William Garrett Horder.

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

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in that section of the Church to which he belongs.

John Brooke Greenwood, of Manchester, has written

many hymns and short religious poems, which have

appeared in various magazines. One of these was included

in the "Annus Sanctus," edited by the Rev. Orby Shipley,

on the principle that no hymn or poem should be admitted

to its pages, save those written by members of the Roman

Communion. In this collection is included ** The Return

of the dove," with the initial S., of which Mr. Greenwood,

a member of the Congregational Church, is the author.

Astonished to find it there I set myself to unravel the

mystery, and found that Mr. Greenwood's verses came

into the hands of a relation of his belonging to the Roman

Church, who gave them to her priest ; through him they

found their way into a Roman Catholic newspaper. Mr.

Shipley finding them there concluded they were hy a

memher of that communion, and included them in his

" Annus Sanctus," where they figure among the verses of

monks, priests, bishops, and cardinals. After this, who

shall say that a heretic may not have some slight chance

of heaven ? I quote two hymns by Mr. Greenwood^ which

seem to me to be his best efforts. The fir^t a Marriage

Hymn is becoming a favourite for that servic(3 : —


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Cn wn with Thy beuediction

Thu« Mcrament of love;
And make this hallowed union

Foretaste of heaven above :
Let pore and perfect gladneas,

Let pure and per:ect rest,
And pence that knows no sadneas.

Thy presence, Lord, attest.

As once in Even's springtime,

As once at Cana'n feast,
80 consecrate this Bridal —

Be Thou its Guest and Priest !
With sunshine wreathe the altar,

Chase every doud away,
Nor let their voices falter

Who plight their troth to-day.

God bless the Bride and Bridegroom,

And fill with joy their life;
Keep them, througli »U its changes.

True husband, faithful wife I

Thou wilt smile upon them,

They ^hall not need the fua ;
This thought their hearts rejoicing —

Henceforth, not twain but one.

With Thy great love befriend them,

The love thst casts out fear ;
And make a rainbow round them

For every falling tear :
Till, all their sheaves well-garnered.

Heaven's harvest-home they raiFe,
Where love, that knows no ending,

LMpires more perfect praise.

The second, a Baptismal hymn, is very tender, and
admirably suited to that service : —

What shall we render, Lord, to Xltee
Who hast enriched our lives with love.

And in our midst has set this child
To link our hearts to things above?

We thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast given

Such answer to our hopes and fears ;
Hast sent this little one from heaven.

Glad recompense for all our tears.


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To nestle dove-like, in oar home,

And fill onr lives with joy and light ;
Make sunshine when the shadows oome,

And parents* hearts to Thee unite.

To wean our souls from self and sin,

To nobler uses, higher claims ;
A life of service that shall win

Thj benediction on its aims.

Baptise our households firom above,

O gentle Shepherd of the sheep !
And, with Thy ministry of love.

Our tender nurslings safely keep.

We bring our little ones to Thee ;

Their angels alwa3^ see Thy face :
The Everlasting arms shall be

Our children's quiet resting-place.

Thomas Hughes (bom 1823), known in every English-
speaking country as the author of ** Tom Brown's School
Days," is the author of one hymn, written at the request
of the Hon. Mrs. Korton, for " Lays of the Sanctuary,"
a poetical collection published for a charitable purpose,
hut it is so good, and so gathers up and expresses the
inmost spirit of the author, that it deserves mention and
quotation. Mr. Hughes tells me that he never attempted
to write another hymn. It is such a hymn as his dear
friend Charles Kingsley would have rejoiced to sing : —

O God of Truth, whose living word

Upholds whatever hath breath,
Look down on Thy creation, Lord,

Enslaved by sin and death.

Set up Thy standard. Lord, that we,

Who daim a heavenly birth,
Mav march with Thee to smite the lies

That vex Thy groaning earth.

Ah I would we Join that blest array,

And follow in the might
Of Him the Faithful and the True,

In raiment clean and white I


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We fight for tnith, we fight for Ood,

Poor slaves of lies and sin !
He who would fight for Thee od earth,

Must fint be true within.

Then, God of Truth, for whom we long,

Thou who wilt hear our prayer,
Do Thine own battle in our hearts,

And day the falsehood there.

SUll smite I still burn I till naught ii left

But Qod*B own truth and love;
Then, Lord, as morning dew come down,

Rest on us from above.

Yea, come ! then, tried as in the fire,

From every lie set free,
Thy perfect truth shall dwell in at.

And we shall live in Thee.

John Julian (bom 1839), Vicar of Wincobank, Sheffield,
is best known as Editor of the " Dictionary of Hymnology,"
about to be published by Mr. John Murray, to which he has
devoted years of labour, and which will be the standard
work of reference on that subject, but he has written two
or three hymns which have a certain merit, but lack that
inexpressible something — spontaneity — the vision and
faculty divine, which make words to glow, and kindle
other minds. They are not sufficiently quick in their
movement to be effective, they are the work of^ the
hynmologist rather than the poet, but yet the refrain of
the following hymn is very impressive : —

O God of God! O Light of Liffht !

Thou Prince of Peace, Thou King of Eingi ;

To Thee, where angels know no night,

The song of praise for ever rings : —
To Him who sits upon the throne,
The Lamb once slain for sinful men,
Be honour, mi^ ht; all by Him woo ;
Glory and praise 1 Amen, Amen.


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Deep in the Piopbets' lacred pAge,

Grand in the Poets' wingM word,

Slowly in type, from age to age,

Nations beheld their coming iiord ;

Till through the deep Jadean night,
Rang out the song, " Goodwill to men ';
Hymned by the firstborn sons of light,
Be-eohoed now — * Goodwill,' Amen.

That life of tmth, those deeds of love,
That death of pain, 'mid hate and scorn ;
These all are past, and now above,
He reigns our King ! onoe crowned with thorn.
'* Lift up your heads, ye heavenly gates,"
So sang His hosts, unheard by men ;
" Lift up your hearts, for you He waits,"
" We lih them up! Amen, Amen ! "

Nations afar, in ignorance deep ;
Isles of the sea. where darkness lav ;
These hear His voice, they wake m>m sleep,
And throng with joy the upward mv,

Thv CTT with us, •• Send forth lliy light,"

O Lamb, once slain for sinful men;

Burst Satan's bonds, O God of Might,

Set all men free 1 Amen, Amen.

Sing to the Lord a glorious song.
Sing to His name. His love forth teU ;
Sing on, heaven's host, His praise prolong;
Sing, ye who now on earth ao dwdl :—

Worthy the Lamb for sinners slain.

From angels, praise ; and thanks fbom men.

Worthy the Lamb, enthroned to reign.

Glory and power 1 Amen, Amen.

The same kind of remark applies to his Christmas hymn
for children, ^'Sweetly sang the angels in the clear
calm light."

Mary Fawler Maude (bom 1848) deserves mention for
the terse and striking hymn, "Thine for ever, (Jod of

Eliza Famiy Morris, fUe Goffe (bom 1821), was the
authoress of a little work, " The Yoice and the Reply "


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(1858), in the second part of which is found the hymn,
" God of pity, God of grace," by which she is now well
known. It is called " The Prayer in the Temple." She
has written other hymns, but none of them equal to the
one I have named.

Charles Edward Mudie (bom 1818), the founder of the
well-known library which goes under his name, has
written a few poems chiefly sacred, which have been
collected and published under the title ''Stray leaves."
The one hymn which has passed into many collections,
and become very popular among the Free Churches, is the
following, which has great merit : —

I lift my heart to Thee,

Saviour Divine,
For Thou art all to me,
And 1 am Thine.
Is there on earth a doser bond than thii^
That *my Beloved's mine, and I am Hia ' ?

Thine am I b^ all ties ;
Bat chiefly Thine,
That through Thy sacrifioe
Thou, liord, art mine.
By Thine own cords of love, so sweetly wound
Around me, I to Thee am doeely bound.

To Thee, Thou bleeding Lamb,

I all things owe ;
All that I have and am,
And all I know.
All that I have is now no longer mine.
And I am not mine own, — Lord, 1 am Thine.

How can 1, Lord, withhold

Life's brightest hour
From Thee ; or gathered gold,
Or any power V
Why should I keep one predous thing from Thee,
When Thou hast given Thine own dear self for me


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I pray Thee, Saviour, keep

Me in Thy love.
Until death's holy deep
Shall me remove
To that &ir realm, where, sin and sorrow o'er,
Thoo and Thine own are one for evermore.

Some writers are forced into the company of h3rmnists,

who never expected to be. Harriet Parr (better

known nnder her nwn de plums of Holme Lee) is an

example of this. In 1856 she wrote, for Charles Dickens,

a portion of the Christmas story '^ The wreck of the

Oolden Mary." The narrative which connects the various

parts together is that the ** Gk>lden Mary " on her voyage

to California, encounters an iceberg, and is wrecked. The

crew and passengers take to their boats, and, to while away

the time, relate their experiences. Poor Dick Tarrant

tells his tale, and then says : ^' What can it be that brings

all these old things over in my mind ? There's a child's

hymn I and Tom used to say at my mother's knee when

we were little ones, keeps running through my thoughts.

It's the stars, may be. There was a little window by my

bed that I used to watch them at — a window in my room

at home in Cheshire ; and if I was ever afraid, as boys will

be after reading a good ghost story, I would keep on saying

it till I fell asleep." ** That was a good mother of yours,

Dick; could you say that hymn now, do you think ? some of

us would like to hear it." "It's as clear in my mind at

this minute, as if my mother was here listening to me,"

said Dick, and he repeated : —

Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father,

Ere I lay me down to sleep ;
Bid Thine angels, pore and holy,

Bound my bed their vigil keep.


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Qreat my sins are, bat Thy mercy
Far outweighs them every one;

Down before the cross I oast them,
Trusting in Thy help alone.

Keep me, through this night of peiil,
Underneath its boundless shade ;

Take me to Thy rest, I uray Thee,
When my pilgrimage is made.

None shall measure out Thy patience
By the span of human thought ;

None shall bound the tender mercies
Which Thy holy Son hath wrought.

Pftrdon all my past transgressions,
Give me strength for days to come ;

Guide and guard me with Thy blessing
Tin Thine angels lid me hcnne.

It was first included in the " Congregational Hymn Book.'*

Little did the authoress dream that her yerses would be

put to such a use, and become as they have, so deservedly

popular. This is the onlj hymn we owe to her pen.

Catherine Pennef ather, fU$ Xing, to whose husband we
owe several hymns of great beauty, has written one of
great tenderness, which expresses the purpose which has
marked the life work of its author, '^ Not now, my child,
a little more rough tossing."

To FoUiott Sandf ord Pierpoint (bom 1835) — ^who must

not be confounded with the American, John Pierpont —

we owe one of the most delightful hymns of thankfulness

in the language. The refrain, in the original, ran tiius:

* Christ, our God, to Thee we raise," but by most

editors, it has been changed to the version I append : —

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which ftom our birth
Over and around us lies ;
Father, unto Thee we raise
This, our sacrifice of praise.


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For the beaaty of each boor
Of the day and of the night,
HUl and vale, and tree and flower,
Snn and moon, and ftars of light ;
Father, onto Thee we raise
This, oar sacrifice of pfaise.

For the joy of ear and eye.
For the heart and mind's delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight ;
Father, unto Thee we raise
This oar sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of hunan love.
Brother, rister, jparent, child,
Friends on earth, and Mends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild ;
Father, onto Thee we raise
This, oar sacrifice of pndse.

For each perfect gift of Thine
To oor race so fr^ly £^ven,
Graces human and divine.
Flowers of earth, and buds of heaven;
Father, unto Thee we raise
This, our sacrifice of praise.

For Thy Church that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above.
Offering up on every shore
Its pure sacrifice of love ;
Father, unto Thee we raise
This, our saoifioe of pndse.

Richard Hayes Robinson (bom 1842), of Bath, is the
author of the beautiful little hymn, ** Holy Father, cheer
our way."

Christina G^rgina Rossetti (bom 1830), the sister of
Dante Gabriel and William Michael Rossetti, is better
known as a poet than as a hymnist. Her poems take
yery high rank, and often remind us of those of the
greatest poetess of England — Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


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I question whetlier Miss Bossetti ever wrote verses with a
view to use in worship, but the exquisite beauty of some
of her shorter poems has led some editors to include them
in their collections. They are, however, more suited to
private than public worship, as may be seen from the
following specimen : —

I would have gone ; Gk)d bade me stay :
I would have worked ; God bade me rest :
He broke my will from day to day,
He read my yeariUDgs, miezpreased,
And said them nay.

Now I would Btay ; God bids me go ;
Now I would rest ; Ghxl bids me work.
He breakfl my heart, tossed to and fro,
My soul is wrung with doubts that lurk
And vex it so.

I go, Loid, where Thou sendest me ;
Day after day I plod and moil :
But, Christ, my God, when will it be
That I may let alone my toil
And rest with Thee?

Jane Euphemia Saxby, nie Browne (bom 1811), the
author of ** The Dove on the Cross," is numbered among
the hymnists by the following exquisite hymn, which
appeared in the volume I have named : —

Show me the way, O Lord,

And make it plain ;
I would obey Thy Word,
Speak yet again :
I will not take one step until I know
Which way it is that Thou wouldst have me go.

O Lord, 1 cannot see :

Vouchsafe me light :
The mist bewilders me.
Impedes my sight :
Hold Thou my hand, and lead me W Thy side ;
I dare not go alone, — ^be Thou my Guide.


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1 will be patient, Lord,
Troitfbl and still :
I will not do^bt Thy Word ;
My hopes fulfil :
How can I perish, clinging to Thy side,
My Comforter, my Savionr, and my Guide ?

Chailes Smith (bom 1844) is the author of two hynms,
one of which especially deserves mention. It was
written at my suggestion for ''The Book of Praise for
Children," which at the time, I was compiling. Its author
made many attempts, and at last almost gave up the task
in despair, when a sudden inspiration enabled him to
write the following hymn, which is quite original in
conception, and expressed with great beauty. It was
afterwards revised for insertion in ** Congi'cgational
Hymns," where it appears as quoted below. The com-
parison of the path of duty to a shining golden street ia
particularly happy : —

Lord t when through sin 1 wander

So very far from Thee,
I think in some far couDirv,

Thy sinless home must be ;
But when with heartfelt sorrow

1 pray Thee to forgive,
Thy pardon in so peifect.

That in Thy heaven I live.

That heaven. Lord, so surrounds me,

That when I do the right,
The saddest path of duty

Is lightened by its light :
I know not what its glories

Before Thy throne must be.
But here Thy smiling presence

Is heaven on earth to me.

To love the right and do it,

is to my heart so sweet.
It makes the path of duty

A shining golden street :


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Give me Thy Btrength, O Father,

To choose this ps^ each day,
Then heaven within, about me.

Shall oompasa all my way.

The other is a hymn for childicn on "Joy and Sorrow
alike from God," and is of merit, though not equal to
the one I have quoted.

Gteorge Hunt Smyttan, has shown the use which may
be made of Scripture incident, when rightly treated, in
the sharply-cut hymn : —

Forty days and forty nights

Thou wast fasting in the wild ;
Forty days and forty nights

Tempted and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day,

Chilly dewdrops nightly shed ;
Erowling beasts about Thv way ;

Stones Thy plUow, earth Thy bed.

Lord, if Satan, vexing sore,

Flesh or sph*it should assail.
Thou hast vanquished him before ;

Ghiant we may not faint or fail.

So shall we have peace divine ;',

Holier gladness ours shall be ;
Bound us, too, shall angels shine,

Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Saviour dear,

Ever constant by Thy side ;
That with Thee we may appear

At th' eternal Eastertide.

' David Thomas (bom 1813), for many years minister of
the Congregational Church at Stockwell, for whose use
he compiled " The Biblical Liturgy," and Editor of The
Homilisty has written several hymns, which were included
in the "Liturgy" I have named. One of these is
pathetic and tender in no ordinary degree : —


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Shew pity, Lord, for we are fraQ and faint;
We fiide away, O list to onr complaint !
We fade away, like flowers in the sun ;
We jnst begin, and then onr work is done.

Shew pity. Lord, onr souls are sore distressed ;
As troabled seas, our natures have no rest ;
As troubled seas that surging beat the shore,
We throb and heave, ever and evermore.

Shew pity, Lord, our grief is in our sin :
We would be cleansed, O make us pure within I
We would be cleansed, for this we cry to Thee ;
Thy word of love can make the oonsdenoe free.

Shew pity, Lord, inspire oar hearts with love ;
That holy love which draws the soul above ;
That holy love which makes us one with Thee,
And with Thy saints, through all eternity.

Henry Twells (bom 1832), rector of Waltham, Melton
Mowbray, will be long remembered, and deservedly, by
his hymn for Sunday evening, one of the finest we possess,
*' At even ere the sun was set." Scarcely a hymnal now
appears in which this is not included.


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GERMAinr holds a place of pre-eminence for her hymn9.
In sacred poetry^ she has had no writers at all to be com-
pared with John Milton, G^eorge Herbert>Jffenry Yanghan,
John Keble, and a host of others that might be named.
Probably now our store of English Hymnodj is eqnal, but
before the present century it was far inferior to that of
Germany. The reasons for this pre-eminence are twofold :
the much earlier period (two or three centuries) at which
the Germans began to cultivate hymn-writing, and their
greater love for music, so that no sooner was a hymn
written than it was at once set to music and its
life and influence secured. '^As far back as we hear
anything of the German race, we hear of their love for
song. They sang hymns, we are told, in their heathen
worship, and lays in honour of their heroes at their
banquets, and their heaven was pictured as echoing with
the songs of the brave heroes who had died in battle."*
Their love of music was not, however, checked or
diverted from a religious use by Calvinism, which
had but a very slight hold of the German mind. The
more strongly churches have been influenced by the

* Wliikworth's *' Ctmstian iSiDgen of (iermaoy/* p. 6.


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theology of Calvin, the less disposed have they been to
admit Art, whether in the form of Music, Poetry, or
Fainting, as a handmaid to their worship. And so we
find, that, whilst England was content with such versions
of the Psalms as Stemhold and Hopkins, Germany
possessed a noble collection of hymns in the vernacular.
Mrs. Charles, in her " Voice of Christian Life in Song,"
attempts to] explain the Calvinistic dislike to hymns in
public worship in the following way: — "None of the
strictly Calvinistic communities have a hymn-book dating
back to the K^ormation. It cannot, sorely, be their
doctrines which caused this ; many of the best-known and
most deeply-treasured hymns of Germany and England have
been written by those who receive the doctrines known as
Calvinistic. Nor can it proceed from any peculiarity of
race, or deficiency in popular love of music and song.
French and Scotch national character are too dissimilar
to explain the resemblance ; whilst France has many
national melodies and songs, and Scotland is peculiarly
rich in both. Is not the cause, then, simply the common
ideal of external ecclesiastical forms which pervaded all
the churches reformed on the Genevan type? The
intervening chapters of ecclesiastical history were, as it
were, folded up, as too blotted and marred for truth to
be read to profit in them ; and, next to the first chapter
of Church History in the Acts of the Apostles, was to
stand, as the second chapter, the history of the Eeformed
Churches. Words were to resume their original Bible
meaning ; nothing was to be received that could not be
traced back to the Divine hand. Ecclesiastical border was
to be such as St. Faul had established, or hsd found
established ; clearly to be traced, it was believed, in the



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Acts and Apostolical Epistles. And, since tlie inspiration
which glowed on the gifted lips of apostolic days existed
no longer, and the '^psalms and hymns and spiritual songa"
in which St. Paul had delighted fonned no part of the
New Testament canon, recourse must be had to an older
liturgy, inspired throughout, at once most human and
most divine. Thus the Book of Psalms became the
hymn-book of the Beformed Churches ; adapted to grave
and solemn music, in metrical translations whose one aim
and glory was to render intd measures which could be
song the very words of the Hebrew Psalms."

This seems to me a very insufficient explanation of the
matter, since such a position would have led them to
confine all their worship — ^prayers and sermons, as well
aa hymns — ^to Bible forms. This they did not do. It
seems to me that the Calvinist had a rooted dislike
to the aid of Art, whether in poetry, or music, or
architecture, in the service of religion. In his mind,
there lay an other-worldliness of a very pronounced type,
so that although he dilated on the song and music of
heaven, he would not admit these to any place in the
Church on earth. The more rigid of the Calvinists
excluded song of every kind, even that drawn from
scripture sources, from worship.

The hymnody of G^ermany sprang from very small
beginnings, and only gradually came into existence. In
the earliest times, whilst the land was under the sway of
Bome — ^there, as in England — ^hymns filled but a small
place in worship ; \ and those that were used had been
drawn from Latin writers chiefly of the Gregorian or
Ambrosian schools. In the earliest times ol the
Oerman Church ''the only part which the people


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were allowed to take in the servicea of the Church was

to siiig, or rather to shout, the * Kyrie Eleison ' in the

Litany, and that only at extraordinary seasons, such as

processions, pilgrimages, the transposition of relics,

funerals, the consecration of churches, and other similar

occasions."* But, '* These words were frequently

repeated, sometimes two or three hundred times in one

service, and were apt to degenerate into a kind of scarcely

articulate shout, as is proved by the early appearance,

even in writing, of such forms as ' Kyrieles.' But soon

after Notker had created the Latin Sequence, the priests

began to imitate it in German, in order to furnish the

people with some intelligible words in place of the mere

outcry to which they had become accustomed. They

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 23 of 37)