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around us. For him everything is the expression of,
and points back to, some fact in the Divine Thought.
Along the line of every ray he looks towards its
radiating centre — the heart of the Maker.

I could give many instances of Vaughan's power
in reading the heart of Nature, but I may not dwell
upon this phase. Almost all the poems I give and
have given will afford such.



A NAMELESS POEM, 263



I walked the other day, to spend my hour,

Into a field,
"Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield

A gallant flower ;
But winter now had ruffled all the bower

And curious store
I knew there heretofore.

Yet I whose search loved not to peep and peer

I' th' face of things,
Thought with myself, there might be other springs

Besides this here.
Which, like cold friends, sees us but once a year j

And so the flower
Might have some other bower.

Then taking up what I could nearest spy,

I digged about
That place where I had seen him to grow out ;

And by and by
I saw the warm recluse alone to lie,

Where fresh and green
He lived of us unseen.

Many a question intricate and rare

Did I there strow ;
But all I could extort was, that he now

Did there repair
Such losses as befell him in this air,

And would ere long
Come forth most fair and young.

This past, T threw the clothes quite o'er his head j

And, stung with fear
Of my own frailty, dropped down many a tear

Upon his bed ;
Then sighing, whispered, Happy arc the dead!

What peace doth now
Rock him asleep below !



264 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON,

And yet, how few believe such doctrine springs

From a poor root
Which all the winter sleeps here under foot,

And hath no \vings
To raise it to the truth and light of things,

But is still trod
By every wandering clod I

O thou, whose spirit did at first inflame

And warm the dead !
And by a sacred incubation fed

With life this frame.
Which once had neither being, form, nor name !

Grant I may so
Thy steps track here below,

That in these masks and shadows I may see

Thy sacred way ;
And by those hid ascents climb to that day

Which breaks from thee,
Who art in all things, though invisibly :

Show me thy peace,
Thy mercy, love, and ease.

And from this care, where dreams and sorrows reign,

Lead me above,
Where light, joy, leisure, and true comforts move

Without all pain :
There, hid in thee, show me his life again

At whose dumb urn
Thus all the year I mourn.

There are several amongst his poems lamenting,
like this, the death of some dear friend — perhaps his
twin-brother, whom he outlived thirty years.

According to what a man is capable of seeing in
nature, he becomes either a man of appliance, a man
of science, a mystic, or a poet.

I must now give two that are simple in thought, con-



CHRIST'S NATIVITY. 265

struction, and music. The latter ought to be popular,
from the nature of its rhythmic movement, and the
holy merriment it carries. But in the former, note how
the major key of gladness changes in the third stanza
to the minor key of aspiration, which has always
some sadness in it ; a sadness which deepens to grief
in the next stanza at the consciousness of unfitness
for Christ's company, but is lifted by hope almost
again to gladness in the last.

CHRIST'S NATIVITY.

Awake, glad heart ! Get up, and sing !
It is the birthday of thy king !

Awake ! awake !

The sun doth shake
Light from his locks, and, all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.

Awake ! awake ! Hark how the wood rings
Winds whisper, and the busy springs

A concert make :

Awake ! awake !
Man is their high-priest, and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.

I would I were some bird or star,
Fluttering in woods, or lifted far

Above this inn

And road of sin !
Then either star or bird should be
Shining or singing still to thee.

I would I had in my best part

Fit rooms for thee ! or that my heart

Were so clean as

Thy manger was !
But I am all filth, and obscene ;
Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.
23



266 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

Sweet Jesu ! will then. Let no more
This leper haunt and soil thy door.

Cure him, ease him j

O release him !
And let once more, by mystic birth,
The Lord of life be bom in earth.

The fitting companion to this is his



EASTER HYMN.

Death and darkness, get you packing :
Nothing now to man is lacking.
All your triumphs now are ended,
And what Adam marred is mended.
Graves are beds now for the weary ;
Death a nap, to wake more merry ; ^

Youth now, full of pious duty,
vSeeks in thee for perfect beauty ;
The weak and aged, tired with length
Of days, from thee look for new strength j
And infants with thy pangs contest,
As pleasant as if with the breast.

Then unto him who thus hath thrown
Even to contempt thy kingdom down,
And by his blood did us advance
Unto his own inheritance —
To him be glory, power, praise,
From this unto the last of days !



We must now descend from this height of true
utterance into the Valley of Humiliation, and cannot
do better than console ourselves by listening to the
boy in mean clothes, of the fresh and well-favoured
countenance, whom Christiana and her fellow-pilgrims
hear singing in that valley.



J(yHN BUNYAN, 267



He that is down, needs fear no fall ;

He that is low, no pride ;
He that is humble ever shall

Have God to be his guide.

I am content virith what I have,

Little be it or much ;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave.

Because thou savest^ such.

Fulness to such a burden is

That go on pilgrimage ;
Here little, and hereafter bliss,

Is best from age to age.

I could not have my book without one word in it
of John Bunyan, the tinker, probably the gipsy, who
although born only and not made a poet, like his
great brother, John Milton, has uttered in prose a
wealth of poetic thought. He was born in 1628,
twenty years after Milton. I must not, however,
remark on this noble Bohemian of literature and
prophecy; but leaving at length these flowery hills
and meadows behind me, step on my way across the
desert. — England had now fallen under the influence
of France instead of Italy, and that influence has
never been for good to our literature, at least. Thence
its chief aim grew to be a desirable trimness of speech
and logical arrangement of matter — good external
qualities purchased at a fearful price with the loss
of all that makes poetry precious. The poets of
England, with John Dryden at their head, ceased
almost for a time to deal with the truths of humanity,
and gave themselves to the facts and relations of

^ Savottrest?



268 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

society. The nation which could recall the family of
the Stuarts must necessarily fall into such a decay of
spiritual life as should render its literature only
respectable at the best, and its religious utterances
essentially vulgar. But the decay is gradual.

Bishop Ken, born in 1637, is known chiefly by
his hymns for the morning and evening, deservedly
popular. He has, however, written a great many
besides — too many, indeed, for variety or excellence.
He seems to have set himself to write them as acts
of worship. They present many signs of a perversion
of taste which, though not in them so remarkable,
rose to a height before long. He annoys us besides
by the constant recurrence of certain phrases, one
or two of which are not admirable, and by using, in
the midst of a simple style, odd Latin words. Here
are portions of, I think, one of his best, and good it is.

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS.



Lord, 'tis thyself who hast impressed
In native light on human breast.
That their Creator all
Mankind should Father call :
A father's love all mortals know,
And the love filial which they owe.

Our Father gives us heavenly light,
And to be happy, ghostly sight ;

He blesses, guides, sustains ;

He eases us in pains ;
Abatements for our weakness makes,
And never a true child forsakes.



BISHOP THOMAS KEN. 269

He waits till the hard heart relents ;
Our self-damnation he laments ;
He sweetly them invites
To share in heaven's delights ;
His arms he opens to receive
All who for past transgressions grieve.

My Father ! O that name is sweet
To sinners mourning in retreat.

God's heart paternal yearns

When he a change discerns ;
He to his favour them restores ;
He heals their most inveterate sores.
*****
Religious honour, humble awe ;
Obedience to our Father's law ;

A lively grateful sense

Of tenderness immense ;
Full trust on God's paternal cares ;
Submission which chastisement bears ;

Grief, when his goodness we offend ;
Zeal, to his likeness to ascend ;

Will, from the world refined,

To his sole will resigned :
These graces in God's children shine.
Reflections of the love divine.

*****
God's Son co-equal taught us all
In prayer his Father ours to call : '

With confidence in need,

We to our Father speed :
Of his own Son the language dear
Intenerates the Father's ear. malus tender.

Thou Father art, though to my shame,
I often forfeit that dear name ;

But since for sin I grieve,

Me father-like receive ;
O melt me into filial tears,
To pay of love my vast arrears.



23



270 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

O Spirit of Adoption ! spread

Thy wings enamouring o'er my head ;

Fihal love immense !
Raise me to love intense ;

O Father, source of love divine,

My powrers to love and hymn incline !

While God my Father I revere,
Nor all hell povv^ers, nor death I fear;

1 am my Father's care ;
His succours present are.

All comes from my loved Father's will,
And that sweet name intends no ill.

God's Son his soul, when life he closed,
In his dear Father's hands reposed:

I'll, when my last I breathe.

My soul to God bequeath ;
And panting for the joys on high,
Invoking Love Paternal, die.

Born in 1657, one of the later English Platonists,
John Norris, who, with how many incumbents between
I do not know, succeeded George Herbert in the cure
of Bemerton, has left a few poems, which would have
been better if he had not been possessed with the
common admiration for the rough-shod rhythms of
Abraham Cowley.

Here is one in which the peculiarities of his theories
show themselves very prominently. There is a con-
stant tendency in such to wander into the region half-
spiritual, half-material.

THE ASPIRATION.

Hp^y long, great God, how long must I
In^mjured in this dark prison lie ;
My 5oul must watch to have intelligence ;
Where at the grates and avenues of sense



JOHN N ORRIS. i.'jx



Where but faint gleams of thee salute my sight,
Like doubtful moonshine in a cloudy night ?
When shall I leave this magic sphere,
And be all mind, all eye, all ear ?

How cold this clime ! And yet my sense
Perceives even here thy influence.
Even here thy strong magnetic charms I feel.
And pant and tremble like the amorous steel.
To lower good, and beauties less divine.
Sometimes my erroneous needle does decline,
But yet, so strong the sympathy,
It turns, and points again to thee.

I long to see this excellence

Which at such distance strikes my sense.
My impatient soul struggles to disengage
Her wings from the confinement of her cage.
Wouldst thou, great Love, this prisoner once set free,
How would she hasten to be linked to thee !

She'd for no angels' conduct stay,

But fly, and love on all the way.



THE RETURN.

Dear Contemplation I my divinest joy !
When I thy sacred mount ascend.
What heavenly sweets my soul employ !

Why can't I there my days for ever spend ?

When I have conquered thy steep heights with pain,

What pity 'tis that I must down again !

And yet I must : my passions would rebel
Should I too long continue here :
No, here I must not think to dwell.

But mind the duties of my proper sphere.

So angels, though they heaven's glories know,

Forget not to attend their charge below.



The old hermits thought to overcome their im-
pulses by retiring from the world ; our Platonist has



272 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

discovered for himself that the world of duty is the
only sphere in which they can be combated. Never
perhaps is a saint more in danger of giving way to
impulse, let it be anger or what it may, than in the
moment when he has just descended from this mount
of contemplation.

We find ourselves now in the zone of A^w«-writing.
From this period, that is, from towards the close of
the seventeenth century, a large amount of the fer-
vour of the countr)^ finds vent in hymns : they are
innumerable. With them the scope of my book
would not permit me to deal, even had I inclina-
tion thithersvard, and knowledge enough to undertake
their history. But I am not therefore precluded from
presenting any hymn whose literary excellence makes
it worthy.

It is with especial pleasure that I refer to a little
book which was once a household treasure in a
multitude of families,^ the Spiritual Songs of John
Mason, a clergyman in the county of Buckingham.
The date of his birth does not appear to be known,
but the first edition of these songs ^ was published in
1683. Dr. Watts was very fond of them : would that
he had written with similar modesty of style ! A few

1 The first I ever saw of its hymns was on a broad-sheet of Christmas
Carols, with coloured pictures, printed in Seven Dials.

2 They passed through twenty editions, not to mention one lately
published {by Daniel Sedgwick, of 81, Sun-street, Bishopsgate, a man
who, concerning hymns and their writers, kttows more than any other
man I have met), from which, carefully edited, I have gathered all
my information^ although I had known the book itself for many
years.



JOHN MASON: SONG OF PRAISE. 273

of them are still popular in congregational singing.
Here is the first in the book :



A GENERAL SONG OF PRAISE TO ALMIGHTY GOD.

^low shall I sing that Majesty
Which angels do admire ?
Let dust in dust and silence lie ;
Sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around

Thy throne, O God most high ;
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound
Thy praise ; but who am I ?

Thy brightness unto them appears,

Whilst I thy footsteps trace ;
A sound of God comes to my ears ;

But they behold thy face.
They sing because thou art their sun :

Lord, send a beam on me ;
For where heaven is but once begun.

There hallelujahs be.

Enlighten with faith's light my heart ;

Enflame it with love's fire ;
Then shall I sing and bear a part

With that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,

With all my fire and light ;
Yet when thou dost accept their gold.

Lord, treasure up my mite.

How great a being, Lord, is thine.

Which doth all beings keep !
Thy knowledge is the only line

To sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,

A sun without a sphere ;
Thy time is now and evermore,

Thy place is everywhere.
s. L. IV. T



274 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

How good art thou, whose goodness is

Our parent, nurse, and guide !
Whose streams do water Paradise,

And all the earth beside !
Thine upper and thy nether springs

Make both thy worlds to thrive ;
Under thy warm and sheltering wings

Thou keep'st two broods alive. •

Thy arm of might, most mighty king

Both rocks and hearts doth break :
My God, thou canst do everything

But what should show thee weak.
Thou canst not cross thyself, or be

Less than thyself, or poor ;
But whatsoever pleaseth thee.

That canst thou do, and more.

Who would not fear thy searching eye^

Witness to all that's true !
Dark Hell, and deep Hypocrisy

Lie plain before its view.
Motions and thoughts before they grow,

Thy knowledge doth espy ;
What unborn ages are to do.

Is done before thine eye.

Thy wisdom which both makes and mends,

We ever much admire :
Creation all our wit transcends ;

Redemption rises higher.
Thy wisdom guides strayed sinners home,

'Twill make the dead world rise,
And bring those prisoners to their doom :

Its paths are mysteries.

Great is thy truth, and shall prevail

To unbelievers' shame :
Thy truth and years do never fail ;

Thou ever art the same.
Unbelief is a raging wave

Dashing against a rock :
If God doth not his Israel save,

Then let Egyptians mock.



CRY FOR COMMUNION WITH GOD, 275

Most pure and holy are thine eyes,

Most holy is thy name ;
Thy saints, and laws, and penalties,

Thy holiness proclaim.
This is the devil's scourge and sting.

This is the angels' song,
"Who holy^ holy, holy sing.

In heavenly Canaan's tongue.

Mercy, that shining attribute,

The sinner's hope and plea !
Huge hosts of sins in their pursuit,

Are drowned in thy Red Sea.
Mercy is God's memorial,

And in all ages praised :
My God, thine only Son did fall.

That Mercy might be raised.

Thy bright back-parts, O God of grace,

I humbly here adore :
Show me thy glory and thy face,

That I may praise thee more.
Since none can see thy face and live.

For me to die is best :
Through Jordan's streams who would not dive,

To land at Canaan's rest?

To these Songs of Praise is appended another series
called Penite7itial Cries, by the Rev. Thomas Shep-
herd, who, for a short time a clergyman in Bucking-
hamshire, became the minister of the Congregational
church at Northampton, afterwards under the care of
Doddridge. Although he was an imitator of Mason,
some of his hymns are admirable. The following I
think one of the best : —

FOR COMMUNION WITH GOD.

Alas, my God, that we should be

Such strangers to each other !
O that as friends we might agree,

And walk and talk together I
T 2



276 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

Thou know'st my soul does dearly love

The place of thine abode ;
No music drops so sweet a sound

As these two words, My God.

* * * *

May I taste that communion, Lord,

Thy people have with thee ?
Thy spirit daily talks with them,

O let it talk with me !
Like Enoch, let me walk with God,

And thus walk out my day,
Attended with the heavenly guards,

Upon the king's highway.

When wilt thou come unto me, Lord ?

O come, my Lord most dear !
Come near, come nearer, nearer still :

I'm well when thou art near.

* * * *

When wilt thou come unto me. Lord?

For, till thou dost appear,
I count each moment for a day,

Each minute for a year.

* * » *

There's no such thing as pleasure here ;

My Jesus is my all :
As thou dost shine or disappear.

My pleasures rise and fall.
Come, spread thy savour on my frame —

No sweetness is so sweet ;
Till I get up to sing thy name

Where all thy singers meet.

In the writings of both we recognize a straight-
forwardness of expression equal to that of Wither,
and a quaint simplicity of thought and form like that
of Herrick ; while the very charm of some of the best
lines is their spontaneity. The men have just enough
mysticism to afford them homeliest figures for deepest
feelings.



JOSEPH ADDISON'. 277

I turn to the accomplished Joseph Addison.

He was born in 1672. His religious poems are
so well known, and are for the greater part so
ordinary in everything but their simplicity of com-
position, that I should hardly have cared to choose
one, had it not been that we owe him much gratitude
for what he did, in the reigns of Anne and George I.,
to purify the moral taste of the English people at a
time when the influence of the clergy was not for
elevation, and to teach the love of a higher literature
when Milton was little known and less esteemed.
Especially are we indebted to him for his modest
and admirable criticism of the Paradise Lost in the
Spectator.

Of those few poems to which I have referred, I
choose the best known, because it is the best. It has
to me a charm for which I can hardly account.

Yet I imagine I see in it a sign of the poetic
times : a flatness of spirit, arising from the evanish-
ment of the mystical element, begins to result in a
worship of power. Neither power nor wisdom, though
infinite both, could constitute a God worthy of the
worship of a human soul ; and the worship of such a
God must sink to the level of that fancied divinity.
Small wonder is it then that the lyric should now
droop its wings and moult the feathers of its praise.
I do not say that God's more glorious attributes are
already forgotten, but that the tendency of the
Christian lyric is now to laudation of power — and
knowledge, a form of the same — as the essential of
Godhead. This indicates no recalling of metaphysical

24



278 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

questions, such as we have met in foregoing verse,
but a decline towards system ; a rising passion — if
anything so cold may be called a passion — for the
reduction of all things to the forms of the understand-
ing, a declension which has prepared the way for the
present worship of science, and its refusal, if not denial,
of all that cannot be proved in forms of the intellect.

The hymn which has led to these remarks is still
good, although, like the loveliness of the red and
lowering west, it gives sign of a gray and cheerless
dawn, under whose dreariness the child will first doubt
if his father loves him, and next doubt if he has a
father at all, and is not a mere foundling that Nature
has lifted from her path.

\

The spacious firmament on high,
"With all the blue etherial sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
Does his Creator's power display ;
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail.
The moon takes up the wondrous tale ;
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth ;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though in solemn silence all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball ?
What though no real voice nor sound
Amidst their radiant orbs be found ?



RE VELA TION IN NA TURE. 279

In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing as they shine :
"The hand that made us is divine."

The very use of the words spangled and fraine
seems — to my fancy only, it may be — to indicate a
tendency towards the unworthy and theatrical. Yet
the second stanza is lovely beyond a doubt ; and the
whole is most artistic, although after a tame fashion.
Whether indeed the heavenly bodies teach what he
says, or whether we should read divinity worthy of
the name in them at all, without the human revela-
tion which healed men, I doubt much. That divinity
is there — Yes; that we could read it there without
having seen the face of the Son of Man first, I think
— No. I do not therefore dare imagine that no revela-
tion dimly leading towards such result glimmered in
the hearts of God's chosen amongst Jews and Gentiles
before he came. What I say is, that power and
order, although of God, and preparing the way for
him, are not his revealers unto men. No doubt King
David compares the perfection of God's law to the
glory of the heavens, but he did not learn that per-
fection from the heavens, but from the law itself,
revealed in his own heart through the life-teaching of
God. When he had learned it he saw that the
heavens were like it.

To unveil God, only manhood like our own will serve.
And he has taken the form of man that he might
reveal the manhood in him from awful eternity.



CHAPTER XIX.



THE PLAIN.



But Addison's tameness is wonderfully lovely be-
side the fervours of a man of honoured name, —
Dr. Isaac Watts, born in 1674. The result must
be dreadful where fervour will poetize without the
aidful restraints of art and modesty. If any man
would look upon absurdity in the garb of sobriety,
let him search Dryden's A?mtis Mirabilis : Dr.
Watts's Lyrics are as bad ; they are fantastic to
utter folly. An admiration of " the incomparable
Mr. Cowley" did the sense of them more injury than
the imitation of his rough-cantering ode could do their
rhythm. The sentimentalities of Roman Catholic
writers towards our Lord and his mother, are not
half so offensive as the courtier-like flatteries Dr.
Watts offers to the Most High. To say nothing of
the irreverence, the vulgarity is offensive. He affords
another instance amongst thousands how little the
form in which feeling is expressed has to do with
the feeling itself In him the thought is true, the
form of its utterance false ; the feeling lovely, the
word, often to a degree, repulsive. The ugly web is



DR. WATTS: HAPPY FRAILTY. 281

crossed now and then by a fine line, and even damasked
with an occasional good poem : I have found two,
and only two, in the whole of his seventy-five Lyrics
sacred to Devotion. His objectivity and boldness


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