Изображения страниц

melody, later set to “Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,” as they charged upon the English foe in the effort to regain the throne for James III.

In our own land how often has the anthem, “My country, 'tis of thee,” inspired a regiment of soldiers! During the Revolutionary War, long before this hymn was written, an incident occurred concerning its tune, which Dr. Duffield has repeated. A company of British soldiers entered a Long Island church and commanded the colonists to sing, “God save the king.” The melody was sung, but in devotion to their consciences and to their God, the people sang the words frequently used in the earlier days to this tune, thereby confounding their enemies:

Come, thou almighty King,

Help us thy name to sing.

The Rev. Dr. James H. Perry, pastor of the Pacific Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, was attending Conference in the spring of 1861, when the news of the bombardment of Fort Sumter was received. He arose amid the intense excitement, and said: "I was educated by the government; it now needs my services. I shall resign my ministry and again take up my sword.” He became colonel of the 48th Regiment N. Y. S. Volunteers, which was known as "Perry's Saints." The Rev. Dr. A. J. Palmer, formerly missionary secretary, tells in his book and in his famous lecture the story of his Company D in this regiment, which always went into battle singing, “I'm going home to die no more." Their com

[ocr errors]

rades, therefore, nicknamed the company "The Dieno-mores.

There was another hymn, "Say, brothers, will you meet us,” brought from Methodist camp meetings to the army by the Second Battalion of Massachusetts Infantry, whose tune, fortunately not in our present Hymnal, exerted a wide influence in the Civil War; for to this tune the words, "John Brown's body,” were sung throughout the army, and later also the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” by Julia Ward Howe.

1 Cf. " 48th Regiment State Volunteers," by A. J. Palmer. Published, 1885, by Veteran Association of the Regiment.




TRANSLATIONS-THE TITLES If the bibliography of hymnody, the body of the hymns, and hymnology, the science of hymns, were developed exhaustively, the study would attain to tremendous proportions. Dr. Julian in his “Dictionary of Hymnology” says: "The total number of Christian hymns in the two hundred or more dialects in which they have been written or translated is not less than four hundred thousand. When classified into languages the greatest number are found to be in German, English, Latin, and Greek in the order named.” Only a few hymns have survived to be adopted by the modern Church, and a large proportion of the best of these are to be found within the Methodist Hymnal.

To adequately tell the story of even our own seven hundred and forty-eight hymns, with critical accounts of their authors, the conditions under which they were written, the publications first containing them and the dates thereof, their successive alterations and the stories of their use--all these legitimate inquiries of hymnology would easily expand into the proportions of a small library. One hymnologist in Brooklyn, New York, has attempted this with a body of hymns in common

use, and already his large manuscript volumes number forty.

Having already examined a few typical hymns and their stories, we must be content with but a glimpse of some of the more prominent hymn authors, an outline of the successive periods in English hymn-writing, together with a statement of our debt to the hymns of foreign languages.

The foundations of English hymnody rest largely upon the metrical versions of the Psalms, which, together with other scriptural translations, were long regarded as the only hymn-forms permissible in divine worship. These we shall discuss later, along with other translations from the Hebrew. Though there were many original English hymns before his time, the first great hymnist of England represented in our Hymnal was Bishop Thomas Ken (1637-1711), who wrote the “Morning Hymn" (44), “Evening Hymn” (49), and the Doxology (718), “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow," all of which appeared first in his "Manual of Prayers for the Winchester Scholars," 1700.

The good bishop, arrested with six other bishops by James II, and later under William of Orange harassed by political intrigue, would not compromise his principles to gain political preferment, and hence was forced into retirement. Of him Macaulay said in his “History of England”: “He was a man of parts and learning, of quick sensibility and stainless virtue. His elaborate works have long been forgotten, but his morning and evening hymns are still

repeated daily in thousands of dwellings.” In his retirement Bishop Ken wrote these lines:

I gladly wars ecclesiastic fly,
Whene'er contentious spirits I descry:
Eased of my sacred load, I live content,
In hymns, not in disputes, my passions vent.

Three great authors of his century are represented in the Hymnal by three great hymns, "Teach me, my God and King” (417), by George Herbert (1593–1632); “The Lord will come and not be slow” (642), a translation by John Milton (1608-74); and “Lord, it belongs not to my care” (470), by Richard Baxter (1615– 91), the celebrated author of "Saints' Rest."

In the model style of the brilliant Joseph Addison (1672–1719) we have three hymns, each of them from his famous periodical, The Spectator": “The spacious firmament on high” (84), being from “Spectator" No. 465, 1712 ; “How are thy servants blest, O Lord” (102), from No. 489, 1712; and “When all thy mercies, O my God” (105), from No. 453, 1712.

The Preface to the Methodist Hymnal announces that it contains, besides the Wesley hymns, "the choicest work of the other hymn-writers of the eighteenth century, Doddridge, Watts, Cowper, Newton, Montgomery.' The first of these, in chronology, in some points of excellence, and in the number of hymns in our collection (fifty-three, next to Charles Wesley's the highest number), was the Rev. Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Born in a nonconformist family, in severest times of religious persecution, he dis

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »