|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.
[Greek: Megalunei he psuche mou ton Kurion.]
Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
Et exultavit Spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.
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.
[Illustration: Oliver Holden]
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,
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
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.
[Illustration: Joseph Haydn]
|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.
TUNE -- OLD HUNDRED.
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.
* * * * *
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.|
[Illustration: Charles Wesley]
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.