William Garrett Horder.

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

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Birds are singing clear and sweet ;
Fire, and storm, and wind, Thy will
As Thy ministers fulfil.

The ocean waves Thy glory tell.
At Thy touch thi^y sink and swell ;
From the well-spring to the sea,
Rivers murmur, Lora, of Thee.

Ah I my God, what wonders lie
Hid in Thine infinity !
Stamp upon my inmost heart
What I am, and what Thou art.

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-1864), the daughter of

B. W. Procter, better known as Barry Cornwall, under

which nam de plume his poems were published, was the

authoress of the well-known and delightful "Legends


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and Lyrics," to which, after her death, her friend Charles
Dickens prefixed a beautiful and touching sketch of her
life, in which the following touching incident is recorded :
'' In the spring of the year 1853, I observed, as conductor
of the weekly journal, Hbtuehold Words j a short poem
among the proffered contributions, very different, as I
thought, from the shoal of verses perpetually seething
through the office of such a periodical, and possessing much
more merit. Its authoress was quite unknown to me. She
was one Miss Mary Berwick, whom I had never heard of ;
and she was to be addressed by letter, if addressed at all>
at a circulating library in the western district of London.
Through this channel. Miss Berwick was informed that
her poem was accepted, and invited to send another. She
complied, and became a regular and frequent contributor.
Many letters passed between the journal and Miss
Berwick, but Miss Berwick herself was never seen.
How we came gradually to establish, at the office of
Household Words, that we knew all about Miss Berwick,
I have never discovered. But we settled somehow, to our
complete satisfaction, that she was governess in a family ;
that she went to Italy in that capacity, and returned ; and
that she had long been in the same family. We really
knew nothing whatever of her, except that she was
remarkably business-like, punctual, self-reliant, and
reliable, so I suppose we insensibly invented the rest.
For myself, my mother was not a more real personage to
me, than Miss Berwick, the governess, became. This
went on until December, 1854, when the Christmas
number, entitled * The Seven Poor Travellers,' was sent
to press. Happening to be going to dine that day with
an old and dear friend, distinguished in literature as


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Barry Cornwall, I took with me an early proof of tliat
number, and remarked, as I laid it on the drawing-room
table, that it contained a very pretty poem, written by a
certain Miss Berwick. Next day brought me the dis-
closure that I had so spoken of the poem to the mother of
its writer, in its writer's presence, and that the name had
been assumed by Barry Cornwall's eldest daughter — Miss
Adelaide Anne Procter." In recent years, when Editors
came to see that poetic character did not disqualify, but
rather fitted verses for inclusion in their collections, many
hymns have been drawn from these volumes for the
worship of the Church, and have acquired a great
popularity, which is ever increasing. Some of these have
very great merit, notably the following, which I print
in order to bring them under the notice of future Editors
of Hymnals. The first she calls " Thankfulness " : —

* Oar Ood, we thank Thee, who hast made

The earth so bright,
So ftill of splendour and of joy,

Beauty and light ;
So many glorious things are here,

Noble and right !
We thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made

Joy to abound ;
So many gentle thoughts and deeds

Circling us round,
That in the darkest spot of earth

Some love is found.
We thank Thee more that all our joy

Is touched with pain ;
That shadows fall on brightest hours.

That thorns remain ;
So that earth's bliss may be our guide.

And not our chain.
For Thou who knowest, Lord, how soon

Our weak heart clings.
Hast given us joys, tender and true.

Yet all with wings.
So that we see, gleaming on high,

Diviner things !

* in the uriguial, tUe siugular u umber is used.

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We thank Thee, Lord, that Thou ha^t kept

The beet in store ;
We have enough, yet not too much,

To long for more ;
A yearning for a deeper peace,

Not known before.

We thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls.

Though amply bleet.
Can never find, although they seek,

A perfect rest —
Nor ever shall, until they lean

On JeeuB* breast I

Tlie following, called "The Pilgrims,'* is well known
through Henry Leslie's exquisite musical setting: —

The way is long and dreary.

The path is bleak and bare,
Our feet are worn and weary.

But we will not despair ;
More heavy was Thy burden,

More desolate Thy way,
O Lamb of Qod ! who takest

The sin of the world away,
Hatfe mercy up^n ut.

The snows lie thick around us.

In the dark and gloomy night ;
And the tempest ^ndls above us.

And the stars have hid their light ;
But blacker was the darkness

Round Calvary's cross that day ;
O Lamb of God ! who takest

The sin of the world away.
Have mtrey upon tM.

Our hearts are faint with sorrow,

Heavy and hard to bear ;
For we dread the bitter morrow,

But we will not despair ;
Thou knoweet all our anguish,

And Thou wilt bid it cease:
O Lamb of God ! who takest

The sin of the world away,
CUve u» Thy peace !

The next is her poem entitled " The Peace of God " —

We ask fbr Peace. O Lordl
Thy children ask Thy peace ;
Not what the world calls rest,
That ton and care should cease.


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That through bright sunny hours
Calm life should fleet away,
And tranquil night should &de
In smiling day ;—
It is not for such Peaoe that we would pray.

We ask for Peaoe, O Lord I
Tet not to stand secure,
Girt round with iron pride,
Contented to endure :
Crushing the gentle strings
That human hearts should know,
Untouched by others' joy,
Or others' woe ; —
Thou, O dear Lord, wilt never teach us so.

We ask Thy Peaoe, O Lord!
Throuffh storm, and fear, and strife,
To light and guide us on,
Through a long, struggling life ;
While no success or gain.
Shall cheer the desperate fight.
Or neire, what the world oeills
Our wasted might, —
Tet pressing through the darkness to the light.

It is Thine own, O Lord;
Who toil while others sleep,
Who sow with loving care
What other hands shall reap:
They lean on Thee entranoed,
In calm and perfect rest :
Give us that Peaoe, O Lord,
Divine and blest,
Thou keepest for those hearts who love Thee best.

The last is, perhaps, more suitable for private than public
worship : —

I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be

A pleasant road ;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me

Aught of its load.

I do not ask that flowers should always spring

Beneath my feet ;
I know too well the poison and the sting

Of things too sweet.

For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead :

Lead me aright.
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed,

Through Peace to Light.


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I do not ask, O Lord, that Thou shooldft shed

Fnll ndianoe here ;
Give bat a laj of peace, that 1 may tread

Withoat a fear.
1 do not ask my (soss to nnderatand,

My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand

And follow Thee.
Joy is like restless day : bat peace divine

Like qaiet night ;
Lead me, O Lord, till perfeot day shall shine

Throagh Peace to Light.

I am bound to say that a want of discernment of what
really constitutes a hymn has led certain Editors to include
some pieces from Miss Procter's works, very beautiful in
themselves, but more fit for private reading than public
worship. This is an error in judgment which needs
to be guarded against. But, on the other hand, verses
cannot be too poetic for use in worship, if they are realh/
hymm. This is a lesson which Church of England
Editors need to leam. They have not leamt it yet, as
may be seen bj the fact that they have not, so far as mj
knowledge goes, included a single hymn from this gifted
authoress in their collections. Congregations would
thank them if they did, and they have good right to
complain that, as yet, they have not done so. There is
only one drawback to some of her hymns — ^that they are
not metrically uniform, but they are so good that com-
posers should arrange their music to suit them.

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), a devoted and
saintly woman, the daughter of the hymnist and musician,
the Rev. W. H. Havergal, M.A., had a great gift of
lyric expression, and much facility in its use, to which
her deeply religious nature constantly moved her. She
was a very prolific writer of hymns and religious poems,
which have had a very wide circulation, and exerted


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a great influence. They have done much to foster that
wanner and more consecrated type of religion which is
one of the remarkable features of our time, and is the
real barrier against the spirit of scepticism which is so
common, whilst they show how independent is the religious
life of dogmatic formularies. Some of her hymns touch
a very high point of vigour and excellence, whilst others
are rather diffuse and weak in texture. The finest are
the following — " Lord, speak to me, that I may speak,
** Saviour, precious Saviour," ** Golden harps are
sounding," " Take my life, and let it be," " Tell it
out among the heathen" (a noble missionary hymn),
and "Another year is dawning," a hymn for the New
Year, of great tenderness : —

Another year is dawning,

Dear Master, let it be ,
In working or in waiting ,

Another year with Thee.

Another year of leaning

Upon thy loving breast,
Of ever-deepening tmstfiilneBS,

Of qniet, happy rest.

Another year of merdee,

Ot faithfulness and grace ;
Another year of gladness

In the shining of Thy face.

Another year of progress,

Another year of praise,
Another year of proving

Thy presence *' all the days."

Another year of service.

Of witness for Thy love;
AnoUier year ot training

For better work above.

Another year is dawning,

Dear Master, let it be.
On earth, or else in heaven

Another year for Thee I


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Among the minor contributors to the hymnodj of this
period, I may class together, in alphabetical, rather than
chronological order —

"William Hiley Bathurst (1796-1877), vicar of Barwick-
in-Elmet, Yorkshire, who published, in 1830, << Psalms
and Hymns for Public and Private Use." Two of his
hymns are of merit, **0, Saviour, may we never rest,"
and " Jesus, Thy Church, with longing eyes."

To John Ernest Bode (1816-1874), we owe the fine
hymn of consecration, which is specially suitable to
occasions of Adult Baptism (far more suitable than most
hymns written specially for that service), or the reception
of members into the fellowship of the Church : —

Jesus I have promised

To serve Thee to the end ;
Be Thou for ever near me,
My Master and my Friend 1

1 shall not fear the battle

If Thou art by my side.
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me hear Thee speaking

In aooents clear ana still,
Above the storms of passion

The mnnnmr of seif-wiU.
O speak I to re-assure me,

To hasten or control :
O speak I to make me listen,

Thou Guardian of my soul.

O let me see Thy features,

The look that onoe could make
So many a true disciple

Leave all things for Thy sake ;
The look that beamed on Peter,

When he Thy name denied ;
The look that draws Thy loved ones

Close to Thy piercM side.

O Jesu I Thou hast raomised,

To all who follow Thee,
That where Thou art in glory,

There shall Thy servant be ;


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And, Jeio, I have promiBod,

To serve Thee to the end ;
O give me grace to follow

My Master and my Friend !

James Baldwin Brown, B.A. (1821-1884), the eloquent
and original minister of the Brixton Independent Church,
the whole spirit ^of whose life is gathered np and con-
centrated in the following striking hymn : •^

Thee» who our faithless hearts oanst read,

And know'st each weakness there ;
Poor, trembling, faint, with Thee we plead,

O tnm not from our prayer.

We cannot grasp irom hour to hour

The truths Thy gospel saith ;
Then aid us by Thy heavenly power,

That we may trust Thy guardian care,

When no kind hand we see ;
That we may lift our souls in prayer

Undoubtingly to Thee.

Help us to gaze on things unseen

By eyes of mortal sight ;
To pierce through earth's dark veil, and gleam

Some beams of heavenly light.

T^ glorious presence may we see.

When earth's last tie is riven ;
In fidth then trust our souls to 'Thee,

Till we awake in heaven.

Oeorge Burden Buhier (1823-1869), Professor of
Theology and Philosophy at Spring Hill College,
Birmingham, who compiled a Sunday School Hymn
Book of unusual excellence, to which he contributed
eleven hymns, deserves remembrance for a few hymns
which remind us somewhat of Dr. Byrom*s — **I would
commune with Thee, my God," " Great is Thy mercy.
Lord," "My God, I love Thee for Thyself." "A fitly
spoken word," and " Blest be the God of love "

William Gaskell, M.A. (1805-1884), minister of
White Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Manchester, and


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husband of the celebrated authoress of that name, a man
of fine Christian character and spirit, wrote a few hymns
of singular delicacy of thought and beauty of expression,
which richly deserve even wider acceptance than they
have yet received. I quote one of his hymns, that
readers may judge for themselves : —

Though lowly here oar lot may be,

High work have we to do,
In faith, O Lord, to follow Thee,

Whoae lot was lowly too.
Our days of darkness we may bear,

Strong in our Father's love ;
We lean on His almighty arm.

And fix oor hopes above.
Our lives enriched with'gentle thoughts

And loving deeds may be,
As streams that stiU the nobler grow,

The nearer to the sea.
To duty firm, to oonsdenoe tme.

However tried and pressed.
In God's dear sight high work we do,

If we bat do our best.
Thus may we make the lowliest lot

With rays of glory bright ;
Thos may we tarn a crown of thoms

Into a crown of light.

** God, who know'st how frail we are," is also of great

William Freeman Lloyd (1791-1863), one of the
secretaries of the Sunday School Union, and Editor of
various magazines for the young, was the author of the
hymn of trust, " My times are in Thy hand."

Alfred James Morris (1814-1868), minister of Holloway
Congregational Church, and author of many original
religious works, wrote a few hymns, the best of which —
and it is very good — ^is "Blest Saviour, let me be a
child." It was included in his book for children, " The
Shepherd and His Lambs," a hymn suitable to young and
old alike. Here it is : —


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Blest Saviour, let me be a child,

A little ohild of Thine;
Thoa hast on infant spirits smiled,

O kindly smile on mine.

Make me a ohild in simple ways,

In heart more simple still ;
Believing all the Father says,

And doing all His will.

Give me a nature pore and tme.

My evfl one control ;
And day by day Thy grace renew

The childhood of my soul."

May this sweet spirit ne'er depart,

'Midst all my j03rs and cares ;
And may I be a child in heart.

Although a man in years.

William Pennefather, M.A. (1816-1873), the founder of
the Mildmay ConfeFence, was the author of two hymns of
great excellence, which are not nearly so well known
as they richly deserve to be, that I quote them. The
first, on Pentecost, is one of the finest we possess on that
subject : —

Oh Lord ! " with one accord,"

We gather roond Thy throne.

To hefa Thy holy Word,

To worship Thee alone.
Now send from heaven the Holy Ghost,
Be this another Pentecost I

We have no strength to meet

The storms that round us lower,

Keep Thou our trembling feet

In every trying hour;
More than victorious shall we be
If girded with Thy panoply.

Where is the mighty wind

That shook the holy place.

That gladdened every mind,

And brightened every face.
And where the cloven tongues of flame
That marked each follower of the Lamb !

There is no dumge in Thee,
Lord God the Holy Ghost,
Thy glorious Mijesty
Is as at Pentecost!


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O may our loosened tongaee procUim,
That Thou, our Ood, art stUl the foime !

And may that living wave,

That issnee from on high,

Whoie golden watfTs laye

The throne eternally.
Flow down in power on ns to-day.
And none shall go unblessed away I

The second is remarkable for the terseness and force of

its expression. In this respect it is a model : —

Jesus! stand among us

In Thy risen power,
Let this time of worship

Be a hallowed hour.

Breathe the Holy Spirit

Into eyery heart.
Bid the fears and sorrows

From each soul depart.

Thus, with quickened footsteps,

We'll pursue our way,
Watching for the dawning

Of th* Eternal Day I

Greville Phillimore, M.A. (1821-1884), one of the
Editors of ** The Parish' Hymn Book," and vicar of Down
Ampney, in Gloucestershire, wrote a few hymns of more
than average merit. Indeed, one, " Lord of health
and life, what tongue can tell," is of great excellence.

William Morley Punshon (1824-1881), an eloquent

preacher of the Methodist Church, published a volume of

poems called ** Sabbath Bells," in which there is the

following hymn for Sunday Evening of remarkable beauty

and tenderness : —

We rose to-day with anthems sweet,
To sing before the mercy-seat,
And ere the darkness round us fell.
We bade the grateful vespers swelL

Whate'er has risen (torn heart sincere,
Each upward fiance of filial fear,
E^ch true resolve, each solemn vow,
Jesus our Lord ! accept them now.


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O let each foUowing Sabbath yield
For onr loved work an ampler field,
A sturdier hatred of the wrong,
A stronger purpose to grow strong.

Whatever beneath Thy searching eyes
Has wrought to spoil onr sacrifice,
'Mid this sweet stUlness while we bow,
Jesus our Lord ! forgave us now.

And teach us erring souls to win,
And hide their multitude of sin ;
To tread in Christ's long-sufifering way,
And grow more like Him day by day.

So as our Sabbaths hasten past.
And rounding years bring nigh the last ;
When sinks the sun behmd ^e hill,
When all the weary wheels stand still ;

When by our bed the lovedones weep.
And death-dews o'er the forehead a:eep.
And vain is help or hope from men ;
Jesus our Lord 1 receive us then.

George Wade Robinson (1838-1877), a devoted minister
of the Congregational Church, had a considerable power,
both of poetic thought and expression, as will be evident
to aU who have read his little book, " Songs in God's
"World," from which, with some slight transposition, I
took the following verses for inclusion in my " Congre-
gational Hymns." They are marked by the tenderness
and pathos which characterised all his writings — due, it
may be, in part, to the shadow, ever deepening around
him, of that coming death, which, at so early an age,
closed his earnest career : —

Strangers and pilgrims here below,
In want, in weakness, and in woe.
To whom, O Jesus, should we go.
To whom but unto Thee ?

To whom, when hating what is ill,

We find our strength unequal still

To do, although we love, Thy wHl,

To whom but unto Thee ?

To whom, with all our faults and fears,
With all our toils and all our tears.


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Pooriog them into loving ean,
To whom bat onto Thee ?

To whom, when all around appears
Against us, and too anxious fears
Look trembling up the coming years.
To whom but unto Thee ?

To whom, when gloomy Death appals,
And the cold shadow daiklv falls
Along our happy household walls,
To whom but unto Thee ?

Emily Taylor (1795-1872), a member of the XJiiitariaii

Church, and Editor of " Memories of some Contemporary

Poets," was the authoress of " Come to the house of

prayer," and a very suggestive hymn descriptive of the

loss that would arise to believers if the gifts of €k)d were

ours, but we without the power to approach Him in

prayer. The idea is so beautiful, and its expression so

unique in hymnody, that I venture to quote it : —

O Source of good I around me spread,

Ten thousand thousand blessings lie ;
By night Thy mercy guards my bead —

By day I feel Thee ever nigh.
Yet if to taste Thy gifts were all

Thy bounteous hand bestowed on me ; —
No leave upon Thy name to call,

And gain access by prayer to Thee ;
How would my spirit, sorrowing,

'Biid aU those gifts have sighed,— to feel
It knew not the refreshing spring

That ceaseless flows to soothe and heal.
No chain to bind the wanderinff soul,

No link connecting earth and heaven.
No Father's pitying kind control,

No child repenting and forgiven I
But now the voice of prayer is heard,

When strength departs and comforts flee ;
And man may act upon that word —

<* Seek, and He shall be found of Thee."

William Whiting (1825-1878), choirmaster of Win-
chester College, was the author of what is certainly the
most popular hymn for ^' those at sea." It m a good
hymn, but its popularity is partly due, I fancy, to the


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music to which it was wedded in '* Hymns Ancient and
Modern." There are hymns whose constant use is as
much due to this cause as to their intrinsic merit. No
other hymn from Mr. Whiting's pen has gained currency
in the Church.

Sarah Williams was the gifted authoress of many poems,
which she published under the nam de plume of ** Sadie."
Her early death cut short the promise of a career of con-
siderable usefulness in literature. The following lines
from her pen seem to me singularly tender and beautiful.
I quote them in the hope that they may catch the eye of
Hymnal Editors, and lead to their inclusion in future
collections, as I happen to know that, where used, they
have become greatly beloved. Three verses are omitted,
as unsuitable for public worship.

BeoauBe I knew not when my life was good,
And when there was a light upon my nath,
But turned n^ booI perversely to the dark —

O Lord, I do repent.
Beoause I held upon my selflBh road,
And left my brother woonded by the way,
And called ambition duty, and pressed on —

O Lord, I do i^>ent.
Became I spent the strength Thoa gavest me
In straggle which Thou never didst ordain,
And have bat dregs of life to olfcr Thee—

O Lord, I do repent.
Beoaose I was impatient, wonld not wait.
But throat my impioos hand across Thy threads,
And marred tha pattern drawn ont for my life—

O Lord, I do repent.
Because Thoa hast borne with me all this wh&e,
Hast smitten me with love until I weep.
Hatt called me as a mother caHs her cmld —

O Lord, I do repent.

Here must end my references to departed hymnists.
Some of those to whom I shall refer in the neti (chapter
(m ** Living Hymnists '^ were bom before certain of those
named in this diapter, but are still happily spared to us.


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It will be evident, from what I hare written, that the
middle of the present century haB been remarkable for
the production of a large number of hymns, of a very
high order of merit. Probably no age has been more
fruitful in this respect. I question whether, in any
period of the same length, so many fine hymns have
been written. This is to be ascribed to many causes,
not merely to the large place which hymns now fill in the
worship of the Church, but to the reviyed religious life,
the superior culture, the widely spread poetic gift and
spirit, as well as to the increase of musical culture, all of
which have exerted a great influence. What, in earlier
times, took ages to produce, has been produced almost
within the limits of a generation. Indeed, the Church
would not be ill supplied with song if she were
dependent on the productions of the last half century
It has been in hymnody as fruitful as the Elizabethan
age was in dramatic works. We have scarcely yet
realised the wealth of our recent hymnody; since hymnists
rarely reach their true position till time has removed
them from our gaze. Age does not soften hymns as it
does pictures, but it enables us to regard them with less
of prejudice, whilst use familiarises, and helps us to

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 15 of 37)