Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

BISHOP ANDREWS'S CREED and set forth authoritatively in the Holy Scriptures,

THEOLOGY OF THE HYMNS
Thy word is everlasting

truth;
How pure is every page!
That holy book shall guide

(204). Assured if I my trust betray,

I shall forever die (388).

and we believe in the eternal consequences of good and evil inherent in the constitution of the human soul, and declared with the utmost solemnity by him, the final Judge of human life.

And bid his guilty conscience

dread The death that never dies

(245).

There are some lesser points of belief, or shades of meaning, in the Apostles' Creed that Bishop Andrews's creed does not specifically express, but which are clearly taught in our hymns. The Virgin Birth, for instance, is celebrated in hymns 111, 112, 117, 123, and 125. The resurrection of the body is taught in hymn 586, without prejudice upon the theological debate as to whether or not it is to be a physical or a spiritual body into which men shall be raised. In the following columns we have set corresponding hymns opposite some of the familiar phrases of the Apostles' Creed, not emphasized in Bishop Andrews's creed.

APOSTLES' CREED Christ, the only Son

Suffered (under Pontius Pi-
late).
Was crucified, dead and
búried.

THEOLOGY OF THE HYMNS Of the Father's Godhead

true and only Son (166). Pierced and nailed him to the

tree (601).
So Jesus slept: God's dying

Son
Passed through the grave,

and blessed the bed
(586).

APOSTLES' CREED

THEOLOGY OF THE HYMNS The third day he rose.

'Tis thine own third morn

ing,

Rise, O buried Lord (166). Sitteth on the right hand of He sits at God's right hand God.

(178). From thence he shall come to Christ is coming! (602.) judge the quick and the dead. Thou awful Judge of quick

and dead (600). The holy catholic Church. One holy Church, one army

strong (209). The communion of saints. O blest communion, fellow

ship divine! We feebly struggle, they in

glory shine; Yet all are one in thee, for

all are thine (430). The forgiveness of sins. Praise him, who pardons all

our sin (20). The resurrection of the body. A glorious form

Shall then ascend to meet

the Lord (586). Life everlasting.

All meet thee in the blessed

home above, Thy everlasting home of

peace and love (671). In God's likeness,

awaking Knows the everlasting

peace (160). Thus all the main points of our theology are expressed in our hymns; and the great doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal Church are being chanted in the music of the sanctuary.

.

man

CHAPTER VII

THE LITERARY BEAUTIES OF THE HYMNS

REAL HYMNS, TRUE POEMS—LEGITIMATE EMOTIONS

DICTION AND IMAGERY-RHYTHM AND METER A RECENT work on hymnology proposes this statement: "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.” This passage is based upon a false conception of the true nature of poetry. It is not difficult to carry to the inevitable false conclusion the proposition that not all sacred poems are hymns, even those cast in the usual hymn meters. But in order to prove that good hymns are not always poems one must assume an unworthy definition for hymns, as well as for poetry.

There can be no true poetry without emotion. One of the members of our Hymnal Commission, Dr. C. T. Winchester, professor of English literature in Wesleyan University, has treated of the emotional element in poetry in his work on literary criticism. After quoting as representative of the modern conception the definitions of poetry uttered by Wordsworth, Shelley, Emerson, Browning, Leigh Hunt, Clarence Stedman, and Coleridge, all of whom recognized the 1 "The Elements of Literary Criticism," by Caleb T. Winchester, Litt.Doc.

emotional element as essential to poetry, he expresses the results of their thought in the following passage: "We may define poetry as that variety of the literature of emotion which is written in metrical form. Or, abandoning the strictly logical style of definition, we may say that poetry is that form of literature whose purpose is to appeal to the emotions, and which is written in metrical form."

A true hymn must be expressive of emotion, and somewhat in a universal sense, even though it be primarily the expression of a personal emotion. But this in itself is not enough. If the writer lack the ability or the inspiration for poetic expression, his most intense emotion may result in mere doggerel, as is too often the result. Such unpoetical rhymings, when uttering a great spiritual truth, may even produce a certain quality of emotion among the young or those who are ignorant in literary taste. As an example of the former, we find in William T. Stead's book, "Hymns that Have Helped,” the following verses, which helped him most as a boy:

His love in times past

Forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last

In trouble to sink.
Each sweet Ebenezer

I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure

To help me quite through.

In spite of its bad rhyme and questionable logic, which his later tastes would condemn, these verses still recur to him with all of their helpful associations from his

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »