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And how do you think I employ myself while lying in state here, without any of the joys of the exterior world around me? Why, in trying to understand the beauties of The Poet of Sweden, as he is considered-Bishop Tegner; in railing against the Frenchisms of the Swedish language; and in translating the Swedish Church Hand-book-as the Breviary, Service or Prayer-book for the use of the clergy is to our ear, perhaps, rather irreverently called. And as I do so, I give my translation to my adjunct, in order that he may improve me in his language, while improving himself in mine. This Hand-book is certainly
more pleasing to me than the Psalm-book, by which name the Prayer-book for the use of the people is understood.
The Hand-book not only contains the prayers and offices of the Swedish Church, but gives plain explicit directions and rules for their performance; so that one Priest is not seen turning to the altar at a moment when another scrupulously turns from it. He is told when to face the people, when to face the altar; when to read, and when to sing; when to kneel, and when to stand. The most curious direction appears to me that which orders the people to respond when the prayers are sung, but to be silent when they are read. As the latter is the most common practice, not so many Priests having voices so good as to prefer singing, the result is, that the prayers seem to me to be very little joined in. The people never kneel—literally never, either in private or public devotions, except at the time of Holy Communion. They sit almost all the time on their seats, droning out the Psalms, in a sort of Presbyterian fashion; some looking very devout, and a great many looking very sleepy. These psalms, or prayers in rhyme, have unhappily greatly superseded the old prayers of the Church. They are not even the
Psalms of David, which seem equally superseded; for the Swedes are not ashamed to call Bishop Wallin the “ David of the North.” They have been composed by some of the best poets of the land in modern times; and so the effusions of the poets of Sweden have supplanted the Divine strains of the Poet of the East altogether, and, so far I fear as the affections and the daily practice of the people are concerned, thrown the beautiful prayers of the Fathers of the Church quite into the background.
There are no less than five hundred of these psalms, some of them awfully long; and the place they hold in the devotions of the people, and in the use of the Swedish Church, is well indicated by the position given to them in the Book—that is, before the prayers, in the order of the church service. Indeed they are most useful auxiliaries on all occasions of Divine service, or public or private prayer. They form a prayer from the pulpits, they are used to help out sermons. I was once invited, at a country clergyman's house, to stay for family prayer when I was about to retire to my room. Gladly I consented: he sat down, clapped his hands as a signal for silence; every one took their seats, and the priest, folding his hands, repeated a long Psalm from this favourite collection. This was called family prayer, for alas ! it is to be feared those poetic effusions have painfully superseded the use of the whole Bible, as well as that of the Psalms of David. There are of course exceptions ; one can speak only of what seems the general practice.
The fact is, that the Church and people of Sweden appear to me exceedingly tenacious of not ante-dating in religion the time of the Reformation. Martin Luther is the real head and foundation of their Church; and to him, and his decrees or his opinions, the appeal is almost always made. I never yet asked a question regarding the doctrines of the Swedish Church without finding this to be the case. In one instance, a clergyman replied to me, that Luther had left the point, I demanded information upon, undecided.
I have often asked if they believed there was no Church before the time of Luther; and the answer has been, “Yes, but not theirs; there was the old Church, but they had nothing to do with that now." ." Then Luther, in fact, is the founder of your Church ??
The answer to this has been, perhaps, doubtfully given, but sufficiently assenting; and the assertion has followed it, that the same was the case with us, we had not our Church before the Reformation.
“God forbid that such were the case !" I have replied, " for then I could no longer be a child of the English Church. Were there no Church to which I could appeal before fifteen or sixteen hundred years after Christ and his Apostles taught the faith, where would be my belief? should I not make shipwreck of faith ?”
“But the English Church was formed at the Reformation also.”
"Add one syllable and I agree: it was reformed; in many respects well and wisely. The corruptions and errors that overlaid the truth were removed, but the truth itself was 'not then, and then only, made known to it. It still rests, as it at first did, on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone: it still appeals to the same Fathers; it still clings to the same doctrines, uses the same prayers, maintains the same creeds. No; thank God, the English Church was reformed in the sixteenth century; but, thank God still more, the English Church was not formed in the sixteenth century."
Yet though this is the case, and though this