William Garrett Horder.

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

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Rivers murmur, Lord, 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.

"The Pietistic School" were distinguished as hymn-
writers by a scriptural-practical and devotional tendency,
the spiritual life of believers, the breaking through
of grace in conversion, growth in holiness, the changing
conditions, experiences, and feelings in the life of
the soul, were made the objects of contemplatioK


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and description. Their hymns are for the most part
no longer for the congregation, for the people,
for common worship, but more for individual edification,
and for the closet. There are only, relatiTely speaking,
a few hymns of this school that form an exception, and
still deserve the name of church-hymns. When pietism
declined, the spiritual-poetical inspiration awakened by it
declined also gradually ; it lost its original truth, power
and depth, and degenerated into sentimentality and
spiritless trifling with figures, allegories, and phrases." *

To the period between 1690 and 1760 belongs Qerhard
Tersteegen (1697-1769) "a mystic of the purest type," and
one of the most notable of Oerman hymnists. He is known
and loved in England through John Wesley's fine trans-
lations of his hymns, ''Lo! God is here, let us adore," and
"Thou hidden love of God," and probably will be by the
hymn which Mrs. Sarah Findlater has rendered so
magnificently, ** Lord, our Gk)d, in reverence lowly,"
quoted in Chap. XV.

Nicholas Lewis, Count and Lord of Zinzendorf and
Pottendorf (1700-1760), was remarkable for his early
piety. When quite a child he wrote little notes to Jesus,
and threw them out of the window, in the hope that
He would find them. His youthful piety was deepened
by the sight of an JSeee Homo in the picture gallery at
Dusseldorf bearing the inscription: "All this I have
done for thee; what doest thou for Me?" His earlier
years were spent as a layman in philanthropic and
missionary work, but later he was ordained, and became a
Bishop of the Church of the United Bi*ethren, an office
he afterwards— on account of false accusation — resigned.

♦ Kurte's " Church History," Vol. 0, p. 236. *

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His latter days were spent at Hermhut, where he died
May 5th, 1760. His last words to his son-in-law were :
'' Now, my dear son, I am going to the Saviour. I am
ready ; I am quite resigned to the will of my Lord. If
He is no longer willing to make use of me here, I am
quite ready to go to Him ; for there is nothing more in
my way." He was the real founder of the Moravian
Church as it is known to us, the previous form of which,
known as the Bohemian Brethren, was of an altogether
different type. He was a most prolific hymn-writer —
more than 2,000 are said to he from his pen — hut a
large numher are very inferior productions. The host
known are ''Jesus, Thy hlood and righteousness," and
''Jesus, still lead on," which is "the first taught
to the children in almott every German household."
One of his great faults was the exaggerated way in which
he spoke of the physical sufferings of Christ. Miss
"W"inkworth says: "Many of his hymns speak of the
hlood and wounds of Jesus, making a hed in his wounded
side, &c., in a way of which it is impossible to give
instances." This is a fault common to writers widely
severed, as B.omanist and Ultra-Evangelical. To the
same Moravian company belongs Luise H. von Haym
(1724-1782), Superintendent of the Unmarried Sisters'
House at Hermhut, whose child's hymn, translated by
Catherine Winkworth, is very beautiful —

Seeing I am Jesos' lamb,
Ever glad at heart 1 am
O'er my Shepherd kind and good,
Who provides roe daily food,
And His lamb by name doth call
For He knows and loves as all.

Guided by Hid gentle staff,
Where the sunny pastures laugh,


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I go in and out and teed.
Lacking nothing that I need ;
When I thirst my feet He brings
To the fresh and living spriogs.

Must I not rejoice for this ?

He is mine and I am His,

And when these bright days are puKt

Safely in His arms at last,

He will bear me home to heaven,

Ah, what joy hath Jesus given I

This is the most favourite childrea's hymn in Germany.

It is learnt and loved by nearly all Protestant children,

and is the common prayer which daily they repeat.

Still later we meet with Christian Fiirchtegott Gellert

( 1716-1769), Professor of Poetry and Moral Philosophy in

Leipsic University (Lessing and Goethe were among his

pupils), the author of ** Spiritual Odes and SongR," which

Miss Winkworth says ** were greeted with an enthusiasm

almost like that which greeted Luther's hymns on their

first appearance." **'The reverence and aflfection

which Gellert received from all the young men was

extraordinary. His lecture-room was always crowded to

the utmost ; and Gellert's beautiful soul, purity of will,

his admonitionp, warnings and entreaties, delivered in a

somewhat hollow and sad voice, produced a deep

impression. A figure not tall, but slender without being

thin, soft rather mournful eyes, a very beautiful brow, all

rendered his presence agreeable.' I^or was his influence

confined to his class-room : a peasant one day laid a load

of firewood at his door as a thank-ofiering for the pleasure

derived from his fables ; a young Prussian officer sent him

a sum of money, entreating him to accept the gift from

one whose heart had been raised by his writings ; and

these were but instances of innumerable similar presents

which Gellert used generally to bestow on the poor.


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Princes and great people of all kindfl made pilgrimages to

see him ; even Frederick the Great had an interview with

him, and pronounced him the most reasonable German

professor he had ever come across." '' A rumour having

spread in Goburg that Gellert had hanged himself, he

replied to a friend on hearing it: * Write to the Coburgers

I have and shall be hanging
For ever on my Lord.' "

The hymn by which he is known in England is '' Jesus

lives, no longer now," translated by Frdnces Elizabeth

Cox, to whom we owe many fine translations from the


To the same period belong Johann Andreas Cramer,

and Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803,— whose

poem, ** The Messiah," was once so popular) ; whilst

still later there is Novalis (1772-1801 — many of their

poems were translated by George MacDonald, in a little

volume called "Exotics"), and Spitta, Knapp, Gerok,

Louise Hensel, and Meta Hansar ; some of whose

hymns have been translated by Eichard Massie, but

few have passed from their writings into Church use,

save in the case of Spitta (1801-1859), from whom many

have been taken, through the renderings of Mr. Massie,

in his Lyra DotMstica. These deserve to be more widely

known, as my readers may see by the following

specimens. Very full of quiet confidence is the

following : —

We are the Lord's, whether we live or die ;
We are the Lord's, who for ns all hath died ;
We are the Lord's, and heirs of the Most High,
We are the Lord's, and shall the Lord's abide.

We are the Lord's — ^to Him, then, let ns live,
Witli soul and body, both with deeds and words.
While heart, and tongue, and life assoianoe ffive.
Of the most precious truth : we are the Lord's.


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We are the Lord*ii,^<o shall our hearts ne'er fail,
For one bright star its steady light affords.
To cheer and goide us through the gloomy vale,
It is this blessSd word : we are the Lord's f

We are the Lord's, who will preserve us still,
When none beside Him help to us aooords ;
In death's last conflict we will fear no iU,
Thy word abideth true : we are the Lord's I

The following is as true in sentiment as it is beautiful

in expression : —

We praise and bless Thee, gracious Lord,

Our Saviour, kind and true.
For all the old things passed away,

For all Thou hast made new.

New hopes, new purposes, desires,

And joys, Thy grace has given ;
Old ties are broken from the earth,

^ew ties attach to heaven.

But yet, how much must be destroyed,

How much renewed must be,
Ere we can fully stand complete

In likeness, Lord, to Thee I

Thou, only Thou must carry on

The work Thou hast begun ;
Of Thine own strength Thou must impart

In Thine own ways to run.

Ah ! leave us not ; from day to day

Revive, restore again ;
Our feeble steps do Thou direct,

Our enemies restrain.

So shall we faultless stand at last.

Before Thy Father's throne;
The blessedness for ever ours.

The glory all Thine own.

Here is his exquisite hymn calling us by the thought
of what we have received, to impart to others : —

Thou whose grace first found us,

Whose love our hearts first won,
Thou hast with mercies crowned us,

As none beside hath done.

Thy mercies bid us bless Thee.

Thy mercies bid us pray.
That others too may praise Thee,

And understand Thy way.


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Thy mercies bid us witness

The truth ot Thy dear word,
That all may taste its sweetDe^ifl,

And how before the Lord.

And since Thou wert not stricken

For OS alone, bat all,
Lord, many save and quicken, —

We are too few and small !

Here is his lovely ETcning Hymn : —

Lord, who by Thy pre^ence hast made light
The heat and burden of the toilsome day,

Be with me also in the silent night,

Be with me when the* daylight fades away.

As Thou hast given me strength upon the way.
So deign at evening to become my Guest ;
As Thou hast shared the labours of the day,
So also deign to share and bless my rest.

flow sad and cold, if Thou be absent, Lord,
The evening leaves me, and my heart how dead !
But, if Thy presence grace my humble board,

1 seem with heavenly manna to be fed.

Fraught with rich bleasiug, breathing sweet repose.
The calm of evening settles on my breast ;
If Thou be with me when my labours dose,
No more is needed to complete my rest.

Come, then, O Lord, and deign to be my^Guest,
After the day's confiision, toil, and din ; >^, .^^
O come to bring me peace, and joy, and rest.
To give salvation, and to pardon sin !

Bind up the wounds, assuage the aching smart.
liCf t in my bosom from the day just past,
And let me, on a Father's loving heart.
Forget my griefs, and find sweet rest at last !

**In Thy sendee will I ever," is almost, if not quite,

equal to the foregoing.

England has drawn little from German hymnody of a

later time than this — chiefly because her own writers

have furnished ample material, but partly because the

more recent productions of Germany lack the force and

distinctiveness of 'earlier times. Doubtless more would

have been drawn from the earlier vnitcrs, but that their

hymns are so lengthy, and cast in rather a ponderous


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style, lacking the conciseness and crispness of the finest
English hymns. They may be suitable to the land of
their birth, but they certainly are not to the English
taste. It is best that the staple hymns of each country
should be redolent of the soil, or of a soil akin to its own.
The hymns that have been drawn from this source are
very precious, and we could ill spare them, but it would
be a mistake to increase the present proportion of
German, or, indeed, of any foreign hymns, in our
collections. All hymnals which have started with the
idea of increasing that proportion, have been a failure in
regard to popular use, and are only valuable as illustrative
of German hymnody. Our churches, however, owe a
great debt to Catherine Winkworth, Frances Elizabeth
Cox, Eichard Massie, Jane Borthwick, and her sister —
Mrs. Findlater, James Drummond Bums, for thi'ir
admirable renderings of German hymns, and, in an earlier
age, to John Wesley, whose translations have probably
never been surpassed.

I will conclude this chapter by the following extract
from Alexander Smith, on German hymns in general : —

** In glancing over these German hymns one
is struck by their adaptation to the seasons and
occurrences of ordinary life. Obviously, too, the
writers' religion was not a Sunday matter only ; it had
its place in the week-days as well. In these hymns there
is little gloom ; a healthy, human cheerfulness pervades
many of them — and this is surely as it ought to be. These
hymns, as I have said, are adapted to the occasion of
ordinary life, and this speaks favourably of the piety
which produced them. I do not suppose that we English
are less religious than other nations, but we are


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undemonstrative in this, as in most things. We have the
sincerest horror of over-dressing ourselves in fine senti-
ments. "We are a little shy of religion. We give it a
day entirely to itself, and make it a stranger to the other
six. We confine it in churches, or in the closet at home,
and never think of taking it with us to the street, or into
our husiness, or with us to the festival, or the gathering
of friends. Dr. Arnold used to complain that he could
get religious suhjects treated in a masterly way, hut could
not get common suhjects treated in a religious spirit. The
Germans have done hotter ; they have melted down the
Sunday into the week. They have hymns embodying
confessions of sin ; hymns on the near prospect of death ;
and they have — what is more important — spiritual songs
that may be sung h^ soldiers on the march, by artisans at
the loom, by the peasant following his team, by the mother
among her children, and by the maiden sitting at her
wheel listening for the steps of her lover. Eeligion is
thus brought in to refine and hallow the sweet necessities
and emotions of life, to cheer its weariness, and to exalt
its sordidness. The German life revolves like the village
festival with the pastor in the midst — ^joy and laughter
and merry games do not fear the holy man, for he wears
no unkindness in his eye ; but his presence checks every-
thing boisterous or unseemly! — the rude word, the
petulant act — and when it has run its course, he uplifts
his hands and leaves his benediction on his children.

** The Lyra Germanica contains the utterances of pious
German souls in all conditions of life during many
centuries. In it hynms are to be found written not only
by poor clergymen, and still poorer precentors, by riband-
manufacturers and shoemakers, who, amid rude environ-


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ments, had a touch of celestial melody in their hearts ;
but by noble ladies and gentlemen and crowned kings.
The oldest in the collection is one written by King Robert
of France about the year 1000. It is beautifully simple
and pathetic. State is laid aside with the crown, pride
with the royal robe, and Lazarus at Dives' gate could not
have written out of a lowlier heart. The kingly brow
may bear itself high enough before men, the voice may be
commanding and imperious enough, cutting through con-
tradiction as with a sword ; but before the Highest all is
humbleness and bended knees. Other compositions there
are, scattered through the volume, by great personages :
several by Louisa Henrietta, Electress of Brandenburg,
and Anton TJlrick, Duke of Brunswick — all written two
hundred years ago. These are genuine poems, full of
faith and charity, and calm trust in God. They are all
dead now, these noble gentlemen and gentlewomen ; their
warfare, successful or adverse, has been long closed ; but
they gleam yet in my fancy, like the white effigies in
tombs in dim cathedrals, the marble palms pressed together
on the marble breast, the sword by the side of the knight,
the psalter by the side of the lady, and flowing around
them the scrolls on which are inscribed the texts of

• Dreamthorpe," by Alexander Smith.


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OuK English Hymnals owe comparatively little to any
of the continental nations except the German. This is
probably due in part to the fact, that all the Latin races
are under the sway of the Eoman See, whose doctrine
differs largely from ours, whilst in their church worship
little space is left for the use of hymns. Had France
been Protestant, and therefore psalm-singing, as her lyric
gift is quite as strong, if not stronger than that of
Germany, she would probably have furnished us with
as large, if not a larger, proportion than we have
drawn from Germany, especially if her Protestantism
had been of the Lutheran rather than the Cal\-ini8tic
type.* Even the hymns we have taken from France
were chiefly written in the Latin tongue for use in
French Breviaries. Of some of these I have spoken in
earlier chapters of this book in my account of the
hymns of Adam of St. Victor, the Bernards, and King

*"Iii Switzerland, in the Protestant Clmrch of France, and to
some extent in Holland, the spread of the Qennan hymns has been
checked by the influence of the Calvinistic chorches, which have
always feared to give a prominent place to Art of any kind in the
worship of God — rather, indeed, have allowed it to creep in on
sofferance, than delighted to introduce it as a freewill offering of
beauty.** — Winkworth's »* Christian Singers of Germany,' p. 4.


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Robert of France ; but to later times belong the follow-
ing, from whose Latin hymns, translations have passed
into some of our English Hymnals : —

From Claude de Santeiiil, otherwise known as Santolius
Maglorianu^ (1628-1684) we have "Thrice Holy God,
of wondrous might " {Ter sanctey ter poUns Leus) ; whilst
from his brother, J. B. de Santeiiil {Santolius Victorinus),
(1630-1697), we have ** In stature grows the Heavenly
Child " {Divine, creseebas, Puer), " Christ, who hast
prepared a place " {Nohia, Olympo redditus), ** Long time
the fallen human race " {Fulsum iupumis sedihm), trans-
lated by J. Chandler ; and " Xot by the Martyr's death
alone " {Non paria solo sanguine)^ translated by Isaac

To Charles Coffin (1676-1749), we owe "God from on
high hath heard " {Jam desinant susperia), translated by
Bishop Woodford; "Great Mover of all hearts, whose
hand" {Supreme Motar eordium)^ translated by Isaac
Williams; and "As now the sun*s declining rays"
{Labente jam solts rota), " On Jordan's bank the Baptist's
cry " {Jordanis oras preevia), " What star is this, more
glorious far" {Quae stella sole pulehrior), "0 Lord, how
joyful 'tis to see" {0 quam jurat fratres, Deus), translated
by John Chandler.

From Nicolas le Toumeaux, of the latter part of the
17th century, we have " Mom's roseate hues have decked
the sky " {Aurora lucis dum novae), translated by W.

William Cowper translated certain of the Cantiques
Spir^tuels of Madame Guyon, which contained about 900
pieces, mostly written to popular ballad tunes. The


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finest of these is the following, touched with the pecuUar

and beautiful mysticism of that devoted woman : —
() Thou by long experience tried,
Near whom no grief can long abide.
My Lord ! how full of sweet content
My yean of pilgrimage are spent.
All scenes alike engaging prove
To sonls impressed with sacred love ;
Where'er they dwell, they dwell with Thee, .
In heaven, in earth, or on the sea.
To me remains nor place nor time ;
My country is in every clime ;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since Ood is there.
While place we seek or place we shun.
The sonl finds happiness in none ;
But with my God to guide my way,
'Tis equal joy to go or stay.
Gould I be cast where Thou art not.
That were indeed a dreadful lot :
But regions none remote I call.
Secure of finding Gtod in all.
Then let me to His throne repair.
And never be a stranger there :
Then love divine shall be my guard,
And peace and safety my rewud.

Most of the hymns drawn from and written in the

French language come to us, as was to be expected, from

Protestant sources in Switzerland. Caesar Malan (1787-

1864) was a voluminous hymnist, exceeding Dr. Watts in

the number of his compositions, but being more akin to

Charles Wesley in their character. He is said by his biographer

to have written at least a thousand hymns ! They were

translated into English in 1825 by Ingram Cobbin

(** Hymns hy the Rev, Caesar Malan translated into Unglish

verse") ; and in 1866 by Miss Arnold {Lyra Evangelxea).

The best known is the following, translated by G. W.

Bethunc : —

it is not death to die —
To leave this weary road,
And 'midst the Ivotherhood on high.
To be at home with Qod.


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It if not death to dose
The eye long dimmed by team,
And wake in glorious repoee
To spend eternal yean.

It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us (tee
From dungeon-chain to breathe the air
Of boundless liberty.

It is not death to fling
Aside this mortal dust,
4nd rise on strong exulting wing,
To live among the just.

Jesus, Thou Prince of Life,
Thy chosen cannot die :
Like Thee they conquer in the strife,
To reign with Thee on high.

Malan was also a musician, and set his hymns to music.

To Joan Frederic Oberlin (1740-1826) is usually ascribed
the fine hymn (translated by Lucy Wilson) " Lord, Thy
heavenly grace impart " ; but there is reason to believe
that it was neither Oberlin's composition nor translation.

The religious movement started by Kobert Haldane in the
earliest years of the present century gave rise to a School
of Swiss Hymnody, to which Dr. Merle D*Aubigne, Felix
NefP, and others contributed. At a somewhat later period
(1834) the "Chants Chretiens" were published in Paris
by Henri Lutteroth, in which were included extracts from
Racine, Comeille, and Pict6t, and hymns by Adolphe
Monod, Alexander Vinet, and others. This is still the
most popular Hymnal in the Reformed Church.

To Adolphe Monod (1812-1856), the saintly and
accomplished Pastor of Paris, we owe the striking hymn,
" Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow," which has found its
way into certain English Hymnals. The following trans-
lation of his ** Que ne puis-je, 6 mon Dieu," by Mr.
Downton, deserves notice : —


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God of my health i 1 would Thy praise prodaim
And tell to earth and heaven Thy wondrous Name,
Declare the transports of my thankhil breast,
And say to all the world that I am blest I

Blest — when 1 hear Thee speak, and when that word
Which said, " Let there be light," within me heard,
Stoops to instruct me, calms my spirit's strife,
And guides my footsteps in the path of life.

Blest — when I speak to Thee, and though but dust,
Lift to Thy throne my worship and my trust,
With freedom to my Father, as a child ;
With trembling to my Qod, as sin defiled.

Blest, when Thy day, which saw from Chaos' mount
Thy work come forth, Thy First-bom from the fount.
Gathers within Thy courts th' adoring throng,
. Our zeal*s weak flame re-kindling, bright and strong !

Blest— when, beneath Thy strokes, my faithful God,
Smitten in love, in love I kiss the rod :
Weeping, but waiting Thy returning smile,
And near the Cross, and for a little while.

Blest — when, assaulted by the tempter's power, .
The Cross my armour, and the Lamb my tow«*r,
KneeUn^ I triumph — issuing from the fiiay
A bleeding conqueror— my life a prey !

Blest — ever blest ! my Brother, He who died ;
His Father mine ; His Spirit still my Guide :
What can earth give f what can heU take away.
When God and heaven are mine, are mine for aye ?

Alexander Vinet (1797-1867), the devout and thouglit-
ful Professor of Theology at Lausanne, wrote many
hymns, most of which appeared first in the ** Semeur," a
paper to which he often contributed. They are marked
by the devout thoughtfulness and delicate phrasing which
are characteristic of his discourses. Seven of these have
been translated by the Eev. Henry Downton, M.A., for
many years the English Chaplain at Geneva, and included
in his " Hymns and Verses : Original and Tranahited,"
1873. The following is a specimen. It is a translation
of his " Roi des Anges " : —


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King Divine I

Song of mine
Can it roach Thv heaven and Thee ?

And wUt Thon

Stoop 80 low
'That Thy love shall visit me ?

Deeps profound

Who shall sound
Without fidth, their mystery ?

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 26 of 37)