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EnglaniTs yintiphvn.



P ■ '5^-

Antiphon

BY
GKORCiE.'MACDONAI.D, L.L.D.




J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.



u.



Macmii^IvAN ^ Co

Pubi/I^hi;r;S Vr



" Xiit np your hearts.''

" Mt lift tl^nit ujj unto tl^f ^orb."'



— c *



V'^..:



PREFACE.

In this book I have sought to trace the course of
our religious poetry from an early period of our
literary history.

This could hardly be done without reference to
some of the principal phases of the religious history
of the nation. To give anything like a full history
of the religious feeling of a single county, would
require a large book, and — not to mention sermons
— would involve a thorough acquaintance with the
hymns of the country, — a very wide subject, which
I have not considered of sufficient importance from a
literary point of view to come within the scope of the
volume.

But if its poetry be the cream of a people's thought,
some true indications of the history of its religious
feeling must be found in its religious verse, and I



PREFACE.



hope I have not altogether failed in setting forth
these indications.

My chief aim, however, will show itself to have
been the mediating towards an intelligent and cordial
sympathy betwixt my readers and the writers from
whom I have quoted. In this I have some confidence
of success.

Heartily do I throw this my small pebble at the
head of the great Sabbath-breaker Schism,



CONTENTS.



Txa*
INTRODUCTION I

CHAPTER I.

SACRED LYRICS OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY 5

CHAPTER II.

THE MIRACLE PLAYS, AND OTHER POEMS OF THE FOURTEENTH

CENTURY 21

CHAPTER III.

THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY 44

CHAPTER IV.

INTRODUCTION TO THE ELIZABETHAN ERA 55

CHAPTER V.

SPENSER AND HIS FRIENDS 62

CHAPTER VI.

LORD BACON AND HIS COEVALS 93

CHAPTER VII.

DR. DONNE 113

CHAPTER VIII.

BISHOP HALL AND GEORGE SANDYS I25

CHAPTER IX.

A FEW OF THE ELIZABETHAN DRAMATISTS I3I



viii CONTENTS.

CHAPTER X. PAGE

SIR JOHN BEAUMONT AND DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN . I42

CHAPTER XI.

THE BROTHERS FLETCHER I50

CHAPTER XII.

WITHER, HERRICK, AND QUARLES ...►...,,. I59

CHAPTER XIII.

GEORGE HERBERT I74

CHAPTER XIV.

JOHN MILTON I94

CHAPTER XV.

EDMUND WALLER, THOMAS BROWN, AND JEREMY TAYLOR. . 212

CHAPTER XVI.

HENRY MORE AND RICHARD BAXTER 223

CHAPTER XVIL

CRASHAW AND MARVELL ,....► 238

CHAPTER XVIII.

A MOUNT OF VISION — HENRY VAUGHAN 25 1

CHAPTER XIX.

THE PLAIN 280

CHAPTER XX.

THE ROOTS OF THE HILLS 292

CHAPTER XXI.

THE NEW VISION 3OI

CHAPTER XXII.

THE FERVOUR OF THE IMPLICIT. INSIGHT OF THE HEART . 3 12

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE QUESTIONING FERVOUR 326



ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



INTRODUCTION.

If the act of worship be the highest human condi-
tion, it follows that the highest human art must find
material in the modes of worship. The first poetry
of a nation will not be religious poetry : the nation
must have a history at least before it can possess any
material capable of being cast into the mould of
religious utterance ; but, the nation once possessed of
this material, poetry is the first form religious utter-
ance will assume.

The earliest form of literature is the ballad, which
is the germ of all subsequent forms of poetry, for it
has in itself all their elements : the lyric, for it was
first chanted to some stringed instrument ; the epic,
for it tells a tale, often of solemn and ancient report ;
the dramatic, for its actors are ever ready to start
forward into life, snatch the word from the mouth of
the narrator, and speak in their own persons. All
these forms have been used for the utterance of
religious thought and feeling. Of the lyrical poems
of England, religion possesses the most ; of the epic,
the best ; of the dramatic, the oldest.

S.L. IV. 1



ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



Of each of these I shall have occasion to speak ;
but, as the title of the book impHes, — for AntipJion
means the responsive song of the parted choir, — I
shall have chiefly to do with the lyric or song form.
, For song is the speech of feeling. Even the prose
/ of emotion always wanders into the rhythmical.
Hence, as well as for other reasons belonging to its
nature, it is one chief mode in which men unite to
praise God ; for in thus praising they hold communion
with each other, and the praise expands and grows.

The individual heart, however, must first have
been uplifted into praiseful song, before the common
ground and form of feeling, in virtue of which men
might thus meet, could be supplied. But the vocal
utterance or the bodily presence is not at all neces-
sary for this communion. When we read rejoicingly
the true song-speech of one of our singing brethren,
we hold song-worship with him and with all who have
thus at any time shared in his feelings, even if he
have passed centuries ago into the " high countries "
of song.

My object is to erect, as it were, in this book, a
little auricle, or spot of concentrated hearing, where
the hearts of my readers may listen, and join in the
song of their country's singing men and singing
women.

I will build it, if I may, like a chapel in the great
church of England's worship, gathering the sounds
of its never-ceasing choir, heart after heart lifting up
itself in the music of speech, heart after heart respond-
i'lcr across the ages. Hearing, we worship with them.



INTRODUCTION.



For we must not forget that, although the individual
song springs from the heart of the individual, the
song of a country is not merely cumulative : it is vital
in its growth, and therefore composed of historically
dependent members. No man could sing as he has
sung, had not others sung before him. Deep answereth
unto deep, face to face, praise to praise. To the sound
of the trumpet the harp returns its own vibrating
response — alike, but how different ! The religious
song of the country, I say again, is a growth, rooted
deep in all its story.

Besides the fact that the lyric chiefly will rouse
the devotional feeling, there is another reason why
I should principally use it : I wish to make my book
valuable in its parts as in itself. The value of a
thing depends in large measure upon its unity, its
wholeness. In a work of these limits, that form of
verse alone can be available for its unity which is
like the song of the bird — a warble and then a still-
ness. However valuable an extract may be — and I
shall not quite eschew such — an entire lyric, I had
almost said however inferior, if worthy of a place at all,
is of greater value, especially if regarded in relation to
the form of setting with which I hope to surround it.

There is a sense in which I may, without presump-
tion, adopt the name of Choragus, or leader of the
chorus, in relation to these singers : I must take upon
me to order who shall sing, when he shall sing, and
which of his songs he shall sing. But I would rather
assume the office of master of the hearing, for my
aim shall be to cause the song to be truly heard ; to

B 2



ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



set forth worthy points in form, in matter, and in
relation ; to say with regard to the singer himself,
his time, its modes, its beliefs, such things as may
help to set the song in its true light — its relation,
namely, to the source whence it sprung, which alone
can secure its right reception by the heart of the
hearer. For my chief aim will be the heart ; seeing
that, although there is no dividing of the one from
the other, the heart can do far more for the intellect
than the intellect can do for the heart.

We must not now attempt to hear the singers of
times so old that their language is unintelligible with-
out labour. For this there is not room, even if other-
wise it were desirable that such should divide the
volume. We must leave Anglo-Saxon behind us.
In Early English, I shall give a few valuable lyrics,
but they shall not be so far removed from our present
speech but that, with a reasonable amount of assist-
ance, the nature and degree of which I shall set forth,
they shall not only present themselves to the reader's
understanding, but commend themselves to his ima-
gination and judgment.



CHAPTER I.

SACRED LYRICS OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.

In the midst of wars and rumours of wars, the
strife of king and barons, and persistent efforts to
subdue neighbouring countries, the mere effervescence
of the Hfe of the nation, let us think for a moment of
that to which the poems I am about to present bear
good witness — the true Hfe of the people, growing
quietly, slowly, unperceived — the leaven hid in the
meal. For what is the true life of a nation ? That,
I answer, in its modes of thought, its manners and
habits, which favours the growth within the individual
of that kingdom of heaven for the sake only of which
the kingdoms of earth exist. The true hfe of the
people, as distinguished from the nation, is simply
the growth in its individuals of those eternal prin-
ciples of truth, in proportion to whose power in
them they take rank in the kingdom of heaven, the
only kingdom that can endure, all others being but
as the mimicries of children playing at government.

Little as they then knew of the relations of the
wonderful story on which their faith was built, to
everything human, the same truth was at work then



ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



which is now — poor as the recognition of these rela-
tions yet is — slowly setting men free. In the hardest
winter the roots are still alive in the frozen ground.

In the silence of the monastery, unnatural as that

life was, germinated much of this deeper life. As we

must not judge of the life of the nation by its kings

and mighty men, so we must not judge of the life in

the Church by those who are called Rabbi. The

very notion of the kingdom of heaven implies a secret

growth, secret from no affectation of mystery, but

because its goings-on are in the depths of the human

nature where it holds communion with the Divine.

In the Church, as in society, we often find that that

which shows itself uppermost is but the froth, a sign, it

may be, of life beneath, but in itself worthless. When

the man arises with a servant's heart and a ruler's

brain, then is the summer of the Church's content.

But whether the men who wrote the following songs

moved in some shining orbit of rank, or only knelt

in some dim chapel, and walked in some pale cloister,

we cannot tell, for they have left no name behind them.

My reader will observe that there is little of theory

and much of love in these lyrics. The recognition

of a living Master is far more than any notions about

him. In the worship of him a thousand truths are

working, unknown and yet active, which, embodied

in theory, and dissociated from the living mind that

was in Christ, will as certainly breed worms as any

omer of hoarded manna. Holding the skirt of his

garment in one hand, we shall in the other hold the

^ey to ajl the treasures ^i wisdom and knowledge.



MODE OF PRESENTMENT.



I think almost all the earliest religious poetry is
about him and his mother. Their longing after his
humanity made them idolize his mother. If we
forget that only through his humanity can we ap-
proach his divinity, we shall soon forget likewise that
his mother is blessed among women.

I take the poems from one of the Percy Society
publications, edited by Mr. Wright from a manuscript
in the British Museum. He adjudges them to the
reign of Edward I. Perhaps we may find in them
a sign or two that in cultivating our intellect we
have in some measure neglected our heart.

But first as to the mode in which I present them to
my readers : I have followed these rules : —

1. Wherever a word differs from the modern word
only in spelling, I have, for the sake of readier com-
prehension, substituted the modern form, with the
following exception : — Where the spelling indicates a
different pronunciation, necessary for the rhyme or
the measure, I retain such part of the older form,
marking with an acute accent any vowel now silent
which must be sounded.

2. Where the word used is antique in root, I give
the modern synonym in the margin. Antique phrases
I explain in foot-notes.

It must be borne in mind that our modern pronun-
ciation can hardly fail in other cases as well to injure
the melody of the verses.

The modern reader will often find it difficult to get a
rhythm out of some of them. This may arise from any
of several causes. In the first place many final ^'s were



ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



then sounded which are now silent ; and it is not easy
to tell which of them to sound. Again, some words
were pronounced as dissyllables which we treat as
monosyllables, and others as monosyllables which we
treat as dissyllables. I suspect besides, that some of
the old writers were content to allow a prolonged
syllable to stand for two short ones, a mode not
without great beauty when sparingly and judiciously
employed. Short supernumerary syllables were like-
wise allowed considerable freedom to come and go.
A good deal must, however, be put down to the
carelessness and presumption of the transcribers, who
may very well have been incapable of detecting their
own blunders. One of these ancient mechanics of
literature caused Chaucer endless annoyance with his
corruptions, as a humorous little poem, the last in his
works, sufficiently indicates. From the same sources
no doubt spring as well most of the variations of text
in the manuscripts.

The first of the poems is chiefly a conversation
between the Lord on the cross and his mother
standing at its foot. A few prefatory remarks in
explanation of some of its allusions will help my
readers to enjoy it.

It was at one time a common belief, and the
notion has not yet, I think, altogether vanished, that
the dying are held back from repose by the love that
is unwilling to yield them up. Hence, in the third
stanza, the Lord prays his mother to let him die.

In the fifth, he reasons against her overwhelming
sorrows on the ground of the deliverance his sufifer-



MARY AT THE CROSS.



ings will bring to the human race. But she can only-
feel her own misery.

To understand the seventh and eighth, it is neces-
sary to know that, among other strange things ac-
cepted by the early Church, it was believed that the
mother of Jesus had no suffering at his birth. This
of course rendered her incapable of perfect sympathy
with other mothers. It is a lovely invention, then,
that he should thus commend mothers to his mother,
telling her to judge of the pains of motherhood by
those which she now endured. Still he fails to turn
aside her thoughts. She is thinking still only of her
own and her son's suffering, while he continues bent
on making her think of others, until, at last, forth
comes her prayer for all women. This seems to me
a tenderness grand as exquisite.

The outburst of the chorus of the Faithful in the
last stanza but one, —

When he rose, then fell her sorrow,

is as fine as anything I know in the region of the
lyric.

" Stand well, mother, under rood ; i the cross.

Behold thy son with glade mood ; checeful.

Blithe mother mayst thou be. "
" Son, how should I blithe stand ?
I see thy feet, I see thy hand

Nailed to the hard tree."

^ The rhymes of the first and second and of the fourth and fifth
lines throughout the stanzas, are all, I think, what the French call
feminine rhymes, as in the words " sleeping," "weeping." This I think
it better not to attempt retaining, because the final unaccented syllable
is generally one of those ^'s which, having first become mute, have
since been dropped from our spelling altogether.



lO



ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



" Mother, do way thy wepynde :
I thole death for mankind —

For my guilt thole I none."
" Son, I feel the dede stounde ;

The sword is at my heait's ground

That me byhet Simeon."
" Mother, mercy ! let me die,
For Adam out of hell buy,

And his kin that is forlore."
" Son, what shall me to rede ? ^
My pain paineth me to dede :

Let me die thee before !"

" Mother, thou rue all of thy bairn ;
Thou wash away the bloody tern ;

It doth me worse than my ded."
" Son, how may I teres werne ?
I see the bloody streames erne

From thy heart to my fet."

" Mother, now I may thee seye,
Better is that I one deye

Than all mankind to helle go."
" Son, I see thy body byswongen,
Feet and hands throughout stongen :

No wonder though me be woe."

" Mother, now I shall thee tell,
If I not die, thou goest to hell :

I thole death for thy sake."
" Son. thou art so meek and mynde,
Ne wyt me not, it is my kind 2

That I for thee this sorrow make."

" Mother, now thou mayst well leren
What sorrow have that children beren,
What sorrow it is with childe gon."



give over thy iveeping»
suffer.

death-pang.

bottom,
foreshowed,

for to buy Adam,
lost.

death.



rue thou : all is only exple-

■wash thou : tears. [tive.

hurts me more : death.

turjt aside tears,
flow,
feet.

say to thee,
die.

lashed.

pierced through and

woe be to me. [through.



endure,
thoughtful.



learn.

they have: bear.

logo.



1 For the grammatical interpretation of this line, I am indebted to
Mr. Richard Morris. Shall is here used, as it often is, in the sense of
must, and rede is a noun ; the paraphrase of the whole being, " Son^
what must be to me for counsel ? " " What counsel must I follow ? "

* " Do not blame me, it is my nature."



MARY AT THE CROSS.



II



" Sorrow, I wis ! I can thee tell !
But it be the pain of hell
More sorrow wot I none."

" Mother, rue of mother-care,
For now thou wost of mother-fare.

Though thou be clean maiden mon."^
" Sone, help at alle need
Alle those that to me grede.

Maiden, wife, and full wymmon."

" Mother, may I no longer dwell ;
The time is come I shall to hell j

The third day I rise upon."
" Son, I will with thee founden ;
I die, I wis, for thy wounden :

So sorrowful death nes never none."

When he rose, then fell her sorrow ;
Her bliss sprung the third morrow :

Blithe mother wert thou tho !
Lady, for that ilke bliss.
Beseech thy son of sunnes lisse :

Thou be our shield against our foe.

Blessed be thou, full of bliss !
Let us never heaven miss.

Through thy sweete Sones might !
Loverd, for that ilke blood.
That thou sheddest on the rood.

Thou bring us into heaven's light. Amen.



except



take pity upon,
knowest.



cry.

woman with child.



set out, go.



was not never none.



then,
same,
for sin's release.
Be thou.



Lord.



I think my readers will not be sorry to have another
of a similar character.

I sigh when I sing

For sorrow that I see,
When I with weeping

Behold upon the tree,



1 Mon is used for man or woman : human being.
Lancashire still : they say mon to a woman.



It is so used in



12 ENGLAND 'S ANTIPHON.



And see Jesus the sweet

His heart's blood for-lete yield quite.

For the love of me.
His woundes waxen wete, wet.

They weepen still and mete '?■

Mary rueth thee. pitieth.

High upon a down, hill.

Where all folk it see may,
A mile from each town.

About the mid-day,
The rood is up areared ;
His friendes are afeared.

And clingeth so the clay ; ^
The rood stands in stone,
Mary stands her on,

And saith Welaway !

When I thee behold

With eyen brighte bo, eyes bright both.

And thy body cold —

Thy ble waxeth bio, colour: livid.

Thou hangest all of blood bloody.

So high upon the rood

Between thieves tuo — two.

Who may sigh more ?
Mary weepeth sore.

And sees all this woe.

The nails be too strong,

The smiths are too sly ; skilful.

Thou bleedest all too long ;

The tree is all too high ;
The stones be all wete ! wet.

Alas, Jesu, the sweet !

For now friend hast thou none,



1 "They weep quietly and becomingly." I think there must be in
this word something of the sense oi gently, unconiplainitigly.

a "And are shrunken {clung \^\\h fear) like the clay." So here is
the same as as. For this interpretation I am indebted to Mr. Morris.



TflE MOURNING DISCIPLE.



'3



But Saint John to-moum)mde,
And Maty wepynde,
For pain that thee is on.

Oft when I sike

And makie my moan,
Well ill though me like,

Wonder is it none,i
When I see hang high
And bitter pains dreye,

Jesu, my lemmon !
His woundes sore smart,
The spear all to his heart

And through his side is gone.

Oft when I syke,

With care I am through-sought ;
When I wake I wyke ;

Of sorrow is all my thought.
Alas ! men be wood
That swear by the rood

And sell him for nought
That bought us out of sin.
He bring us to wynne.

That hath us dear bought !



mourn ing greatly,
weeping.



sigh.



dree^ endure,
love.



searched through,
languish.

mad.

swear by the cross.



may he : bliss.



I add two stanzas of another of like sort.



Man that is in glory and bliss.

And lieth in shame and sin.
He is more than unwis

That thereof will not blynne.
All this world it goeth away.
Me thinketh it nigheth Doomsday ;

Now man goes to ground :
Jesus Christ that tholed ded
He may our souls to heaven led

Within a little stound.



unw^e.
cease.



perishes,
endured death,
lead,
moment.



1 " It is no wonder though it pleases me very ilL'
2



14 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



Jesus, that was mild and free,




Was with spear y-stongen ;


stung ox pierced.


He was nailed to the tree,




With scourges y-swongen.


lashed.


All for man he tholed shame,


endured.


Withouten guilt, withouten blame,




Bothe day and other. ^




Man, full muchel he loved thee.


much.


When he wolde make thee free,




And become thy brother.





The simplicity, the tenderness, the devotion of
these lyrics is to me wonderful. Observe their realism,
as, for instance, in the words : " The stones beoth al
wete;" a realism as far removed from the coarseness
of a Rubens as from the irreverence of too many
religious teachers, who will repeat and repeat again
the most sacred words for the merest logical ends
until the tympanum of the moral ear hears without
hearing the sounds that ought to be felt as well as
held holiest. They bear strongly, too, upon the out-
come of feeling in action, although doubtless there
was the same tendency then as there is now to regard
the observance of church-ordinances as the service of
Christ, instead of as a means of gathering strength
wherewith to serve him by being in the world as he
was in the world.

From a poem of forty-eight stanzas I choose five,
partly in order to manifest that, although there is
in it an occasional appearance of what we should

1 I think the poet, wisely anxious to keep his last line just what
it is, was perplexed for a rhyme, and fell on the odd device of saying,
for "both day and night," " both day and the other."



LOVE AND OBEDIENCE.



consider sentimentality, allied in nature to that wor-
ship of the Virgin which is more a sort of French
gallantry than a feeling of reverence, the sense of
duty to the Master keeps pace with the profession of
devotedness to him. There is so little continuity
of thought in it, that the stanzas might almost be
arranged anyhow.



Jesu, thy love be all my thought ;
Of other thing ne reck I nought ;
I yearn to have thy will y- wrought,
For thou me hast well dear y-bought.



reckon.



Jesu, well may mine hearte see
That mild and meek he must be,
All unthews and lustes flee,
That feelen will the bliss of thee.



bad habits.



For sinful folk, sweet Jesus,
Thou lightest from the high house ;
Poor and low thou wert for us.
Thine heart's love thou sendest us.

Jesu, therefore beseech I thee
Thy sweet love thou grant me ;
That I thereto worthy be,
Make me worthy that art so free.



thou that art.



Jesu, thine help at my ending !
And in that dreadful out-wending,
Send my soul good weryyng,
That I ne dread none evil thing.



going forth of the spirit,
guard.



I shall next present a short lyric, displaying more
of art than this last, giving it now in the old form,
and afterwards in a new one, that my reader may



l6 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

see both how it looks in its original dress, and what
it means.

Wjmter wakeneth al my care,

Nou this leves waxeth bare,

Ofte y sike ant moume sare, sigh : sore.

When hit cometh in my thoht

Of this worldes joie, how hit goth al
to noht

Now hit is, ant now hit nys, i^ is not.

Also hit ner nere y-wys,i

That moni mon seith soth hit ys,*

Al goth bote Codes wille,

Alle we shule deye, thah us like ylle. though it pleases us ill.

Al that gren me graueth grene,^

Nou hit faleweth al by-dene; grows yellow: speedily.

Jhesu, help that hit be sene, seen.


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