William Garrett Horder.

The hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody online

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appointed at the very early age of 22, was the author
of fifty-four hymns, which " were all dictated to
his wife during the last few weeks of his life, and were
composed just at the period of the day (the afternoon)
when he most felt the oppression of his illness ; all his
brighter morning hours being given to pupils up to the
very day of his death." They were privately printed by
his widow after his decease. Twenty-seven of these were
included in " The Child's Christian Year," published in
1841, edited by Mrs. Frances Mary Yonge, mother of
the well-known novelist. Miss C. M. Yonge, of
Otterboume, near Winchester. This little book was
attributed to the Rev. John Eeble, probably because of
its title, and the preface, which was from his pen.
Thus it came to pass that some of Mr. Anstice's hymns
were often attributed, in error, to the author of " The
Christisui Year." In one or two of them there is a
certain similarity to Mr. Eeble's. The best known of
his hymns are — " Lord, Thou in all things like
wert made," which is usually altered to " In all things
like Thy brethren. Thou," a forcible and yet tender
rendering of the thought of the author of the Epistle
to the Hebrews in chap. ii. 17. "Darkly rose the
guilty morning," a striking hymn on the Crucifixion, as
caused not only by those who actually brought it about,
but by our sius, for which He was wounded. " Lord,
how happy should we be," a vision of, and longing for
the blessedness of a life in which all our care should be
cast upon God. His Harvest Hymn, "Lord of the
harvest, once again," and his Evening Hymn, " Father
by Thy love and power," are both of value, but have


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not the distinctiveness of those we have previously
mentioned. We are disposed to give a high place to
his little known hymn, "Sweet is the Spirit's strain,"
suggested hy the great invitation of the Apocalypse,
•* The Spirit and the Bride say come." Hymns of this
Older are confessedly difficult to write without hecoming
sermons in disguise, and having a certain pharisaic tone of
"we are the people" ahout them. This hymn avoids
these perils, and is tender and heautiful in a very high
degree. It is so little known that I append it —

Sweet is the Spirit's strain ;
Breath'd by soft pleadings inly heard,
By all the heart's deep foontaiDs, stirr'd
By oonsdenoe and the written word ;

Come, wanderers, home again t

The Bride repeats the call ;
By high thanksgiving, lowly prayer,
By days of rest and fostering care,
By holy rites, that all may share ;

She whispers, Come I to alL

Let him who hears say. Come !
If thon hast been sin's wflling slave,
If thon art risen from that grave,
Thy sleeping brethren seek to save.

And call the wanderers home.

And let all come who thirst ;
Freely for every child of woe
The streams of living waters flow,
And whosoever will may go

Where healing fountains burst.

There, drink, and be at rest ;
On Him who died for thee believe ;
The Spirit's quickening grace receive ;
No more the Gk)d who seeks thee grieve ;

Be holy and be blest I

Had Professor Anstice's life heen spared longer his
hymns would prohably have undergone careful revision,
by which they would have been freed from the faults
which here and there are evident. But when the
circumstances under which they were produced are taken


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into acoount, they are seen to show great poetic and
spiritual insight.

William Lindsaj Alexander, D.D. (1808-1884), minister
of Augostine Church, Edinburgh, and Professor of Theo-
logy in the Theological Hall of the Scotch Congregational
Churches, was a large contributor to the Biblical and
theological literature of his time. He wrote several
hymns which were included in the <' Augustine Hymi
Book," prepared for the use of his own church. Th«
only one likely to retain a place in hymnody is one for
the aged, 'Tm kneeling at the threshold," which,
however, is only suitable for private use.

Jane Crewdson, tUe Fox (1809-1863), like many
another hymnist, '* learnt in suffering what she taught
in song." During a long illness, she wrote several
volumes of hymns and poems, from which two hymns of a
pathetic kind have found their way into the song of the
Church — "There is no sorrow, Lord, too light," and
" Saviour, I have nought to plead," but are, perhaps,
more suitable for use in the home than in the Church.

Henry Alfwxl, D.D. (1810-1871), well known for his
edition of the Oreek Testament, and as the catholic-
spirited Dean of Canterbury, possessed a poetic power
which found its best expression in verses of a religious
kind. He wrote not a few hymns, most of which are
wanting in lyric force ; but in two that element is very
conspicuous. " Come, ye thankful people, come," is
probably the most popular Harvest Hymn now in
existence, and deservedly finds a place in nearly every
hymnal published in recent times, and is sung at the
great majority of harvest festivals. "Forward be our
watchword " is equally popular as a Processional Hymn,


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and when song to Sir Arthur Snllivan's tnne is singularly
inspiring. It has suffered much at the hands of many
editors, whose alterations have broken the continuiiy of
its thought, and hidden the historic event — the passing of
the Israelites into the Promised Land — out of which the
hymn evidently grew in the author's mind. It was
written to be sung at the Tenth Festival of Parochial
Choirs of the Canterbury Diocesan Union, on the 6th
June, 1871. It was accompanied with music from the
Dean's pen, to which, however, it is rarely, if ever, sung
now. The original text will be found in Appendix B to
** The life of Dean Alford." His Baptismal Hymn, " In
token that thou shalt not fear," is striking, and very
popular in churches where the sign of the cross is used in
Baptism, although the use made of that symbol in the
hymn is of such a kind that it might be used in other
churches. His hymn, '* Lo ! the storms of life are break-
ing," is of great merit. *'Ten thousand times ten
thousand " is one of his most lyric hymns, and growing
in popularity. Others might be mentioned, some of
which touch on themes too much overlooked in hymns ;
but they have not the spontaneity of those we have

John Samuel Bewley Monsell, LL.D. (1811-1876),
who, after holding various appointments in the Irish
Church, became, in succession, vicar of Egham, and
of St. Nicholas, Qtiildford, holds a distinguished place
in the ranks of recent hymnists. His hymns were
published in several volumes, the principal being —
''Spiritual Songs," ''Hymns of Love and Praise for
the Church's Year," "Litany Hymns," and "Parish
Musings." Some were included in the collection edited


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by him under the title of " The Parish Hymnal."
Dr. Monsell possessed the lyric gilt to an unusual
extent. Many of his hymns are full of melody and
tenderness. The verses in " Spiritual Songs " com-
mended themselves to the venerable author of "The
Christian Year," who gave them a careful revision.
They were "written during a winter (1874) spent for
the sake of health amid the orange and olive groves of
Italy." To this, the tender and subdued feeling which
characterises them may be partly due. They have since
become deservedly popular. Here and there they are
somewhat diffuse, and would have been improved by
compression, but they have very high merit, and fill a
considerable place in our best modem hymnals. I found
no less than seventeen suitable and desirable for inclusion
in my own Hymnal. Of a more joyful kind, I may
mention the following as of great value — ** Sing to the
Lord a joyful song," and "God is Love, by Him up-
holden." Singularly tender and distinctive is "Birds
have their quiet nest," perhaps his finest hymn, although
"0 worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness," is
more widely known, and frequently sung. " To Thee,
dear, dear Saviour," " Labouring and heavy laden,"
"Lord of the living harvest," "The spring-tide hour
brings leaf and flower," " Sing to the Lord of harvest,"
" Love, divine and golden," are his finest efforts. The
following hymn from his pen is so very fine, and so little
known, that I quote it : —

Weary and sad, a wanderer firom Thee,
By grief heartbroken, and by sin defiled ;

O what a joy In boitow 'tia to be
GonadouB that I am still, Qod, Thy child.


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Strained were the oords of love by mv sad will,
I would have broke them had I had my way.

But, Lord, it was Thy love, not mine, that stiU
Held my heart back, my tott'ring steps did stay.

And now the crumbs that from Thy table fall
Are all I ask, more than is meet for me ;

Tet kiss and banquet, ring and robe, are idl
Waiting me, Father, in my home with Thee.

Back to the door which ever open lay ;

Back to the table where the feast still stood ;
Back to the heart which never, night or day,

Forgat me in my most forgetful mood.

Drawn by Thy love, that found me when a child.

And never for a moment let me so ;
Still, still Thine own, though soilea and sin-defiled,

I come, and Thou wilt make me clean, I know.

There feed me with Thyself, until I grow

Into the stature of the life divine ;
My right to plead, my privilege to know

That Christ is Qod's, and I, O Christ I am Thine,

Feed me, and set me up upon the Bock

Higher than I, my shelter and my stay
Against the rudest winter-tempest's shock.

Against the fiercest sultry summer's day.

Thus let my life in ceaseless progress move.
On into deeper knowledge. Lord, of Thee ;

The length, the breadth, the height, the depth of Love,
That first could care for, then did stoop to me.

Dr. Monsell deserves a very high place among our modem
hymnists. His deep religiousness, his tenderness of
spirit, his lyric nature, all combined to enable him to
give the Church verses which have done much, and
will probably do still more, to express and deepen her
worshipping emotion. Whilst watching the restoration of
his church at Guildford, a stone fell and struck him, and
after lingering for some time, he succumbed to heart-
disease, aggravated by the shock.

William Josiah Irons, D.D. (1812-1884), the High
Church son of the well-known and eccentric minister of
Camberwell Grove, who, in his day, was noted for the


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boldness of his Oalyinism, a considerable contributor to
theological literature, was also the author of many
hymns, both original and translations. Some of these
are of no little merit ; but he is chiefly remembered by
what is probably the best yersion, at all events for
singing, of the Dies Ira, which begins, **Day of wrath!
day of mourning." As no less than 160 translations
are known to have been made of this hymn, some of
them by remarkable men, it is no small distinction to have
produced the most popular version. Bis hymn for Palm
Sunday, " Is not this our King and Prophet ? " and that
beginning ^' Father of love, our Guide and Friend," seem
to me .of great beauty. I quote the former : —

*' Is not This our King and Prophet ? "—

Ring Hotannas, wave the palm,
Let the children from the temple

Echo back the people's paaim ;
*• BleoM is the Son of David,"

BlenM is the Christ of Qod,
Welcome to the hill of Sion,

Deck the pathwi^, strew the sod 1

<' Meek and lowly One/' He oometh,

And the anthem greets His ears ;
Lo, the city lies before Him.

But He sees it through His tears;
Looking from the Mount of Olives,

Towers and marble temple rise ; —
Is thy peace, O weli-loved Salem.

•• Hid for ever from thine eyes? "

Sees He now, in solemn vision,

Calvanr * without the gate ? "
Israel fallen — •* house and city

Left unto her desolate? "
Yes. O Saviour all-enduring I

Thou wast watching every heart —
Which would love Thee, which forsake Thee.

Which would do the traitor's part.

Pity, Lord, man's hollow praises,
Then or now, which greet Thee thus ;

*• By Thy Cross, and by Thy Passion,"
O have mercy yet on us !


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Now Thou reignest with the Father,

And the Spirit evermore ;
Lor^, look down upon Thy servants,

Who repent, and would adore.

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843), the greatly
beloved minister of 8. Peter's, Dundee, whose saintly life,
whidi came to an end when he was only thirty years of
age, exerted a wide and deep influence — an influence
perpetuated by the publication of his memoir by the Rev.
A. A. Bonar, which had an enormous circulation — finds,
and will probably keep, a place among the hymnists, by
the solemn and tender strains of the well-known hymn,
entitled " I am debtor '* — " When this passing world is

Edward Caswall (1814-1878) was one of the company
of talented men drawn from the Church of England to
that of Rome by the " Tracts for the Times." He gave
up his perpetual curacy at Stratford-sub-Castle, near
Salisbury, and soon after was admitted to the Congrega-
tion of the Oratory, at Edgbaston, Birmingham, founded
by Dr. J. H. Newman. He had a genius for poetic
translation. During his student days at Oxford, he
pubUahed '* The Art of Pluck," a humorous imitation of
Aristotle, which has gone through many editions, and is
still a favourite with undergraduates at the University.
In 1849 he issued the ''Lyra Catholica," containing a
large number of translations of hymns from the Breviary
and Missal, with some from other sources. In 1868 he
published '* The Masque of Mary, and other poems," and
in 1865, ''A May Pageant, and other poems," but his
chief successes are his translatioBs, some of which have
deiervedly become popular, and are included in the
Hysuudfl of nearly every section of the Church. The


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best known are " Jesus, the very thought of Thee," and
" Jesu, King most wonderful," from the " Jesu didcis
memoria," by Bernard of Clairvaux. These are of great
excellence. Next in order of popularity comes his trans-
lation of Francis Xavier's hymn, ** My God, I love Thee,
not because," one of the noblest hymns in the langcCage,
save for the dogmatic declaration of the latter part of the
first verse : —

«* Nor yet becaiue who love Thee not
Most born eternally" —

but even that, if understood as setting forth, not the
eternity of punishment, but that so long as love to
God is absent from the soul, it must suffer, may be
accepted as grandly true. So few, however, would
understand it in that way, though the great-hearted
Xavier may have thus meant it, that, on account of these
two lines, it has been excluded from Hymnals where
its otherwise noble teaching would have been gladly
welcomed. ''The sun is sinking fast," from a Latin
original (probably of the 18th century), which has been
lost, is of great tenderness, and is gradually finding its
way into many hymnals. Most of the other translations
by Father Caswall are confined to Hymnals of the High
Church order.

Samuel Greg (1804-1877), the brother of the well-
known W. R. Greg, author of the " Creeds of Christen-
dom," but of a more believing, though by no means
credulous turn of mind — a manufacturer, and large
employer of labour, who did much for those in his
employ, conducting services for them, and labouring
hard for their mental and spiritual good — deserves
mention for several hymns of great beauty, which were


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included in the books we owe to his pen. His hymn
on " The Transfiguration,'* which he appended to his
chapter^on that event, in " Scenes in the Life of Jesus,"
is certainly the finest we possess on that theme, as may
be seen below : —

Stay, Master, stay upon this heavenly hill :
A little longer, let ns linger still ;
With these three mighty ones of old beside,
Near to the Awfol Presence still abide;
Before the throne of light we trembling stand,
And catch a glimpse into the spirit-land.

Stay, Master, stay ! we breathe a purer air ;
This life is not the life that wait« ns there :
Thooghts, feelings, flashes, glimpses come and go;
We cannot speak them — ^nay, we do not know;
Wrapt in this doud of light we seem to be
The thing we fain would grow— eternally.

" No I " saith the Lord, " the boor is past, — ^we go ;
Oar home, oor life, our duties lie below.
While here we kneel upon the mount of prayer,
The plough lies waiting in the fnrrow there I
Here we sought God that we might know His will ;
There we must do it, — serve Him, — seek Him still.''

If man aspires to reacli the throne of God,
O'er the dull plains of earth must lie the road.
He who best does his lowly duty here.
Shall mount the highest in a nobler sphere :
At God's own feet our spirito seek their rest,
And He is nearest Him who serves Him best.

Few nobler hymns of trustful confidence in God can be
found than the following one, which is included in a
posthumous work from his pen, entitled ''A Layman's
Legacy." The close of it is singularly impressive : —

Slowly, slowly darkening,

The evening hours roll on ;
And soon behind the cloud-land

Will sink my setting sun.

Around my path life's myBterien

Their deepening shadows throw ;
And as I gaze and ponder.

They dark and deirker grow.


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But there's a voice above me
Which says, " Wait, trust, and pray ;

The night will soon be over,
And light will come with day."

Father I the light and darkness

Are both alike to Thee ;
Then to Thy waiting servant,

Alike they both shall be.

The great unending ftiture,

I cannot pierce its shroud ;
Yet nothing doubt, nor tremble,

God's bow is on the doud.

To Him I yield my spirit;

On Him I lay my load :
Fear ends with death; beyond it

I nothing see but GOD.

Thus moving towards the darkness,

I calmly wait His call ;
Now seeing, — fearing nothing ;

But hopmg, trusting— «11 !

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881), the pleasant Bon
of a pleasant father, was one loved by all who knew him,
even by those who most differed from his theological
opinions. He raised the Deanery of Westminster to a
height of renown it had never before reached. He wrote
valuable works on the Holy Land, the Jewish and Eastern
Churches, the Cathedral of Canterbury, of which he was
once a Canon, and on the Abbey of Westminster, of which
he was Dean. Although from his early days a lover of
poetry — at Oxford he took the Newdigate prize for a poem
on ** The Gypsies " — ^and had a mind that was essentially
rather poetic than dogmatic, yet fills a small place among
the hymnists, and claims that place more from the
catholicity of spirit, and picturesqueness of his hymns,
than for their lyric and poetic qualities. I question
whether he ever wrote his hynms for singing, or
expected that they would be sung. Most of them grew
out of the consideration of some of the great incidents in


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the life of our Lord, and set forth their most spiritual
lessons for those of later days. They are chiefly in rather
heavy measures, not greatly favoured hy musicians— double
long and sevens metres. But, with all their deflciencieB,
they are so full of "sweetness and light" that we could ill
spare them from our collections. Perhaps the best is the
hymn on " The Transfiguration," originally published in
MacmiUan^s Magazine, In the same number, the Dean in-
serted the hymn by Samuel Greg on the same subject, which
he declared to be far finer than his own. Our readers may
judge for themselves by turning to page 175, where I have
included it. I may tctke this opportunity of setting at rest
a doubt that has been felt with regard to the true text of
this hymn. In most Hymnals it begins " 0, Master, it is
good to be," and this is the reading of the hymn as
printed in Maomillan^s Magazine, but when I was com-
piling the New Testament part of " The Poets' Bible,"
Br. Stanley was good enough to lend me his collection of
all the hymns smd poems he had printed, with his final
revisions, and I there found that he had altered the first
line of this hymn to " Lord, it is good for us to be." I
therefore printed it thus in the volume I was then
editing, and afterwards in my " Congregational Hjrmns."
It is the more necessary to state this, since in ''The
Westminster Abbey Hymn Book," issued after his death,
the hymn is made to begin "Master, it is good to be."
I give the text as finally revised by the author : —

Lord, it is good for tu to be
High on the moantain here with Thee,
Where stand revealed to mortal gaae
The great old aainta of other davs.
Who once received, on Horeb'a height,
The eternal laws of tmth and right.
Or caoght the still small whisper, higher
Than storm, than earthquake, or than fire.


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Lord, it is good for tut to be

With Thee, and with Thy faithM three,

Here, where the Apostle's heart of ro<^

Is nerved against temptation's shock ;

Here, where the Son of Thnnder learns

The thought that breathes, the wocd that boma ;

Here, where on eagle's wings we move

With him whose last, best creed is Love.

Lord, it is good forns to be
£ntianoed, enwrapt, alone with Thee,
Watching theglistening raiment glow
Whiter &an Uermon's whitest snow,
The human lineaments that shine
Irradiant with a light Divine ;
Till we too change from grace to grace,
Gazing on that transfigured face.

Lord, it is good for us to be
Here on the Hdj Mount with Thee ;
When darkling m the depths of night,
When dazzled with excess of light,
We bow before the heavenly Voice
That bids bewildered souls rejoice :
Though love wax cold, and ftdth be dim —
«• This is my Son ! O hear ye Him I "

The following are the most notable of Dr. Stanley's

hymns, which are all marked by the characteristics I

have already noted—" The Lord is come on Syrian soil,"

an Advent hymn ; ** He is gone beyond the skies," on

the, Ascension of Christ; "When the Paschal evening

fell," for the Lord's Supper ; and " Where shall we leam

to die," on the last hours of Christ, a very pathetic

utterance, which I append : —

Where shall we leam to die ?
Qo, gaze with steadfast eye
On dark Qethsemane,
Or darker Calvary,
Where, througli eadi lingering hour,
The Lord of grace and power,
Most lowly and most High,
Has taught the Christian how to die.

When in the olive shade,
His long last prayer He prayed ;
When on the cross to Heaven
His parting spirit given.


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Ji« showed that to fulfil
The Father'i) gracious will,
Not asking how or why.
Alone prepares the soul to die.

No word of angry strife,
No anxious cry for lite ;
B^ Booff and torture torn
He speaks not soom for scorn ;
Calmly forgiving those
Who deem themselves His foes,
In silent majesty
He points the way at peace to die.

Delighting to the last
In memories of the past ;
Glad at the parting meal
In lowly taskn to kneel ;
Still yearning to the end
For mother and for fiiend ;
His great humility
Loves in such acts of love to die.

O by those weary hours
Of slowly ebbing powen,
By those deep lessons heard
In each expiring word ;
By that unfailing love
Lifting the soul above,
When our last end is nigh,
So teach us, Lord, with Thee to die.

Frederick William Eaber (1815-1868) stands in perfect
contrast to Br. Stanley, not only in theological belief and
spirit, but in his faculty for hymn-writmg. In Faber the
lyiic and poetic gift was present in abundant measure.
He was, if report be true, as pleasant a man as Arthur
Stanley, but one cast in an utterly different and far more
ecclesiastical mould. Whilst Stanley was a man of the
world (using that word in a good sense), delighting in
all &ir and gracious things, Faber was a man of the
cloister, who viewed all things in the dim religious
light which streams through windows bearing the
coloured forms of haloed saints. Yery different men,
but both yery lovely in their lives. As a hymnist.


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Faber towers far above Stanley. Indeed, it would be
difficult to find one who rises bigher, or, I am bound
to add, when dominated by some dogmatic or ecclesias-
tical tradition, sinks lower. It is difficult to believe
that one who rises so high, into such a clear, pure
vision of the love of God, could ever sink so low as, in

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 13 of 37)