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

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in the fullest possession and happiest exercise of all its
powers, is yet borne along by a power beyond itself. More
than twice or thrice have I been borne along on such a
tide. I have known three or four such seasons, and have
vainly striven to prolong them. Then, hymns have
streamed forth day after day, week after week ; not with-
out the diligent co-operation of all my powers, but with
their unforced, free, gladsome, almost unconscious co-opera-
tion. At other times I have set myself to write hymns, and



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2SS THE HYMN LOVER.

with some effort have accomplished the task ; but the task
was not worth accomplishing — the song had no life, no
power, no glow.

'' These seasons of inspiration had their rise in some high
and happy estate of the soul, in some new reyelation of
spiritual truth, in some ascent of the spirit into a diviner
region; on one occasion in the concurrence of a bright
outward experience with a blessed inward stir. Each new
birth of grace was attended by a fresh stream of song.
Between these seasons I have now and then produced a
strain, not without worth, but these gushes of song lay
apart from the great tides whereof I have spoken."

Here lies the secret of Mr. Gill's power, moved himself
as he produced his hymns, they move others to fresher and
more spiritual worship.



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259



CHAPTER XVL



LIVING HYMNI8TS.— II.

BOBN 1821 £T 8BQ.

Edward Hayes Plumptre (bom 1821), Dean of Wells,
the accomplished scholar, to whom we owe such valuable
work in many departments — as translator: of Dante,
-Sschylus, Sophocles ; as poet : " Lazarus," ** Master and
Scholar," " Old and New " ; as theologian : " The Spirits
in Prison " ; as biographer : ^' The Life and Letters of
Bishop Een " ; as biblical critic : many works on parts of
both the Old and New Testament — ^has written a few
hymns, which only lack the lyric fire to] make them
excellent. Were that present, and were they a little more
condensed, they would be even more valuable than they
are. Dr. Plumptre, however, takes more space to move
in than a hymn affords. The finest, and most lyric of
his productions, is the following, which seems to me to
stand apart from all his others : —

Re|oioe, ye pure in heart,
Bejoioe, give thanki and sing
Your festal banner wave on high,
The CroM of Christ your King.



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260 THE HYMN LOVER.

With all the angel-choin,
With all the saints on earth,
Pour out the strains of jo^ and bliss,
Tme rapture, noblest mirth.

Your clear hosannas raise.
And hallelujahs loud.
Whilst answering eohoes upward float,
like wreaths of inoense-doud.

With YOloe as full and strong
As ocean's surging praise,
Send forth the hymns our fathers loved,
The psalms of ancient days.

Tes, on, through life's long path.
Still chanting as ye go.
From youth to age, by night and day,
In gladness and in woe.

Still lift your standard high.
Still march in firm array,
Ab warriors through the darkness toil,
Till dawns the golden day.

At last the march shall end,
The wearied ones shall rest,
The pilgrims find their Father's house,
Jeiusalem the blest.

Then on, ye pure in heart,
R^oioe, give thauks, and sing;
Tour festal banner wave on Mgh,
The Gross of Christ your Kmg.

Praise Him who rules on high,
Whom heaven and earth adore.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One God for evermore.

Next in merit I shauld place the following, for^a Time of
Pestilence : —

Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old

Was strong to heal and save;
It triumphed o'er disease and death,

0*er darkness and the grave:
To Thee they went, the blind, the dumb,

The palsied and the lame.
The leper with his tainted life,

The sick with fevered frame;



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LIVING HYMNISTS.'-IL 261

And lo, Thy touch brought life and health,

Gave speech, and strength, and sight ;
And youth renewed and frenzy c&lmed

Owned Thee, the Lord of Light
And now, O Lord, be near to Uess,

Almighty as of yore,
In crowded street, by restless couch,

As by Gennesareth's shore.

Though love and might no longer heal

By touch, or word, or look;
Though they who do Thy work must read

Tt^ laws in Nature's book :
Yet come to heal the sick man's soul.

Come, cleanse the leprous taint;
Give toy and peace where all is strife.

And strength where all is faint.

Be Thou our great Deliverer still.

Thou Lord of life and death,
Restore and quicken, soothe and bless

With Thine ahnighty breath:
To hands that work and eyes that see

Give wisdom's heavenly lore.
That whole and sick, ana weak and strong,

May praise Thee evermore.

His other hymns are admirable in sentiment, but not
nimble enough in their movement.

Francis Turner Palgrave, whose hymns strike a new
note, is the eldest son of Sir Francis Palgrave, the well-
known historian, and his wife Elizabeth, from whom he
derives his second name. He was bom in Great Yarmouth
on the 28th of September, 1824. From 1838 to 1843 he
spent at the Charterhouse School, whence he passed to
Balliol College, Oxford, of which he became a scholar in
1842. In 1846 he was elected Fellow of Exeter College,
and in 1847 took a first class in the classical schools.
Leaving the University of Oxford, Mr. Palgrave was
ongaged for a considerable time in the Education Depart-
ment of the Privy Council, from which he retired in 1884.



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THE HTMN LOVER.



During that time he was private secretary to Earl
Granville, who was then Lord President. In the
following year he was elected Professor of Poetry in the
University of Oxford.

The following works have proceeded from his pen: —
" Idylls and Songs " (1854), ** Art Catalogue of the Great
Exhihition" (1862), *' Essays on Art" (1869), and
"Lyrical Poems" (1871). He has also edited **The
Golden Treasury of English Lyrics " (1861), " Sir Walter
Scott's Poems, with Life" (1867), " Chrysomela — a
selection from Herrick," and " The Visions of England"
(1881). He is best known, however, by his collection
of English lyrics, which is a model of editing, and
by his "Original Hymns," of which the first edition
appeared in 1867, followed by enlarged editions in 186&
and 1870. His object was "To try and write hymns
which should have more distinct matter for thought and
feeling than many in our collections offer, and so, perhaps,
be of a little use and comfort to readers." His hymns
admirably fulfil this purpose. To those who are familiar
with the monotony and dulness of the vast mass of hymns,
it is a greofc relief to turn to Mr. Palgrave's with their dis-
tinctiveness of theme, their marked individuality, and
delicacy of phrasing. The exaggerated tone, expressive of
feelings far above the range of ordinary mortals, so often
found in hymns, is conspicuous by its absence, and in its
place there is what Mr. Eeble, in the pre&K^e to his
" Christian Tear," calls " a sober standard in matters of
piactioal religion." Then his hymns are expressive of the
feelizLfs which are characteristic of the Ouistian heart



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LIVINQ HTMNI8T8.''II. 263

in our own day — its difflcnlties, its perplexities, its long-
ings. Professor Palgrave seems to me to have a singularly
true idea of what a hymn should be, and how poetry and
religious feeling should be blended in its production. If
I may quote from a letter addressed by him to myself,
" The main reason for the inferiority of hymns to ordinary
lyrics lies, I think, simply in the fact that the true end of
poetry is FJeoiurey not Instruetum. It may and should
often teaeh, but always through such pleasure as this fine
art can give. Hence, the didactic element which hymns
always do and ought to include is very apt to lower the
poetical quality. The strict laws of poetry are in fact
inapplicable in this region, and it is only a critic who
has no sympathy with the object of hymns can complain
that these laws are more or less set aside." But it is
quite clear from Mr. Palgrave's own hymns that he regards
the poetic as an essential element in every hymn worthy
of the name — ^that the didactic purpose should be suffused
with keen and high emotion which is sure to take on lyric
forms; whilst in hymns of pure worship the didactic
element falls quite into the background. The stronger
the lyric element, the more will the hymn bear the soul
aloft. And the more cultivated taste of the present day is
not satisfied with the mere rhymed prose which passed
current in earlier days, but demands verse in which the
religious feeling is so strong that it naturally takes on
lyric forms. Hence, the hymns most frequently sung in
our day are those which are the product of the vision and
faculty divine. In this respect the advance is very
evident. Stemhold and Hopkins had to give way to Isaac



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264 THE HYMN LOVER,

"Watts. Watts was largely eclipsed by the more lyric
Charles Wesley, whilst all but the finest of Am have had
to yield to the selected ones of many a poetic hymnist of
our own time. The age, too, demands verses which shall
express its oum feelings and not those of a bygone time.
And those hymnists are the n^ost popular who, being in
deepest sympathy with the real feelings of the age, are
able to give these the fullest and most lyric expression.
Amongst these, Professor Palgrave's hymns deserve a place
of high honour for their sobriety of thought, their fidelity
to the actual feeling of the time, their refined and yet
poetical expression. Here and there he fails in melodious-
ness of utterance or in suitability of metre, but these
defects are so slight that I do not care to dwell on them.
Perhaps the best known of his hymns are those for
Morning and Evening ; the former beginning '^ Lord GK>d
of morning and of night," and the latter, "0 Light of
life, Saviour dear," both of which conclude with the
fine doxology (second only in merit to the well-known one
of good Bishop Ken) —

Praise Ood, our Maker and our Friend ;
Praise Him through time, till time shall end,
Till psalm and song His name adore
Through heaven's great day of evermore.

The child's hymn " Thou that once on mother's knee,"
is one of the few really fine children's hymns in the
language. The above are too well-known for it to be
necessary to quote them; but others which are only
gradually finding their way into use and favour are not
so well known, and I will therefore append them.

How true, how free from other-worldUness is the



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LIVING HYMNISTS.^II. 265

conception of the kingdom of God in the following hymn

suggested by our Lord's saying, ''For behold the kingdom

of God is^within you " : —

O Thoa not made with handB,
Not throned above the skies,
Not walled with shiniDg walls.
Nor framed with stones of price,
More bright than gold or gem,
God's own Jerosalem.

Where'er the gentle heart
Finds courage from above ;
Where'er the heart forsook
Warms with the breath of love ;
Where faith bids fear depart.
City of God ! thou art.

Thou art where'er the proud
In humbleness melts down ;
Where self itself yields up ;
Where martyrs win their crown ;
Where frathful souls possess
Themselves in perfect peace.

Where in life's common ^ays
With cheerful feet we go ;
Where in His steps we tread
Who trod the way of woe;
Where He is in the heart,
City of God ! thou art.

Not throned above the skies
Nor golden-walled afar ;
But where Christ's two or three
In His name gathered are ;
Be in the micUt of them,
God's own Jerusalem.

How accurately, and yet how tenderly, the difficulty

and longing of our day for faith in the unseen Christ is

expressed in the following verses, '' Faith and sight in the

latter days " : —

Thou say'st ' Take up thy cross,
O man, and follow me ;
The night is black, the feet are slack,



nlghl
Yet



we would follow Thee.



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266 THE E7MN LOVER.

But O deir Lord, we orv,
That we Thy face ooold see I
Thj UeflflM face one moment's space —
Then might we follow Thee !

Dim tracts of time divide
Those golden days from me;
Thy voice comes strange o*er years of change ;
How can we follow Thee?

Comes faint and (ar Thy voice
From vales of Galilee ;
Thy vision fodee in ancient shades ;
How should we follow Thee ?

O heavy cross— of faith
In what we cannot see i
As once of yore Thyself restore
And help to follow Thee !

If not as once Thoa cam'st
In trae homanity.
Gome yet as gaest within the breast
Thai boms to follow Thee.

Within our heart of hearts
In nearest nearness be :
Set up Thy throne within Thine own : —
Go, Lord I we follow Thee.

How true is the abasement of spirit before the thought

of GK)d in this terse and yet pathetic hymn which he

calls " Through and thiough" : —

/n/sZtr, quit me libtrabit f

We name Thy Name, O God,
As onr God call on Thee,
Though the dark heart meantime
Far from Thy ways may be.

And we can own Thy law.
And we can sing Thy songs,
While the sad inner muI
To sin and shame belongs.

On us Thy love may glow,
As the pore middav me
On some foul spot looks down ;
And yet the mire be mire.
Then spare ns not Thy fires,
The searching light and pain ;



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LIVING HYMNISTS.-^-IL 267

Burn out our sin ; and last,
With Thy love heal again.

Touched with a like spirit, but yet suffused with faith, is

the hymn which follows ; " Lost and Found," in which

the real influence of sin is seen and traced out with rare

insight —

Though we long, in sin-wronght blindness,

From Thy gracionH paths have strayed,
Cold to Thee and all Thy kindness,

Wilihl, reckless, or afraid ;
Through dim douds that gather round us

Thou has sought, and Thou hast found us.
Oft from Thee we veil our faces,

Children-like, to cheat Thine eyes ;
Sin, and hope to hide the traces ;

From ourselves, ourselves disguise ;
'Neath the webs en woven round us

Thy soul-piercing glance has found us.
Sudden, 'midst our idle chorus,

O'er our sin Thy thunders roll.
Death his signal waves before us.

Night and terror take the soul ;
Till through double darkness round us

Looks a star, — and Thou hast found us.
O most merciful, most holy,

Light Thy wanderers on their way ;
Keep us ever Thine, Thine wholly.

Suffer us no more to stray !
Cloud and storm oft gather round us ;

We were lost, but Thou hast found us.

How full of emotion, how picturesque in its description of

the course of our Lord is this ** Litany to the name of

Jesufl" —

Thrice-holy Name ! — that sweeter sounds
Than streams which down the valley run.
And tells of more than human love,
And more than human power in one ;
First o'er the manger-cradle heard.
Heard since through all the choirs on high ; —
O Child of Mary, Son of God,
Eternal, hear Thy children's cry !

While at Thy blessM Name we bow,

Lofd Jesus, be amongst us now !



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THE HYMN LOVEB.



Within our earth-dimmed souls oall np

The vision of Thy human 3rean;

The mount of the transfigured form ;

The garden of the bitter tears ;

The cross upreared in darkening skies ;

The thorn-wreathed head ; the bleeding side ;

And whisper in the heart, * For 3ron,

For you I left the heaTens, and died/

VV hile at the blessed Name we bow,

Lord Jesus, be amongst us now !

Ah! with fidth's surest inmost eye
The riven rock-hewn bed we see,
Untreasured of its heavenly guest, —
Triumphant over Death in Thee I
And O ! when Thou, our Saviour Judge,
Again shall come in glory here.
With love upon Thy children look,
And bid us read our pardon dear !

While at the UessM Name we bow,

Lord Jesus, be amongst us now!

These are but examples of Professor Palgraye's styles.
The reader will see how varied and distinctiye they are.
Their author seems never to write until some distinct idea
has possessed his mind, and then with the deep earnest-
ness of a Christian soul, and the skill and taste of the
accomplished scholar, the idea clothes itself with apt and
beautiful expression. Like a true artist, Mr. Palgraye is
reticent in utterance. His collected hymns are all included
in a tiny pocket volume of 51 pages, but nothing is in-
cluded which is without worth. If I am not greatly mis-
taken there is in store for many of his hymns a growing
popularity, since they are well calculated to foster and
keep aUye a piety, not of a noisy kind, but after the
manner and spirit of the Great Master, Christ.

William Walsham How (bom 1823), who for many
years was the devoted Bishop of Bedford — ^why that title
should have been given to a see which had nothing to do



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LIVING BYMm8T8.-lL 269

with Bedford, but was chiefly composed of the East End

of London, is a mystery to the nnecclesiastical mind ! —

bnt who now occupies the newly constituted see of

Wakefield, has contributed an unusually large number of

fine hymns to the store of church song. His recently

published volume, in which he has collected his scattered

hymns, contains fifty-four, and scarcely a hymn is to be

found in it without merit. Its perusal forces on the

mind the conclusion, that the standard of hymnody has

been greatly raised during recent years. A considerable

proportion of the hymns in this volume have passed into

general use. The best known are the following — they

are too well known to need quotation — " We give Thee

but Thine own," a fine hymn for use at the offertory ;

** Jesu, Thou art standing," a forcible and yet pathetic

hymn on Jesus at the door ; '< Por all the saints who

from their labour rest," a thanksgiving for departed

saints." All these are included in '^ Hymns Ancient and

Modem." His hymns for certain seasons of the natural

year seem to me very felicitous. Here is the one on

summer : —

Summer sona are glowing over land and sea,
Happy light is flowing bomitiM and free.

Eyeiything vgoioes in the mellow rays,

All earth's thousand voioes swell the psalm of praise.

God*s free mercy streameth over all the world,
And His banner gleameth everywhere mifiirled.

Broad and deep and glorious as the heaven above
Shines in might victorious His eternal love.

Lord, upon our hlindnees Thy pure radiance pour,
For Thy lovingldndness makes us love Thee more.

And when donds are drifting dark across our sky,
Then, the veil uplifting, Fattier, be Thou nigh.



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270 THE HYMN LOVER.



We will never doubt Thee, ihoagh Thoa vofl Thy light.
Life is dark without Thee ; death with Thee is bright.

Light of light ! shine o'er us on oup pilgrim way,
Oo Thou still before m to the endless day.

This is his hjrmn for autumn : —

The year is swiftly waning ;

The summer dajrs are past :
And life, brief life, is speeding ;

The end is nearing fiut

The ever-changing seasons

In silenoe oome and go ;
But Thou, Eternal Father,

No time or change canst know.
O pour Thy grace upon us.

That we may worthier be,
E^aoh year that passes o'er us,

To*dwell in heaven with Thee.
Behold the bending orchards

With bounteous fruit are crowned ;
Lord, in our hearts more richly

Let heavenly fruits abound.

Oh, by each mercy sent us.

And by each grief and pain.
By blessings like the sunshine,

And sorrows like the rain —

Our barren hearts make fruitful

With every goodly grace.
That we Thy name may hallow.

And see at last Thy iace.

This is his hymn for winter : —

Winter reigpeth o'er the land,
Freezing with its icy breath,
Dead and bare the tall trees stand;
All is chill and drear as death.

Yet it seemeth but a day
Since the summer flowers were here.
Since they sta<dced the balmy hay,
Since they reaped the golden ear.

Sunny days are past and gone :
So the years go, speeding fast,
Onward ever each new one
Swifter speeding than the last.



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LIVING HYMNISTS^—n. 271

Life is waDinf , life \m brief;
Death, like wmier, standeth nigfa ;
Each one, like the falling leaf,
Soon flhall &de, and faU, and die.

Bat the deeping earth shall wake,
And the flowers shall burst in bloom,
And all nature rising break
Glorious from its wintry tomb.

So, Lord, after slumber blest.
Gomes a bright awakening,
And our fleui in hope s)u£ rest
Of a never-fading spring.

The following, on **It is I, be not afraid," is very
tender : —

When the dark waves round us roll,

And we look in vain for aid.
Speak, Lord, to the trembling soul, —

<'ItisI; be not afraid.*'

When we dimly traoe Thy form

In mysterous clouds arrayed,
Be the echo of the storm, —

"Itisl; be not afhdd.*'

When our brightest hopes depart,

When our uirest visions fade,
Whiroer to the fainting heart, —

*«ItisI; benotafiud."

When we weep beside the bier,
Where some well-loved form is laid,

O may then the mourner hear, —
'•It is I; be not afraid."

When with wearing, hopeless pun.

Sinks the spirit sore dismayed,
Breathe Thou then the comfort^strain —

** It ii I ; be not afraid."

When we feel the end is near.

Passing into death's dark shade,
Hay the voice be strong and dear, —

" It is I ; be not afraid."

One of the best hymns on the Word of God is the
following : —



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272 THE HYMN LOVEB.

O Word of Qod Incarnate,

O Wisdom from on hisii,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,

O Light of our dark sky ;
We praise Thee for the radiance

That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footetept,

Shines on from age to age.

The Church from Thee, her Master,

Beoeived the gift Divine ;
And still that light she lifteth

0*er all the etfth to shine.
It is the golden casket

Where gems of truth are stored ;
It is the heaven-drawn picture

Of Thee, the living Word.

It floateth like a banner

Before God's host unfurl^
It shineth like a beacon

Above the darkling world ;
It is the chart and compass,

That o*er life's surging sea,
'Mid mists and rocks and quicksands,

Still guides, O Christ, to Thee

O make Thy Church, dear Sarioar,

A lamp of burnished gold.
To bear before the nations

Thy true light, as of old.
O teach Thy wandering pilgrims

By this their path to trace,
Till, clouds and darkness ended.

They see Thee face to ftoe.

Of his hjrmns for children I will speak in the chapter on
that subject. TJseful as has been Bbhop How's work in
other directions, he will probably be longest remembered
by the hymns he has contributed to the worship of the
Church.

Godfrey Thring (bom 1823), rector of Alford-with-
Homblotton, Somerset, is one of the most considerable
contributors to hymnody of our time. A large pro-



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LIVING EYMNIBTB.—1L 273

portion of his hymns hare passed into actual use.
<' The Church of England Hymn Book," edited by him,
which touches a higher literary and poetic level than
any other specially prepared for that church, contains
fifty 'Uine hymns from his pen; to say nothing of
yerses added to hymns by other writers. This is too
large a number to be inserted in a single collection
from the same pen, and forms the defect of the book ; still
it must be acknowledged that most of his hymns are
of great merit. His Evening Hjrmn, in its amended form,
is, perhaps, one of his finest. In it, the first line of
the second verse spoke of "Our life is but a fading
dawn." This was afterwards altered to ''Our life is
but an autumn day," which is an improvement, since
the dawn does not fade, but grows to the perfect day.
Mr. Stopford Brooke says the alteration was made at
his suggestion, but Mr. Thring has no recollection of
such a suggestion. I quote the hymn in its amended
form: —

The radiant morn hath passed away,
And spent too soon her golden store ;
The shadows of departing day
Creep on once more.

Cor life is bat an autumn day,
Its glorioos noon how quickly past ;—
Lead OS, O Christ, Thou Living Way,
Safe home at last.

Oh I by Thy sonl-inspiriog grace
Uplift oor hearts to realms on high :
Help us to look to that bright place
Beyond the sky ; —

Where Hght, and life, and Joy and peaoe
In undiyided empire reign.
And thronging angels never cease
Their deathless strain ; —



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274 THE HYMN LOVER.

Where Baints are clothed in spotlera white,
And evening shadows never fall,
Where Thou, Eternal Light of Light
Art Lord of all.

Equally beautiful and most picturesque is *' Fierce ragcHl
the tempest o'er the deep," which in few words calls
up the whole scene of the stilling of the tempest. It is
far finer than the ancient hymn, on the same subject,
by St. Anatolius "Fierce was the wild billow." His



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