THE STORY OF THE HYMNS AND TUNES
THERON BROWN and HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH
Multae terricolis linguae, coelestibus una.
Ten thousand, thousand are their tongues, But all their joys are one.
New York, 1906
[Frontispiece: Thomas Ken]
1. HYMNS OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP, 1
2. SOME HYMNS OF GREAT WITNESSES, 53
3. HYMNS OF CHRISTIAN DEVOTION AND EXPERIENCE, 100
4. MISSIONARY HYMNS, 165
5. HYMNS OF SUFFERING AND TRUST, 190
6. CHRISTIAN BALLADS, 237
7. OLD REVIVAL HYMNS, 262
8. SUNDAY SCHOOL HYMNS, 293
9. PATRIOTIC HYMNS, 321
10. SAILOR'S HYMNS, 353
11. HYMNS OF WALES, 378
12. FIELD HYMNS, 409
13. HYMNS, FESTIVAL AND OCCASIONAL, 458
14. HYMNS OF HOPE AND CONSOLATION, 509
INDEXES OF NAMES, TUNES, AND HYMNS, 543
LIST OF PORTRAITS.
THOMAS KEN, Frontispiece OLIVER HOLDEN, Opp. page 14 JOSEPH HAYDN, " 30 CHARLES WESLEY, " 46 MARTIN LUTHER, " 62 LADY HUNTINGDON, " 94 AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY, " 126 THOMAS HASTINGS, " 142 FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL, " 158 REGINALD HEBER, " 174 GEORGE JAMES WEBB, " 190 JOHN WESLEY, " 206 JOHN B. DYKES, " 222 ELLEN M.H. GATES, " 254 JAMES MONTGOMERY, " 286 FANNY J. CROSBY, " 302 SAMUEL F. SMITH, " 334 WILLIAM B. BRADBURY, " 366 ISAAC WATTS, " 398 GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL, " 414 PHILIP DODDRIDGE, " 446 LOWELL MASON, " 478 CARL VON WEBER, " 494 HORATIUS BONAR, " 526
When the lapse of time and accumulation of fresh material suggested the need of a new and revised edition of Mr. Hezekiah Butterworth's Story of the Hymns, which had been a popular text book on that subject for nearly a generation, the publishers requested him to prepare such a work, reviewing the whole field of hymnology and its literature down to date. He undertook the task, but left it unfinished at his lamented death, committing the manuscript to me in his last hours to arrange and complete.
To do this proved a labor of considerable magnitude, since what had been done showed evidence of the late author's failing strength, and when, in a conference with the publishers, it was proposed to combine the two books of Mr. Butterworth, the Story of the Hymns and the Story of the Tunes, in one volume, the task was doubled.
The charming popular style and story-telling gift of the well-known compiler of these books had kept them in demand, the one for thirty and the other for fifteen years, but later information had discounted some of their historic and biographical matter, and, while many of the monographs were too meagre, others were unduly long. Besides, the Story of the Tunes, so far from being the counterpart of the Story of the Hymns, bore no special relationship to it, only a small portion of its selections answering to any in the hymn-list of the latter book. For a personal friend and practically unknown writer, to follow Mr. Butterworth, and "improve" his earlier work to the more modern conditions, was a venture of no little difficulty and delicacy. The result is submitted as simply a conscientious effort to give the best of the old with the new.
So far as was possible, matter from the two previous books, and from the crude manuscript, has been used, and passages here and there transcribed, but so much of independent plan and original research has been necessary in arranging and verifying the substance of the chapters that the Story of the Hymns and Tunes is in fact a new volume rather than a continuation. The chapter containing the account of the Gospel Hymns is recent work with scarcely an exception, and the one on the Hymns of Wales is entirely new.
Without increasing the size of this volume beyond easy purchase and convenient use, it was impossible to discuss the great oratorios and dramatic set-pieces, festival and occasional, and only passing references are made to them or their authors.
Among those who have helped me in my work special acknowledgements are due to Mr. Hubert P. Main of Newark, N.J.; Messrs. Hughes & Son of Wrexham, Wales; the American Tract Society, New York; Mr. William T. Meek, Mrs. A.J. Gordon, Mr. Paul Foster, Mr. George Douglas, and Revs. John R. Hague and Edmund F. Merriam of Boston; Professor William L. Phelps of New Haven, Conn.; Mrs. Ellen M.H. Gates of New York; Rev. Franklin G. McKeever of New London, Conn.; and Rev. Arthur S. Phelps of Greeley, Colorado. Further obligations are gratefully remembered to Oliver Ditson & Co. for answers to queries and access to publications, to the Historic-and-Geneological Society and the custodians and attendants of the Boston Public Library (notably in the Music Department) for their uniform courtesy and pains in placing every resource within my reach.
Boston, May 15th, 1906.
Augustine defines a hymn as "praise to God with song," and another writer calls hymn-singing "a devotional approach to God in our emotions,"—which of course applies to both the words and the music. This religious emotion, reverently acknowledging the Divine Being in song, is a constant element, and wherever felt it makes the song a worship, irrespective of sect or creed. An eminent Episcopal divine, (says the Christian Register,) one Trinity Sunday, at the close of his sermon, read three hymns by Unitarian authors: one to God the Father, by Samuel Longfellow, one to Jesus, by Theodore Parker, and one to the Holy Spirit, by N.L. Frothingham. "There," he said, "you have the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
It is natural to speak of hymns as "poems," indiscriminately, for they have the same structure. But a hymn is not necessarily a poem, while a poem that can be sung as a hymn is something more than a poem. Imagination makes poems; devotion makes hymns. There can be poetry without emotion, but a hymn never. A poem may argue; a hymn must not. In short to be a hymn, what is written must express spiritual feelings and desires. The music of faith, hope and charity will be somewhere in its strain.
Philosophy composes poems, but not hymns. "It is no love-symphony we hear when the lion thinkers roar," some blunt writer has said. "The moles of Science have never found the heavenly dove's nest, and the Sea of Reason touches no shore where balm for sorrow grows."
On the contrary there are thousands of true hymns that have no standing at the court of the muses. Even Cowper's Olney hymns, as Goldwin Smith has said, "have not any serious value as poetry. Hymns rarely have," he continues. "There is nothing in them on which the creative imagination can be exercised. Hymns can be little more than the incense of a worshipping soul."
A fellow-student of Phillips Brooks tells us that "most of his verse he wrote rapidly without revising, not putting much thought into it but using it as the vehicle and outlet of his feelings. It was the sign of responding love or gratitude and joy."
To produce a hymn one needs something more exalting than poetic fancy; an influence
"—subtler than the sun-light in the leaf-bud That thrills thro' all the forest, making May."
It is the Divine Spirit wakening the human heart to lyric language.
Religion sings; that is true, though all "religions" do not sing. There is no voice of sacred song in Islamism. The muezzin call from the minarets is not music. One listens in vain for melody among the worshippers of the "Light of Asia." The hum of pagoda litanies, and the shouts and gongs of idol processions are not psalms. But many historic faiths have lost their melody, and we must go far back in the annals of ethnic life to find the songs they sung.
Worship appears to have been a primitive human instinct; and even when many gods took the place of One in the blinder faith of men it was nature worship making deities of the elements and addressing them with supplication and praise. Ancient hymns have been found on the monumental tablets of the cities of Nimrod; fragments of the Orphic and Homeric hymns are preserved in Greek anthology; many of the Vedic hymns are extant in India; and the exhumed stones of Egypt have revealed segments of psalm-prayers and liturgies that antedate history. Dr. Wallis Budge, the English Orientalist, notes the discovery of a priestly hymn two thousand years older than the time of Moses, which invokes One Supreme Being who "cannot be figured in stone."
So far as we have any real evidence, however, the Hebrew people surpassed all others in both the custom and the spirit of devout song. We get snatches of their inspired lyrics in the song of Moses and Miriam, the song of Deborah and Barak, and the song of Hannah (sometimes called "the Old Testament Magnificat"), in the hymns of David and Solomon and all the Temple Psalms, and later where the New Testament gives us the "Gloria" of the Christmas angels, the thanksgiving of Elizabeth (benedictus minor), Mary's Magnificat, the song of Zacharias (benedictus major), the "nunc dimittis" of Simeon, and the celestial ascriptions and hallelujahs heard by St. John in his Patmos dream. For what we know of the first formulated human prayer and praise we are mostly indebted to the Hebrew race. They seem to have been at least the only ancient nation that had a complete psalter—and their collection is the mother hymn-book of the world.
Probably the first form of hymn-worship was the plain-song—a declamatory unison of assembled singers, every voice on the same pitch, and within the compass of five notes—and so continued, from whatever may have stood for plain-song in Tabernacle and Temple days down to the earliest centuries of the Christian church. It was mere melodic progression and volume of tone, and there were no instruments—after the captivity. Possibly it was the memory of the harps hung silent by the rivers of Babylon that banished the timbrel from the sacred march and the ancient lyre from the post-exilic synagogues. Only the Feast trumpet was left. But the Jews sang. Jesus and his disciples sang. Paul and Silas sang; and so did the post-apostolic Christians; but until towards the close of the 16th century there were no instruments allowed in religious worship.
St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers has been called "the father of Christian hymnology." About the middle of the 4th century he regulated the ecclesiastical song-service, wrote chant music (to Scripture words or his own) and prescribed its place and use in his choirs. He died A.D. 368. In the Church calendars, Jan. 13th (following "Twelfth Night"), is still kept as "St. Hilary's Day" in the Church of England, and Jan. 14th in the Church of Rome.
St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, a few years later, improved the work of his predecessor, adding words and music of his own. The "Ambrosian Chant" was the antiphonal plain-song arranged and systematized to statelier effect in choral symphony. Ambrose died A.D. 397.
Toward the end of the 6th century Christian music showed a decline in consequence of impatient meddling with the slow canonical psalmody, and "reformers" had impaired its solemnity by introducing fanciful embellishments. Gregory the Great (Pope of Rome, 590-604) banished these from the song service, founded a school of sacred melody, composed new chants and established the distinctive character of ecclesiastical hymn worship. The Gregorian chant—on the diatonic eight sounds and seven syllables of equal length—continued, with its majestic choral step, to be the basis of cathedral music for a thousand years. In the meantime (930) Hucbald, the Flanders monk, invented sight music, or written notes—happily called the art of "hearing with the eyes and seeing with the ears"; and Guido Arentino (1024) contrived the present scale, or the "hexachord" on which the present scale was perfected.
In this long interval, however, the "established" system of hymn service did not escape the intrusion of inevitable novelties that crept in with the change of popular taste. Unrhythmical singing could not always hold its own; and when polyphonic music came into public favor, secular airs gradually found their way into the choirs. Legatos, with their pleasing turn and glide, caught the ear of the multitude. Tripping allegrettos sounded sweeter to the vulgar sense than the old largos of Pope Gregory the Great.
The guardians of the ancient order took alarm. One can imagine the pained amazement of conservative souls today on hearing "Ring the Bells of Heaven" substituted in church for "Mear" or the long-metre Doxology, and can understand the extreme distaste of the ecclesiastical reactionaries for the worldly frivolities of an A.D. 1550 choir. Presumably that modern abomination, the vibrato, with its shake of artificial fright, had not been invented then, and sanctuary form was saved one indignity. But the innovations became an abuse so general that the Council of Trent commissioned a select board of cardinals and musicians to arrest the degeneration of church song-worship.
One of the experts consulted in this movement was an eminent Italian composer born twenty miles from Rome. His full name was Giovanni Pietro Aloysio da Palestrina, and at that time he was in the prime of his powers. He was master of polyphonic music as well as plain-song, and he proposed applying it to grace the older mode, preserving the solemn beauty of the chant but adding the charming chords of counterpoint. He wrote three "masses," one of them being his famous "Requiem." These were sung under his direction before the Commission. Their magnificence and purity revealed to the censors the possibilities of contrapuntal music in sanctuary devotion and praise. The sanction of the cardinals was given—and part-song harmony became permanently one of the angel voices of the Christian church.
Palestrina died in 1594, but hymn-tunes adapted from his motets and masses are sung today. He was the father of the choral tune. He lived to see musical instruments and congregational singing introduced in public worship, and to know (possibly with secret pleasure, though he was a Romanist) how richly in popular assemblies, during the Protestant Reformation, the new freedom of his helpful art had multiplied the creation of spiritual hymns.
[Footnote 1: But not fully established in use till about 1625.]
Contemporary in England with Palestrina in Italy was Thomas Tallis who developed the Anglican school of church music, which differed less from the Italian (or Catholic) psalmody than that of the Continental churches, where the revolt of the Reformation extended to the tune-worship as notably as to the sacraments and sermons. This difference created a division of method and practice even in England, and extreme Protestants who repudiated everything artistic or ornate formed the Puritan or Genevan School. Their style is represented among our hymn-tunes by "Old Hundred," while the representative of the Anglican is "Tallis' Evening Hymn." The division was only temporary. The two schools were gradually reconciled, and together made the model after which the best sacred tunes are built. It is Tallis who is called "The father of English Cathedral music."
In Germany, after the invention of harmony, church music was still felt to be too formal for a working force, and there was a reaction against the motets and masses of Palestrina as being too stately and difficult. Lighter airs of the popular sort, such as were sung between the acts of the "mystery plays," were subsidized by Luther, who wrote compositions and translations to their measure. Part-song was simplified, and Johan Walther compiled a hymnal of religious songs in the vernacular for from four to six voices. The reign of rhythmic hymn music soon extended through Europe.
Necessarily—except in ultra-conservative localities like Scotland—the exclusive use of the Psalms (metrical or unmetrical) gave way to religious lyrics inspired by occasion. Clement Marot and Theodore Beza wrote hymns to the music of various composers, and Caesar Malan composed both hymns and their melodies. By the beginning of the 18th century the triumph of the hymn-tune and the hymnal for lay voices was established for all time.
* * * * *
In the following pages no pretence is made of selecting all the best and most-used hymns, but the purpose has been to notice as many as possible of the standard pieces—and a few others which seem to add or re-shape a useful thought or introduce a new strain.
To present each hymn with its tune appeared the natural and most satisfactory way, as in most cases it is impossible to dissociate the two. The melody is the psychological coefficient of the metrical text. Without it the verse of a seraph would be smothered praise. Like a flower and its fragrance, hymn and tune are one creature, and stand for a whole value and a full effect. With this normal combination a complete descriptive list of the hymns and tunes would be a historic dictionary. Such a book may one day be made, but the present volume is an attempt to the same end within easier limits.
HYMNS OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP.
"TE DEUM LAUDAMUS."
This famous church confession in song was composed A.D. 387 by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, probably both words and music.
Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur Tibi omnes angeli, tibi coeli et universae potestates, Tibi cherubim et seraphim inaccessibili voce proclamant Sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
In the whole hymn there are thirty lines. The saying that the early Roman hymns were echoes of Christian Greece, as the Greek hymns were echoes of Jerusalem, is probably true, but they were only echoes. In A.D. 252, St. Cyprian, writing his consolatory epistle during the plague in Carthage, when hundreds were dying every day, says, "Ah, perfect and perpetual bliss! [in heaven.] There is the glorious company of the apostles; there is the fellowship of the prophets rejoicing; there is the innumerable multitude of martyrs crowned." Which would suggest that lines or fragments of what afterwards crystalized into the formula of the "Te Deum" were already familiar in the Christian church. But it is generally believed that the tongue of Ambrose gave the anthem its final form.
[Footnote 2: [Greek: Peri tou thnetou], "On the Mortality."]
Ambrose was born in Gaul about the middle of the fourth century and raised to his bishopric in A.D. 374. Very early he saw and appreciated the popular effect of musical sounds, and what an evangelical instrument a chorus of chanting voices could be in preaching the Christian faith; and he introduced the responsive singing of psalms and sacred cantos in the worship of the church. "A grand thing is that singing, and nothing can stand before it," he said, when the critics of his time complained that his innovation was sensational. That such a charge could be made against the Ambrosian mode of music, with its slow movement and unmetrical lines, seems strange to us, but it was new—and conservatism is the same in all ages.
The great bishop carried all before him. His school of song-worship prevailed in Christian Europe more than two hundred years. Most of his hymns are lost, (the Benedictine writers credit him with twelve), but, judging by their effect on the powerful mind of Augustine, their influence among the common people must have been profound, and far more lasting than the author's life. "Their voices sank into mine ears, and their truths distilled into my heart," wrote Augustine, long afterwards, of these hymns; "tears ran down, and I rejoiced in them."
Poetic tradition has dramatized the story of the birth of the "Te Deum," dating it on an Easter Sunday, and dividing the honor of its composition between Ambrose and his most eminent convert. It was the day when the bishop baptized Augustine, in the presence of a vast throng that crowded the Basilica of Milan. As if foreseeing with a prophet's eye that his brilliant candidate would become one of the ruling stars of Christendom, Ambrose lifted his hands to heaven and chanted in a holy rapture,—
We praise Thee, O God! We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord; All the Earth doth worship Thee, the Father Everlasting.
He paused, and from the lips of the baptized disciple came the response,—
To Thee all the angels cry aloud: the heavens and all the powers therein. To Thee cherubim and seraphim continually do cry, "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and Earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory!"
and so, stave by stave, in alternating strains, sprang that day from the inspired lips of Ambrose and Augustine the "Te Deum Laudamus," which has ever since been the standard anthem of Christian praise.
Whatever the foundation of the story, we may at least suppose the first public singing of the great chant to have been associated with that eventful baptism.
[Footnote 3: The "Te Deum" was first sung in English by the martyr, Bishop Ridley, at Hearne Church, where he was at one time vicar.]
The various anthems, sentences and motets in all Christian languages bearing the titles "Trisagion" or "Tersanctus," and "Te Deum" are taken from portions of this royal hymn. The sublime and beautiful "Holy, Holy, Holy" of Bishop Heber was suggested by it.
No echo remains, so far as is known, of the responsive chant actually sung by Ambrose, but one of the best modern choral renderings of the "Te Deum" is the one by Henry Smart in his Morning and Evening Service. In an ordinary church hymnal it occupies seven pages. The staff-directions with the music indicate the part or cue of the antiphonal singers by the words Decani (Dec.) and Cantor (Can.), meaning first the division of the choir on the Dean's side, and second the division on the Cantor's or Precentor's side.
Henry Smart was one of the five great English composers that followed our American Mason. He was born in London, Oct. 25, 1812, and chose music for a profession in preference to an offered commission in the East Indian army. His talent as a composer, especially of sacred music, was marvellous, and, though he became blind, his loss of sight was no more hindrance to his genius than loss of hearing to Beethoven.
No composer of his time equalled Henry Smart as a writer of music for female voices. His cantatas have been greatly admired, and his hymn tunes are unsurpassed for their purity and sweetness, while his anthems, his oratorio of "Jacob," and indeed all that he wrote, show the hand and the inventive gift of a great musical artist.
He died July 10, 1879, universally mourned for his inspired work, and his amiable character.
"ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR." Gloria, Laus et Honor.
This stately Latin hymn of the early part of the 9th century was composed in A.D. 820, by Theodulph, Bishop of Orleans, while a captive in the cloister of Anjou. King Louis (le Debonnaire) son of Charlemagne, had trouble with his royal relatives, and suspecting Theodulph to be in sympathy with them, shut him up in prison. A pretty story told by Clichtovius, an old church writer of A.D. 1518, relates how on Palm Sunday the king, celebrating the feast with his people, passed in procession before the cloister, where the face of the venerable prisoner at his cell window caused an involuntary halt, and, in the moment of silence, the bishop raised his voice and sang this hymn; and how the delighted king released the singer, and restored him to his bishopric. This tale, told after seven hundred years, is not the only legend that grew around the hymn and its author, but the fact that he composed it in the cloister of Anjou while confined there is not seriously disputed.
Gloria, laus et honor Tibi sit, Rex Christe Redemptor, Cui puerile decus prompsit Hosanna pium. Israel Tu Rex, Davidis et inclyta proles, Nomine qui in Domini Rex benedicte venis Gloria, laus et honor.
Theodulph was born in Spain, but of Gothic pedigree, a child of the race of conquerors who, in the 5th century, overran Southern Europe. He died in 821, but whether a free man or still a prisoner at the time of his death is uncertain. Some accounts allege that he was poisoned in the cloister. The Roman church canonized him, and his hymn is still sung as a processional in Protestant as well as Catholic churches. The above Latin lines are the first four of the original seventy-eight. The following is J.M. Neale's translation of the portion now in use:
All glory, laud, and honor, To Thee, Redeemer, King: To whom the lips of children Made sweet Hosannas ring.
Thou are the King of Israel, Thou David's royal Son, Who in the Lord's name comest, The King and Blessed One. All glory, etc.
The company of angels Are praising Thee on high; And mortal men, and all things Created, make reply. All glory, etc.
The people of the Hebrews With palms before Thee went; Our praise and prayer and anthems Before Thee we present. All glory, etc.
To Thee before Thy Passion They sang their hymns of praise; To Thee, now high exalted Our melody we raise. All glory, etc.
Thou didst accept their praises; Accept the prayers we bring, Who in all good delightest, Thou good and gracious King. All glory, etc.
The translator, Rev. John Mason Neale, D.D., was born in London, Jan. 24, 1818, and graduated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1840. He was a prolific writer, and after taking holy orders he held the office of Warden of Sackville College, East Grimstead, Sussex. Best known among his published works are Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences, Hymns for Children, Hymns of the Eastern Church and The Rhythms of Morlaix. He died Aug. 6, 1866.
There is no certainty as to the original tune of Theodulph's Hymn, or how long it survived, but various modern composers have given it music in more or less keeping with its character, notably Melchior Teschner, whose harmony, "St. Theodulph," appears in the new Methodist Hymnal. It well represents the march of the bishop's Latin.
Melchior Teschner, a Prussian musician, was Precentor at Frauenstadt, Silesia, about 1613.
"ALL PRAISE TO THEE, ETERNAL LORD." Gelobet Seist du Jesu Christ.
This introductory hymn of worship, a favorite Christmas hymn in Germany, is ancient, and appears to be a versification of a Latin prose "Sequence" variously ascribed to a 9th century author, and to Gregory the Great in the 6th century. Its German form is still credited to Luther in most hymnals. Julian gives an earlier German form (1370) of the "Gelobet," but attributes all but the first stanza to Luther, as the hymn now stands. The following translation, printed first in the Sabbath Hymn Book, Andover, 1858, is the one adopted by Schaff in his Christ in Song:
All praise to Thee, eternal Lord, Clothed in the garb of flesh and blood; Choosing a manger for Thy throne, While worlds on worlds are Thine alone!
Once did the skies before Thee bow; A virgin's arms contain Thee now; Angels, who did in Thee rejoice, Now listen for Thine infant voice.
A little child, Thou art our guest, That weary ones in Thee may rest; Forlorn and lowly in Thy birth, That we may rise to heaven from earth.
Thou comest in the darksome night, To make us children of the light; To make us, in the realms divine, Like Thine own angels round Thee shine.
All this for us Thy love hath done: By this to Thee our love is won; For this we tune our cheerful lays, And shout our thanks in endless praise.
The 18th century tune of "Weimar" (Evangelical Hymnal), by Emanuel Bach, suits the spiritual tone of the hymn, and suggests the Gregorian dignity of its origin.
Karl Philip Emanuel Bach, called "the Berlin Bach" to distinguish him from his father, the great Sebastian Bach of Saxe Weimar, was born in Weimar, March 14, 1714. He early devoted himself to music, and coming to Berlin when twenty-four years old was appointed Chamber musician (Kammer Musicus) in the Royal Chapel, where he often accompanied Frederick the Great (who was an accomplished flutist) on the harpsichord. His most numerous compositions were piano music but he wrote a celebrated "Sanctus," and two oratorios, besides a number of chorals, of which "Weimar" is one. He died in Hamburg, Dec. 14, 1788.
THE MAGNIFICAT. [Greek: Megalunei he psuche mou ton Kurion.]
Magnificat anima mea Dominum, Et exultavit Spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo. Luke 1:46-55.
We can date with some certainty the hymn itself composed by the Virgin Mary, but when it first became a song of the Christian Church no one can tell. Its thanksgiving may have found tone among the earliest martyrs, who, as Pliny tells us, sang hymns in their secret worship. We can only trace it back to the oldest chant music, when it was doubtless sung by both the Eastern and Western Churches. In the rude liturgies of the 4th and 5th centuries it must have begun to assume ritual form; but it remained for the more modern school of composers hundreds of years later to illustrate the "Magnificat" with the melody of art and genius. Superseding the primitive unisonous plain-song, the old parallel concords, and the simple faburden (faux bourdon) counterpoint that succeeded Gregory, they taught how musical tones can better assist worship with the beauty of harmony and the precision of scientific taste. Musicians in Italy, France, Germany and England have contributed their scores to this inspired hymn. Some of them still have place in the hymnals, a noble one especially by the blind English tone-master, Henry Smart, author of the oratorio of "Jacob." None, however, have equaled the work of Handel. His "Magnificat" was one of his favorite productions, and he borrowed strains from it in several of his later and lesser productions.
George Frederic Handel, author of the immortal "Messiah," was born at Halle, Saxony, in 1685, and died in London in 1759. The musical bent of his genius was apparent almost from his infancy. At the age of eighteen he was earning his living with his violin, and writing his first opera. After a sojourn in Italy, he settled in Hanover as Chapel Master to the Elector, who afterwards became the English king, George I. The friendship of the king and several of his noblemen drew him to England, where he spent forty-seven years and composed his greatest works.
He wrote three hymn-tunes (it is said at the request of a converted actress), "Canons," "Fitzwilliam," and "Gopsall," the first an invitation, "Sinners, Obey the Gospel Word," the second a meditation, "O Love Divine, How Sweet Thou Art," and the third a resurrection song to Welsey's words "Rejoice, the Lord is King." This last still survives in some hymnals.
Be Thou, O God, exalted high, And as Thy glory fills the sky So let it be on earth displayed Till Thou art here as there obeyed.
This sublime quatrain, attributed to Nahum Tate, like the Lord's Prayer, is suited to all occasions, to all Christian denominations, and to all places and conditions of men. It has been translated into all civilized languages, and has been rising to heaven for many generations from congregations round the globe wherever the faith of Christendom has built its altars. This doxology is the first stanza of a sixteen line hymn (possibly longer originally), the rest of which is forgotten.
Nahum Tate was born in Dublin, in 1652, and educated there at Trinity College. He was appointed poet-laureate by King William III. in 1690, and it was in conjunction with Dr. Nicholas Brady that he executed his "New" metrical version of the Psalms. The entire Psalter, with an appendix of Hymns, was licensed by William and Mary and published in 1703. The hymns in the volume are all by Tate. He died in London, Aug. 12, 1717.
Rev. Nicholas Brady, D.D., was an Irishman, son of an officer in the royal army, and was born at Bandon, County of Cork, Oct. 28, 1659. He studied in the Westminster School at Oxford, but afterwards entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1685. William made him Queen Mary's Chaplain. He died May 20, 1726.
The other nearly contemporary form of doxology is in common use, but though elevated and devotional in spirit, it cannot be universal, owing to its credal line being objectionable to non-Trinitarian Protestants:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above, ye heavenly host, Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The author, the Rev. Thomas Ken, was born in Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire, Eng., July, 1637, and was educated at Winchester School, Hertford College, and New College, Oxford. In 1662 he took holy orders, and seventeen years later the king (Charles II.) appointed him chaplain to his sister Mary, Princess of Orange. Later the king, just before his death, made him Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Like John the Baptist, and Bourdaloue, and Knox, he was a faithful spiritual monitor and adviser during all his days at court. "I must go in and hear Ken tell me my faults," the king used to say at chapel time. The "good little man" (as he called the bishop) never lost the favor of the dissipated monarch. As Macaulay says, "Of all the prelates, he liked Ken the best."
Under James, the Papist, Ken was a loyal subject, though once arrested as one of the "seven bishops" for his opposition to the king's religion, and he kept his oath of allegiance so firmly that it cost him his place. William III. deprived him of his bishopric, and he retired in poverty to a home kindly offered him by Lord Viscount Weymouth in Longleat, near Frome, in Somersetshire, where he spent a serene and beloved old age. He died aet. seventy-four, March 17, 1711 (N.S.), and was carried to his grave, according to his request, by "six of the poorest men in the parish."
His great doxology is the refrain or final stanza of each of his three long hymns, "Morning," "Evening" and "Midnight," printed in a Prayer Manual for the use of the students of Winchester College. The "Evening Hymn" drew scenic inspiration, it is told, from the lovely view in Horningsham Park at "Heaven's Gate Hill," while walking to and from church.
Another four-line doxology, adopted probably from Dr. Hatfield (1807-1883), is almost entirely superseded by Ken's stanza, being of even more pronounced credal character.
To God the Father, God the Son, And God the Spirit, Three in One. Be honor, praise and glory given By all on earth and all in heaven.
The Methodist Hymnal prints a collection of ten doxologies, two by Watts, one by Charles Wesley, one by John Wesley, one by William Goode, one by Edwin F. Hatfield, one attributed to "Tate and Brady," one by Robert Hawkes, and the one by Ken above noted. These are all technically and intentionally doxologies. To give a history of doxologies in the general sense of the word would carry one through every Christian age and language and end with a concordance of the Book of Psalms.
Few would think of any music more appropriate to a standard doxology than "Old Hundred." This grand Gregorian harmony has been claimed to be Luther's production, while some have believed that Louis Bourgeois, editor of the French Genevan Psalter, composed the tune, but the weight of evidence seems to indicate that it was the work of Guillaume le Franc, (William Franck or William the Frenchman,) of Rouen, in France, who founded a music school in Geneva, 1541. He was Chapel Master there, but removed to Lausanne, where he played in the Catholic choir and wrote the tunes for an Edition of Marot's and Beza's Psalms. Died in Lausanne, 1570.
"THE LORD DESCENDED FROM ABOVE."
A flash of genuine inspiration was vouchsafed to Thomas Sternhold when engaged with Rev. John Hopkins in versifying the Eighteenth Psalm. The ridicule heaped upon Sternhold and Hopkins's psalmbook has always stopped, and sobered into admiration and even reverence at the two stanzas beginning with this leading line—
The Lord descended from above And bowed the heavens most high, And underneath His feet He cast The darkness of the sky.
On cherub and on cherubim Full royally He rode, And on the wings of mighty winds Came flying all abroad.
Thomas Sternhold was born in Gloucestershire, Eng. He was Groom of the Robes to Henry VIII, and Edward VI., but is only remembered for his Psalter published in 1562, thirteen years after his death in 1549.
"Nottingham" (now sometimes entitled "St. Magnus") is a fairly good echo of the grand verses, a dignified but spirited choral in A flat. Jeremiah Clark, the composer, was born in London, 1670. Educated at the Chapel Royal, he became organist of Winchester College and finally to St. Paul's Cathedral where he was appointed Gentleman of the Chapel. He died July, 1707.
The tune of "Majesty" by William Billings will be noticed in a later chapter.
TALLIS' EVENING HYMN.
Glory to Thee, my God, this night For all the blessings of the light, Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, Under Thine own Almighty wings.
This stanza begins the second of Bp. Ken's three beautiful hymn-prayers in his Manual mentioned on a previous page.
For more than three hundred and fifty years devout people have enjoyed that melody of mingled dignity and sweetness known as "Tallis' Evening Hymn."
Thomas Tallis was an Englishman, born about 1520, and at an early age was a boy chorister at St. Paul's. After his voice changed, he played the organ at Waltham Abbey, and some time later was chosen organist royal to Queen Elizabeth. His pecuniary returns for his talent did not make him rich, though he bore the title after 1542 of Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, for his stipend was sevenpence a day. Some gain may possibly have come to him, however, from his publication, late in life, under the queen's special patent, of a collection of hymns and tunes.
He wrote much and was the real founder of the English Church school of composers, but though St. Paul's was at one time well supplied with his motets and anthems, it is impossible now to give a list of Tallis' compositions for the Church. His music was written originally to Latin words, but when, after the Reformation, the use of vernacular hymns, was introduced he probably adapted his scores to either language.
It is inferred that he was in attendance on Queen Elizabeth at her palace in Greenwich when he died, for he was buried in the old parish church there in November, 1585. The rustic rhymer who indited his epitaph evidently did the best he could to embalm the virtues of the great musician as a man, a citizen, and a husband:
Enterred here doth ly a worthy wyght, Who for long time in musick bore the bell: His name to shew was Thomas Tallis hyght; In honest vertuous lyff he dyd excell.
He served long tyme in chappel with grete prayse, Fower sovereygnes reignes, (a thing not often seene); I mean King Henry and Prince Edward's dayes, Quene Marie, and Elizabeth our quene.
He maryed was, though children he had none, And lyv'd in love full three and thirty yeres With loyal spowse, whose name yclept was Jone, Who, here entombed, him company now bears.
As he dyd lyve, so also dyd he dy, In myld and quyet sort, O happy man! To God ful oft for mercy did he cry; Wherefore he lyves, let Deth do what he can.
"THE GOD OF ABRAHAM PRAISE."
This is one of the thanksgivings of the ages.
The God of Abraham praise, Who reigns enthroned above; Ancient of everlasting days, And God of love. Jehovah, Great I AM! By earth and heaven confessed, I bow and bless the sacred Name, Forever blest.
The hymn, of twelve eight-line stanzas, is too long to quote entire, but is found in both the Plymouth and Methodist Hymnals.
Thomas Olivers, born in Tregynon, near Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales, 1725, was, according to local testimony, "the worst boy known in all that country, for thirty years." It is more charitable to say that he was a poor fellow who had no friends. Left an orphan at five years of age, he was passed from one relative to another until all were tired of him, and he was "bound out" to a shoemaker. Almost inevitably the neglected lad grew up wicked, for no one appeared to care for his habits and morals, and as he sank lower in the various vices encouraged by bad company, there were more kicks for him than helping hands. At the age of eighteen his reputation in the town had become so unsavory that he was forced to shift for himself elsewhere.
Providence led him, when shabby and penniless, to the old seaport town of Bristol, where Whitefield was at that time preaching, and there the young sinner heard the divine message that lifted him to his feet.
[Footnote 4: Whitefield's text was, "Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" Zach. 3:2.]
"When that sermon began," he said, "I was one of the most abandoned and profligate young men living; before it ended I was a new creature. The world was all changed for Tom Olivers."
His new life, thus begun, lasted on earth more than sixty useful years. He left a shining record as a preacher of righteousness, and died in the triumphs of faith, November, 1799. Before he passed away he saw at least thirty editions of his hymn published, but the soul-music it has awakened among the spiritual children of Abraham can only reach him in heaven. Some of its words have been the last earthly song of many, as they were of the eminent Methodist theologian, Richard Watson—
I shall behold His face, I shall His power adore, And sing the wonders of His grace Forevermore.
The precise date of the tune "Leoni" is unknown, as also the precise date of the hymn. The story is that Olivers visited the great "Duke's Place" Synagogue, Aldgate, London, and heard Meyer Lyon (Leoni) sing the Yigdal or long doxology to an air so noble and impressive that it haunted him till he learned it and fitted to it the sublime stanzas of his song. Lyon, a noted Jewish musician and vocalist, was chorister of this London Synagogue during the latter part of the 18th century and the Yigdal was a portion of the Hebrew Liturgy composed in medieval times, it is said, by Daniel Ben Judah. The fact that the Methodist leaders took Olivers from his bench to be one of their preachers answers any suggestion that the converted shoemaker copied the Jewish hymn and put Christian phrases in it. He knew nothing of Hebrew, and had he known it, a literal translation of the Yigdal will show hardly a similarity to his evangelical lines. Only the music as Leoni sang it prompted his own song, and he gratefully put the singer's name to it. Montgomery, who admired the majestic style of the hymn, and its glorious imagery, said of its author, "The man who wrote that hymn must have had the finest ear imaginable, for on account of the peculiar measure, none but a person of equal musical and poetic taste could have produced the harmony perceptible in the verse."
Whether the hymnist or some one else fitted the hymn to the tune, the "fine ear" and "poetic taste" that Montgomery applauded are evident enough in the union.
"O WORSHIP THE KING ALL GLORIOUS ABOVE."
This hymn of Sir Robert Grant has become almost universally known, and is often used as a morning or opening service song by choirs and congregations of all creeds. The favorite stanzas are the first four—
O worship the King all-glorious above, And gratefully sing His wonderful love— Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days, Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.
O tell of His might, and sing of His grace, Whose robe is the light, whose canopy, space; His chariots of wrath the deep thunder-clouds form, And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air, it shines in the light, It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, And sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail. Thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end! Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!
This is a model hymn of worship. Like the previous one by Thomas Olivers, it is strongly Hebrew in its tone and diction, and drew its inspiration from the Old Testament Psalter, the text-book of all true praise-song.
Sir Robert Grant was born in the county of Inverness, Scotland, in 1785, and educated at Cambridge. He was many years member of Parliament for Inverness and a director in the East India Company, and 1834 was appointed Governor of Bombay. He died at Dapoorie, Western India, July 9, 1838.
Sir Robert was a man of deep Christian feeling and a poetic mind. His writings were not numerous, but their thoughtful beauty endeared him to a wide circle of readers. In 1839 his brother, Lord Glenelg, published twelve of his poetical pieces, and a new edition in 1868. The volume contains the more or less well-known hymns—
The starry firmament on high.
Saviour, when in dust to Thee,
When gathering clouds around I view.
Sir Robert's death, when scarcely past his prime, would indicate a decline by reason of illness, and perhaps other serious affliction, that justified the poetic license in the submissive verses beginning—
Thy mercy heard my infant prayer.
* * * * *
And now in age and grief Thy name Does still my languid heart inflame, And bow my faltering knee. Oh, yet this bosom feels the fire, This trembling hand and drooping lyre Have yet a strain for Thee.
Several musical pieces written to the hymn, "O, Worship the King," have appeared in church psalm-books, and others have been borrowed for it, but the one oftenest sung to its words is Haydn's "Lyons." Its vigor and spirit best fit it for Grant's noble lyric.
"MAJESTIC SWEETNESS SITS ENTHRONED."
Rev. Samuel Stennett D.D., the author of this hymn, was the son of Rev. Joseph Stennett, and grandson of Rev. Joseph Stennett D.D., who wrote—
Another six days' work is done, Another Sabbath is begun.
All were Baptist ministers. Samuel was born in 1727, at Exeter, Eng., and at the age of twenty-one became his father's assistant, and subsequently his successor over the church in Little Wild Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London.
Majestic sweetness sits enthroned Upon the Saviour's brow; His head with radiant glories crowned, His lips with grace o'erflow.
* * * * *
To Him I owe my life and breath And all the joys I have; He makes me triumph over death, He saves me from the grave.
* * * * *
Since from His bounty I receive Such proofs of love divine, Had I a thousand hearts to give, Lord, they should all be Thine.
Samuel Stennett was one of the most respected and influential ministers of the Dissenting persuasion, and a confidant of many of the most distinguished statesmen of his time. The celebrated John Howard was his parishoner and intimate friend. His degree of Doctor of Divinity was bestowed upon him by Aberdeen University. Besides his theological writings he composed and published thirty-eight hymns, among them—
On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
When two or three with sweet accord,
Here at Thy table, Lord, we meet,
"'Tis finished," so the Saviour cried.
"Majestic Sweetness" began the third stanza of his longer hymn—
To Christ the Lord let every tongue.
Dr. Stennett died in London, Aug. 24, 1795.
For fifty or sixty years "Ortonville" has been linked with this devout hymn, and still maintains its fitting fellowship. The tune, composed in 1830, was the work of Thomas Hastings, and is almost as well-known and as often sung as his immortal "Toplady." (See chap. 3, "Rock of Ages.")
"ALL HAIL THE POWER OF JESUS' NAME."
This inspiring lyric of praise appears to have been written about the middle of the eighteenth century. Its author, the Rev. Edward Perronet, son of Rev. Vincent Perronet, Vicar of Shoreham, Eng., was a man of great faith and humility but zealous in his convictions, sometimes to his serious expense. He was born in 1721, and, though eighteen years younger than Charles Wesley, the two became bosom friends, and it was under the direction of the Wesleys that Perronet became a preacher in the evangelical movement. Lady Huntingdon later became his patroness, but some needless and imprudent expressions in a satirical poem, "The Mitre," revealing his hostility to the union of church and state, cost him her favor, and his contention against John Wesley's law that none but the regular parish ministers had the right to administer the sacraments, led to his complete separation from both the Wesleys. He subsequently became the pastor of a small church of Dissenters in Canterbury, where he died, in January, 1792. His piety uttered itself when near his happy death, and his last words were a Gloria.
All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, To crown Him Lord of all.
Ye seed of Israel's chosen race, Ye ransomed of the fall, Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, And crown Him Lord of all.
Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget The wormwood and the gall, Go, spread your trophies at His feet, And crown Him Lord of all.
Let every tribe and every tongue That bound creation's call, Now shout the universal song, The crowned Lord of all.
With two disused stanzas omitted, the hymn as it stands differs from the original chiefly in the last stanza, though in the second the initial line is now transposed to read—
Ye chosen seed of Israel's race.
The fourth stanza now reads—
Let every kindred, every tribe On this terrestrial ball To Him all majesty ascribe, And crown Him Lord of all.
And what is now the favorite last stanza is the one added by Dr. Rippon—
O that with yonder sacred throng We at His feet may fall, And join the everlasting song, And crown Him Lord of all.
Everyone now calls it "Old Coronation," and it is entitled to the adjective by this time, being considerably more than a hundred years of age. It was composed in the very year of Perronet's death and one wonders just how long the hymn and tune waited before they came together; for Heaven evidently meant them to be wedded for all time. This is an American opinion, and no reflection on the earlier English melody of "Miles Lane," composed during Perronet's lifetime by William Shrubsole and published with the words in 1780 in the Gospel Magazine. There is also a fine processional tune sung in the English Church to Perronet's hymn.
The author of "Coronation" was Oliver Holden, a self-taught musician, born in Shirley, Mass., 1765, and bred to the carpenter's trade. The little pipe organ on which tradition says he struck the first notes of the famous tune is now in the Historical rooms of the Old State House, Boston, placed there by its late owner, Mrs. Fanny Tyler, the old musician's granddaughter. Its tones are as mellow as ever, and the times that "Coronation" has been played upon it by admiring visitors would far outnumber the notes of its score.
Holden wrote a number of other hymn-tunes, among which "Cowper," "Confidence," and "Concord" are remembered, but none of them had the wings of "Coronation," his American "Te Deum." His first published collection was entitled The American Harmony, and this was followed by the Union Harmony, and the Worcester Collection. He also wrote and published "Mt. Vernon," and several other patriotic anthems, mainly for special occasions, to some of which he supplied the words. He was no hymnist, though he did now and then venture into sacred metre. The new Methodist Hymnal preserves a simple four-stanza specimen of his experiments in verse:
They who seek the throne of grace Find that throne in every place: If we lead a life of prayer God is present everywhere.
Sacred music, however, was the good man's passion to the last. He died in 1844.
"Such beautiful themes!" he whispered on his death bed, "Such beautiful themes! But I can write no more."
The enthusiasm always and everywhere aroused by the singing of "Coronation," dates from the time it first went abroad in America in its new wedlock of music and words. "This tune," says an accompanying note over the score in the old Carmina Sacra, "was a great favorite with the late Dr. Dwight of Yale College (1798). It was often sung by the college choir, while he, catching, as it were, the music of the heavenly world, would join them, and lead with the most ardent devotion."
"AWAKE AND SING THE SONG."
This hymn of six stanzas is abridged from a longer one indited by the Rev. William Hammond, and published in Lady Huntingdon's Hymn-book. It was much in use in early Methodist revivals. It appears now as it was slightly altered by Rev. Martin Madan—
Awake and sing the song Of Moses and the Lamb; Join every heart and every tongue To praise the Savior's name.
* * * * *
The sixth verse is a variation of one of Watts' hymns, and was added in the Brethren's Hymn-book, 1801—
There shall each heart and tongue His endless praise proclaim, And sweeter voices join the song Of Moses and the Lamb.
The Rev. William Hammond was born Jan. 6, 1719, at Battle, Sussex, Eng., and educated at St. John's College, Cambridge. Early in his ministerial life he was a Calvinistic Methodist, but ultimately joined the Moravians. Died in London, Aug. 19, 1793. His collection of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs was published in 1745.
The Rev. Martin Madan, son of Col. Madan, was born 1726. He founded Lock Hospital, Hyde Park, and long officiated as its chaplain. As a preacher he was popular, and his reputation as a composer of music was considerable. There is no proof that he wrote any original hymns, but he amended, pieced and expanded the work of others. Died in 1770.
The hymn has had a variety of musical interpretations. The more modern piece is "St. Philip," by Edward John Hopkins, Doctor of Music, born at Westminster, London, June 30, 1818. From a member of the Chapel Royal boy choir he became organist of the Michtam Church, Surrey, and afterwards of the Temple Church, London. Received his Doctor's degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1882.
"CROWN HIS HEAD WITH ENDLESS BLESSING."
The writer of this hymn was William Goode, who helped to found the English Church Missionary Society, and was for twenty years the Secretary of the "Society for the Relief of Poor Pious Clergymen." For celebrating the praise of the Saviour, he seems to have been of like spirit and genius with Perronet. He was born in Buckingham, Eng., April 2, 1762; studied for the ministry and became a curate, successor of William Romaine. His spiritual maturity was early, and his habits of thought were formed amid associations such as the young Wesleys and Whitefield sought. Like them, even in his student days he proved his aspiration for purer religious life by an evangelical zeal that cost him the ridicule of many of his school-fellows, but the meetings for conference and prayer which he organized among them were not unattended, and were lasting and salutary in their effect.
Jesus was the theme of his life and song, and was his last word. He died in 1816.
Crown His head with endless blessing Who in God the Father's name With compassion never ceasing Comes salvation to proclaim. Hail, ye saints who know His favor, Who within His gates are found. Hail, ye saints, th' exalted Saviour, Let His courts with praise resound.
"Haydn," bearing the name of its great composer, is in several important hymnals the chosen music for William Goode's devout words. Its strain and spirit are lofty and melodious and in entire accord with the pious poet's praise.
Joseph Haydn, son of a poor wheelwright, was born 1732, in Rohron, a village on the borders of Hungary and Austria. His precocity of musical talent was such that he began composing at the age of ten years. Prince Esterhazy discovered his genius when he was poor and friendless, and his fortune was made. While Music Master for the Prince's Private Chapel (twenty years) he wrote many of his beautiful symphonies which placed him among the foremost in that class of music. Invited to England, he received the Doctor's degree at Oxford, and composed his great oratorio of "The Creation," besides his "Twelve Grand Symphonies," and a long list of minor musical works secular and sacred. His invention was inexhaustible.
Haydn seems to have been a sincerely pious man. When writing his great oratorio of "The Creation" at sixty-seven years of age, "I knelt down every day," he says, "and prayed God to strengthen me for my work." This daily spiritual preparation was similar to Handel's when he was creating his "Messiah." Change one word and it may be said of sacred music as truly as of astronomy, "The undevout composer is mad."
Near Haydn's death, in Vienna, 1809, when he heard for the last time his magnificent chorus, "Let there be Light!" he exclaimed, "Not mine, not mine. It all came to me from above."
"NOW TO THE LORD A NOBLE SONG."
When Watts finished this hymn he had achieved a "noble song," whether he was conscious of it or not; and it deserves a foremost place, where it can help future worshippers in their praise as it has the past. It is not so common in the later hymnals, but it is imperishable, and still later collections will not forget it.
Now to the Lord a noble song, Awake my soul, awake my tongue! Hosanna to the Eternal Name, And all His boundless love proclaim.
See where it shines in Jesus' face, The brightest image of His grace! God in the person of His Son Has all His mightiest works outdone.
A rather finical question has occurred to some minds as to the theology of the word "works" in the last line, making the second person in the Godhead apparently a creature; and in a few hymn-books the previous line has been made to read—
God in the Gospel of His Son.
But the question is a rhetorical one, and the poet's free expression—here as in hundreds of other cases—has never disturbed the general confidence in his orthodoxy.
Montgomery called Watts "the inventor of hymns in our language," and the credit stands practically undisputed, for Watts made a hymn style that no human master taught him, and his model has been the ideal one for song worship ever since; and we can pardon the climax when Professor Charles M. Stuart speaks of him as "writer, scholar, thinker and saint," for in addition to all the rest he was a very good man.
Old "Ames" was for many years the choir favorite, and the words of the hymn printed with it in the note-book made the association familiar. It was, and is, an appropriate selection, though in later manuals George Kingsley's "Ware" is evidently thought to be better suited to the high-toned verse. Good old tunes never "wear out," but they do go out of fashion.
The composer of "Ames," Sigismund Neukomm, Chevalier, was born in Salzburg, Austria, July 10, 1778, and was a pupil of Haydn. Though not a great genius, his talents procured him access and even intimacy in the courts of Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and England, and for thirty years he composed church anthems and oratorios with prodigious industry. Neukomm's musical productions, numbering no less than one thousand, and popular in their day, are, however, mostly forgotten, excepting his oratorio of "David" and one or two hymn-tunes.
George Kingsley, author of "Ware," was born in Northampton, Mass., July 7, 1811. Died in the Hospital, in the same city, March 14, 1884. He compiled eight books of music for young people and several manuals of church psalmody, and was for some time a music teacher in Boston, where he played the organ at the Hollis St. church. Subsequently he became professor of music in Girard College, Philadelphia, and music instructor in the public schools, being employed successively as organist (on Lord's Day) at Dr. Albert Barnes' and Arch St. churches, and finally in Brooklyn at Dr. Storrs' Church of the Pilgrims. Returned to Northampton, 1853.
"EARLY, MY GOD, WITHOUT DELAY."
This and the five following hymns, all by Watts, are placed in immediate succession, for unity's sake—with a fuller notice of the greatest of hymn-writers at the end of the series.
Early, my God, without delay I haste to seek Thy face, My thirsty spirit faints away Without Thy cheering grace.
In the memories of very old men and women, who sang the fugue music of Morgan's "Montgomery," still lingers the second stanza and some of the "spirit and understanding" with which it used to be rendered in meeting on Sunday mornings.
So pilgrims on the scorching sand, Beneath a burning sky, Long for a cooling stream at hand And they must drink or die.
Many of the earlier pieces assigned to this hymn were either too noisy or too tame. The best and longest-serving is "Lanesboro," which, with its expressive duet in the middle and its soaring final strain of harmony, never fails to carry the meaning of the words. It was composed by William Dixon, and arranged and adapted by Lowell Mason.
William Dixon, an English composer, was a music engraver and publisher, and author also of several glees and anthems. He was born 1750, and died about 1825.
Lowell Mason, born in Medfield, Mass., 1792, has been called, not without reason, "the father of American choir singing." Returning from Savannah, Ga., where he spent sixteen years of his younger life as clerk in a bank, he located in Boston (1827), being already known there as the composer of "The Missionary Hymn." He had not neglected his musical studies while living in the South, and it was in Savannah that he made the glorious harmony of that tune.
He became president of the Handel and Haydn Society, went abroad for special study, was made Doctor of Music, and collected a store of themes among the great models of song to bring home for his future work.
The Boston Academy of Music was founded by him and what he did for the song-service of the Church in America by his singing schools, and musical conventions, and published manuals, to form and organize the choral branch of divine worship, has no parallel, unless it is Noah Webster's service to the English language.
Dr. Mason died in Orange, N.J., in 1872.
"SWEET IS THE WORK, MY GOD, MY KING."
This is one of the hymns that helped to give its author the title of "The Seraphic Watts."
Sweet is the work, my God, my King To praise Thy name, give thanks and sing To show Thy love by morning light, And talk of all Thy truth at night.
No nobler one, and more akin in spirit to the hymn, can be found than "Duke Street," Hatton's imperishable choral.
Little is known of the John Hatton who wrote "Duke St." He was earlier by nearly a century than John Liphot Hatton of Liverpool (born in 1809), who wrote the opera of "Pascal Bruno," the cantata of "Robin Hood" and the sacred drama of "Hezekiah." The biographical index of the Evangelical Hymnal says of John Hatton, the author of "Duke St.": "John, of Warrington; afterwards of St. Helens, then resident in Duke St. in the township of Windle; composed several hymn-tunes; died in 1793. His funeral sermon was preached at the Presbyterian Chapel, St. Helens, Dec. 13."
[Footnote 5: Tradition says he was killed by being thrown from a stage-coach.]
"COME, WE THAT LOVE THE LORD."
Watts entitled this hymn "Heavenly Joy on Earth." He could possibly, like Madame Guyon, have written such a hymn in a dungeon, but it is no less spiritual for its birth (as tradition will have it) amid the lovely scenery of Southampton where he could find in nature "glory begun below."
Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known; Join in a song with sweet accord, And thus surround the throne.
There shall we see His face, And never, never sin; There, from the rivers of His grace, Drink endless pleasures in.
Children of grace have found Glory begun below: Celestial fruits on earthly ground From faith and hope may grow.
Mortality and immortality blend their charms in the next stanza. The unfailing beauty of the vision will be dwelt upon with delight so long as Christians sing on earth.
The hill of Sion yields A thousand sacred sweets, Before we reach the heavenly fields, Or walk the golden streets.
"St. Thomas" has often been the interpreter of the hymn, and still clings to the words in the memory of thousands.
The Italian tune of "Ain" has more music. It is a fugue piece (simplified in some tune-books), and the joyful traverse of its notes along the staff in four-four time, with the momentum of a good choir, is exhilarating in the extreme.
Corelli, the composer, was a master violinist, the greatest of his day, and wrote a great deal of violin music; and the thought of his glad instrument may have influenced his work when harmonizing the four voices of "Ain."
Arcangelo Corelli was born at Fusignano, in 1653. He was a sensitive artist, and although faultless in Italian music, he was not sure of himself in playing French scores, and once while performing with Handel (who resented the slightest error), and once again with Scarlatti, leading an orchestra in Naples when the king was present, he made a mortifying mistake. He took the humiliation so much to heart that he brooded over it till he died, in Rome, Jan. 18, 1717.
For revival meetings the modern tune set to "Come we that love the Lord," by Robert Lowry, should be mentioned. A shouting chorus is appended to it, but it has melody and plenty of stimulating motion.
The Rev. Robert Lowry was born in Philadelphia, March 12, 1826, and educated at Lewisburg, Pa. From his 28th year till his death, 1899, he was a faithful and successful minister of Christ, but is more widely known as a composer of sacred music.
"BE THOU EXALTED, O MY GOD."
In this hymn the thought of Watts touches the eternal summits. Taken from the 57th and 108th Psalms—
Be Thou exalted, O my God, Above the heavens where angels dwell; Thy power on earth be known abroad And land to land Thy wonders tell.
* * * * *
High o'er the earth His mercy reigns, And reaches to the utmost sky; His truth to endless years remains When lower worlds dissolve and die.
Haydn furnished it out of his chorus of morning stars, and it was christened "Creation," after the name of his great oratorio. It is a march of trumpets.
"BEFORE JEHOVAH'S AWFUL THRONE."
No one could mistake the style of Watts in this sublime ode. He begins with his foot on Sinai, but flies to Calvary with the angel preacher whom St. John saw in his Patmos vision:
Before Jehovah's awful throne Ye nations bow with sacred joy; Know that the Lord is God alone; He can create and He destroy.
His sovereign power without our aid Made us of clay and formed us men, And when like wandering sheep we stray, He brought us to His fold again.
* * * * *
We'll crowd Thy gates with thankful songs, High as the heaven our voices raise, And earth with her ten thousand tongues Shall fill Thy courts with sounding praise.
Martin Madan's four-page anthem, "Denmark," has some grand strains in it, but it is a tune of florid and difficult vocalization, and is now heard only in Old Folks' Concerts.
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The Rev. Isaac Watts, D.D., was born at Southampton, Eng., in 1674. His father was a deacon of the Independent Church there, and though not an uncultured man himself, he is said to have had little patience with the incurable penchant of his boy for making rhymes and verses. We hear nothing of the lad's mother, but we can fancy her hand and spirit in the indulgence of his poetic tastes as well as in his religious training. The tradition handed down from Dr. Price, a colleague of Watts, relates that at the age of eighteen Isaac became so irritated at the crabbed and untuneful hymns sung at the Nonconformist meetings that he complained bitterly of them to his father. The deacon may have felt something as Dr. Wayland did when a rather "fresh" student criticised the Proverbs, and hinted that making such things could not be "much of a job," and the Doctor remarked, "Suppose you make a few." Possibly there was the same gentle sarcasm in the reply of Deacon Watts to his son, "Make some yourself, then."
Isaac was in just the mood to take his father at his word, and he retired and wrote the hymn—
Behold the glories of the Lamb.
There must have been a decent tune to carry it, for it pleased the worshippers greatly, when it was sung in meeting—and that was the beginning of Isaac Watts' career as a hymnist.
So far as scholarship was an advantage, the young writer must have been well equipped already, for as early as the entering of his fifth year he was learning Latin, and at nine learning Greek; at eleven, French; and at thirteen, Hebrew. From the day of his first success he continued to indite hymns for the home church, until by the end of his twenty-second year he had written one hundred and ten, and in the two following years a hundred and forty-four more, besides preparing himself for the ministry. No. 7 in the edition of the first one hundred and ten, was that royal jewel of all his lyric work—
When I survey the wondrous cross.
Isaac Watts was ordained pastor of an Independent Church in Mark Lane, London, 1702, but repeated illness finally broke up his ministry, and he retired, an invalid, to the beautiful home of Sir Thomas Abney at Theobaldo, invited, as he supposed, to spend a week, but it was really to spend the rest of his life—thirty-six years.
Numbers of his hymns are cited as having biographical or reminiscent color. The stanza in—
When I can read my title clear,
—which reads in the original copy,—
Should earth against my soul engage And hellish darts be hurled, Then I can smile at Satan's rage And face a frowning world,
—is said to have been an allusion to Voltaire and his attack upon the church, while the calm beauty of the harbor within view of his home is supposed to have been in his eye when he composed the last stanza,—
There shall I bathe my weary soul In seas of heavenly rest, And not a wave of trouble roll Across my peaceful breast.
According to the record,—
What shall the dying sinner do?
—was one of his "pulpit hymns," and followed a sermon preached from Rom. 1:16. Another,—
And is this life prolonged to you?
—after a sermon from 1 Cor. 3:22; and another,—
How vast a treasure we possess,
—enforced his text, "All things are yours." The hymn,—
Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain,
—was, as some say, suggested to the writer by a visit to the abattoir in Smithfield Market. The same hymn years afterwards, discovered, we are told, in a printed paper wrapped around a shop bundle, converted a Jewess, and influenced her to a life of Christian faith and sacrifice.
A young man, hardened by austere and minatory sermons, was melted, says Dr. Belcher, by simply reading,—
Show pity Lord, O Lord, forgive, Let a repenting sinner live.
—and became partaker of a rich religious experience.
The summer scenery of Southampton, with its distant view of the Isle of Wight, was believed to have inspired the hymnist sitting at a parlor window and gazing across the river Itchen, to write the stanza—
Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood Stand drest in living green; So to the Jews old Canaan stood While Jordan rolled between.
The hymn, "Unveil thy bosom, faithful tomb," was personal, addressed by Watts "to Lucius on the death of Seneca."
A severe heart-trial was the occasion of another hymn. When a young man he proposed marriage to Miss Elizabeth Singer, a much-admired young lady, talented, beautiful, and good. She rejected him—kindly but finally. The disappointment was bitter, and in the first shadow of it he wrote,—
How vain are all things here below, How false and yet how fair.
Miss Singer became the celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe, the spiritual and poetic beauty of whose Meditations once made a devotional text-book for pious souls. Of Dr. Watts and his offer of his hand and heart, she always said, "I loved the jewel, but I did not admire the casket." The poet suitor was undersized, in habitually delicate health—and not handsome.
But the good minister and scholar found noble employment to keep his mind from preying upon itself and shortening his days. During his long though afflicted leisure he versified the Psalms, wrote a treatise on Logic, an Introduction to the Study of Astronomy and Geography, and a work On the Improvement of the Mind; and died in 1748, at the age of seventy-four.
"O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING."
Charles Wesley, the author of this hymn, took up the harp of Watts when the older poet laid it down. He was born at Epworth, Eng., in 1708, the third son of Rev. Samuel Wesley, and died in London, March 29, 1788. The hymn is believed to have been written May 17, 1739, for the anniversary of his own conversion:
O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer's praise, The glories of my God and King, And triumphs of His grace.
The remark of a fervent Christian friend, Peter Bohler, "Had I a thousand tongues I would praise Christ Jesus with them all," struck an answering chord in Wesley's heart, and he embalmed the wish in his fluent verse. The third stanza (printed as second in some hymnals), has made language for pardoned souls for at least four generations:
Jesus! the name that calms our fears And bids our sorrows cease; 'Tis music in the sinner's ears, 'Tis life and health and peace.
Charles Wesley was the poet of the soul, and knew every mood. In the words of Isaac Taylor, "There is no main article of belief ... no moral sentiment peculiarly characteristic of the gospel that does not find itself ... pointedly and clearly conveyed in some stanza of Charles Wesley's poetry." And it does not dim the lustre of Watts, considering the marvellous brightness, versatility and felicity of his greatest successor, to say of the latter, with the London Quarterly, that he "was, perhaps, the most gifted minstrel of the modern Church."
Most of the hymns of this good man were hymns of experience—and this is why they are so dear to the Christian heart. The music of eternal life is in them. The happy glow of a single line in one of them—
Love Divine, all loves excelling,
—thrills through them all. He led a spotless life from youth to old age, and grew unceasingly in spiritual knowledge and sweetness. His piety and purity were the weapons that alike humbled his scoffing fellow scholars at Oxford, and conquered the wild colliers of Kingwood. With his brother John, through persecution and ridicule, he preached and sang that Divine Love to his countrymen and in the wilds of America, and on their return to England his quenchless melodies multiplied till they made an Evangelical literature around his name. His hymns—he wrote no less than six thousand—are a liturgy not only for the Methodist Church but for English-speaking Christendom.
The voices of Wesley and Watts cannot be hidden, whatever province of Christian life and service is traversed in themes of song, and in these chapters they will be heard again and again.
A Watts-and-Wesley Scholarship would grace any Theological Seminary, to encourage the study and discussion of the best lyrics of the two great Gospel bards.
The musical mouth-piece of "O for a thousand tongues," nearest to its own date, is old "Azmon" by Carl Glaser (1734-1829), appearing as No. 1 in the New Methodist Hymnal. Arranged by Lowell Mason, 1830, it is still comparatively familiar, and the flavor of devotion is in its tone and style.
Henry John Gauntlett, an English lawyer and composer, wrote a tune for it in 1872, noble in its uniform step and time, but scarcely uttering the hymnist's characteristic ardor.
The tune of "Dedham," by William Gardiner, now venerable but surviving by true merit, is not unlike "Azmon" in movement and character. Though less closely associated with the hymn, as a companion melody it is not inappropriate. But whatever the range of vocalization or the dignity of swells and cadences, a slow pace of single semibreves or quarters is not suited to Wesley's hymns. They are flights.
Professor William Gardiner wrote many works on musical subjects early in the last century, and composed vocal harmonies, secular and sacred. He was born in Leicester, Eng., March 5, 1770, and died there Nov. 16, 1853.
There is an old-fashioned unction and vigor in the style of "Peterborough" by Rev. Ralph Harrison (1748-1810) that after all best satisfies the singer who enters heart and soul into the spirit of the hymn. Old Peterborough was composed in 1786.
"LORD WITH GLOWING HEART I'D PRAISE THEE."
This was written in 1817 by the author of the "Star Spangled Banner," and is a noble American hymn of which the country may well be proud, both because of its merit and for its birth in the heart of a national poet who was no less a Christian than a patriot.
Francis Scott Key, lawyer, was born on the estate of his father, John Ross Key, in Frederick, Md., Aug. 1st, 1779; and died in Baltimore, Jan. 11, 1843. A bronze statue of him over his grave, and another in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, represent the nationality of his fame and the gratitude of a whole land.
Though a slaveholder by inheritance, Mr. Key deplored the existence of human slavery, and not only originated a scheme of African colonization, but did all that a model master could do for the chattels on his plantation, in compliance with the Scripture command, to lighten their burdens. He helped them in their family troubles, defended them gratuitously in the courts, and held regular Sunday-school services for them.
[Footnote 6: Eph. 6:9, Coloss. 4:1.]
Educated at St. John's College, an active member of the Episcopal Church, he was not only a scholar but a devout and exemplary man.
Lord, with glowing heart I'd praise Thee For the bliss Thy love bestows, For the pardoning grace that saves me, And the peace that from it flows.
Help, O Lord, my weak endeavor; This dull soul to rapture raise; Thou must light the flame or never Can my love be warmed to praise.
Lord, this bosom's ardent feeling Vainly would my life express; Low before Thy footstool kneeling, Deign Thy suppliant's prayer to bless.
Let Thy grace, my soul's chief treasure, Love's pure flame within me raise, And, since words can never measure, Let my life show forth Thy praise.
"St. Chad," a choral in D, with a four-bar unison, in the Evangelical Hymnal, is worthy of the hymn. Richard Redhead, the composer, organist of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Paddington, Eng., was born at Harrow, Middlesex, March 1, 1820, and educated at Magdalene College, Oxford. Graduated Bachelor of Music at Oxford, 1871. He published Laudes Dominae, a Gregorian Psalter, 1843, a Book of Tunes for the Christian Year, and is the author of much ritual music.
"HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY."
There is nothing so majestic in Protestant hymnology as this Tersanctus of Bishop Heber.
The Rt. Rev. Reginald Heber, son of a clergyman of the same name, was born in Malpas, Cheshire, Eng., April 21st, 1783, and educated at Oxford. He served the church in Hodnet, Shropshire, for about twenty years, and was then appointed Bishop of Calcutta, E.I. His labors there were cut short in the prime of his life, his death occurring in 1826, at Trichinopoly on the 3d of April, his natal month.
His hymns, numbering fifty-seven, were collected by his widow, and published with his poetical works in 1842.
Holy! holy! holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee. Holy! holy! holy! merciful and mighty, God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity.
Holy! holy! holy! all the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim, falling down before Thee, Which wert, and art, and evermore shall be.
Grand as the hymn is, it did not come to its full grandeur of sentiment and sound in song-worship till the remarkable music of Dr. John B. Dykes was joined to it. None was ever written that in performance illustrates more admirably the solemn beauty of congregational praise. The name "Nicaea" attached to the tune means nothing to the popular ear and mind, and it is known everywhere by the initial words of the first line.
Rev. John Bacchus Dykes, Doctor of Music, was born at Kingston-upon-Hull, in 1823; and graduated at Cambridge, in 1847. He became a master of tone and choral harmony, and did much to reform and elevate congregational psalmody in England. He was perhaps the first to demonstrate that hymn-tune making can be reduced to a science without impairing its spiritual purpose. Died Jan. 22, 1876.
"LORD OF ALL BEING, THRONED AFAR."
This noble hymn was composed by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, born in Cambridge, Mass., 1809, and graduated at Harvard University. A physician by profession, he was known as a practitioner chiefly in literature, being a brilliant writer and long the leading poetical wit of America. He was, however, a man of deep religious feeling, and a devout attendant at King's Chapel, Unitarian, in Boston where he spent his life. He held the Harvard Professorship of Anatomy and Physiology more than fifty years, but his enduring work is in his poems, and his charming volume, The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. Died Jan. 22, 1896.
Holmes' hymn is sung in some churches to "Louvan," V.C. Taylor's admirable praise tune. Other hymnals prefer with it the music of "Keble," one of Dr. Dykes' appropriate and finished melodies.
Virgil Corydon Taylor, an American vocal composer, was born in Barkhamstead, Conn., April 2, 1817, died 1891.
SOME HYMNS OF GREAT WITNESSES.
JOHN OF DAMASCUS.
[Greek: Erchesthe, o pistoi, Anastaseos Hemera.]
John of Damascus, called also St. John of Jerusalem, a theologian and poet, was the last but one of the Christian Fathers of the Greek Church. This eminent man was named by the Arabs "Ibn Mansur," Son (Servant?) of a Conqueror, either in honor of his father Sergius or because it was a Semitic translation of his family title. He was born in Damascus early in the 8th century, and seems to have been in favor with the Caliph, and served under him many years in some important civil capacity, until, retiring to Palestine, he entered the monastic order, and late in life was ordained a priest of the Jerusalem Church. He died in the Convent of St. Sabas near that city about A.D. 780.
His lifetime appears to have been passed in comparative peace. Mohammed having died before completing the conquest of Syria, the Moslem rule before whose advance Oriental Christianity was to lose its first field of triumph had not yet asserted its persecuting power in the north. This devout monk, in his meditations at St. Sabas, dwelt much upon the birth and the resurrection of Christ, and made hymns to celebrate them. It was probably four hundred years before Bonaventura (?) wrote the Christmas "Adeste Fideles" of the Latin West that John of Damascus composed his Greek "Adeste Fideles" for a Resurrection song in Jerusalem.
Come ye faithful, raise the strain Of triumphant gladness.
* * * * *
'Tis the spring of souls today Christ hath burst His prison; From the frost and gloom of death Light and life have risen.
The nobler of the two hymns preserved to us, (or six stanzas of it) through eleven centuries is entitled "The Day of Resurrection."
The day of resurrection, Earth, tell its joys abroad: The Passover of gladness, The Passover of God. From death to life eternal, From earth unto the sky, Our Christ hath brought us over, With hymns of victory.
Our hearts be pure from evil, That we may see aright The Lord in rays eternal Of resurrection light; And, listening to His accents, May hear, so calm and plain, His own, "All hail!" and hearing, May raise the victor-strain.
Now let the heavens be joyful, Let earth her song begin, Let all the world keep triumph, All that dwell therein. In grateful exultation, Their notes let all things blend, For Christ the Lord is risen, O joy that hath no end!
Both these hymns of John of Damascus were translated by John Mason Neale.
"The Day of Resurrection" is sung in the modern hymnals to the tune of "Rotterdam," composed by Berthold of Tours, born in that city of the Netherlands, Dec. 17, 1838. He was educated at the conservatory in Leipsic, and later made London his permanent residence, writing both vocal and instrumental music. Died 1897. "Rotterdam" is a stately, sonorous piece and conveys the flavor of the ancient hymn.
"Come ye faithful" has for its modern interpreter Sir Arthur Sullivan, the celebrated composer of both secular and sacred works, but best known in hymnody as author of the great Christian march, "Onward Christian Soldiers."
Hymns are known to have been written by the earlier Greek Fathers, Ephrem Syrus of Mesopotamia (A.D. 307-373), Basil the Great, Bishop of Cappadocia (A.D. 329-379) Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople (A.D. 335-390) and others, but their fragments of song which have come down to us scarcely rank them among the great witnesses—with the possible exception of the last name. An English scholar, Rev. Allen W. Chatfield, has translated the hymns extant of Gregory Nazianzen. The following stanzas give an idea of their quality. The lines are from an address to the Deity:
How, Unapproached! shall mind of man Descry Thy dazzling throne, And pierce and find Thee out, and scan Where Thou dost dwell alone?
Unuttered Thou! all uttered things Have had their birth from Thee; The One Unknown, from Thee the spring Of all we know and see.
And lo! all things abide in Thee And through the complex whole, Thou spreadst Thine own divinity, Thyself of all the Goal.
This is reverent, but rather philosophical than evangelical, and reminds us of the Hymn of Aratus, more than two centuries before Christ was born.
ST. STEPHEN, THE SABAITE.
This pious Greek monk, (734-794,) nephew of St. John of Damascus, spent his life, from the age of ten, in the monastery of St. Sabas. His sweet hymn, known in Neale's translation,—
Art thou weary, art thou languid, Art thou sore distrest? Come to Me, saith One, and coming Be at rest,
—is still in the hymnals, with the tunes of Dykes, and Sir Henry W. Baker (1821-1877), Vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire.
KING ROBERT II.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus.
Robert the Second, surnamed "Robert the Sage" and "Robert the Devout," succeeded Hugh Capet, his father, upon the throne of France, about the year 997. He has been called the gentlest monarch that ever sat upon a throne, and his amiability of character poorly prepared him to cope with his dangerous and wily adversaries. His last years were embittered by the opposition of his own sons, and the political agitations of the times. He died at Melun in 1031, and was buried at St. Denis.
Robert possessed a reflective mind, and was fond of learning and musical art. He was both a poet and a musician. He was deeply religious, and, from unselfish motives, was much devoted to the church.
Robert's hymn, "Veni, Sancte Spiritus," is given below. He himself was a chorister; and there was no kingly service that he seemed to love so well. We are told that it was his custom to go to the church of St. Denis, and in his royal robes, with his crown upon his head, to direct the choir at matins and vespers, and join in the singing. Few kings have left a better legacy to the Christian church than his own hymn, which, after nearly a thousand years, is still an influence in the world: