« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
period of the Judges, and on the other hand the utterance respecting Levi excludes it from the time of David and Solomon, and this is the utmost limit to which it can by any possibility be carried, we are forced back again by this route also to our previous conclusion of its ante- Mosaic origin, or which is equivalent, its genuineness as a production of Jacob,--a conclusion which there is nothing to oppose, except the rationalistic dictum "there can be no real prophecy."
ART. VI.-1. Martin Luther's geistliche Lieder, mit den in seinen Lebzeiten gebräuchlichen Singweisen. Herausgegeben von PHILIP WACKERNAGEL. Stuttgart: 1848, 8vo, pp. 194. 2. Das Deutsche Kirchenlied, von Martin Luther bis auf Nicolaus Herman und Ambrosius Blaurer. Von Dr K. C. J. WACKERNAGEL. Stuttgart: 1841, 4to, pp. 895.
3. Paulus Gerhardts geistliche Lieder, getreu nach der bei seinen Lebzeiten erschienenen Ausgabe wiederabgedruckt. Stuttgart: 1843, pp. 216.
4. Geistliche Gedichte des Grafen v. Zinzerdorf, gesammelt und gesichtet von ALBERT KNAPP. Stuttgart u. Tübingen: 1845, royal 8vo, pp. 368.
5. Evangelischer Liederschatz für Kirche und Haus. Von M. ALBERT KNAPP. Stuttgart and Tübingen: 1837, 2 vols. 8vo, pp. 682, 912.
6. Stimmen aus dem Reiche Gottes. Eine auserlesene Sammlung alter und neuer evangelischer Kernlieder, mit beigefügten, vierstimmig gesetzten, Choralmelodien. Von KOCHER und KNAPP. Stuttgart: 1846, 12mo, pp. 746.
In this formidable series of titles we have included none of the common church collections: these are in number legionary. Three of the books are edited by Dr Wackernagel, who is noted for his learning in all that relates to the archæology of the German language. The first contains all the extant hymns of the sixteenth century; republished with scrupulous collation of all accessible texts, and with an apparatus of critical notes, which may well surprise those who know how the corresponding department of English literature has been allowed to languish; so that we have no single repository of our early sacred poets. The second work is venerable indeed; giving us not only the incorrupt text of all Luther's hymns, but the very airs and harmonies which accompanied them during the Reformer's lifetime. The edition of Gerhardt's hymns is complete and critical. Mr Knapp's collection of Count Zinzendorf's
poetical works, including his numerous improvisations, is as full as it is elegant, and is followed by a life of the author. To the same lover of sacred song, we are indebted for the fifth in our list, the "Evangelical Hymn Treasury," a work widely known in America, containing three thousand five hundred and ninety-two hymns. The same editor has part likewise in the last book named above, which has both text and music, arranged in four parts for the organ and piano-forte; the number of hymns is six hundred and ninety-five. To these works we acknowledge our obligation for a large part of what we shall now offer on the fruitful subject of German hymns. It is a topic too nearly connected with the growth of piety in the soul and its spread among mankind, to need a word of apology. These products of continental piety, in its brightest hours and heavenliest moods, are infinitely remote from the latitudinary and neological errors which are justly dreaded from German writings. Of this we need offer no surer earnest, than by beginning our sketch of German Hymnology with the great Saxon reformer.
There is scarcely any thing more familiar to the readers of Luther's life than his love of music. He was himself a performer on more than one instrument, and wont to break forth among his friends in bursts of passionate psalmody. The passages in his works and correspondence which express the high value which he set on spiritual song, as a means of promoting knowledge, furthering grace, and driving away the evil one, are too numerous to be quoted at length; but some of them are too important and characteristic to be wholly omitted.
LUTHER led the way in providing Christian hymns for the evangelical world. The number of his metrical compositions, as now extant, is thirty-seven; of which some have acquired great celebrity. Wherever his name is known, men are acquainted with his trumpet-like version of the forty-sixth psalm, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott. Besides this he versified the 12th, 14th, 67th, 124th, 128th, and 130th psalms; the Decalogue, Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Te Deum; also Luke ii. 30-32, Isaiah vi. 1-8, Rev. xii. 1-6, and the church hymns, Veni Redemptor gentium, A solis ortus cardine, Veni Creator Spiritus, Veni sancte Spiritus, Media vita, the Sanctus, Da pacem, and 0 lux beata Trinitas. This may rebuke the flippant and ignorant strictures of a Puseyite writer on Hymnology, who has lately brought it as a charge against Protestant churches, that they have retained but one of the old ecclesi. astical metres in their services. It would be easy to show that not only Luther, but every poet of the reformation period, drew largely from this very source. Indeed, if there was an
error, it was that of ascribing undue importance to some inferior Latin hymns.
Modern editors have with great pains restored the ancient text of Luther's hymns, and Wackernagel has annexed the original melodies and harmonies, with abundance of critical apparatus. The earliest edition, which contained only a small number, appeared at Wittenberg in 1523. During the Reformer's lifetime, editions containing his hymns appeared in 1524, 1525, 1526, 1528, 1529, 1531, 1533, 1535, 1537, 1538, 1539, 1541, 1542, 1544, 1545. As early as 1524, we find Luther addressing his friend Spalatin in a letter, with intreaty that he would try his hand at vernacular hymns, and laying down the principle, so remarkably exemplified by himself, that they should not be in learned diction but in the plain idiom of common people.*
How costly and welcome a gift these effusions were, may be learned from the enthusiastic language of contemporaries. Michael Styfel, in a preface to one of them, calls Luther that "Christian, angelic man." The people rejoiced to have their mouth opened in congregational singing. Luther's first preface appears to be that of 1525, prefixed to the Wittenberg hymn-book. It is simple but pregnant. "That the singing of spiritual songs is good and pleasing to God, methinks is known to all Christians; since every man is aware of the example of prophets and kings in the Old Testament, who with voice and joyful noise, with poetry and all manner of harping, praised God, and more especially the psalms of common Christendom from the beginning. They are set for four voices, because I greatly desire that the youth, who should and must be brought up in music and other proper arts, may have something to do away the foul songs and carnal ballads, and at the same time be learning somewhat healthful, while they enter on what is good with the delight which becomes their time of life. For I am far from thinking that the gospel is to strike all art to the earth; but I would have all arts, and especially music, taken into that service for which they were given and formed."
It appears from several of these ancient advertisements, that not a few spurious hymn-books were hawked about under Luther's name. The popularity of the new art is apparent from this fact, as well as from the remarkable number of collections produced by other friends of the Reformation. These prefaces dwell much on the importance of teaching children to sing God's praise. In the Strasburg hymn-book of 1534, Catharina Zell earnestly exhorts mothers to this work, inviting them to use hymns at dead of night to still the waking babe, * Luther's Vermischte Schriften; v. Gerlach. Stuttgart: 1848, vol. i., p. 116. VOL. II.-NO. I.
and as lullabies beside the cradle; and she commends the same to "the journeyman at his work, the servant-maid in her kitchen, the husbandman in the field." Eminent musicians, such as Hoffman and Heintzen, organists at Mentz and Magdeburg, were employed to adjust the music. The perversions of worldly song and of superstition only gave an edge to reforming zeal, and so good John Walters, in the preface to the Wittenberg hymn-book of 1537, says, "But in order that the beautiful art be not altogether abolished, I have, blessed be God, in despite of the devil and all his contempt, set the spiritual songs, heretofore printed at Wittenberg, mostly with correction, and augmented with certain little pieces for five or six voices."
It would be interesting to trace the connection between the hymnology of the ancient Bohemian Brethren and that of the Lutherans. This is alluded to in a collection by John Varnier, Ulm, 1538. In the rhyming addresses to the reader, mention is made of the grace shown to the churches of Bohemia and Moravia.*
The excellent Mathesius of Joachimsthal, the biographer of Luther, united with the musician Herman in a volume of sacred music and poetry, which has a preface by the latter, containing many things illustrative of the popular condition in regard to this subject. "When I look back," says the old cantor, as Herman calls himself, "and consider how it was in my youth, fifty years and more ago, in churches and schools, and what sort of teaching there was therein, my hair stands on end, and my flesh shudders, nor can I refrain from sighs and lamentation; and it were to be wished that the young people and scholars of our time knew but the half of what those poor school urchins endured, of toil, misery, frost, and hunger. In the common schools there were such barbarism and innaccuracy in learning, that many were twenty years old before they learned their grammar, or could speak a little Latin, which, when they got it, sounded in comparison with our Latin like an old rattle-pipe or rebeck beside the noblest and best-tuned organ. The poor children [Luther had been one of them] who went about serving as waits, were no better than martyrs. If they were tortured in school and frozen, they must then go about through streets with their wallet." He then recites the old superstitious ditties which they were taught to sing, and compares them with the sacred instructions and holy hymns introduced by the Reformers.
The diction of Luther's hymns is that common, rugged, idiomatic High German, which has made itself felt in the national
* Inn Behem vnd Merrher landt,
Wo ich Gottes sinn hab erkannt,
literature, and has contributed to form the national thinking. No one man on record has ever laid his hand with so much power on the moulding of a great language. Though some will lament the loss of a certain sweetness which still lives in the Low German, none can overlook the bone and muscle of the dialect of Luther. It yields more readily to the sublime and vehement than the beautiful, but it can be passionate and touching. The use of so familiar and homely a speech in the early hymns doubtless gave a precedent, which no one can mistake in the later compositions of Gerhardt and Schmolck. A number of these hymns are still used in German worship after the lapse of three centuries-a fact which has no parallel in British hymnology.
It was the congregational singing of the Hussite brethren which, we are told, suggested to Luther the labours which he bestowed on this reform. His efforts succeeded in spreading a peculiarity of worship which has reached as far as the German tongue, and which we would fain emulate, if we may not envy: "By means of a single hymn of Luther, Nun freut euch liebe Christengemein, many hundreds were brought to the faith, who otherwise would never have heard Luther's name.' And it was observed by the Cardinal, Thomas a Jesu, "that the interests of Luther were furthered to an extraordinary degree by the singing of his hymns, by people of every class, not only in schools and churches, but in dwellings and shops, in markets, streets, and fields." They found entrance even among adversaries. Selnecker relates that several of the hymns having been introduced into the chapel service of the Duke Henry of Wolfenbüttel, a priest made complaint. The Duke asked what hymns those were against which he protested. "May it please your highness, they are such as, 'O that the Lord would gracious be" "Hold!" replied the Duke, "must the devil then be gracious? Whose grace are we to seek, if not that of God only?" And the hymns continued to be sung in court. In 1529 a Romish priest preached at Lubeck, and just as he ended, two boys struck up the hymn of Luther, "O God from Heaven, now behold," when the whole assembly joined as with one voice; and continued to do the same as often as any preacher inveighed against the evangelical doctrine. At Heidelberg the Reformation made its way by singing. The Elector Frederick, from fear of the Emperor, had delayed suppressing the mass. On one occasion, a priest was about to begin the service, standing at the high altar, when a single voice led off the beginning of Paul Speratus's famous hymn, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her. The vast congregation immediately joined, and the Elector, taking this as a sufficient suffrage of his people, proceeded to introduce the communion in both kinds.