Benedictine monastery Notker. of St Gall, to which Notker belonged, with full access to its records; and an ignorant interpolator, regardless of chronology, added, at some later date, the word “Great” to the name of “the emperor Charles,” wherever it was mentioned in that work. The biographer relates that Notker—a man of a gentle, contemplative nature, observant of all around him, and accustomed to find spiritual and poetical suggestions in common sights and sounds—was moved by the sound of a mill-wheel to compose his “sequence” on the Holy Spirit, “Sancti Spiritus adsit nobis gratia” (“Present with us ever be the Holy Spirit’s grace”); and that, when finished, he sent it as a present to “the emperor Charles,” who in return sent him back, “by the same messenger,” the hymn “Veni Creator,” which (says Ekkehard) the same “Spirit had inspired him to write” (“Sibi idem Spiritus inspiraverat”). If this story is to be credited—and, from its circumstantial and almost dramatic character, it has an air of truth—the author of “Veni Creator” was not Charlemagne, but his grandson the emperor Charles the Bald. Notker himself long survived that emperor, and died in 912.
The invention of “sequences” by Notker may be regarded as the beginning of the later medieval epoch of Latin hymnody. In the eucharistic service, in which (as has been stated) hymns were not generally used, it had been the practice, except at certain seasons, to sing “laud,” or “Alleluia,” Sequences. between the epistle and the gospel, and to fill up what would otherwise have been a long pause, by extending the cadence upon the two final vowels of the “Alleluia” into a protracted strain of music. It occurred to Notker that, while preserving the spirit of that part of the service, the monotony of the interval might be relieved by introducing at that point a chant of praise specially composed for the purpose. With that view he produced the peculiar species of rhythmical composition which obtained the name of “sequentia” (probably from following after the close of the “Alleluia”), and also that of “prosa,” because its structure was originally irregular and unmetrical, resembling in this respect the Greek “troparia,” and the “Te Deum,” “Benedicite” and canticles. That it was in some measure suggested by the forms of the later Greek hymnody seems probable, both from the intercourse (at that time frequent) between the Eastern and Western churches, and from the application by Ekkehard, in his biography and elsewhere (e.g. in Lyndwood’s Provinciale), of some technical terms, borrowed from the Greek terminology, to works of Notker and his school and to books containing them.
Dr Neale, in a learned dissertation prefixed to his collection of sequences from medieval Missals, and enlarged in a Latin letter to H. A. Daniel (printed in the fifth volume of Daniel’s Thesaurus hymnologicus), investigated the laws of caesura and modulation which are discoverable in these works. Those first brought into use were sent by their author to Pope Nicholas I., who authorized their use, and that of others composed after the same model by other brethren of St Gall, in all churches of the West.
Although the sequences of Notker and his school, which then rapidly passed into most German, French and British Missals, were not metrical, the art of “assonance” was much practised in them. Many of those in the Sarum and French Missals have every verse, and even every clause or division of a verse, ending with the same vowel “a”—perhaps with some reference to the terminal letter of “Alleluia.” Artifices such as these naturally led the way to the adaptation of the same kind of composition to regular metre and fully developed rhyme. Neale’s full and large collection, and the second volume of Daniel’s Thesaurus, contain numerous examples, both of the “proses,” properly so called, of the Notkerian type, and of those of the later school, which (from the religious house to which its chief writer belonged) has been called “Victorine.” Most Missals appear to have contained some of both kinds. In the majority of those from which Neale’s specimens are taken, the metrical kind largely prevailed; but in some (e.g. those of Sarum and Liége) the greater number were Notkerian.
Of the sequence on the Holy Ghost, sent by Notker (according to Ekkehard) to Charles the Bald, Neale says that it “was in use all over Europe, even in those countries, like Italy and Spain, which usually rejected sequences”; and that, “in the Missal of Palencia, the priest was ordered to hold a white dove in his hands, while intoning the first syllables, and then to let it go.” Another of the most remarkable of Notker’s sequences, beginning “Media in vita” (“In the midst of life we are in death”), is said to have been suggested to him while observing some workmen engaged in the construction of a bridge over a torrent near his monastery. Catherine Winkworth (Christian Singers of Germany, 1869) states that this was long used as a battle-song, until the custom was forbidden, on account of its being supposed to exercise a magical influence. A translation of it (“Mitten wir im Leben sind”) is one of Luther’s funeral hymns; and all but the opening sentence of that part of the burial service of the Church of England which is directed to be “said or sung” at the grave, “while the corpse is made ready to be laid into the earth,” is taken from it.
The “Golden Sequence,” “Veni, sancte Spiritus” (“Holy Spirit, Lord of Light”), is an early example of the transition of sequences from a simply rhythmical to a metrical form. Archbishop Trench, who esteemed it “the loveliest of all the hymns in the whole circle of Latin sacred poetry,” inclined to give credit to a tradition which ascribes its authorship to Robert II., king of France, son of Hugh Capet. Others have assigned to it a later date—some attributing it to Pope Innocent III., and some to Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury. Many translations, in German, English and other languages, attest its merit. Berengarius of Tours, St Bernard of Clairvaux and Abelard, in the 11th century and early in the 12th, followed in the same track; and the art of the Victorine school was carried to its greatest perfection by Adam of St Victor (who died between 1173 and 1194)—“the most fertile, and” (in the concurrent judgment of Archbishop Trench and Neale) “the greatest of the Latin hymnographers of the Middle Ages.” The archbishop’s selection contains many excellent specimens of his works.
But the two most widely celebrated of all this class of
compositions—works which have exercised the talents of the
greatest musical composers, and of innumerable
translators in almost all languages—are the “Dies
Irae” (“That day of wrath, that dreadful day”), by Thomas
Aquinas. of Celano, the companion and biographer of St Francis of Assisi, and the “Stabat Mater dolorosa” (“By the cross sad vigil keeping”) of Jacopone, or Jacobus de Benedictis, a Franciscan humorist and reformer, who was persecuted by Pope Boniface VIII. for his satires on the prelacy of the time, and died in 1306. Besides these, the 13th century produced the famous sequence “Lauda Sion salvatorem” (“Sion, lift thy voice and sing”), and the four other well-known sacramental hymns of St Thomas Aquinas, viz. “Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium” (“Sing, my tongue, the Saviour’s glory”), “Verbum supernum prodiens” (“The Word, descending from above”—not to be confounded with the Ambrosian hymn from which it borrowed the first line), “Sacris solemniis juncta sint gaudia” (“Let us with hearts renewed our grateful homage pay”), and “Adoro Te devote, latens Deitas” (“O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee”)—a group of remarkable compositions, written by him for the then new festival of Corpus Christi, of which he induced Pope Urban IV. (1261–1265) to decree the observance. In these (of which all but “Adoro Te devote” passed rapidly into breviaries and missals) the doctrine of transubstantiation is set forth with a wonderful degree of scholastic precision; and they exercised, probably, a not unimportant influence upon the general reception of that dogma. They are undoubtedly works of genius, powerful in thought, feeling and expression.
These and other medieval hymn-writers of the 12th and 13th centuries may be described, generally, as poet-schoolmen. Their tone is contemplative, didactic, theological; they are especially fertile and ingenious in the field of mystical interpretation. Two great monasteries Medieval hymns. in the East had, in the 8th and 9th centuries, been the principal centres of Greek hymnology; and, in the West, three monasteries—St Gall, near Constance (which was long the especial seat of German religious literature), Cluny in Burgundy and St Victor, near Paris—obtained a similar distinction. St Gall produced, besides Notker, several distinguished sequence writers, probably his pupils—Hartmann, Hermann and Gottschalk—to the last of whom Neale ascribes the “Alleluiatic Sequence” (“Cantemus cuncti melodum nunc Alleluia”), well known in England through his translation, “The strain upraise of joy and praise.” The chief poets of Cluny were two of its abbots, Odo and Peter the Venerable (1122–1156), and one of Peter’s monks, Bernard of Morlaix, who wrote the remarkable poem on “Contempt of the World” in about 3000 long rolling “leonine-dactylic” verses, from parts of which Neale’s popular hymns, “Jerusalem the golden,” &c., are taken. The abbey of St Victor, besides Adam and his follower Pistor, was destined afterwards to produce the most popular church poet of the 17th century.
There were other distinguished Latin hymn-writers of the later medieval period besides those already mentioned. The name of St Bernard of Clairvaux cannot be passed over with the mere mention of the fact that he was the author of some metrical sequences. He was, in truth, Bernard of Clairvaux. the father, in Latin hymnody, of that warm and passionate form of devotion which some may consider to apply too freely to Divine Objects the language of human affection, but which has, nevertheless, been popular with many devout persons, in Protestant as well as Roman Catholic churches. F. von Spee, “Angelus Silesius,” Madame Guyon, Bishop Ken, Count Zinzendorf and Frederick William Faber may be regarded as disciples in this school. Many hymns, in various languages, have been founded upon St Bernard’s “Jesu dulcis memoria” (“Jesu, the very thought of Thee”), “Jesu dulcedo cordium” (“Jesu, Thou joy of loving hearts”) and “Jesu Rex admirabilis” (“O Jesu, King most wonderful”)—three portions of one poem, nearly 200 lines long. Pietro Damiani, the friend of Pope Gregory VII, Marbode, bishop of Rennes, in the 11th, Hildebert, archbishop of Tours, in the 12th, and St Bonaventura in the 13th centuries, are other eminent men who added poetical fame as hymnographers to high public distinction.
Before the time of the Reformation, the multiplication of sequences (often as unedifying in matter as unpoetical in style) had done much to degrade the common conception of hymnody. In some parts of France, Portugal, Sardinia and Bohemia, their use in the vernacular language had been allowed. In Germany also there were vernacular sequences as early as the 12th century, specimens of which may be seen in the third chapter of C. Winkworth’s Christian Singers of Germany. Scoffing parodies upon sequences are said to have been among the means used in Scotland to discredit the old church services. After the 15th century they were discouraged at Rome. They retained for a time some of their old popularity among German Protestants, and were only gradually relinquished in France. A new “prose,” in honour of St Maxentia, is among the compositions of Jean Baptiste Santeul; and Dr Daniel’s second volume closes with one written in 1855 upon the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
The taste of the Renaissance was offended by all deviations from
classical prosody and Latinity. Pope Leo X. directed the whole
body of the hymns in use at Rome to be reformed; and
the Hymni novi ecclesiastici juxta veram metri et Latinitatis
prepared by Zacharie Ferreri (1479–1530), a
of hymns. Benedictine of Monte Cassino, afterwards a Carthusian and bishop of Guardia, to whom Leo had committed that task, appeared at Rome in 1525, with the sanction of a later pope, Clement VII. The next step was to revise the whole Roman Breviary. That undertaking, after passing through several stages under different popes (particularly Pius V. and Clement VIII.), was at last brought to a conclusion by Urban VIII., in 1631. From this revised Breviary a large number of medieval hymns, both of the earlier and the later periods, were excluded; and in their places many new hymns, including some by Pope Urban himself, and some by Cardinal Bellarmine and another cardinal (Silvius Antonianus) were introduced. The hymns of the primitive epoch, from Hilary to Gregory the Great, for the most part retained their places (especially in the offices for every day of the week); and there remained altogether from seventy to eighty of earlier date than the 11th century. Those, however, which were so retained were freely altered, and by no means generally improved. The revisers appointed by Pope Urban (three learned Jesuits—Strada, Gallucci and Petrucci) professed to have made “as few changes as possible” in the works of Ambrose, Gregory, Prudentius, Sedulius, Fortunatus and other “poets of great name.” But some changes, even in those works, were made with considerable boldness; and the pope, in the “constitution” by which his new book was promulgated, boasted that, “with the exception of a very small number (’perpaucis’), which were either prose or merely rhythmical, all the hymns had been made conformable to the laws of prosody and Latinity, those which could not be corrected by any milder method being entirely rewritten.” The latter fate befel, among others, the beautiful “Urbs beata Hierusalem,” which now assumed the form (to many, perhaps, better known), of “Caelestis urbs Jerusalem.” Of the “very few” which were spared, the chief were “Ave maris stella” (“Gentle star of ocean”), “Dies Irae,” “Stabat Mater dolorosa,” the hymns of Thomas Aquinas, two of St Bernard and one Ambrosian hymn, “Jesu nostra Redemptio” (“O Jesu, our Redemption”), which approaches nearer than others to the tone of St Bernard. A then recent hymn of St Francis Xavier, with scarcely enough merit of any kind to atone for its neglect of prosody, “O Deus, ego amo Te” (“O God, I love Thee, not because”), was at the same time introduced without change. This hymnary of Pope Urban VIII. is now in general use throughout the Roman Communion.
The Parisian hymnary underwent three revisions—the first in 1527, when a new “Psaltery with hymns” was issued. In this such changes only were made as the revisers thought justifiable upon the principle of correcting supposed Parisian revisions. corruptions of the original text. Of these, the transposition, “Urbs Jerusalem beata,” instead of “Urbs beata Hierusalem,” may be taken as a typical example. The next revision was in 1670–1680, under Cardinal Péréfixe, preceptor of Louis XIV., and Francis Harlay, successively archbishops of Paris, who employed for this purpose Claude Santeul, of the monastery of St Magloire, and, through him, obtained the assistance of other French scholars, including his more celebrated brother, Jean Baptiste Santeul, of the abbey of St Victor—better known as “Santolius Victorinus.” The third and final revision was completed in 1735, under the primacy of Cardinal Archbishop de Vintimille, who engaged for it the services of Charles Coffin, then rector of the university of Paris. Many old hymns were omitted in Archbishop Harlay’s Breviary, and a large number of new compositions, by the Santeuls and others, was introduced. It still, however, retained in their old places (without further changes than had been made in 1527) about seventy of earlier date than the 11th century—including thirty-one Ambrosian, one by Hilary, eight by Prudentius, seven by Fortunatus, three by Paul the Deacon, two each by Sedulius, Elpis, Gregory and Hrabanus Maurus, “Veni Creator” and “Urbs Jerusalem beata.” Most of these disappeared in 1735, although Cardinal Vintimille, in his preface, professed to have still admitted the old hymns, except when the new were better—(“veteribus hymnis locus datus est, nisi quibus, ob sententiarum vim, elegantiam verborum, et teneriores pietatis sensus, recentiores anteponi satius visum est”). The number of the new was, at the same time, very largely increased. Only twenty-one more ancient than the 16th century remained, of which those belonging to the primitive epoch were but eight, viz. four Ambrosian, two by Fortunatus and one each by Prudentius and Gregory. The number of Jean Baptiste Santeul’s hymns rose to eighty-nine; those by Coffin—including some old hymns, e.g. “Jam lucis orto sidere” (“Once more the sun is beaming bright”), which he substantially re-wrote—were eighty-three; those of other modern French writers, ninety-seven. Whatever opinion may be entertained of the principles on which these Roman and Parisian revisions proceeded, it would be unjust to deny very high praise as hymn-writers to several of their poets, especially to Coffin and Jean Baptiste Santeul. The noble hymn by Coffin, beginning—
|“O luce qui mortalibus||“O Thou who in the light dost dwell,|
|Lates inaccessa, Deus,||To mortals unapproachable,|
|Praesente quo sancti tremunt||Where angels veil them from Thy rays,|
|Nubuntque vultus angeli,”||And tremble as they gaze,”|
and several others of his works, breathe the true Ambrosian spirit; and though Santeul (generally esteemed the better poet of the two) delighted in alcaics, and did not greatly affect the primitive manner, there can be no question as to the excellence of such hymns as his “Fumant Sabaeis templa vaporibus” (“Sweet incense breathes around”), “Stupete gentes, fit Deus hostia” (“Tremble, ye Gentile lands”), “Hymnis dum resonat curia caelitum” (“Ye in the house of heavenly morn”), and “Templi sacratas pande, Sion, fores” (“O Sion, open wide thy gates”). It is a striking testimony to the merits of those writers that such accomplished translators as the Rev. Isaac Williams and the Rev. John Chandler appear (from the title-page of the latter, and the prefaces of both) to have supposed their hymns to be “ancient” and “primitive.” Among the other authors associated with them, perhaps the first place is due to the Abbé Besnault, of Sens, who contributed to the book of 1735 the “Urbs beata vera pacis Visio Jerusalem,” in the opinion of Neale “much superior” to the “Caelestis urbs Jerusalem” of the Roman Breviary. This stood side by side with the “Urbs Jerusalem beata” of 1527 (in the office for the dedication of churches) till 1822, when the older form was at last finally excluded by Archbishop de Quelen.
The Parisian Breviary of 1735 remained in use till the national French service-books were superseded (as they have lately been, generally, if not universally) by the Roman. Almost all French dioceses followed, not indeed the Breviary, but the example, of Paris; and before the end of the 18th century the ancient Latin hymnody was all but banished from France.
In some parts of Germany, after the Reformation, Latin hymns
continued to be used even by Protestants. This was the case at
Halberstadt until quite a recent date. In England, a few are
still occasionally used in the older universities and colleges.
Some, also, have been composed in both countries since
hymns. the Reformation. The “Carmina lyrica” of Johann Jakob Balde, a native of Alsace, and a Jesuit priest in Bavaria, have received high commendation from very eminent German critics, particularly Herder and Augustus Schlegel. Some of the Latin hymns of William Alard (1572–1645), a Protestant refugee from Belgium, and pastor in Holstein, have been thought worthy of a place in Archbishop Trench’s selection. Two by W. Petersen (printed at the end of Haberkorn’s supplement to Jacobi’s Psalmodia Germanica) are good in different ways—one, “Jesu dulcis amor meus” (“Jesus, Thee my soul doth love”), being a gentle melody of spiritual devotion, and the other, entitled Spes Sionis, violently controversial against Rome. An English hymn of the 17th century, in the Ambrosian style, “Te Deum Patrem colimus” (“Almighty Father, just and good”), is sung on every May-Day morning by the choristers of Magdalen College, Oxford, from the top of the tower of their chapel; and another in the style of the Renaissance, of about the same date, “Te de profundis, summe Rex” (“Thee from the depths, Almighty King”), long formed part of a grace formerly sung by the scholars of Winchester College.
5. German Hymnody.—Luther was a proficient in and a lover of music. He desired (as he says in the preface to his hymn-book of 1545) that this “beautiful ornament” might “in a right manner serve the great Creator and His Christian people.” The persecuted Bohemian or Hussite Church, then Luther. settled on the borders of Moravia under the name of “United Brethren,” had sent to him, on a mission in 1522, Michael Weiss, who not long afterwards published a number of German translations from old Bohemian hymns (known as those of the “Bohemian Brethren”), with some of his own. These Luther highly approved and recommended. He himself, in 1522, published a small volume of eight hymns, which was enlarged to 63 in 1527, and to 125 in 1545. He had formed what he called a “house choir” of musical friends, to select such old and popular tunes (whether secular or ecclesiastical) as might be found suitable, and to compose new melodies, for church use. His fellow labourers in this field (besides Weiss) were Justus Jonas, his own especial colleague; Paul Eber, the disciple and friend of Melanchthon; John Walther, choirmaster successively to several German princes, and professor of arts, &c., at Wittenberg; Nicholas Decius, who from a monk became a Protestant teacher in Brunswick, and translated the “Gloria in Excelsis,” &c.; and Paul Speratus, chaplain to Duke Albert of Prussia in 1525. Some of their works are still popular in Germany. Weiss’s “Funeral Hymn,” “Nun lasst uns den Leib begraben” (“Now lay we calmly in the grave”); Eber’s “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott” (“Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God”), and “Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein” (“When in the hour of utmost need”); Walther’s “New Heavens and new Earth” (“Now fain my joyous heart would sing”); Decius’s “To God on high be thanks and praise”; and Speratus’s “Salvation now has come for all,” are among those which at the time produced the greatest effect, and are still best remembered.
Luther’s own hymns, thirty-seven in number (of which about twelve are translations or adaptations from Latin originals), are for the principal Christian seasons; on the sacraments, the church, grace, death, &c.; and paraphrases of seven psalms, of a passage in Isaiah, and of the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, Creed, Litany and “Te Deum.” There is also a very touching and stirring song on the martyrdom of two youths by fire at Brussels, in 1523–1524. Homely and sometimes rugged in form, and for the most part objective in tone, they are full of fire, manly simplicity and strong faith. Three rise above the rest. One for Christmas, “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her” (“From Heaven above to earth I come”), has a reverent tenderness, the influence of which may be traced in many later productions on the same subject. That on salvation through Christ, of a didactic character, “Nun freuet euch, lieben Christen g’mein” (“Dear Christian people, now rejoice”), is said to have made many conversions, and to have been once taken up by a large congregation to silence a Roman Catholic preacher in the cathedral of Frankfort. Pre-eminent above all is the celebrated paraphrase of the 46th Psalm: “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott” (“A sure stronghold our God is He”)—“the production” (as Ranke says) “of the moment in which Luther, engaged in a conflict with a world of foes, sought strength in the consciousness that he was defending a divine cause which could never perish.” Carlyle compares it to “a sound of Alpine avalanches, or the first murmur of earthquakes.” Heine called it “the Marseillaise of the Reformation.”
Luther spent several years in teaching his people at Wittenberg to sing these hymns, which soon spread over Germany. Without adopting the hyperbolical saying of Coleridge, that “Luther did as much for the Reformation by his hymns as by his translation of the Bible,” it may truly be affirmed, that, among the secondary means by which the success of the Reformation was promoted, none was more powerful. They were sung everywhere—in the streets and fields as well as the churches, in the workshop and the palace, “by children in the cottage and by martyrs on the scaffold.” It was by them that a congregational character was given to the new Protestant worship. This success they owed partly to their metrical structure, which, though sometimes complex, was recommended to the people by its ease and variety; and partly to the tunes and melodies (many of them already well known and popular) to which they were set. They were used as direct instruments of teaching, and were therefore, in a large measure, didactic and theological; and it may be partly owing to this cause that German hymnody came to deviate, so soon and so generally as it did, from the simple idea expressed in the ancient Augustinian definition, and to comprehend large classes of compositions which, in most other countries, would be thought hardly suitable for church use.
The principal hymn-writers of the Lutheran school, in the
latter part of the 16th century, were Nikolaus Selnecker, Herman
and Hans Sachs, the shoemaker of Nuremberg, also
known in other branches of literature. All these
wrote some good hymns. They were succeeded by
of Luther men of another sort, to whom F. A. Cunz gives the name of “master-singers,” as having raised both the poetical and the musical standard of German hymnody:—Bartholomäus Ringwaldt, Ludwig Helmbold, Johannes Pappus, Martin Schalling, Rutilius and Sigismund Weingartner. The principal topics of their hymns (as if with some foretaste of the calamities which were soon to follow) were the vanity of earthly things, resignation to the Divine will, and preparation for death and judgment. The well-known English hymn, “Great God, what do I see and hear,” is founded upon one by Ringwaldt. Of a quite different character were two of great beauty and universal popularity, composed by Philip Nicolai, a Westphalian pastor, during a pestilence in 1597, and published by him, with fine chorales, two years afterwards. One of these (the “Sleepers wake! a voice is calling,” of Mendelssohn’s oratorio, St Paul) belongs to the family of Advent or New Jerusalem hymns. The other, a “Song of the believing soul concerning the Heavenly Bridegroom” (“Wie schön leucht’t uns der Morgenstern”—“O morning Star, how fair and bright”), became the favourite marriage hymn of Germany.
The hymns produced during the Thirty Years’ War are characteristic
of that unhappy time, which (as Miss Winkworth says)
“caused religious men to look away from this world,”
and made their songs more and more expressive of
personal feelings. In point of refinement and graces
Period of Thirty
Years’ War. of style, the hymn-writers of this period excelled their predecessors. Their taste was chiefly formed by the influence of Martin Opitz, the founder of what has been called the “first Silesian school” of German poetry, who died comparatively young in 1639, and who, though not of any great original genius, exercised much power as a critic. Some of the best of these works were by men who wrote little. In the famous battle-song of Gustavus Adolphus, published (1631) after the victory of Breitenfeld, for the use of his army, “Verzage nicht du Häuflein klein” (“Fear not, O little flock, the foe”), we have almost certainly a composition of the hero-king himself, the versification corrected by his chaplain Jakob Fabricius (1593–1654) and the music composed by Michael Altenburg, whose name has been given to the hymn. This, with Luther’s paraphrase of the 67th Psalm, was sung by Gustavus and his soldiers before the battle of Lützen in 1632. Two very fine hymns, one of prayer for deliverance and peace, the other of trust in God under calamities, were written about the same time by Matthäus Löwenstern, a saddler’s son, poet, musician and statesman, who was ennobled after the peace by the emperor Ferdinand III. Martin Rinckhart, in 1636, wrote the “Chorus of God’s faithful children” (“Nun danket alle Gott”—“Now thank we all our God”), introduced by Mendelssohn in his “Lobgesang,” which has been called the “Te Deum” of Germany, being usually sung on occasions of public thanksgiving. Weissel, in 1635, composed a beautiful Advent hymn (“Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates”), and J. M. Meyfart, professor of theology at Erfurt, in 1642, a fine adaptation of the ancient “Urbs beata Hierusalem.” The hymn of trust in Providence by George Neumark, librarian to that duke of Weimar (“Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten”—“Leave God to order all thy ways”), is scarcely, if at all, inferior to that of Paul Gerhardt on the same theme. Paul Flemming, a great traveller and lover of nature, who died in 1639, also wrote excellent compositions, coloured by the same tone of feeling; and some, of great merit, were composed, soon after the close of the war, by Louisa Henrietta, electress of Brandenburg, granddaughter of the famous admiral Coligny, and mother of the first king of Prussia. With these may be classed (though of later date) a few striking hymns of faith and prayer under mental anxiety, by Anton Ulrich, duke of Brunswick.
The most copious, and in their day most esteemed, hymn-writers of the first half of the 17th century, were Johann Heermann and Johann Rist. Heermann, a pastor in Silesia, the theatre (in a peculiar degree) of war and persecution, experienced in his own person a very large share of the Rist. miseries of the time, and several times narrowly escaped a violent death. His Devoti musica cordis, published in 1630, reflects the feelings natural under such circumstances. With a correct style and good versification, his tone is subjective, and the burden of his hymns is not praise, but prayer. Among his works (which enter largely into most German hymn-books), two of the best are the “Song of Tears” and the “Song of Comfort,” translated by Miss Winkworth in her Christian Singers of Germany. Rist published about 600 hymns, “pressed out of him,” as he said, “by the cross.” He was a pastor, and son of a pastor, in Holstein, and lived after the peace to enjoy many years of prosperity, being appointed poet-laureate to the emperor and finally ennobled. The bulk of his hymns, like those of other copious writers, are of inferior quality; but some, particularly those for Advent, Epiphany, Easter Eve and on Angels, are very good. They are more objective than those of Heermann, and written, upon the whole, in a more manly spirit. Dach. Next to Heermann and Rist in fertility of production, and above them in poetical genius, was Simon Dach, professor of poetry at Königsberg, who died in 1659. Miss Winkworth ranks him high among German poets, “for the sweetness of form and depth of tender contemplative emotion to be found in his verses.”
The fame of all these writers was eclipsed in the latter part of the same century by three of the greatest hymnographers whom Germany has produced—Paul Gerhardt (1604–1676), Johann Franck (1618–1677) and Johann Scheffler (1624–1677), the founder of the “second Silesian school,” who Gerhardt. assumed the name of “Angelus Silesius.” Gerhardt is by universal consent the prince of Lutheran poets. His compositions, which may be compared, in many respects, to those of the Christian Year, are lyric poems, of considerable length, rather than hymns, though many hymns have been taken from them. They are, with few exceptions, subjective, and speak the language of individual experience. They occupy a middle ground between the masculine simplicity of the old Lutheran style and the highly wrought religious emotion of the later pietists, towards whom they on the whole incline. Being nearly all excellent, it is not easy to distinguish among the 123 those which are entitled to the highest praise. Two, which were written one during the war and the other after the conclusion of peace, “Zeuch ein zu deinen Thoren” (“Come to Thy temple here on earth”), and “Gottlob, nun ist erschollen” (“Thank God, it hath resounded”), are historically interesting. Of the rest, one is well known and highly appreciated in English through Wesley’s translation, “Commit thou all thy ways”; and the evening and spring-tide hymns (“Now all the woods are sleeping” and “Go forth, my heart, and seek delight”) show an exquisite feeling for nature; while nothing can be more tender and pathetic than “Du bist zwar mein und bleibest mein” (“Thou’rt Franck. mine, yes, still thou art mine own”), on the death of his son. Franck, who was burgomaster of Guben in Lusatia, has been considered by some second only to Gerhardt. If so, it is with a great distance between them. His approach to the later pietists is closer than that of Gerhardt. His hymns were published, under the title of Geistliche und weltliche Gedichte, in 1674, some of them being founded on Ambrosian and other Latin originals. Miss Winkworth gives them the praise of a condensed and polished style and fervid and impassioned thought. It was after his conversion to Roman Catholicism that Scheffler. Scheffler adopted the name of “Angelus Silesius,” and published in 1657 his hymns, under a fantastic title, and with a still more fantastic preface. Their keynote is divine love; they are enthusiastic, intense, exuberant in their sweetness, like those of St Bernard among medieval poets. An adaptation of one of them, by Wesley, “Thee will I love, my Strength, my Tower,” is familiar to English readers. Those for the first Sunday after Epiphany, for Sexagesima Sunday and for Trinity Sunday, in Lyra Germanica, are good examples of his excellences, with few of his defects. His hymns are generally so free from the expression, or even the indirect suggestion, of Roman Catholic doctrine, that it has been supposed they were written before his conversion, though published afterwards. The evangelical churches of Germany found no difficulty in admitting them to that prominent place in their services which they have ever since retained.
Towards the end of the 17th century, a new religious school arose, to which the name of “Pietists” was given, and of which Philipp Jakob Spener was esteemed the founder. He and his pupils and successors, August Hermann Francke and Anastasius Freylinghausen, all wrote hymns. Pietists. Spener’s hymns are not remarkable, and Francke’s are not numerous. Freylinghausen was their chief singer; his rhythm is lively, his music florid; but, though his book attained extraordinary popularity, he was surpassed in solid merit by other less fertile writers of the same school. The “Auf hinauf zu deiner Freude” (“Up, yes, upward to thy gladness”) of Schade may recall to an English reader a hymn by Seagrave, and more than one by Lyte; the “Malabarian hymn” (as it was called by Jacobi) of Johann Schütz, “All glory to the Sovereign Good,” has been popular in England as well as Germany; and one of the most exquisite strains of pious resignation ever written is “Whate’er my God ordains is right,” by Samuel Rodigast.
Joachim Neander, a schoolmaster at Düsseldorf, and a friend of Spener and Schütz (who died before the full development of the “Pietistic” school), was the first man of eminence in the “Reformed” or Calvinistic Church who imitated Lutheran hymnody. This he did, while suffering persecution Neander. from the elders of his own church for some other religious practices, which he had also learnt from Spener’s example. As a poet, he is sometimes deficient in art; but there is feeling, warmth and sweetness in many of his “Bundeslieder” or “Songs of the Covenant,” and they obtained general favour, both in the Reformed and in Lutheran congregations. The Summer Hymn (“O Thou true God alone”) and that on the glory of God in creation (“Lo, heaven and earth and sea and air”) are instances of his best style.
With the “Pietists” may be classed Benjamin Schmolke and
Dessler, representatives of the “Orthodox” division of Spener’s
school; Philipp Friedrich Hiller, their leading poet in
South Germany; Gottfried Arnold and Gerhard
Tersteegen, who were practically independent of ecclesiastical
organization, though connected, one with the “Orthodox”
and the other with the “Reformed” churches; and Nikolaus
Ludwig, Graf von Zinzendorf. Schmolke, a pastor in Silesia,
called the Silesian Rist (1672–1737), was perhaps the most
voluminous of all German hymn-writers. He wrote 1188
religious poems and hymns, a large proportion of which do not
rise above mediocrity. His style, if less refined, is also less
subjective and more simple than that of most of his contemporaries.
Among his best and most attractive works, which
indeed, it would be difficult to praise too highly, are the
“Hosianna David’s Sohn,” for Palm Sunday—much resembling
a shorter hymn by Jeremy Taylor; and the Ascension, Whitsuntide
and Sabbath hymns—“Heavenward doth our journey
tend,” “Come deck our feast to-day,” and “Light of light,
Hiller. enlighten me.” Dessler was a greater poet than Schmolke. Few hymns, of the subjective kind, are better than his “I will not let Thee go, Thou Help in time of need,” “O Friend of souls, how well is me,” and “Now, the pearly gates unfold.” Hiller (1699–1769), was a pastor in Württemberg who, falling into ill-health during the latter part of his ministry, published a Geistliche Liederhöstlein in a didactic vein, with more taste than power, but (as Miss Winkworth says) in a tone of “deep, thoughtful, practical piety.” They were so well adapted to the wants of his people that to this day Hiller’s Casket is prized, next to their Bibles, by the peasantry of Württemberg; and the numerous emigrants from that part of Germany to America and other foreign countries generally Arnold. take it with them wherever they go. Arnold, a professor at Giessen, and afterwards a pastor in Brandenburg, was a man of strong will, uncompromising character and austere views of life, intolerant and controversial towards those whose doctrine or practice he disapproved, and more indifferent to separatism and sectarianism than the “orthodox” generally thought right. His hymns, like those of Augustus M. Toplady, whom in these respects he resembled, unite with considerable strength more gentleness and breadth of sympathy than might be expected from a man of such a Tersteegen. character. Tersteegen (1697–1769), who never formally separated himself from the “Reformed” communion, in which he was brought up, but whose sympathies were with the Moravians and with Zinzendorf, was, of all the more copious German hymn-writers after Luther, perhaps the most remarkable man. Pietist, mystic and missionary, he was also a great religious poet. His 111 hymns were published in 1731, in a volume called Geistlicher Blumengärtlein inniger Seelen. They are intensely individual, meditative and subjective. Wesley’s adaptations of two—“Lo! God is here; let us adore,” and “Thou hidden Love of God, whose source”—are well known. Among those translated by Miss Winkworth, “O God, O Spirit, Light of all that live,” and “Come, brethren, let us go,” are specimens which exhibit favourably his manner and power. Miss Cox speaks of him as “a gentle heaven-inspired soul, whose hymns are the reflection of a heavenly, happy life, his mind being full of a child-like simplicity”; and his own poem on the child-character, which Miss Winkworth has appropriately connected with Innocents’ day (“Dear Soul, couldst thou become a child”)—one of his best compositions, exquisitely conceived and expressed—shows that this was in truth the ideal which he sought to realize. The hymns of Zinzendorf Zinzendorf. are often disfigured by excess in the application of the language and imagery of human affections to divine objects; and this blemish is also found in many later Moravian hymns. But one hymn, at least, of Zinzendorf may be mentioned with unqualified praise, as uniting the merits of force, simplicity and brevity—“Jesu, geh voran” (“Jesus, lead the way”), which is taught to most children of religious parents in Germany. Wesley’s “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness” is a translation from Zinzendorf.
The transition from Tersteegen and Zinzendorf to Gellert and Klopstock marks strongly the reaction against Pietism which took place towards the middle of the 18th century. The Geistlichen Oden und Lieder of Christian F. Gellert were published in 1757, and are said to have been Gellert. received with an enthusiasm almost like that which “greeted Luther’s hymns on their first appearance.” It is a proof of the moderation both of the author and of his times that they were largely used, not only by Protestant congregations, but in those German Roman Catholic churches in which vernacular services had been established through the influence of the emperor Joseph II. They became the model which was followed by most succeeding hymn-writers, and exceeded all others in popularity till the close of the century, when a new wave of thought was generated by the movement which produced the French Revolution. Since that time they have been, perhaps, too much depreciated. They are, indeed, cold and didactic, as compared with Scheffler or Tersteegen; but there is nevertheless in them a spirit of genuine practical piety; and, if not marked by genius, they are pure in taste, and often terse, vigorous and graceful.
Klopstock, the author of the Messiah, cannot be considered great as a hymn-writer, though his “Sabbath Hymn” (of which there is a version in Hymns from the Land of Luther) is simple and good. Generally his hymns (ten of which are translated in Klopstock.Sheppard’s Foreign Sacred Lyre) are artificial and much too elaborate.
Of the “romantic” school, which came in with the French Revolution, the two leading writers are Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg, called “Novalis,” and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, the celebrated author of Undine and Sintram—both romance-writers, as well as poets. The genius of Novalis was early lost to the world; he died in 1801, not thirty years old. Some of his hymns are very beautiful; but even in such works as “Though all to Thee were faithless,” and “If only He is mine,” there is a feeling of insulation and of despondency as to good in the actual world, which was perhaps inseparable from his Fouqué. ecclesiastical idealism. Fouqué survived till 1843. In his hymns there is the same deep flow of feeling, richness of imagery and charm of expression which distinguishes his prose works. The two missionary hymns—“Thou, solemn Ocean, rollest to the strand,” and “In our sails all soft and sweetly”—and the exquisite composition which finds its motive in the gospel narrative of blind Bartimeus, “Was du vor tausend Jahren” (finely translated both by Miss Winkworth and by Miss Cox), are among the best examples.
The later German hymn-writers of the 19th century belong, generally, to the revived “Pietistic” school. Some of the best, Johann Baptist von Albertini, Friedrich Adolf Krummacher, and especially Karl Johann Philipp Spitta (1801–1859) have produced works not unworthy of the fame of Spitta. their nation. Mr Massie, the able translator of Spitta’s Psalter und Harfe (Leipzig, 1833), speaks of it as having “obtained for him in Germany a popularity only second to that of Paul Gerhardt.” In Spitta’s poems (for such they generally are, rather than hymns) the subjective and meditative tone is tempered, not ungracefully, with a didactic element; and they are not disfigured by exaggerated sentiment, or by a too florid and rhetorical style.
6. British Hymnody.—After the Reformation, the development of hymnody was retarded, in both parts of Great Britain, by the example and influence of Geneva. Archbishop Cranmer appears at one time to have been disposed to follow Luther’s course, and to present to the people, in an English dress, some at least of the hymns of the ancient church. In a letter to King Henry VIII. (October 7, 1544), among some new “processions” which he had himself translated, into English, he mentions the Easter hymn, “Salve, festa dies, toto memorabilis aevo” (“Hail, glad day, to be joyfully kept through all generations”), of Fortunatus. In the “Primer” of 1535 (by Marshall) and the one of 1539 (by Bishop Hilsey of Rochester, published by order of the vicar-general Cromwell) there had been several rude English hymns, none of them taken from ancient sources. King Henry’s “Primer” of 1545 (commanded by his injunction of the 6th of May 1545 to be used throughout his dominions) was formed on the model of the daily offices of the Breviary; and it contains English metrical translations from some of the best-known Ambrosian and other early hymns. But in the succeeding reign different views prevailed. A new direction had been given to the taste of the “Reformed” congregations in France and Switzerland by the French metrical translation of the Old Testament Psalms, which appeared about 1540. This was the joint work of Clement Marot, valet or groom of the chamber to Francis I., and Theodore Beza, then a mere youth, fresh from his studies at Orleans.
Marot’s psalms were dedicated to the French king and the ladies of France, and, being set to popular airs, became fashionable. They were sung by Francis himself, the queen, the princesses and the courtiers, upon all sorts of secular occasions, and also, more seriously and religiously, by Marot’s Psalms. the citizens and the common people. They were soon perceived to be a power on the side of the Reformation. Calvin, who had settled at Geneva in the year of Marot’s return to Paris, was then organizing his ecclesiastical system. He rejected the hymnody of the breviaries and missals, and fell back upon the idea, anciently held by Paul of Samosata, and condemned by the fourth council of Toledo, that whatever was sung in churches ought to be taken out of the Scriptures. Marot’s Psalter, appearing thus opportunely, was introduced into his new system of worship, and appended to his catechism. On the other hand, it was interdicted by the Roman Catholic priesthood. Thus it became a badge to the one party of the “reformed” profession, and to the other of heresy.
The example thus set produced in England the translation
commonly known as the “Old Version” of the Psalms. It was
begun by Thomas Sternhold, whose position in the
household of Henry VIII., and afterwards of Edward
VI., was similar to that of Marot with Francis I., and
Hopkins. whose services to the former of those kings were rewarded by a substantial legacy under his will. Sternhold published versions of nineteen Psalms, with a dedication to King Edward, and died soon afterwards. A second edition appeared in 1551, with eighteen more Psalms added, of Sternhold’s translating, and seven others by John Hopkins, a Suffolk clergyman. The work was continued during Queen Mary’s reign by British refugees at Geneva, the chief of whom were William Whittingham, afterwards dean of Durham, who succeeded John Knox as minister of the English congregation there, and William Kethe or Keith, said by Strype to have been a Scotsman. They published at Geneva in 1556 a service-book, containing fifty-one English metrical psalms, which number was increased, in later editions, to eighty-seven. On the accession of Queen Elizabeth, this Genevan Psalmody was at once brought into use in England—first (according to a letter of Bishop Jewell to Peter Martyr, dated 5th March 1560) in one London church, from which it quickly spread to others both in London and in other cities. Jewell describes the effect produced by large congregations, of as many as 6000 persons, young and old, women and children, singing it after the sermons at St Paul’s Cross—adding, “Id sacrificos et diabolum aegre habet; vident enim sacras conciones hoc pacto profundius descendere in hominum animos.” The first edition of the completed “Old Version” (containing forty Psalms by Sternhold, sixty-seven by Hopkins, fifteen by Whittingham, six by Kethe and the rest by Thomas Norton the dramatist, Robert Wisdom, John Marckant and Thomas Churchyard) appeared in 1562.
In the meantime, the Books of Common Prayer, of 1549, 1552 and 1559, had been successively established as law by the acts of uniformity of Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth. In these no provision was made for the use of any metrical psalm or hymn on any occasion whatever, except at the consecration of bishops and the ordination of priests, in which offices (first added in 1552) an English version of “Veni Creator” (the longer of the two now in use) was appointed to be “said or sung.” The canticles, “Te Deum,” “Benedicite,” the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the “Gloria in Excelsis,” and some other parts of the communion and other special offices were also directed to be “said or sung”; and, by general rubrics, the chanting of the whole service was allowed.
The silence, however, of the rubrics in these books as to any other singing was not meant to exclude the use of psalms not expressly appointed, when they could be used without interfering with the prescribed order of any service. It was expressly provided by King Edward’s first act of uniformity (by later acts made applicable to the later books) that it should be lawful “for all men, as well in churches, chapels, oratories or other places, to use openly any psalms or prayers taken out of the Bible, at any due time, not letting or omitting thereby the service, or any part thereof, mentioned in the book.” And Queen Elizabeth, by one of the injunctions issued in the first year of her reign, declared her desire that the provision made, “in divers collegiate and also some parish churches, for singing in the church, so as to promote the laudable service of music,” should continue. After allowing the use of “a modest and distinct song in all parts of the common prayers of the church, so that the same may be as plainly understanded as if it were read without singing,” the injunction proceeded thus—“And yet, nevertheless, for the comforting of such that delight in music, it may be permitted that in the beginning or in the end of the Common Prayer, either at morning or evening, there may be sung an hymn, or such like song to the praise of Almighty God, in the best sort of melody and music that may be conveniently devised, having respect that the sentence” (i.e. sense) “of hymn may be understanded and perceived.”
The “Old Version,” when published (by John Daye, for the Stationers’ Company, “cum gratia et privilegio Regiae Majestatis”), bore upon the face of it that it was “newly set forth, and allowed to be sung of the people in churches, before and after morning and evening prayer, as also before and after the sermon.” The question of its authority has been at different times much debated, chiefly by Peter Heylyn and Thomas Warton on one side (both of whom disliked and disparaged it), and by William Beveridge, bishop of St Asaph, and the Rev. H. J. Todd on the other. Heylyn says, it was “permitted rather than allowed,” which seems to be a distinction without much difference. “Allowance,” which is all that the book claimed for itself, is authorization by way of permission, not of commandment. Its publication in that form could hardly have been licensed, nor could it have passed into use as it did without question, throughout the churches of England, unless it had been “allowed” by some authority then esteemed to be sufficient. Whether that authority was royal or ecclesiastical does not appear, nor (considering the proviso in King Edward’s act of uniformity, and Queen Elizabeth’s injunctions) is it very important. No inference can justly be drawn from the inability of inquirers, in Heylyn’s time or since, to discover any public record bearing upon this subject, many public documents of that period having been lost.
In this book, as published in 1562, and for many years afterwards, there were (besides the versified Psalms) eleven metrical versions of the “Te Deum,” canticles, Lord’s Prayer (the best of which is that of the “Benedicite”); and also “Da pacem, Domine,” a hymn suitable to the times, rendered into English from Luther; two original hymns of praise, to be sung before morning and evening prayer; two penitential hymns (one of them the “humble lamentation of a sinner”); and a hymn of faith, beginning, “Lord, in Thee is all my trust.” In these respects, and also in the tunes which accompanied the words (stated by Dr Charles Burney, in his History of Music, to be German, and not French), there was a departure from the Genevan platform. Some of these hymns, and some of the psalms also (e.g. those by Robert Wisdom, being alternative versions), were omitted at a later period; and many alterations and supposed amendments were from time to time made by unknown hands in the psalms which remained, so that the text, as now printed, is in many places different from that of 1562.
In Scotland, the General Assembly of the kirk caused to be printed at Edinburgh in 1564, and enjoined the use of, a book entitled The Form of Prayers and Ministry of the Sacraments used in the English Church at Geneva, approved and received by the Church of Scotland; Scotch Psalms. whereto, besides that was in the former books, are also added sundry other prayers, with the whole Psalms of David in English metre. This contained, from the “Old Version,” translations of forty Psalms by Sternhold, fifteen by Whittingham, twenty-six by Kethe and thirty-five by Hopkins. Of the remainder two were by John Pulleyn (one of the Genevan refugees, who became archdeacon of Colchester); six by Robert Pont, Knox’s son-in-law, who was a minister of the kirk, and also a lord of session; and fourteen signed with the initials I. C., supposed to be John Craig; one was anonymous, eight were attributed to N., two to M. and one to T. N. respectively.
So matters continued in both churches until the Civil War. During the interval, King James I. conceived the project of himself making a new version of the Psalms, and appears to have translated thirty-one of them—the correction of which, together with the translation of the rest, he entrusted to Sir William Alexander, afterwards earl of Stirling. Sir William having completed his task, King Charles I. had it examined and approved by several archbishops and bishops of England, Scotland and Ireland, and caused it to be printed in 1631 at the Oxford University Press, as the work of King James; and, by an order under the royal sign manual, recommended its use in all churches of his dominions. In 1634 he enjoined the Privy Council of Scotland not to suffer any other psalms, “of any edition whatever,” to be printed in or imported into that kingdom. In 1636 it was republished, and was attached to the famous Scottish service-book, with which the troubles began in 1637. It need hardly be added that the king did not succeed in bringing this Psalter into use in either kingdom.
When the Long Parliament undertook, in 1642, the task of altering the liturgy, its attention was at the same time directed to psalmody. It had to judge between two rival translations of the Psalms—one by Francis Rouse, a member of the House of Commons, afterwards one of Cromwell’s councillors and finally provost of Eton; the other by William Barton, a clergyman of Leicester. The House of Lords favoured Barton, the House of Commons Rouse, who had made much use of the labours of Sir William Alexander. Both versions were printed by order of parliament, and were referred for consideration to the Westminster Assembly. They decided in favour of Rouse. His version, as finally amended, was published in 1646, under an order of the House of Commons dated 14th November 1645. In the following year it was recommended by the parliament to the General Assembly at Edinburgh, who appointed a committee, with large powers, to prepare a revised Psalter, recommending to their consideration not only Rouse’s book but that of 1564, and two other versions (by Zachary Boyd and Sir William Mure of Rowallan), then lately executed in Scotland. The result of the labours of this committee was the “Paraphrase” of the Psalms, which, in 1649–1650, by the concurrent authority of the General Assembly and the committee of estates, was ordered to be exclusively used throughout the church of Scotland. Some use was made in the preparation of this book of the versions to which the attention of the revisers had been directed, and also of Barton’s; but its basis was that of Rouse. It was received in Scotland with great favour, which it has ever since retained; and it is fairly entitled to the praise of striking a tolerable medium between the rude homeliness of the “Old,” and the artificial modernism of the “New” English versions—perhaps as great a success as was possible for such an undertaking. Sir Walter Scott is said to have dissuaded any attempt to alter it, and to have pronounced it, “with all its acknowledged occasional harshness, so beautiful, that any alterations must eventually prove only so many blemishes.” No further step towards any authorized hymnody was taken by the kirk of Scotland till the following century.
In England, two changes bearing on church hymnody were made upon the revision of the prayer-book after the Restoration, in 1661–1662. One was the addition, in the offices for consecrating bishops and ordaining priests, of the shorter version of “Veni Creator” (“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”), as an alternative form. The other, and more important, was the insertion of the rubric after the third collect, at morning and evening prayer: “In quires and places where they sing, here followeth the anthem.” By this rubric synodical and parliamentary authority was given for the interruption, at that point, of the prescribed order of the service by singing an anthem, the choice of which was left to the discretion of the minister. Those actually used, under this authority, were for some time only unmetrical passages of scripture, set to music by Blow, Purcell and other composers, of the same kind with the anthems still generally sung in cathedral and collegiate churches. But the word “anthem” had no technical signification which could be an obstacle to the use under this rubric of metrical hymns.
The “New Version” of the Psalms, by Dr Nicholas Brady and the poet-laureate Nahum Tate (both Irishmen), appeared in 1696, under the sanction of an order in council of William III., “allowing and permitting” its use “in all such churches, chapels and congregations as should think fit Tate and Brady. to receive it.” Dr Compton, bishop of London, recommended it to his diocese. No hymns were then appended to it; but the authors added a “supplement” in 1703, which received an exactly similar sanction from an order in council of Queen Anne. In that supplement there were several new versions of the canticles, and of the “Veni Creator”; a variation of the old “humble lamentation of a sinner”; six hymns for Christmas, Easter and Holy Communion (all versions or paraphrases of scripture), which are still usually printed at the end of the prayer-books containing the new version; and a hymn “on the divine use of music”—all accompanied by tunes. The authors also reprinted, with very good taste, the excellent version of the “Benedicite” which appeared in the book of 1562. Of the hymns in this “supplement,” one (“While shepherds watched their flocks by night”) greatly exceeded the rest in merit. It has been ascribed to Tate, but it has a character of simplicity unlike the rest of his works.
The relative merits of the “Old” and “New” versions have been very variously estimated. Competent judges have given the old the praise, which certainly cannot be accorded to the new, of fidelity to the Hebrew. In both, it must be admitted, that those parts which Old and new versions compared. have poetical merit are few and far between; but a reverent taste is likely to be more offended by the frequent sacrifice, in the new, of depth of tone and accuracy of sense to a fluent commonplace correctness of versification and diction, than by any excessive homeliness in the old. In both, however, some psalms, or portions of psalms, are well enough rendered to entitle them to a permanent place in the hymn-books—especially the 8th, and parts of the 18th Psalm, by Sternhold; the 57th, 84th and 100th, by Hopkins; the 23rd, 34th and 36th, and part of the 148th, by Tate and Brady.
The judgment which a fastidious critic might be disposed to pass upon both these books may perhaps be considerably mitigated by comparing them with the works of other labourers in the same field, of whom Holland, in his interesting volumes entitled Psalmists of Great Britain, enumerates above 150. Some of them have been real poets—the celebrated earl of Surrey, Sir Philip Sidney and his sister the countess of Pembroke, George Sandys, George Wither, John Milton and John Keble. In their versions, as might be expected, there are occasional gleams of power and beauty, exceeding anything to be found in Sternhold and Hopkins, or Tate and Brady; but even in the best these are rare, and chiefly occur where the strict idea of translation has been most widely departed from. In all of them, as a rule, the life and spirit, which in prose versions of the psalms are so wonderfully preserved, have disappeared. The conclusion practically suggested by so many failures is that the difficulties of metrical translation, always great, are in this case insuperable; and that, while the psalms like other parts of scripture are abundantly suggestive of motive and material for hymnographers, it is by assimilation and adaptation, and not by any attempt to transform their exact sense into modern poetry, that they may be best used for this purpose.
The order in council of 1703 is the latest act of any public authority by which an express sanction has been given to the use of psalms or hymns in the Church of England. At the end, indeed, of many Prayer-books, till about the middle of the 19th century, there were commonly found, besides some of the hymns sanctioned by that order in council, or of those contained in the book of 1562, a sacramental and a Christmas hymn by Doddridge; a Christmas hymn (varied by Martin Madan) from Charles Wesley; an Easter hymn of the 18th century, beginning “Jesus Christ has risen to-day”; and abridgments Bishop Ken’s Morning and Evening Hymns. These additions first began to be made in or about 1791, in London editions of the Prayer-book and Psalter, at the mere will and pleasure (so far as appears) of the printers. They had no sort of authority.
In the state of authority, opinion and practice disclosed by the preceding narrative may be found the true explanation of the fact that, in the country of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton, and notwithstanding the example of Germany, no native congregational English congregational hymnody. hymnody worthy of the name arose till after the commencement of the 18th century. Yet there was no want of appreciation of the power and value of congregational church music. Milton could write, before 1645:—
“There let the pealing organ blow
Thomas Mace, in his Music’s Monument (1676), thus described the effect of psalm-singing before sermons by the congregation in York Minster on Sundays, during the siege of 1644: “When that vast concording unity of the whole congregational chorus came thundering in, even so as it made the very ground shake under us, oh, the unutterable ravishing soul’s delight! in the which I was so transported and wrapt up in high contemplations that there was no room left in my whole man, body, soul and spirit, for anything below divine and heavenly raptures; nor could there possibly be anything to which that very singing might be truly compared, except the right apprehension or conceiving of that glorious and miraculous quire, recorded in the scriptures at the dedication of the temple.” Nor was there any want of men well qualified, and by the turn of their minds predisposed, to shine in this branch of literature. Some (like Sandys, Boyd and Barton) devoted themselves altogether to paraphrases of other scriptures as well as the psalms. Others (like George Herbert, and Francis and John Quarles) moralized, meditated, soliloquized and allegorized in verse. Without reckoning these, there were a few, even before the Restoration, who came very near to the ideal of hymnody.
First in time is the Scottish poet John Wedderburn, who translated several of Luther’s hymns, and in his Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs added others of his own (or his brothers’) composition. Some of these Wedderburn. poems, published before 1560, are of uncommon excellence, uniting ease and melody of rhythm, and structural skill, with grace of expression, and simplicity, warmth and reality of religious feeling. Those entitled “Give me thy heart,” “Go, heart,” and “Leave me not,” which will be found in a collection of 1860 called Sacred Songs of Scotland, require little, beyond the change of some archaisms of language, to adapt them for church or domestic use at the present day.
Next come the two hymns of “The new Jerusalem,” by an English Roman Catholic priest signing himself F. B. P. (supposed to be “Francis Baker, Presbyter”), and by another Scottish poet, David Dickson, of which the history Dickson. is given by Dr Bonar in his edition of Dickson’s work. This (Dickson’s), which begins “O mother dear, Jerusalem,” and has long been popular in Scotland, is a variation and amplification by the addition of a large number of new stanzas of the English original, beginning “Jerusalem, my happy home,” written in Queen Elizabeth’s time, and printed (as appears by a copy in the British Museum) about 1616, when Dickson was still young. Both have an easy natural flow, and a simple happy rendering of the beautiful scriptural imagery upon the subject, with a spirit of primitive devotion uncorrupted by medieval peculiarities. The English hymn of which some stanzas are now often sung in churches is the true parent of the several shorter forms,—all of more than common merit,—which, in modern hymn-books, begin with the same first line, but afterwards deviate from the original. Kindred to these is the very fine and faithful translation, by Dickson’s contemporary Drummond of Hawthornden of the ancient “Urbs beata Hierusalem” (“Jerusalem, that place divine”). Other ancient hymns (two of Thomas Aquinas, and the “Dies Irae”) were also well translated, in 1646, by Richard Crashaw, after he had become a Roman Catholic and had been deprived by the parliament of his fellowship at Cambridge.
Conspicuous among the sacred poets of the first two Stuart reigns in England was George Wither. His Hymnes and Songs of the Church appeared in 1622–1623, under a patent of King James I., by which they were declared “worthy Wither. and profitable to be inserted, in convenient manner and due place, into every English Psalm-book to metre.” His Hallelujah (in which some of the former Hymnes and Songs were repeated) followed in 1641. Some of the Hymnes and Songs were set to music by Orlando Gibbons, and those in both books were written to be sung, though there is no evidence that the author contemplated the use of any of them in churches. They included hymns for every day in the week (founded, as those contributed nearly a century afterwards by Charles Coffin to the Parisian Breviary also were, upon the successive works of the days of creation); hymns for all the church seasons and festivals, including saints’ days; hymns for various public occasions; and hymns of prayer, meditation and instruction, for all sorts and conditions of men, under a great variety of circumstances—being at once a “Christian Year” and a manual of practical piety. Many of them rise to a very high point of excellence,—particularly the “general invitation to praise God” (“Come, O come, in pious lays”), with which Hallelujah opens; the thanksgivings for peace and for victory, the Coronation Hymn, a Christmas, an Epiphany, and an Easter Hymn, and one for St Bartholomew’s day (Hymns 1, 74, 75, and 84 in part i., and 26, 29, 36 and 54 in part ii. of Hallelujah).
John Cosin, afterwards bishop of Durham, published in 1627 a volume of “Private Devotions,” for the canonical hours and other occasions. In this there are seven or eight hymns of considerable merit,—among them a very good version of the Ambrosian Cosin.“Jam lucis orto sidere,” and the shorter version of the “Veni Creator,” which was introduced after the Restoration into the consecration and ordination services of the Church of England.
The hymns of Milton (on the Nativity, Passion, Circumcision and “at a Solemn Music”), written about 1629, in his early manhood, were probably not intended for singing; but they are odes full of characteristic beauty and power.Milton.
During the Commonwealth, in 1654, Jeremy Taylor published
at the end of his Golden Grove, twenty-one hymns, described
by himself as “celebrating the mysteries and chief
festivals of the year, according to the manner of the
ancient church, fitted to the Jeremy
Taylor.fancy and devotion of the younger and pious persons, apt for memory, and to be joined, to their other prayers.” Of these, his accomplished editor, Bishop Heber, justly says:—
“They are in themselves, and on their own account, very interesting compositions. Their metre, indeed, which is that species of spurious Pindaric which was fashionable with his contemporaries, is an obstacle, and must always have been one, to their introduction into public or private psalmody; and the mixture of that alloy of conceits and quibbles which was an equally frequent and still greater defilement of some of the finest poetry of the 17th century will materially diminish their effect as devotional or descriptive odes. Yet, with all these faults, they are powerful, affecting, and often harmonious; there are many passages of which Cowley need not have been ashamed, and some which remind us, not disadvantageously, of the corresponding productions of Milton.”
He mentions particularly the advent hymn (“Lord, come away”), part of the hymn “On heaven,” and (as “more regular in metre, and in words more applicable to public devotion”) the “Prayer for Charity” (“Full of mercy, full of love”).
The epoch of the Restoration produced in 1664 Samuel Crossman’s Young Man’s Calling, with a few “Divine Meditations” in verse attached to it; in 1668 John Austin’s Devotions in the ancient way of offices, with psalms, hymns and prayers for every day in the week and every Restoration period. holyday in the year; and in 1681 Richard Baxter’s Poetical Fragments. In these books there are altogether seven or eight hymns, the whole or parts of which are extremely good: Crossman’s “New Jerusalem” (“Sweet place, sweet place alone”), one of the best of that class, and “My life’s a shade, my days”; Austin’s “Hark, my soul, how everything,” “Fain would my thoughts fly up to Thee,” “Lord, now the time returns,” “Wake all my hopes, lift up your eyes”; and Baxter’s “My whole, though broken heart, O Lord,” and “Ye holy angels bright.” Austin’s Offices (he was a Roman Catholic) seem to have attracted much attention. Theophilus Dorrington, in 1686, published variations of them under the title of Reformed Devotions; George Hickes, the non-juror, wrote one of his numerous recommendatory prefaces to S. Hopton’s edition; and the Wesleys, in their earliest hymn-book, adopted hymns from them, with little alteration. These writers were followed by John Mason in 1683, and Thomas Shepherd in 1692,—the former, a country clergyman, much esteemed by Baxter and other Nonconformists; the latter himself a Nonconformist, who finally emigrated to America. Between these two men there was a close alliance, Shepherd’s Penitential Cries being published as an addition to the Spiritual Songs of Mason. Their hymns came into early use in several Nonconformist congregations; but, with the exception of one by Mason (“There is a stream which issues forth”), they are not suitable for public singing. In those of Mason there is often a very fine vein of poetry; and later authors have, by extracts or centoes from different parts of his works (where they were not disfigured by his general quaintness), constructed several hymns of more than average excellence.
Three other eminent names of the 17th century remain to be mentioned, John Dryden, Bishop Ken and Bishop Simon Patrick; with which may be associated that of Addison, though he wrote in the 18th century.
Dryden’s translation of “Veni Creator” a cold and laboured
performance, is to be met with in many hymn-books. Abridgments
of Ken’s morning and evening hymns are in all.
These, with the midnight hymn, which is not inferior
to them, first appeared In 1697, appended to the third
Ken. edition of the author’s Manual of Prayers for Winchester Scholars. Between these and a large number of other hymns (on the attributes of God, and for the festivals of the church) published by Bishop Ken after 1703 the contrast is remarkable. The universal acceptance of the morning and evening hymns is due to their transparent simplicity, warm but not overstrained devotion, and extremely popular style. Those afterwards published have no such qualities. They are mystical, florid, stiff, Patrick
Addison. didactic and seldom poetical, and deserve the neglect into which they have fallen. Bishop Patrick’s hymns were chiefly translations from the Latin, most of them from Prudentius. The best is a version of “Alleluia dulce carmen.” Of the five attributed to Addison, not more than three are adapted to public singing; one (“The spacious firmament on high”) is a very perfect and finished composition, taking rank among the best hymns in the English language.
From the preface to Simon Browne’s hymns, published in 1720, we learn that down to the time of Dr Watts the only hymns known to be “in common use, either in private families or in Christian assemblies,” were those of Barton, Mason and Shepherd, together with “an attempt to turn some of George Herbert’s poems into common metre,” and a few sacramental hymns by authors now forgotten, named Joseph Boyse (1660–1728) and Joseph Stennett. Of the 1410 authors of original British hymns enumerated in Daniel Sedgwick’s catalogue, published in 1863, 1213 are of later date than 1707; and, if any correct enumeration could be made of the total number of hymns of all kinds published in Great Britain before and after that date, the proportion subsequent to 1707 would be very much larger.
The English Independents, as represented by Dr Isaac Watts, have a just claim to be considered the real founders of modern English hymnody. Watts was the first to understand the nature of the want, and, by the publication of his Hymns in 1707–1709, and Psalms (not translations, but hymns founded on psalms) in 1709, he led the way in providing for it. His immediate followers were Simon Browne and Philip Doddridge. Later in the 18th century, Joseph Hart, Thomas Gibbons, Miss Anne Steele, Samuel Medley, Samuel Stennett, John Ryland, Benjamin Beddome and Joseph Swain succeeded to them.
Among these writers, most of whom produced some hymns of merit, and several are extremely voluminous, Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge are pre-eminent. It has been the fashion with some to disparage Watts, as if he had never risen above the level of his Hymns for Little Children. No Watts. doubt his taste is often faulty, and his style very unequal, but, looking to the good, and disregarding the large quantity of inferior matter, it is probable that more hymns which approach to a very high standard of excellence, and are at the same time suitable for congregational use, may be found in his works than in those of any other English writer. Such are “When I survey the wondrous cross,” “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun” (and also another adaptation of the same 72nd Psalm), “Before Jehovah’s awful throne” (first line of which, however, is not his, but Wesley’s), “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” “My soul, repeat His praise,” “Why do we mourn departing friends,” “There is a land of pure delight,” “Our God, our help in ages past,” “Up to the hills I lift mine eyes,” and many more. It is true that in some of these cases dross is found in the original poems mixed with gold; but the process of separation, by selection without change, is not difficult. As long as pure nervous English, unaffected fervour, strong simplicity and liquid yet manly sweetness are admitted to be characteristics of a good hymn, works such as these must command admiration.
Doddridge is, generally, much more laboured and artificial; but his place also as a hymn-writer ought to be determined, not by his failures, but by his successes, of which the number is not inconsiderable. In his better works he is distinguished by a graceful and pointed, sometimes even Doddridge. a noble style. His “Hark, the glad sound, the Saviour comes” (which is, indeed, his masterpiece), is as sweet, vigorous and perfect a composition as can anywhere be found. Two other hymns, “How gentle God’s commands,” and that which, in a form slightly varied, became the “O God of Bethel, by whose hand,” of the Scottish “Paraphrases,” well represent his softer manner.
Of the other followers in the school of Watts, Miss Anne Steele (1717–1778) is the most popular and perhaps the best. Her hymn beginning “Far from these narrow scenes of night” deserves high praise, even by the side of other good performances on the same subject.
The influence of Watts was felt in Scotland, and among the first whom it reached there was Ralph Erskine. This seems to have been after the publication of Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets, which appeared in 1732, five years before he joined his brother Ebenezer in the Secession Church. The Gospel Sonnets became, as some have said, a “people’s classic”; but there is in them very little which belongs to the category of hymnody. More than nineteen-twentieths of this very curious book are occupied with what are, in fact, theological treatises and catechisms, mystical meditations on Christ as a bridegroom or husband, and spiritual enigmas, paradoxes, and antithetical conceits, versified, it is true, but of a quality of which such lines as—
|“Faith’s certain by fiducial arts,|
Sense by its evidential facts,”
may be taken as a sample. The grains of poetry scattered through this large mass of Calvinistic divinity are very few; yet in one short passage of seven stanzas (“O send me down a draught of love”), the fire burns with a brightness so remarkable as to justify a strong feeling of regret that the gift which this writer evidently had in him was not more often cultivated. Another passage, not so well sustained, but of considerable beauty (part of the last piece under the title “The believer’s soliloquy”), became afterwards, in the hands of John Berridge, the foundation of a very striking hymn (“O happy saints, who walk in light”).
After his secession, Ralph Erskine published two paraphrases of the “Song of Solomon,” and a number of other “Scripture songs,” paraphrased, in like manner, from the Old and New Testaments. In these the influence of Watts became very apparent, not only by a change in the writer’s general style, but by the direct appropriation of no small quantity of matter from Dr Watts’s hymns, with variations which were not always improvements. His paraphrases of 1 Cor. i. 24; Gal. vi. 14; Heb. vi. 17-19; Rev. v. 11, 12, vii. 10-17, and xii. 7-12 are little else than Watts transformed. One of these (Rev. vii. 10-17) is interesting as a variation and improvement, intermediate between the original and the form which it ultimately assumed as the 66th “Paraphrase” of the Church of Scotland, of Watts’s “What happy men or angels these,” and “These glorious minds, how bright they shine.” No one can compare it with its ultimate product, “How bright these glorious spirits shine,” without perceiving that William Cameron followed Erskine, and only added finish and grace to his work,—both excelling Watts, in this instance, in simplicity as well as in conciseness.
Of the contributions to the authorized “Paraphrases” (with the settlement of which committees of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland were occupied from 1745, or earlier, till 1781), the most noteworthy, besides the two already mentioned, were those of John Morrison Scottish paraphrases. and those claimed for Michael Bruce. The obligations of these “Paraphrases” to English hymnody, already traced in some instances (to which may be added the adoption from Addison of three out of the five “hymns” appended to them), are perceptible in the vividness and force with which these writers, while adhering with a severe simplicity to the sense of the passages of Scripture which they undertook to render, fulfilled the conception of a good original hymn. Morrison’s “The race that long in darkness pined” and “Come, let us to the Lord our God,” and Bruce’s “Where high the heavenly temple stands” (if this was really his), are well entitled to that praise. The advocates of Bruce in the controversy, not yet closed, as to the poems said to have been entrusted by him to John Logan, and published by Logan in his own name, also claim for him the credit of having varied the paraphrase “Behold, the mountain of the Lord,” from its original form, as printed by the committee of the General Assembly in 1745, by some excellent touches.
Attention must now be directed to the hymns produced by the “Methodist” movement, which began about 1738, and which afterwards became divided, between those esteemed Arminian, under John Wesley, those who adhered to the Moravians, when the original alliance Methodist hymns. between that body and the founders of Methodism was dissolved, and the Calvinists, of whom Whitfield was the leader, and Selina, countess of Huntingdon, the patroness. Each of these sections had its own hymn-writers, some of whom did, and others did not, secede from the Church of England. The Wesleyans had Charles Wesley, Robert Seagrave and Thomas Olivers; the Moravians, John Cennick, with whom, perhaps, may be classed John Byrom, who imbibed the mystical ideas of some of the German schools; the Calvinists, Augustus Montague Toplady, John Berridge, William Williams, Martin Madan, Thomas Haweis, Rowland Hill, John Newton and William Cowper.
Among all these writers, the palm undoubtedly belongs to Charles Wesley. In the first volume of hymns published by the two brothers are several good translations from the German, believed to be by John Wesley, who, although he translated and adapted, is not supposed to have Charles Wesley. written any original hymns; and the influence of German hymnody, particularly of the works of Paul Gerhardt, Scheffler, Tersteegen and Zinzendorf, may be traced in a large proportion of Charles Wesley’s works. He is more subjective and meditative than Watts and his school; there is a didactic turn, even in his most objective pieces, as, for example, in his Christmas and Easter hymns; most of his works are supplicatory, and his faults are connected with the same habit of mind. He is apt to repeat the same thoughts, and to lose force by redundancy—he runs sometimes even to a tedious length; his hymns are not always symmetrically constructed, or well balanced and finished off. But he has great truth, depth and variety of feeling; his diction is manly and always to the point; never florid, though sometimes passionate and not free from exaggeration; often vivid and picturesque. Of his spirited style there are few better examples than “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” “Blow ye the trumpet, blow,” “Rejoice, the Lord is King” and “Come, let us join our friends above”; of his more tender vein, “Happy soul, thy days are ended”; and of his fervid contemplative style (without going beyond hymns fit for general use), “O Thou who earnest from above,” “Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go” and “Eternal beam of light divine.” With those whose taste is for hymns in which warm religious feelings are warmly and demonstratively expressed, “Jesus, lover of my soul,” is as popular as any of these.
Of the other Wesleyan hymn-writers, Olivers, originally a Welsh shoemaker and afterwards a preacher, is the most remarkable. He is the author of only two works, both odes, in a stately metre, and from their length unfit for congregational singing, but one of them,Olivers. “The God of Abraham praise,” an ode of singular power and beauty.
The Moravian Methodists produced few hymns now available for general use. The best are Cennick’s “Children of the heavenly King” and Hammond’s “Awake and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb,” the former of which (abridged), and the latter as varied by Madan, are found in many Cennick, Hammond, Byrom. hymn-books, and are deservedly esteemed. John Byrom, whose name we have thought it convenient to connect with these, though he did not belong to the Moravian community, was the author of a Christmas hymn (“Christians awake, salute the happy morn”) which enjoys great popularity; and also of a short subjective hymn, very fine both in feeling and in expression, “My spirit longeth for Thee within my troubled breast.”
The contributions of the Calvinistic Methodists to English hymnody are of greater extent and value. Few writers of hymns had higher gifts than Toplady, author of “Rock of ages,” by some esteemed the finest in the English language. He was a man of ardent temperament, enthusiastic Toplady. zeal, strong convictions and great energy of character. “He had,” says one of his biographers, “the courage of a lion, but his frame was brittle as glass.” Between him and John Wesley there was a violent opposition of opinion, and much acrimonious controversy; but the same fervour and zeal which made him an intemperate theologian gave warmth, richness and spirituality to his hymns. In some of them, particularly those which, like “Deathless principle, arise,” are meditations after the German manner, and not without direct obligation to German originals, the setting is somewhat too artificial; but his art is never inconsistent with a genuine flow of real feeling. Others (e.g. “When languor and disease invade” and “Your harps, ye trembling saints”) fail to sustain to the end the beauty with which they began, and would have been better for abridgment. But in all these, and in most of his other works, there is great force and sweetness, both of thought and language, and an easy and harmonious versification.
Berridge, William Williams (1717–1791) and Rowland Hill, all
men remarkable for eccentricity, activity and the devotion of
their lives to the special work of missionary preaching,
though not the authors of many good hymns, composed,
or adapted from earlier compositions, some of great
and R. Hill. merit. One of Berridge, adapted from Erskine, has been already mentioned; another, adapted from Watts, is “Jesus, cast a look on me.” Williams, a Welshman, who wrote “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,” was especially an apostle of Calvinistic Methodism in his own country, and his hymns are still much used in the principality. Rowland Hill wrote the popular hymn beginning “Exalted high at God’s right hand.”
If, however, the number as well as the quality of good hymns available for general use is to be regarded, the authors of the Olney Hymns are entitled to be placed at the head of all the writers of this Calvinistic school. The greater number of the Olney Hymns are, no doubt, homely Cowper and Newton. and didactic; but to the best of them, and they are no inconsiderable proportion, the tenderness of Cowper and the manliness of John Newton (1725–1807) give the interest of contrast, as well as that of sustained reality. If Newton carried to some excess the sound principle laid down by him, that “perspicuity, simplicity and ease should be chiefly attended to, and the imagery and colouring of poetry, if admitted at all, should be indulged very sparingly and with great judgment,” if he is often dry and colloquial, he rises at other times into “soul-animating strains,” such as “Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God”; and sometimes (as in “Approach, my soul, the mercy seat”) rivals Cowper himself in depth of feeling. Cowper’s hymns in this book are, almost without exception, worthy of his name. Among them are “Hark, my soul, it is the Lord,” “There is a fountain filled with blood,” “Far from the world, O Lord, I flee,” “God moves in a mysterious way” and “Sometimes a light surprises.” Some, perhaps, even of these, and others of equal excellence (such as “O for a closer walk with God”), speak the language of a special experience, which, in Cowper’s case, was only too real, but which could not, without a degree of unreality not desirable in exercises of public worship, be applied to themselves by all ordinary Christians.
During the first quarter of the 19th century there were not
many indications of the tendency, which afterwards became
manifest, to enlarge the boundaries of British hymnody.
The Remains of Henry Kirke White, published by
Southey in 1807, contained a series of hymns, some of
Bowdler. which are still in use; and a few of Bishop Heber’s hymns and those of Sir Robert Grant, which, though offending rather too much against John Newton’s canon, are well known and popular, appeared between 1811 and 1816, in the Christian Observer. In John Bowdler’s Remains, published soon after his death in 1815, there are a few more of the same, perhaps too scholarlike, character. But the chief hymn-writers of that period were two clergymen of the Established Church—one in Ireland, Thomas Kelly, and the other in England, William Hurn—who both became Nonconformists, and the Moravian poet, James Montgomery (1771–1854), a native of Scotland.
Kelly was the son of an Irish judge, and in 1804 published a small volume of ninety-six hymns, which grew in successive editions till, in the last before his death in 1854, they amounted to 765. There is, as might be expected, in this great number a large preponderance of the didactic Kelly. and commonplace. But not a few very excellent hymns may be gathered from them. Simple and natural, without the vivacity and terseness of Watts or the severity of Newton, Kelly has some points in common with both those writers, and he is less subjective than most of the “Methodist” school. His hymns beginning “Lo! He comes, let all adore Him,” and “Through the day Thy love hath spared us,” have a rich, melodious movement; and another, “We sing the praise of Him who died,” is distinguished by a calm, subdued power, rising gradually from a rather low to a very high key.
Hurn published in 1813 a volume of 370 hymns, which were afterwards increased to 420. There is little in them which deserves to be saved from oblivion; but one at least, “There is a river deep and broad,” may bear comparison with the best of those which have Hurn.been produced upon the same, and it is rather a favourite, theme.
The Psalms and Hymns of James Montgomery were published in 1822 and 1825, though written earlier. More cultivated and artistic than Kelly, he is less simple and natural. His “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,” “Songs of praise the angels sang” and “Mercy alone Montgomery.can meet my case” are among his most successful efforts.
During this period, the collections of miscellaneous hymns
for congregational use, of which the example was set by the
Wesleys, Whitfield, Toplady and Lady Huntingdon,
had greatly multiplied; and with them the practice
(for which, indeed, too many precedents existed in
of hymns. the history of Latin and German hymnody) of every collector altering the compositions of other men without scruple, to suit his own doctrine or taste; with the effect, too generally, of patching and disfiguring, spoiling and emasculating the works so altered, substituting neutral tints for natural colouring, and a dead for a living sense. In the Church of England the use of these collections had become frequent in churches and chapels, principally in cities and towns, where the sentiments of the clergy approximated to those of the Nonconformists. In rural parishes, when the clergy were not of the “Evangelical” school, they were generally held in disfavour; for which, even if doctrinal prepossessions had not entered into the question, the great want of taste and judgment often manifested in their compilation, and perhaps also the prevailing mediocrity of the bulk of the original compositions from which most of them were derived, would be enough to account. In addition to this, the idea that no hymns ought to be used in any services of the Church of England, except prose anthems after the third collect, without express royal or ecclesiastical authority, continued down to that time largely to prevail among high churchmen.
Two publications, which appeared almost simultaneously in 1827—Bishop Heber’s Hymns, with a few added by Dean Milman, and John Keble’s Christian Year (not a hymn-book, but one from which several admirable hymns have been taken, and the well-spring of many streams Heber, Milman, Keble. Mant. of thought and feeling by which good hymns have since been produced)—introduced a new epoch, breaking down the barrier as to hymnody which had till then existed between the different theological schools of the Church of England. In this movement Richard Mant, bishop of Down, was also one of the first to co-operate. It soon received a great additional impulse from the increased attention which, about the same time, began to be paid to ancient hymnody, and from the publication in 1833 of Bunsen’s Gesangbuch. Among its earliest fruits was the Lyra apostolica, containing hymns, sonnets and other devotional poems, most of them originally contributed by some of the leading authors of the Tracts for the Times to the British Magazine; the finest of which is the pathetic “Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom,” by Cardinal Newman—well known, and universally Newman. admired. From that time hymns and hymn-writers rapidly multiplied in the Church of England, and in Scotland also. Nearly 600 authors whose publications were later than 1827 are enumerated in Sedgwick’s catalogue of 1863, and about half a million hymns are now in existence. Works, critical and historical, upon the subject of hymns, have also multiplied; and collections for church use have become innumerable—several of the various religious denominations, and many of the leading ecclesiastical and religious societies, having issued hymn-books of their own, in addition to those compiled for particular dioceses, churches and chapels, and to books (like Hymns Ancient and Modern, published 1861, supplemented 1889, revised edition, 1905) which have become popular without any sanction from authority. To mention all the authors of good hymns since the commencement of this new epoch would be impossible; but probably no names could be chosen more fairly representative of its characteristic merits, and perhaps also of some of its defects, than those of Josiah Conder and James Edmeston among English Nonconformists; Henry Francis Lyte and Charlotte Elliott among evangelicals in the Church of England; John Mason Neale and Christopher Wordsworth, bishop of Lincoln, among English churchmen of the higher school; Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Edward H. Plumptre, Frances Ridley Havergal; and in Scotland, Dr Horatius Bonar, Dr Norman Macleod and Dr George Matheson. American hymn-writers belong to the same schools, and have been affected by the same influences. Some of them have enjoyed a just reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. Among those best known are John Greenleaf Whittier, Bishop Doane, Dr W. A. Muhlenberg and Thomas Hastings; and it is difficult to praise too highly such works as the Christmas hymn, “It came upon the midnight clear,” by Edmund H. Sears; the Ascension hymn, “Thou, who didst stoop below,” by Mrs S. E. Miles; two by Dr Ray Palmer, “My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary,” and “Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts,” the latter of which is the best among several good English versions of “Jesu, dulcedo, cordium”; and “Lord of all being, throned afar,” by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
The more modern “Moody and Sankey” hymns (see Moody, D. L.) popularized a new Evangelical type, and the Salvation Army has carried this still farther.
7. Conclusion.—The object aimed at in this article has been to trace the general history of the principal schools of ancient and modern hymnody, and especially the history of its use in the Christian church. For this purpose it has not been thought necessary to give any account of the hymns of Racine, Madame Guyon and others, who can hardly be classed with any school, nor of the works of Caesar Malan of Geneva (1787–1864) and other quite modern hymn-writers of the Reformed churches in Switzerland and France.
On a general view of the whole subject, hymnody is seen to have been a not inconsiderable factor in religious worship. It has been sometimes employed to disseminate and popularize particular views, but its spirit and influence has been, on the whole, catholic. It has embodied the faith, trust and hope, and no small part of the inward experience, of generation after generation of men, in many different countries and climates, of many different nations, and in many varieties of circumstances and condition. Coloured, indeed, by these differences, and also by the various modes in which the same truths have been apprehended by different minds and sometimes reflecting partial and imperfect conceptions of them, and errors with which they have been associated in particular churches, times and places, its testimony is, nevertheless, generally the same. It has upon it a stamp of genuineness which cannot be mistaken. It bears witness to the force of a central attraction more powerful than all causes of difference, which binds together times ancient and modern, nations of various race and language, churchmen and nonconformists, churches reformed and unreformed; to a true fundamental unity among good Christians; and to a substantial identity in their moral and spiritual experience. (S.)
The regular practice of hymnody in English musical history dates from the beginning of the 16th century. Luther’s verses were adapted sometimes to ancient church melodies, sometimes to tunes of secular songs, and sometimes had music composed for them by himself and others. Many rhyming Latin hymns are of earlier date whose tunes are identified with them, some of which tunes, with the subject of their Latin text, are among the Reformer’s appropriations; but it was he who put the words of praise and prayer into the popular mouth, associated with rhythmical music which aided to imprint the words upon the memory and to enforce their enunciation. In conjunction with his friend Johann Walther, Luther issued a collection of poems for choral singing in 1524, which was followed by many others in North Germany. The English versions of the Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins and their predecessors, and the French version by Clement Marot and Theodore Beza, were written with the same purpose of fitting sacred minstrelsy to the voice of the multitude. Goudimel in 1566 and Claudin le Jeune in 1607 printed harmonizations of tunes that had then become standard for the Psalms, and in England several such publications appeared, culminating in Thomas Ravenscroft’s famous collection, The Whole Book of Psalms (1621); in all of these the arrangements of the tunes were by various masters. The English practice of hymn-singing was much strengthened on the return of the exiled reformers from Frankfort and Geneva, when it became so general that, according to Bishop Jewell, thousands of the populace who assembled at Paul’s Cross to hear the preaching would join in the singing of psalms before and after the sermon.
The placing of the choral song of the church within the lips of the people had great religious and moral influence; it has had also its great effect upon art, shown in the productions of the North German musicians ever since the first days of the Reformation, which abound in exercises of scholarship and imagination wrought upon the tunes of established acceptance. Some of these are accompaniments to the tunes with interludes between the several strains, and some are compositions for the organ or for orchestral instruments that consist of such elaboration of the themes as is displayed in accompaniments to voices, but of far more complicated and extended character. A special art-form that was developed to a very high degree, but has passed into comparative disuse, was the structure of all varieties of counterpoint extemporaneously upon the known hymn-tunes (chorals), and several masters acquired great fame by success in its practice, of whom J. A. Reinken (1623–1722), Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706), Georg Boehm and the great J. S. Bach are specially memorable. The hymnody of North Germany has for artistic treatment a strong advantage which is unpossessed by that of England, in that for the most part the same verses are associated with the same tunes, so that, whenever the text or the music is heard, either prompts recollection of the other, whereas in England tunes were always and are now often composed to metres and not to poems; any tune in a given metre is available for every poem in the same, and hence there are various tunes to one poem, and various poems to one tune. In England a tune is named generally after some place—as “York,” “Windsor,” “Dundee,”—or by some other unsignifying word; in North Germany a tune is mostly named by the initial words of the verses to which it is allied, and consequently, whenever it is heard, whether with words or without, it necessarily suggests to the hearer the whole subject of that hymn of which it is the musical moiety undivorceable from the literary half. Manifold as they are, knowledge of the choral tunes is included in the earliest schooling of every Lutheran and every Calvinist in Germany, which thus enables all to take part in performance of the tunes, and hence expressly the definition of “choral.” Compositions grounded on the standard tune are then not merely school exercises, but works of art which link the sympathies of the writer and the listener, and aim at expressing the feeling prompted by the hymn under treatment.
Bibliography: I. Ancient.—George Cassander, Hymni ecclesiastici (Cologne, 1556); Georgius Fabricius, Poëtarum veterum ecclesiasticorum (Frankfort, 1578); Cardinal J. M. Thomasius, Hymnarium in Opera, ii. 351 seq. (Rome, 1747); A. J. Rambach, Anthologie christlicher Gesänge (Altona, 1817); H. A. Daniel, Thesaurus hymnologicus (Leipzig, 5 vols., 1841–1856); J. M. Neale, Hymni ecclesiae et sequentiae (London, 1851–1852); and Hymns of the Eastern Church (1863). The dissertation prefixed to the second volume of the Acta sanctorum of the Bollandists; Cardinal J. B. Pitra, Hymnographie de l’église grecque (1867), Analecta sacra (1876); W. Christ and M. Paranikas, Anthologia Graeca carminum Christianorum (Leipzig, 1871); F. A. March, Latin Hymns with English Notes (New York, 1875); R. C. Trench, Sacred Latin Poetry (London, 4th ed., 1874); J. Pauly, Hymni breviarii Romani (Aix-la-Chapelle, 3 vols., 1868–1870); Pimont, Les Hymnes du bréviaire romain (vols. 1-3, 1874–1884, unfinished); A. W. F. Fischer, Kirchenlieder-Lexicon (Gotha, 1878–1879); J. Kayser, Beiträge zur Geschichte der ältesten Kirchenhymnen (1881); M. Manitius, Geschichte der christlichen lateinischen Poesie (Stuttgart, 1891); John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1892, new ed. 1907). For criticisms of metre, see also Huemer, Untersuchungen über die ältesten christlichen Rhythmen (1879); E. Bouvy, Poètes et mélodes (Nîmes, 1886); C. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur (Munich, 1897, p. 700 seq.); J. M. Neale, Latin dissertation prefixed to Daniel’s Thesaurus, vol. 5; and D. J. Donahoe, Early Christian Hymns (London, 1909).
II. Medieval.—Walafrid Strabo’s treatise, ch. 25, De hymnis, &c.; Radulph of Tongres, De psaltario observando (14th century); Clichtavaens, Elucidatorium ecclesiasticum (Paris, 1556); Faustinus Arevalus, Hymnodia Hispanica (Rome, 1786); E. du Méril, Poésies populaires latines antérieures au XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1843); J. Stevenson, Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church (Surtees Society, Durham, 1851); Norman, Hymnarium Sarisburiense (London, 1851); J. D. Chambers, Psalter, &c., according to the Sarum use (1852); F. J. Mone, Lateinische Hymnen des Mittelalters (Freiburg, 3 vols., 1853–1855); Ph. Wackernagel, Das deutsche Kirchenlied von der ältesten Zeit bis zum Anfang des 17. Jahrhunderts, vol. i. (Leipzig, 1864); E. Dümmler, Poëtae latini aevi Carolini (1881–1890); the Hymnologische Beiträge: Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte der lateinischen Hymnendichtung, edited by C. Blume and G. M. Dreves (Leipzig, 1897); G. C. F. Mohnike, Hymnologische Forschungen; Klemming, Hymni et sequentiae in regno Sueciae (Stockholm, 4 vols., 1885–1887); Das katholische deutsche Kirchenlied (vol. i. by K. Severin Meister, 1862, vol. ii. by W. Baumker, 1883); the “Hymnodia Hiberica,” Spanische Hymnen des Mittelalters, vol. xvi. (1894); the “Hymnodia Gotica,” Mozarabische Hymnen des altspanischen Ritus, vol. xxvii. (1897); J. Dankó, Vetus hymnarium ecclesiasticae Hungariae (Budapest, 1893); J. H. Bernard and R. Atkinson, The Irish Liber Hymnorum (2 vols., London, 1898); C. A. J. Chevalier, Poésie liturgique du moyen âge (Paris, 1893).
III. Modern.—J. C. Jacobi, Psalmodia Germanica (1722–1725 and 1732, with supplement added by J. Haberkorn, 1765); F. A. Cunz, Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenliedes (Leipzig, 1855); Baron von Bunsen, Versuch eines allgemeinen Gesang- und Gebetbuches (1833) and Allgemeines evangelisches Gesang- und Gebetbuch (1846); Catherine Winkworth, Christian Singers of Germany (1869) and Lyra Germanica (1855); Catherine H. Dunn, Hymns from the German (1857); Frances E. Cox, Sacred Hymns from the German (London, 1841); Massie, Lyra domestica (1860); Appendix on Scottish Psalmody in D. Laing’s edition of Baillie’s Letters and Journals (1841–1842); J. and C. Wesley, Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1741); Josiah Miller, Our Hymns, their Authors and Origin (1866); John Gadsby, Memoirs of the Principal Hymn-writers (3rd ed., 1861); L. C. Biggs, Annotations to Hymns Ancient and Modern (1867); Daniel Sedgwick, Comprehensive Index of Names of Original Authors of Hymns (2nd ed., 1863); R. E. Prothero, The Psalms in Human Life (1907); C. J. Brandt and L. Helweg, Den danske Psalmedigtning (Copenhagen, 1846–1847); J. N. Skaar, Norsk Salmehistorie (Bergen, 1879–1880); H. Schück, Svensk Literaturhistoria (Stockholm, 1890); Rudolf Wolkan, Geschichte der deutschen Literatur in Böhmen, 246-256, and Das deutsche Kirchenlied der böhm. Brüder (Prague, 1891); Zahn, Die geistlichen Lieder der Brüder in Böhmen, Mähren u. Polen (Nuremberg, 1875); and J. Müller, “Bohemian Brethren’s Hymnody,” in J. Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology.
For account of hymn-tunes, &c., see W. Cowan and James Love, Music of the Church Hymnody and the Psalter in Metre (London, 1901); and Dickinson, Music in the History of the Western Church (New York, 1902); S. Kümmerle, Encyklopädie der evangelischen Kirchenmusik (4 vols., 1888–1895); Chr. Palmer, Evangelische Hymnologie (Stuttgart, 1865); and P. Urto Kornmüller, Lexikon der kirchlichen Tonkunst (1891).
- The history of the “hymn” naturally begins with Greece, but it may be found in some form much earlier; Assyria and Egypt have left specimens, while India has the Vedic hymns, and Confucius collected “praise songs” in China.
- See Greek Literature.
- The authorship of this and of one other, “When all thy mercies, O my God,” has been made a subject of controversy,—being claimed for Andrew Marvell (who died in 1678), in the preface to Captain E. Thompson’s edition (1776) of Marvell’s Works. But this claim does not appear to be substantiated. The editor did not give his readers the means of judging as to the real age, character or value of a manuscript to which he referred; he did not say that these portions of it were in Marvell’s handwriting; he did not even himself include them among Marvell’s poems, as published in the body of his edition; and he advanced a like claim on like grounds to two other poems, in very different styles, which had been published as their own by Tickell and Mallet. It is certain that all the five hymns were first made public in 1712, in papers contributed by Addison to the Spectator (Nos. 441, 453, 465, 489, 513), in which they were introduced in a way which might have been expected if they were by the hand which wrote those papers, but which would have been improbable, and unworthy of Addison, if they were unpublished works of a writer of so much genius, and such note in his day, as Marvell. They are all printed as Addison’s in Dr Johnson’s British Poets.
- The old tune for the 100th Psalm and Croft’s tune for the 104th are almost the only exceptions, unless “God save the King” may be classed under “hymnody.” In Scotland also the tune for the 124th Psalm is associated with its proper text.