Изображения страниц

audible part in public worship, save in chanting the words: " Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison," (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy). These words were sometimes repeated two and three hundred times in one service. Then began the period of writing and singing of hymns. In 1221 St. Francis said to his monks: "There is a certain country called Germany, wherein dwell Christians, and of a truth very pious ones, who, as you know, often came as pil-jects and popular songs. Some of the grims into our land, with their long best German hymns were written by staves and great boots; and amid the "Reformers before the Reformation." most sultry heat and bathed in sweat, Salt, the most prolific German hymn yet visit all the thresholds of the holy writer, came with and after the sixteenth shrines and sing hymns of praise to God century. Luther, himself a poet of no and all His saints." mean order, was passionately fond of music. Whether at home or abroad it was his custom after dinner to take a lute and sing and play for half an hour or more with his friends. Long before Shakewrote his famous anathema against the man who hath no music in his soul, Luther said: "He who despises music, as all fanatics do, will never be my friend." He knew full well how the leaders of the Arian heresy put their doctrines into the form of simple hymns or religious ballads by the sin ging of which their tenets were more effectively preached and impressed than by all other methods combined. He said: "For I would fain see all arts, especially music, in the service of Him who has given and created them." He invited choir-masters to live with him in his family and help him arrange and adapt suitable church music. himself composed several chorals, among others the one to his own hymn: "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott." Many of the old German chorals are derived from those of the Latin hymns. He wrote to Spalatin: "It is my intention, after the example of the prophets and *the ancient fathers, to make German


Vogelweid the Minne-singer,

When he left this world of ours, Laid his body in the cloister

Under Würtzburg-Münster towers.

Then came a class of popular poets and poetry called the Minne-Singers, chief among whom were Walther von der Vogelweide (or Bird-meadow) who triumphed over Heinrich von Ofterdin-speare gen in a poetic contest at the Wartburg Castle, known as the "War of the Wartburg." Of him Longfellow says:

And he gave the monks his treasures,
Gave them all with this behest:
They should feed the birds at noon-tide
Daily on his place of rest.

Saying "From these wandering minstrels
I have learned the art of song;
Let me now repay the lessons

They have taught so well and long."

Thus the bard of love departed-
And fulfilling his desire,

On his tomb the birds were feasted
By the children of the choir.

Day by day o'er tower and turret,
In foul weather and in fair,
Day by day, in vaster numbers,

Flocked the poets of the air.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Time has long effaced the inscription
On the cloister's funeral stones;
And tradition only tells us

Where repose the poet's bones.

But around the vast cathedral,

By sweet echoes multiplied, Still the birds repeat the legend, And the name of Vogelweid.


his praising the women so much.
his burial women bore him to his grave
and literally bathed his tomb in wine.
Later came the so-called master singers,
eminent among whom was Hans Sachs,
the "cobbler-bard" of Nuremberg.

Mr. Wackernagel, the best authority we have on this subject, has nearly 1,500 hymns or pieces in his collection, that were written before the Reformation. Not a few of these are on secular sub

psalms for the people; that is, spiritual songs, whereby the word of God may be kept alive among them by singing. We seek, therefore, everywhere for poets. Now, as you are such a master of the German tongue, and are so mighty and eloquent therein, I entreat you to join hands with us in this work, and to turn

Frauenlob was another famous Min-one of the psalms into a hymn, accordne-singer and a great favorite. He re-ing to the pattern (i. e., an attempt of ceived his name (Praise-the-ladies) from my own) that I here send you. But I

desire that all new-fangled words from the court should be left out, that the words may be all quite plain and common, such as the common people may understand, yet pure and skillfully handled; and next, that the meaning should be given clearly and graciously, according to the sense of the psalm itself."

It is said that Luther himself wrote 37 hymns. Of these 21 were original and the others were translations. It took four or five years after Luther began this part of his work before he could introduce the singing of hymns among the people of his own congregation. At first he placed a copy of the printed hymn into the hands of the people, so that they could read the lines as the choir sang them. Gradually they were trained to help in the singing and were greatly edified and pleased with the privilege. It was not long until this hymn singing became quite general, not only in the public service of God's house, but around the firesides of German homes. A Roman Catholic author of that day writes: "The whole people is singing itself into this Lutheran doctrine."

Some of Luther's hymns were composed under the trying pressure of special occasions. It is generally supposed that on his way to the Diet of Worms, whither, to save his life, many of his friends entreated him not to go, he wrote his noted battle song:

"A sure stronghold our God is He."

Recovering from a fainting fit brought on by intense soul conflict, he wrote:

"Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu Dir." ("Out of the depth I cry to Thee, Lord God! oh hear my prayer.") And his countrymen sang the same amid sobs and tears at Luther's burial.

His hymn:

"Nun freut euch liebe, Christen G'mein." (Dear Christian people now rejoice! Our hearts within us leap,)

was a great popular favorite. Every body knew and loved to sing it. In 1557 a number of princes belonging to the Reformed Religion spent a certain day in Frankfort-on-the-Main. They wished to attend a religious service according to their own faith in the Church of St. Bartholomew. A large congre

gation assembled but the evangelical ministers present were kept out of the pulpit by a Roman Catholic priest, who preached his own creed. After listening for awhile the whole impatient congregation rose and sang this hymn until the discomfited priest was well nigh sung out of church. Tradition says that Luther learned the tune usually sung to this hymn from a traveling mechanic. Indeed he sought to utilize every possible talent in this department, and men like Spalatin, Justus Jonas, Eber and others enriched the Church with their contributions.

During the period of the Reforma. tion we have about twenty hymn writers which group themselves around Luther. A similar centre Paul Gerhart forms among the hymn writers of the following century; especially the period including the Thirty Years War. Thus this prince of German song became the centre of more than one hundred hymnwriters. As a sacred poet he excelled Luther. He wrote 123 hymns, of which more than 30 have become German classics, and hymnological models for all time. He ranks as the most eminent hymn-writer of the Church. No other human compositions are sung and played by so large a number of people as Gerhart's hymns.

He was of humble birth, his father being the burgomaster of a small village in Saxony. His childhood and youth were spent amid the horrid scenes of war. These gave a peculiar schooling to stirred his youthful heart to its depths, his impressible, poetic mind. They

and cultivated in him a sense of dependence upon God. After finishing his studies, he labored as a private tutor until he was forty years of age; waiting peacefully from year to year to be appointed to the pastorate of a congregation. Meanwhile he wrote many hymns, and fell in love with Anna Maria Berthold, the daughter of his employer, an advocate in Berlin. At length he was called to a congregation, whither he took his Berlin affianced as his wife. He later became a famous Berlin preacher, a popular favorite whom great crowds flocked to hear. He was a man of medium height; cheerful in his bearing, kind to the poor, receiving poor widows and orphans into his own house for support

In Theology he was a strict Lutheran. Although his sermons were free from controversy, on certain occasions he set forth his distinctive views in a form of fensive to the Government, which caused him to lose his position. He called this "but a small Berlin sort of martyrdom." Doubtless his afflictions, bereavements, and persecutions helped to stimulate his Muse, and added tenderness to his writings. While Archdeacon of Lübben, in Saxony, during the last seven years of his life, he passed through a period of great sorrow. His wife had died, his only child was repeatedly seriously ill; the villagers were rough, ignorant people, who annoyed the good man in various ways. Here he wrote hymns "under circumstances which would have made most men cry rather than sing." After passing through a certain night of great anxiety and conflict, he knelt at the altar of his Church and wrote the beautiful hymn:

"Wach auf mein Herz und singe
Dem Schöpfer aller Dinge."

He died in his seventieth year, in 1676, and breathed out his soul through a line of one of his hymns:

"As no death has power to kill." *

*For some of the material in these articles we are indebted to an excellent volume entitled, “Christian Singers of Germany," by Catherine


[blocks in formation]

"Jesus, priceless treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me!
Long my heart hath panted,
Till it well nigh fainted
Thirsting after Thee!
Thine I am, O spotiess Lamb!
I will suffer nought to hide Thee,
Ask for nought beside Thee.

A certain godly matron I have heard of happened to have an ungodly husbaud. Given to daily drunkenness, through his coarse and profane conduct, he greatly vexed the righteous soul of the good woman. Although a man of means, with horses and carriages at his command, his wife had to shift without help as best she could, and on Sunday, after rising before day in order to get through with her work in time, she, with her German hymn-book in hand would walk three miles to Church,

vine Worship.

whatever might be the condition of the The Relation of the Aesthetic to Diroads or the weather. Not a horse or carriage would be given her to go there. Leaving and arriving at home she was greeted by him with oaths and coarse

ribaldry. The pious neighbors sympa- (Prof. of Natural Science in Palatinate thized with her. One of these asked her one day: "How can you bear such treatment with such a cheerful, uncom

In Thine arms I rest me,
Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here:
Though the earth be shaking,
Every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear;
Sin and hell in conflict fell
With their heaviest storms assail me,
Jesus will not fail me."



It is a significant fact that at the recent meeting of the Pan-Presbyterian Alliance, one of the topics that enlisted the deepest interest was the subject of Christian worship. Some of the finest efforts were called forth by this, and concern

ternalized by him in works of art, cannot be wrong; nor can it, unless it be abused and perverted to wrong ends,

ing it some of the most animated discussions were held. Nor is it alone in such ecclesiastical bodies that attention is being turned in this direction, exert an influence for evil, and when it but the minds of men all over the Chris- does this-when men wrest from its protian world seem to be turning toward per end one of our most precious gifts, the question of what true Christian turning it into an abuse, the remedy is not worship shall be-how far the outward altogether the negative one of destroyæsthetic forms shall enter into it-and ing that which leads into temptation. Selfto what extent these must, for safety, be denial may be well enough for a time, excluded. but the proper and lasting cure is positive and consists in eradicating from the heart the evil tendencies which would prompt men to turn not only art but ever other blessing into an abuse.

The worship of the Church before the Reformation was largely aesthetic. The beautiful appeared in grand churches and cathedrals and in the pomp and splendor of their ritual and worship. This in time became an abuse; not because art in the church had become corrupt-grand cathedrals and impressive ceremonies were not in themselves wrong-but the abuse consisted in its false position which art came to occupy in its relation to that worship. The spiritual condition of the church became barren; the spiritual eye of men became darkened, while their aesthetic eye was yet strong; so that while they still felt strongly all that was beautiful and sublime in the existing ritual they failed in giving a response in the religious fervor which this beauty and sublimity was intended to call forth.

As was the case at the Alliance, the whole Christian Church resolves itself with more or less distinctness into two main parties, the one clinging to what they regard the great boon of the Reformation-simplicity of worship, while the other characterizes this as baldness and wickedness, and their desires are for a greater predominance of the outward form of beauty.

The great question that underlies this whole discussion is the relation which art bears to Christian worship. And as in every question of importance that is submitted to humanity for solution, we generally find the position which each man takes determined largely by some predominant trait in his character or temperament, so here it is often the case that those who are deficient in æsthetic feelings are the ones that take their stand with the iconoclasts, while those to whom art appeals strongly, advocate her claims and favor her admittance into the House of God.

What now shall be the position in which we hold art as relating to Christian worship? For our part, we cannot sympathize with those who would rule it out altogether as something tending only to evil. The æsthetic side of man's nature is legitimate. It is a necessary part of his spiritual constitution. And it seeks for and finds in the external universe that which answers to it. This idea of the beautiful which is the nourishment of the aesthetic in man, going hand in hand with the ideas of the Good and True is a part of the original impress of the Creator when He called all things out of chaos. "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." There is implied in this also that it was both right. Fine art previous to the ReforTrue and Beautiful. The Beautiful, mation had come, unconsciously to therefore, neither as it meets us in many, to usurp the place of devotion, nature, nor as we find it in man and ex- hence its relation to worship ceased to

And the Reformation aimed, when it did strike its blow, not at the beautiful itself as it ministered to the worship of God, so much as at the worldly spirit which had come to possess men's hearts, and which then converted what should have been edifying services into empty pageantry. The exclusion of the beautiful from the house of God, which was attendant on the Reformation, was right only so far as it was in the spirit of selfdenial-a refraining from a blessing that had become abused, until the hearts and consciences of men could become purified and strengthened so that the church could use fine art as not abusing it.

This separation was necessary and

Drawing from the infinite fullness of Scripture we have as a basis and model for Psalmody, the external beauty of

must therefore sever this false union before there can be any coming together in a true sense. The general advance toward a more liturgical worship, which we see everywhere, is not necessarily retrograde, then, as some would have it not a going back again to the false worship of the medieval church. It is rather the spirit of devotion as it has become renewed and invigorated from its baptism in inquisitorial fires, seeking to find a form in which to express itself seeking a new and true union with art in which the latter will occupy her proper position as the handmaid of Religion.

be a true one. For no union is a true one in which the components do not stand in a right relation to one another. The dividing sword of the Reformation the Psalms, the Benedictus, the Nunc Dimittis, and many other passages of inimitable beauty. We have the Lord's Prayer as a pattern and guide for all prayers. But we are not confined to this. Our Lord intended that our powers and all of these powers should be put in exercise to praise Him, and with the examples above mentioned as a guide, the artist, imbued with the true spirit of worship continues to fashion into fit offerings for the Lord's house, the forms of beauty which he sees and feels about him, and which he has made to he a part of this very evil.

While it is true that such an union in its perfection is impossible so long as sin and its temptations exist, yet a striving for and approximation to that perfect state is not absolutely impossible. It is not only not impossible but also fit and right. We have our church governments, in which the ethical forces minister to the work of carrying on the work of Christ's kingdom in the world. We have the forces of the intellect framing confessions and building up systems of theology and laying them on the altar as their offering toward the contruction of this tabernacle-why then must art, which is the expression of the Beautiful, be debarred a place in the house of God, when the forms in which the Good and True embody themselves are accepted? These latter are just as liable to abuse as art is. We scarcely need refer to the gigantic ecclesiastical tyranny of the Middle Ages-the papacy and prelacy, to illustrate how the good can be abused and the barren waste, so far as re il religious life was concerned, which we find in the Greek Churches during the long Monophysite controversy bears witness of how intellectual formulas can stand in a wrong relation to Religion and become destructive to true devotion.

But in thus giving the aesthetic a place in the worship of the church, whether it come in the form of architecture, poetry, music, or refined ritual, we incur perils, as we do in fact whenever we accept and use any blessing. We meet the deteriorating tendency that would set art up as the chief end. But we have seen the whirlpool into whose seductive eddies the Mediæval church was drawn, and also the rock upon which many in the Protestant Church have rushed in their impetuous zeal to avoid the first evil. We can, then, keeping in our hearts the command to "Watch and pray," go on our way gathering in everything, not only the Good and True, but also Beautiful, and with the blessing upon it of our Lord, we can offer it as an acceptable sacrifice upon the great altar of His Holy Temple.

Assuredly, then, we cannot, without wrong to ourselves and to others, continue for any length of time in an exclusion of the aesthetic from our worship. Not only in one part should beauty appear, but in all that pertains to worship the spirit of highest beauty should make itself felt.

THE Rev. Sheldon Jackson, addressing the students of Allegheny Theological Seminary, urged them to enter the service as Home Missionaries. He said a missionary was urgently needed at Fort Yuma, which he described " as the hottest place this side of Tophet." Soon thereafter four students volunteered to go to Fort Yuma. How such a heroic willingness to sacrifice all the comforts of civilized life for Christ and for souls commends itself to all rightthinking people! Thus the first missionaries to heathen lands did. What they lose for Christ's sake in this life they shall find again an hundred-fold in the life to come.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »