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But these effects would not have been produced by hymns alone, however excellent. Luther's knowledge of music led him to bestow equal care upon the tunes. "It is the notes," said he, "which give life to the text." It is interesting to inquire from what sources these tunes were derived. Some of them were very naturally taken from the familiar Latin melodies of the church. This is true of the versions of churchhymns, mentioned above. Others were already in use, as connected with vernacular hymns. These have been carefully traced to their origin by musical antiquaries. A portion of these consisted of original melodies. Eminent among these is Ein feste Burg, which still holds its place in German churches, and was composed, as Sleidan testifies, by Luther himself.
We have spoken of Nicholas Herman, "the old cantor," of Joachimsthal in Bohemia. This quaint and genial old man died in 1560. He was the author of the tune of Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, which is still happily in use. John Kugelmann, maestro di capella of Albert of Prussia, Joachim von Burgk, cantor at Mühlhausen, Selnecker of Leipsic, and Dr Nicolai of Hamburg, were all noted in the same way during the sixteenth century. In order to make sacred song universal among the people, singing in parts was encouraged by every means. The production of new melodies continued during the whole of the seventeenth century, under such men as Praetorius, Schein, Alberti, Erstger, Winer, Neander, Rosenmüller, Severus, Ahle, and Neumark. After this there was a great stagnation.
The music of the church in Germany, at the time of Luther's reform, had become painfully elaborate, and the solemnity of the old Gregorian chant, which certainly had many excellencies, was overlaid with a burden of artificial difficulties. It was the merit of Luther to restore the ancient simplicity, without rejecting the aids of learned harmony. "When natural music," says he, "is elevated and polished by art, we first see and acknowledge with admiration the great and perfect wisdom of God in his wondrous creation of music, wherein this is especially strange and astonishing, that a single voice utters the simple air or tenor,* as musicians name it, and then three, four, or five other voices join, who as it were play and leap exultingly about this plain tenor, and marvellously deck and beautify it with manifold change, and sound as if leading a heavenly dance, meeting one another in good will, heartily and lovingly embracing; so that those who understand a little, and are hereby moved, have to marvel, as thinking there is nought in all the world rarer than such a song with many voices." The re* The musical reader will not mistake this for the part so called in modern scores.
sult of this is the German CHORAL, in which the congregation sing one part, while the singers of the choir, and in later times the organ, furnish a full and manifold harmony-a method which is infinitely remote from the American abuse of having a handful of singers in the gallery to act as proxies of the great congregation, and praise God by committee. The musical composition of the Reformation period was carried forward by Henry Fink, George Rhaw, Martin Agricola, Balthazar Resinarius, Sixt Dietrich, Benedict Ducis, and others, whose lives may be read in the histories of music.
We have dwelt long on Luther, because beyond question he was the founder of the incomparable German psalmody, in regard as well to text as music, so that no one can enter a well appointed German service at this day, without breathing the air of the sixteenth century. But Luther, though first, was so far from being alone, that our difficulty now is how to make a selection. When it is considered that the mere names of German hymnists would occupy many pages, we shall not be expected to go into details. A very convenient division of evangelical hymnology is that which makes Paul Gerhardt the limit between two periods. The first of these begins of course with Luther; but he was only the leading star of a brilliant constellation.
HANS SACHS is one of the darling names of Germany. He is often called the last of the bards or master-singers. We must leave it for literary annals to record his secular achievements. Hans was born at Nuremburg, in 1494. He sang his first piece of minstrelsy at Munich, in 1514, being then on his wandering" as a journeyman shoemaker. His collected effusions would amount to more than six thousand. They are in the highest measure expressive of the national mind at that era of transition; abounding in humour, naïveté, strength, imagination, and pathos. He is among his people at once a poetic Bunyan and a religious Burns. He threw himself into the Reformation at the very earliest period, and gave an impulse which was perhaps second only to Luther's. After having been forgotten for a time during the reign of mediocrity and rationalism, Hans Sachs was restored to general admiration by the admiring eulogies of Wieland and Goethe.* Some of Hans's hymns are still in use: more than twenty may be consulted in Wackernagel. His "Christian ballad against the ruthless ire of Sathanas" is remarkable for its keenness and satiric strength. A "Dialogue between the Sinner and Christ," adapted to a popular song tune, is an admirable epitome of saving experience which probably did more for the Reformation. than scores of sermons. He likewise versified thirteen psalms.
*See Goethe's Poetic Mission of H. Sachs.
We observe with pleasure that his Warum betrübst du dich mein Herz is incorporated in Kocher's delightful collection.
PAULUS SPERATUS merits the next place. In time he might even be earlier. He was one of the Prussian Reformers, who died in 1554. On hearing his hymn, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, once sung under his window, Luther is said to have been deeply affected, and to have thanked God for the wonderful diffusion of the truth. His hymns are remarkable for condensed doctrine: this was indeed strikingly true of the compositions of the day, to a degree which we regard as not to be imitated; but it was inseparable from the great religious movement, as pre-eminently a doctrinal reformation. The people sang themselves into a gospel creed.
JUSTUS JONAS, the bosom friend of Luther, imitated him in this work; his pieces are versified psalms. There were numerous contributions from Agricola, Spangenberg, Paul Eber, Mathesius, Herman the Cantor, and Decius. But an accumulation of names is unsatisfactory, and the curious reader must be referred to the exhaustive repository of Wackernagel. A goodly number of these venerable hymns, with some alterations, is found in modern evangelical selections. They are rude but impressive, giving no uncertain sound as to Protestant testimony, and contributing incalculable help to the forces of the Reformation. A version of the twenty-third psalm, by Musculus (Wackernagel, 269), is an exquisite pastoral. Many of the hymns were in the soft Low German, and several are extant in both dialects. Some had all the graces of the proper ballad, as for example No. 276, by Von Wortheim. Some contained the full history of our Lord's passion. A truly poetic hymn by Henry Müller was composed in jail. Some were quaint and ludicrous to a degree unknown among our selves; as No. 295, by Erasmus Alberus.
Turning aside for a little to the progress of Christian poetry in the other branch of the Reformation, we naturally expect less of German nationality and less of musical enthusiasm. Zwingle was the declared opponent of all instrumental music in the worship of God; yet he was himself a religious poet. Other eminent men in the Reformed Church contributed to the treasury of German song. It will suffice to name Symphorianus Meyer who was also an organist, Leo Judae, Zwick, the Blaurers, and Waldis. In Zwick's hymn-book, 1536, he * We subjoin a specimen from the first psalm in Niederdeutsch: "Wol dem, de neene gemeinschop hat Mit der Godtlosen Rade und dadt. Noch up den wech der Sünders tritt, Dar spotters sitten ock nicht sitt. Wo' dem, de thom Gesett des Herrn Hei: lust und de syn wordt hört gern, Der sulfit mit vlite und ernst betracht."
urges the importance of congregational singing. We postpone the French hymnology for another occasion. Quite an interesting chapter might be filled with notices of the hymns of the Martyrs, which had in that age a peculiar sacredness. Such were those of Hans Schlaffer, a converted priest, beheaded at Schwartz in 1527; of Jörg Wagner, burnt at Munich, the same year; of Hans Hut, who suffered at Augsburg in 1528; of Schneider, beheaded there in the same year, and of seven brothers imprisoned at Gmünd. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that of the Reformation hymns a large. portion can be referred with certainty to no particular authors. To trace the stream of metrical composition in the seventeenth century would be much more difficult. The work went on during its early years with an impetus derived from the preceding period. We must content ourselves with brief notices, especially as we here miss the skilful guidance of Wackernagel. PAUL FLEMING, who died in 1640, is the author of the favourite, In aller meinen Thaten, which he composed on the eve of an expedition to Persia. During the horrors of the thirty-years' war, JOHN HEERMANN was a prolific hymn-writer, and of his productions about forty have had continued favour. Two or three of these are in the very first rank. HERBERGER and RINKART might here be named. SIMON DACH, professor of poetry at Königsberg, where he died in 1659, was remarkable for the contemplative serenity and literary correctness of his hymns. RIST of Holstein wrote a large number. But in regard to these and others whom we do not find space to name, we must refer to collections like that of Knapp, in which, by a most laudable method, the authorship of every hymn is given, with the dates and biographies in a valuable appendix. Of this whole period, it may be observed that the gracious doctrines of the Reformation constitute the warp and woof of the texture; among great diversities of literary and poetic merit, this character is maintained. In rare instances, the points of angry contest between the Lutherans and the Reformed stand out offensively; but one might peruse hundreds of hymns without ever having these differences brought to his mind. It is time, however, to dismiss this first period; which we do the more willingly, because the next opens with so great and venerable a name.
PAUL GERHARDT stands clearly at the head of German hymnwriters; if indeed we may not ascribe to him an influence on religious sentiment more strong and extensive than is due to any uninspired psalmist. He was born in Saxony in 1696, and was brought up by pious parents in the good old ways of the Reformation. In 1651, we find him Probst at Mittenwalde, and in 1651, Diaconus at Berlin. The only great public event
which has much connection with his life, was the Brandenburg controversy between the Lutherans and the Reformed. The Great Elector, as well from education as from long residence in Holland, was devotedly attached to the Reformed Church. In the bitter conflicts which ensued, Gerhardt fell into the party of the warm Lutherans, but escaped most of the rancours of zealotry. We can scarcely enter, however, into those scrupulous judgments which led this good man to endure troubles, as he apprehended, little short of persecution. These inward trials led to some of his deepest experiences and most memorable writings. He fled to the patronage of Christian, Duke of Saxe-Merseburg, and was made Archidiaconus of Lübben, at which place he died in 1675. His last utterance was in words from one of his own hymns
"Death no more hath power to kill,
He but sets the spirit free
From the weight of earthly ill,
Though its name should legion be;
Shuts the gate of bitter wo,
Opens wide the heavenly way,
To the realms of endless day."
But it is as a Christian poet that we are concerned with Gerhardt. Of one hundred and twenty hymns, eighty-eight appeared from time to time in different ways, some having been first printed with his funeral sermon. The earliest complete edition appeared in folio at Berlin, in 1666, 1667. The best is unquestionably that of Wackernagel, at Stuttgart, 1843.
A separate treatise would be required to point out the traits of Gerhardt's sacred metres. If we might judge by the ef fects, nothing of Tyrtæus was ever more awakening. For facility, vivacious sparkle, a cheerfulness almost mirthful, a pathos that melts in sighs, the purest evangelical matter, and the flame of sanctified passion, all in the most nervous, heartreaching idiom of the market-place and the hearth, we have never seen any thing equal to Paul Gerhardt. Harris, the author of Hermes, once induced a friend to learn Spanish, solely that he might read Don Quixote in the original; we should think any man repaid for learning German, by reading Paul Gerhardt. The very excellencies of his verse forbid translation. The attempt to use English idioms as strong and familiar as his, results in coarseness and vulgarity; we cannot reproduce his felicitous jingle, nor the clink of his double endings.
The merit of Paul Gerhardt is akin to that of Luther, after whom and Hans Sachs he may be said to have formed himself, but with a facility, melody, and fancy, altogether unreached by those great men. He deserves a place among national bards;