William Garrett Horder.

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

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Keep us in life, forgave our sins, deliver
Us now and ever. Amen.

** The two friends and fellow-helpers, the pastor and
precentor of Joachimsthal — Johann Matthesius and
Kicolas Hermann,'' did excellent work, but of a simpler
and freer kind than most of their predecessors. From
the former we have "My inmost heart now raises"
(** Chorale Book," No, 164), which was used as a daily-
morning hymn by Gustavus Adolphus, and often sung by
his army as their morning prayer. From the latter, we
have ** The happy sunshine all is gone " (" Chorale
Book," No. 166), and " Now hush your cries, and shed
no tear" {Lyra Germanieay II, p. 251).

In the latter part of the sixteenth century, a different
spirit appears in German Hymnody — ^it is like the age
which followed Watts and Wesley — a kind of after-glow.
Hymn-writing had become fashionable and common, with
the usual results, that its spontaneity and freshness
departed. Still, even in this age, striking hymns
appeared. To it we owe Bingwaldt's hymn, " Great
God, what do I see and hear," which has undergone so
many changes in our English collections; and Philip
Nicolai's grand hymn, which owes its solemn tone to the


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remarkable circumstances under which it was written : —
** In 1597, during a fearful i)estilence in "Westphalia,
where he was pastor of the little town of Unna, more
than 1,400 persons died in a very short time, and from his
window he saw all the funerals pass to the graveyard
close at hand. From these scenes of death, he turned to
the study of St. Augustine's * City of God,' and the
contemplation of the eternal life, and so absorbed himself
in them, that he remained cheerful and well amid the
surrounding distress." Here is the hymn : —

Wake, awake, for night is fl^^ng :
The watchmen on the heights are crying
Awake, Jerusalem, arise l
Midnight's solemn hour is tolling,
His chariot- wheels are nearer rolling,
He comes ; prepare, ye Virgins wise ;
Rise up ; with willing feet
Go foi^, the Bridegroom meet :
Bear through the niffht your well-trimmed light,
Speed forth to join the marriage rite.

Sion hears the watchmen singing.
Her heart with deep delight is sprmging,
At once she wakes, she hastes away :
Forth her Bridegroom hastens glorious,
In grace arrayed, bv truth victorious ;
tier grief isjoy, her night is day :
Hail, Worthy Champion,
Christ, God Almighty's Son :
We haste along, in pomp of song,
And gladnome join the marriage throng.

Hear Thy praise, O Lord, ascending
From tongues of men and angels, blending.
With luirp and lute and psaltery.
By Thy pearly gates in wonder
We stand and swell the voice of thunder,
In bursts of choral melody :
No vision ever brought.
No ear hath ever caught,
Snch bliss and joy :
We ndse the song, we swdl the throng.
To praise Thee ages all along.


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Which is still better known by its use, in the following

form, in Mendelssohn's St. Paul : —

Sleepers, wftke ! a voice is calling ;
It is the Watchman on the walls,
Thou dty of Jerusalem !

For lo I the Bridegroom comes.

Arise, and take your lamps.
Hallelnjdi !
Awake ! His kingdom is at hand !
Go forth, go forth to meet your Lord !

Equally striking is the following from his pen : —

Behold how glorious is yon sky !
Lo ! there the righteous never die,

But dwell in peace for ever :
Then who would wear this earthly clay,
When bid to cast hfe's chains away,

And win Thy gracious favour ?
Holy, holy, O forgive us ;
And receive us, heavenly Father,
When around Thy throne we gather.

Confiding in Thy sacred word,
Our Saviour is our hope, O Lord,

The guiding star before us ;
Our Shepherd, leading us the way,
If from Th3rpath8 our footsteps stray,

To Thee He will restore us :
Holy, Holy, ever hear us.
And receive us, while we gather
Round Thy throne, Almighty Father.

To these hymns he composed chorales, which added
largely to their popularity.

**The first period of hymn development in the 17th cen-
tury, embraces that of the Thirty Years' War (1618-48).
David's Psalms become the model and type of the poets ;
and the most earnest hymns of comfort in trouble, of
imperishable value, spring from the trials of the times.
This, of course, caused prominence to be given to
personal matters. The influence of Opitz is also seen
in church hymns, inasmuch as more care is given to
precision and purity of language, as well as to a fluent


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and pleasing measure. Instead of the expressive brevity
and vigorous terseness of earlier times, we meet with a
certain cordial expansion and enlargement of the

In 1644, Martin Binkai-t composed what is certainly the
most popular, and also one of the most beautiful hymns,
the " Te Deum " of Germany, used on all great occasions
of national thanksgiving, and which Mendelssohn intro-
duced into his Symn of Praise.

Now thftDk we all our Ood,
With heart, and hands, and voioes,

Who wondroQs things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices ;

Who, from oar mothers* arms,

Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love,

And still is ours to-day.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us :

And keep us in His grace,

And guide us when perplexed,

And free us from all ills

In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father, now be given,

The Son, and Him who reigns
With Them in highest heaven —

The One Eternal God,

Whom earth and heaven adore, —

For thus it was, is now,

And shall be evermore.

It was" written on the prospect of peace after the Tliirty
Years' "War. The first two verses are a metrical version
of a passage in the apocryphal Book of Eeclesiasticus,
which reads as follows: — '* Now, therefore, bless ye the
God of all, who only doeth wonirous things everywhere,

♦ Kurtz's " Church History," vol. ii, p. 190.


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who exalteth our days from the womb, and dealeth with
ua according to His mercy. He grants us joyfulness of
heart, and that peace may be in our days in Israel for
ever ; that He would confirm His mercy with us, and
deliver us at His time." The following rendering is by
William Bartholomew : —

Let all men praise the Lord,
n worship lowly bending :
On His meet holy wor<

Redeemed fVom woe, depending.
He gracioos is, and just, «
From childhood us doth lead ;
On Him we place our trust
And hope, in time of need.

Glory and praise to God, —
To Father, Son, be given,

And to the Holy Ghost,—
On hi|^h, enthroneid in heaven.

Praise to the Triune God ;

With powerful arm and strong.

He ohangeth night to day ;

Praise Him with grateful song.

Miss Winkworth's account of Kinkart is so interesting,
and shows how much hymns owe, not merely to innate
faculty, but to the circumstances of the writer, that I
append it: — "This simple but noble expression of trust
and praise, with its fine chorale, was composed by Martin
Rinkart, in 1644, when the hope of a general peace was
dawning on the country. He was one of those provincial
clergymen to whom Germany had so much reason to bo
gi-ateful. The son of a poor coppersmith, he made his
way at the University of Leipsic by dint of industry and
his musical gifts, took orders, and was precentor of the
church at Eisleben, and at the age of thirty-one was
offered the place of Archdeacon at his native town of
Eilenburg, in Saxony. He went there as the war broke
out, and died just after the peace, and throughout these


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thirty-one years he stood hy his flock, and helped them to
the utmost, under every kind of distress. Of course, he
had to endure the quartering of soldiers in his house, and
frequent plunderings of his little stock of grain and house-
hold goods. But these were small things. The plague of
1637 visited Eilenburg with extraordinary severity; the
town was overcrowded with fugitives from the country
districts, where the Swedes had been spreading devasta-
tion, and in this one year eight thousand persons died in
it. The whole of the town council except three persons,
a terrible number of school children, and the clerg3rmen
of the neighbouring parish, were all carried off; and
Einkart had to do the work of three men, and did it
manfully at the beds of the sick and dying. He buried
more than four thousand persons, but through all his
labours he himself remained perfectly well. The pestilence
was followed by a famine so extreme that thirty or forty
persons might be seen fighting in the streets for a dead
cat or crow. Einkart, with the burgomaster and one
other citizen, did what could be done to organise
assistance, and gave away everything but the barest
rations for his own family, so that his door was surrounded
by a crowd of poor starving wretches, who found it their
only refuge. After all this suffering came the Swedes
once more, and imposed upon the unhappy town a tribute
of thirty thousand florins. Einkart ventured to the camp
to intreat the general for mercy, and when it was refused,
turned to the citizens who followed him, saying, * Come,
my children, we can And no hearing, no mercy with men,
let us take refuge with God.' He fell on his knees, and
prayed with such touching earnestness that the Swedish
general relented, and lowered his demand at last to two


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thousand florins. So great were Kinkart's own losses and
charities that he had the utmost difficulty in finding bread
and clothes for his children, and was forced to mortgage
his future income for several years. Yet how little his
spirit was broken by all these calamities is shown by this
hymn, and others that he wrote ; some, indeed, speaking
of his country's sorrows, but all breathing the same spirit
of unbounded trust and readiness to give thanks."

To a peiiod a little later belongs Paul Gerhardt, (1606-
1 676) perhaps the sweetest of the German hymnists. Miss
"Winkworth gives the following graphic account of his
life: — "He was bom in 1606, in a little town, Grafin-
hainichen, in Saxony, where his father was burgomaster.
The whole of his youth and early manhood fell in the
time of war. That it must have been a period full of
disappointment and hope deferred for him, is clear enough
when we And a man of his powers at the age of forty-
five still only a private tutor, and candidate for holy
orders. In 1651 he was living in this capacity in the
family of an advocate named Berthold, in Berlin. He
had already written many hymns, but was as yet unable
to publish them; and he was in love with Berthold's
daughter, but had no living to marry upon. About the
close of that year, however, the living of a country place
called Mittenwalde was offered him ; he was ordained,
and in 1655 he at last married Anna Maria Berthold.
At Mittenwalde he passed six quiet years, during which
he began to publish his hymns, which immediately
attracted great attention, and were quickly adopted into
the hymn-books of Brandenburg and Saxony. His name
thus became known, and in 1657 he was invited to the*
great church of St. Nicholas, 'in Berlin, where his life


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was soon both a busy and an honourable one. He
worked most assiduously and successfully in his pastoral
duties ; he brought out many hymns, which were caught
up by the people much as Luther's had been of old ; and
he was the favourite preacher of the city, whom crowds
flocked to hear. He is described to us as a man of
middle height, of quiet but firm and cheerful bearing ;
while his preaching is said to have been very earnest and
persuasive, and full of Christian love and charity, which
he practised as well as preached by never turning a
beggar from his doors, and receiving widows and orphans
who needed help and shelter into his own house. His
religion and his temperament alike made him cheerful,
and not all the many disappointments of his life seem
ever to have embittered his mood ; but he had a very
tender and scrupulous conscience, and wherever a question
of conscience seemed to him to be involved, he was liable
to great mental conflict, and an exaggerated estimate of
trifles. In theology he was an ardent Lutheran." His
portrait in the church at Liibben bears the inscription :
** Thoologus in cribro Satanse versatus," a divine sifted
in Satan's sieve.

For spontaneity, simplicity, purity, he stands pre-
eminent among the German writers, and is perhaps the
greatest favourite in England, so much so that I need
only mention his hymns. The following are the finest :
** Jesus, Thy boundless love to me," translated by John
"Wesley ; " Sacred Head, once wounded," a hymn by
Bernard of Clairvaux, which owes much to Gerhardt's
handling, translated by Dr. J. W. Alexander ; ** Commit
thou all thy griefs," translated by John "Wesley ; and
"Evening and Morning," translated by Richard Massie.


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The Electress Louisa of Brandenburg deserves mentioii
as a hymnist of no mean order.

Oeorge Neumarck (1621-1681) deserves very high rank,
and is indeed one of the most famous of (German hymnists.
Of him, the following touching story is told : — " About
two years after the close of the Thirty Years' War in
(Germany, George Neumarck lived in a poor street in
Hamburg. Obtaining a precarious livelihood by playing
on the violoncello, after a while he fell sick, and was
unable to go his usual rounds. A.8 this was his only
means of support, he was soon reduced to great straits,
and was compelled to part with his instrument to a Jew,
who, with characteristic sharpness, lent him on it a sum
much below its value for two weeks, after which, if it
were not redeemed, it was to be forfeited. As he gave it
up, he looked lovingly at it, and tearfully asked the Jew
if he might play one more tune upon it. * You don't
know,' he said, ' how hard it is to part with it. For ten
years it has been my companion ; if I had nothing else, I
had it ; and it spoke to me, and sung back to me. Of all
the sad hearts that have left your door, there has been
none so sad as mine.' His voice grew thick ; then pausing
for a moment, he seized the instrument and commenced a
tune so exquisitely soft that even the Jew listened, in
spite of himself. A few more strains, and he sung to his
own melody, two stanzas of bis own hymn, * Life is
weary ; Saviour take me.' Suddenly the key changed ;
a few bars, and the melody poured forth itself anew, and
his face lighted up with a smile as he sung * Yet who
knows the cross is precious.' Then laying down the
instrument, he said : ' As God will, I am still,' and
rushed from the shop. Going out into the darkness, he


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stumbled against a stranger, who seemed to have been
listening at the door, and who said to him : ' Could you
tell me where I could obtain a copy of that song ? I would
''willingly give a florin for it.* *My good friend,* said
Neumarck, * I will give it you without the florin.' The
stranger was valet to the Swedish ambassador, and to him
the poet told the story of his trials. He, in his turn, told
his master, who, being in want of a private secretary,
engaged Keumarck at once, and so his troubles ended.
But with his first money he redeemed his instrument, and,
on obtaining it, he called his landlady, and his friends and
neighbours, to hear him play on it again. Soon his room
was flUed, and he sung, to his own accompaniment,
his own sweet hymn, of which this is one stanza : —

Leave Qod to order all thy ways.

And hope in Him whatever betide ;
Thou'lt find Him, in the evil days,

Thine all sufficient strength and guide,
Who trusts in God's unchaneing love,
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

The following hymns from his pen are growing in favour

in our country. The first has been translated by

Catherine Winkworth : —

If thou but suffer God to guide thee.
And hope in Him througli aU thy ways,

Hell five thee strength, whatever betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days ;
Who trust in God*8 unchanging love.
Build on the Rock that nought can move.

Only be still, and wait His leisure

In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate'er thy Father's pleasure

And all-discerning love hath sent :

Nor doubt our inmost wants are known

To Him who chose us for His own.

Nor think, amid the heat of trial.
That God hath cast thee off unheard,

That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of 6K)d preferred ;


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Time passes and much change doth briDg,
And sets a bound to everytlung.

All are alike before the Highest ;

'Tis easy to our God, we know,
To raise thee up, though low thou lietit,

To make the rich man poor and low;

True wonders still by Him are wrought,

Who setteth up and brings to nought.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving.

So do thine own part faithfully,
And trust His word, though undeserving.

Thou yet shalt find it true for thee ;

God never yet torsook at need

The soul that trusted Him indeed.

The second has been translated by "W. Bartholomew and
introduced by Mendelssohn into his oratorio of SL Paul.

To Thee, O Lord, I yield my spirit,

Who break'st in love this mortal chain ;
My life 1 but from Thee inherit.

And death becomes my chiefest gain.

Ill Thee 1 live, in Thee I die,

Content — for Thou art ever nigh.

Angelns Silesius, whose real name was Johann Scheffler,
(1624-1677) but who adopted the name Angelus after a
Spanish Mystic, John of Ajigelus, of the 16th century,
adding Silesius to it because of his birth at Breslau, in
Silesia, a physician, so deeply influenced by the Mystic
writers, that he found no congenial atmosphere in the some-
what dogmatic and doctrinal Lutheranism of his time — a
man of wide charity — is a hymnist of great excellence, as
may be seen from the following translation by Catherine
"Winkworth : —

O Love, who formedst me to wear
The image of Thy Godhead here ;
Who soughtest me with tender care
Through all my wanderings wild and drear ;

O Love, I give myself to Thee,

Thine ever, only Thine to be.

O Love, who once in time wast slain.
Pierced through and through with bitter woe;


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O Love, who wrestliDg thiu didst gain
That we etemaljoy might know ;

O Love, I give myself to Thee,

Thine ever, only Thine to be.

O Love, of whom is truth and h'ght,
The Word and Spirit, life and power,
Whose heart was bared to them that smite.
To shield us in our trial hour ;

O Love, I give myself to Thee,

Thine ever, only Thine to be

O Love, who thos hast bound me fast,
Beneath that gentle yoke of Thine ;
Love who hast conquered me at last.
And rapt away this heart of mine ;

O Love, I give myself to Thee,

Thine ever, only Thine to be.

O Love, who soon shalt bid me rise
From out this dying life of ours ;

Love, who once above yon skies
Shall set me in the Ruleless bowers ;

O Love, I give myself to Thee,
Thine ever, only Thine to be.

Equally beautiful is the following, translated by John

"Wesley : —

Thee will I love, my strength, my tower
Thee will I love, my joy, my crown ;
Thee will I love with all my power.
In all Thy works, and Thee alone.
Thee will I love, till the pure fire
Fillfl my whole soul with strong desire.

1 thank Thee, uncreated Sun,

That Thy bright beams on me have shined ;
I thank Thee, who has overthrown
My foes, and healed my woxmded mind ;
I thank Thee, Lord, whose quickening voice
Bids my freed heart in Thee rejoice.

Uphold me in the doubtful race.
Nor Bufifei me again to stray ;
Strengthen my feet with steady pace
Still to press forward in Thy way ;
My soul and flesh, O Lord of might,
Transfigture with Thy heavenly light.

Thee will I love, my joy, my crown ;
Thee will I love, my Lord, my God ;


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Thee will I love, beneath Thy frown
Or smile — Thy sceptre or Thy rod ;
What though my flesh and heart decay
Thee shall I love in endless day I

Some of his spiritual aphorisms, too, are very suggestive :

" Th' Unspeakable, that men use God to call,
Utters and shows itself in the One Word to all.

God is all virtue's aim, its impulse and its prize.
In Him its sole reward, its only * wherefore ' lies.

The nobler aught, the commoner 'twill be,
God and His sundiine to the world are free.

My God, how oft do I Thy gifts implore.

Yet know I crave Thyself, oh, how much more !

Give what Thou wilt, eternal life or aught,

If Thou withhold Thyself, Thou giv'st me nought.

All goodness flows from Gk)d, therefore 'tis Hib alone ;
Kvil springs up in thee, that may'st thou call thy own.
Is aught of good in thee ? Give God the praise of all ;
To claim it n>r thine own, is ever man's true FaU.

The noblest prayer is, when one evermore
Grows inly liker that he kneels before.

Faith by itself is dead, it cannot live and move
Till into it is breathed the living soul of Love.

The rose demands no reasons, she Uooms and scents the air,
Nor asks if any see her, nor knows that she is fair.

How &irly shines the snow, whene'er the sun's bright beams
Illume and colour it with heavenly gleams ;
So shines thy soul, white, dazzling as the snow.
When o'er it plays the I>aty-spring's radiant glow."

Belonging to the same school as Scheffler is Knorr von

Eosenroth, (1636-1689) a pious baron and diplomatist,

whose " Dayspring of Btemity " (Chorale Book, No, 159)

is a lovely hymn, probably composed during a walk at

the time of sunrise.

The Pietists (1660—1750) produced many good

hymnists, among whom I may mention as known by

translations in English, Frederick Eudolph Louis, Baron

von Canitz, (1654-1699) Chamberlain to Prince Elector

Frederick "William, whose morning hymn is very fine.


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Come, my soul, thou must be wakiug,
Now is breaking
O'er the earth another day :
Come to EUm who made this splendour,
See thoa render
All thy feeble strength can pay.

Gladly hail the sun returning ;
Beady homing
Be the incense of thy powers :
For the night is safely ended,
God hath tended
With His care thy helpless hours.

Pray that He may prosper ever
Each endeavour,
When thine aim is good and tnie ;
But that He may ever thwart thee,
And convert thee.
When thou evil wouldst pursue.

Think that He thy ways beholdeth,

He unfddeth

Every fault that lurks within ;

He the hidden shame glossed over

Can diMOver,

And discern each deed of sin.

Our Gtod's bounteous gifts abuse not,
Light refuse not,
But His Spirit'^ voice obey ;
Thou with Him shalt dwell beholding,
Light unfolding
All things in unclouded day.

Mayst thou on life's morrow,
Free from sorrow.
Pass away in slumber sweet ;
And, released from death's dark sadness.
Rise in gladness.
That far brighter sun to greet.

When dying he asked to be lifted to the open window,
and his eyes beaming with joy exclaimed : " Oh ! if the
sight of this created sun is so charming and beautiful,
what will be the sight of the unspeakable glory of the
Creator Himself?"

Laurentius Laurentii, (1660-1722) is well known bj
his hymn, *• Rejoice, all ye believers."


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Charles Henry von Bogatzsky (1690-1774) is known in
England rather by his '^ Golden Treasury/' which used
to be one of the most favourite books of devotion, than by
his hymns, some of which, however, are of great merit.

Joachim Neander (1640-1680), a Bishop of the Church
of the United Brethren, who must not be confounded with
the great Church Historian of the same name, was one of
the most poetic of the German hymnists, as may be seen
from the following translation by J. D. Burns : —

Heaven tnd earth, and sea and air,
Still their Maker's praise declare ;
Thou, my seal, as loudly sing,
To thy God thy praises bring.

See the sun his power awakes.
As through doads his glory breaks ;
See the moon and stars of light,
Praising God in stillest night.

See how God this rdling globe
Swathes with beauty like a robe ;
Forests, fields, and living things,
Each its Maker's glory sings.

Through the air Thy praises meet.
Birds are singing clear and sweet ;
Fire, and storm, and wind, Thy will
As Thy ministers fulfil.

The ocean waves Thy dory tell,
At Thy touch they sink and swell ;
From &e well-sprinflr to the sea.

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 25 of 37)