William Garrett Horder.

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

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the neck, the sleeye of his silk study-gown caught in the
cogs of the wheel, and his arm was torn out by the roots,
and in a few hours he died. Just before his death he sent
the message, *' Stand up for Jesus ! " to those assembled
at the Young Men's Christian Association prayer-meeting
— a message which suggested this hymn, and formed the
concluding exhortation of the funeral sermon for Mr.
Tyng, which was preached from Eph. yi. 14 by its author.
It was printed as a fly-leaf for the Sunday-school scholars
by the superintendent ; thence it found its way into a
Baptist newspaper, and afterwards passed, either in its
•Rn glifth or in translated forms, all oyer the world. It was
the fayourite song of the Christian soldiers in the army of
the James in the American war. The original contains
two more yerses than are usually now printed in most


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To Thomas HastingB, Mus. Doc. (1784-1872), we owe
three hymnB, **Nowbethe gospel banner ! " *'Hailto the
brightness of Zion's glad morning ! " and *< Eetum,
wanderer, to thy home ! " which is an appeal rather than,
in the truest sense, a hymn. It was suggested by the
closing words of a sermon to which Br. Hastings listened
in 1880 — '* Sinner, come homo ! come home ! come

Of the other hymn-writers of this section of the
Church, about twenty in number, there is no need to
speak, as their hymns are little known in this country.

The Congregational Church in America has produced a
considerable number of hymnists, very few of whom are
represented in English Hymnals.

Timothy Dwight, D.D. (1762-1817). President of Yale
College, whose " Theology " used to be much in favour,
published, by request, a revised version of Watts' Psalms,
and such hymns as he thought suitable. He did his work
as Professor in spite of failure of sight consequent on
small pox, which rendered it impossible for him, during
forty years, to read consecutively for fifteen minutes out
of the twenty-four hours; whilst the pain behind the
eyeballs and in the frontal region of the brain was
agonising. The hymn by which he is known in England
is, « I love Thy Kingdom, Lord," which is marked by
great simplicity and pathos.

Bay Palmer, D.D. (1808-1888), pastor of churches at
Bath, Albany, Bellevue Avenue, and also Corresponding
Secretary of the American Congregational Union, is by
iai the most notable hymnist and translator of the
American Congregational Church. His hymn, << My faith
looks up to Thee," is known all over the ^world. The


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story of its origin is thus given in Duffield'ft " English
Hymns " : —

'< The hymn was written in 1830, hut not published (as
a hymn) nntil 1832. The author was in New York City,
' between his college and theological studies,' and was in
poor health, and a teacher in a ladies' school. Dr. Pi^mer
says : * I gave form to what I felt by writing, with little
effort, the stanzas. I recollect I wrote them with very
tender emotion, and ended the last line with tears.' The
manuscript was then placed in a pocket-book,, where it
remained for some time. Its true discoverer was Lowell
Kason, the musician, who asked young Palmer if he had
not some hymn or hymns to contribute to his new book.
The pocket-book was produced, and the little hymn (then
between two and three years old, and never previously
utiHsed, though it had been in print as a poem) was
brought to light. Dr. Mason was attracted by it, and
desired a copy. They stepped together into a store (it
was in Boston), and the copy was made and taken away
without further comment. On carefully reading the
hymn at home, Dr. Mason was so interested that he
wrote for it the tune * Olivet,' to which it is usually
sung. Two or three days later, he again met the author
in the street, and scarcely waiting to salute him, he said,
* Mr. Palmer, you may live many years, and do many
good things, but I think you will be best known to
posterity as the author of *' My faith looks up to
Thee." ' "

The full publication of this hynm occurred in 1832,
but it received no particular notice in America. It had,
however, obtained a reprint in some, religious papers,
from one of which the Rev. Andrew Reed, D.D., of


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London, secured it while he was in that country. Dr.

Eeed took it away for his prospective hymn-book, and

published it anonymously. '<It had," said Dr. J. G.

Eankin, '' seyeral years of transatlantic life before it was

much known in America, and possibly was indebted to its

foreign and uncertain origin for its first recognition here,

as many another native production has been." ''As

originally written" (says Mr. Frederick Saunders, in

"Evenings with the Sacred Poets"), "the hymn con-

sLsted of six stanzas ; the first two are omitted, four only

being given in the Church collections. It has been

translated into Arabic, and much used at missionary

stations in Turkey. It has not only been translated into

Tamil, but into Tahitian, the Mahratta, and will doubtless

find its way wherever the Bible has penetrated." "We

have ourselves seen it in Chinese, and, in fact, it is to be

found wherever American missionaries have rendered into

native tongues the hymns familiar to their home churches.

Its first appearance in America was in "Spiritual Songs

for Social Worship " (by Dr. Thomas Hastings and Dr.

Lowell Mason), in 1832. In this book, the tune is

entitled " My faith looks up to Thee," but is the same as


Equally good, but in quite a different strain, being

richer in thought but less pathetic in expression, is

the following, which should be more widely known than

it is : —

Lord, my weak thought in Tiin would olimb

To search the stairy vault profound ;
In vain would wine her flight sabUme,

To find creation s utmoit bound.

But weaker yet that thought must prove

To search thy great eternal plan,
Thv sovereign counsels, bom of love

Long ages ere the world began. n 2


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When my dim reason would demand

Why that, or thi^ Thon dost ordain,
By some vast deep I seem to stand

Whose secrets 1 most ask in yain.

When doubts disturb my troubled breast,

And all is dark as night to me,
Here, as on solid rock, I rest, —

That so it seemeth good to Thee.

Be this my joy, that evermore

Thou rulest all things at Thy will ;
Thy sovereign wisdom I adore.

And calnuy, sweetly, trust Thee still.

In a strain betwixt the two is the following : —

Jesus, these eyes have never seen

That radiant form of Thine ;
The veil of sense hangs dark between

Thy blessed face and mine.

I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,

Yet art Thou oft with me ;
And earth has ne'er so dear a spot

As where 1 meet with Thee.

Like some bright dream, that comes unsought.

When slumbers o'er me roll,
Thine image ever fills my thouffht,

And chtfms my raviehed bouI.

Yea, though I have not seen, and still

Must rest in faith alone,
I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,

Unseen but not unknown.

When death these mortal eyes shall seal.

And still this throbbing heart ;
The rending veQ shall Thee reveal

AH glorious as Thou art.

Quite equal to these are some of his translations — ^from
Robert 11. of France, " Come, Holy Ghost, in love " ;
from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, "Jesus, Thou joy of
loving hearts," one of the finest Communion hymns we
possess ; and from anonymous Latin authors, " I give my
heart to Thee," and " bread to pilgrims given."

During the last three or four days of his life, Dr. Bay
Palmer lay most of the time apparently unconscious.


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When told by his son at the beginning of this time that
the end was near, he answered '' Thank God," in a louder
tone of voice than he had employed for some time.
Occasionally he would be heard to repeat to himself a
hymn of faith and praise, now one of "Wesley's and now
one of his own. The last words he was heard to utter
were spoken not many hours before his death. His lips
were seen to move, and listening ears caught a few
syllables, inarticulately spoken, of the last verse of his
hymn entitled, *' Jesus, these eyes have never seen " —

When death these mortal eyes shall seal,

And still this throbbing heart,
The rending veil shall Thee reveal

All glorious as Thoa art."

Dr. Ray Pahner is the most widely-known and deeply-
loved hymnist of America,

The Baptist body, like the Congregationalist, has had a
large number of hymnists, but there is no one amongst
them at all to be compared with Ray Palmer. If we
except Philip Bliss (1838-1876), who has become popular
by hymns from his pen included in ^' Sacred Songs and
Solos," edited by Ira D. Sankey, and Samuel Francis
Smith, D.D., bom 1808, who wrote what is practically
the American national hymn, " My country! 'tis of thee,"
and who wrote four verses to complete Alaric A. "Watts'
hymn, " "When shall we meet again," there is no writer
of this Church who has secured sufficient notice in
England to deserve mention.

The Methodist Church has been so dominated by the
hymns of Charles "Wesley that practically she has done
nothing to enrich the stores of American song. Beyond
three writers of children's hymns — Br. "William Hunter
(1811-1877), Dr. Thomas 0. Summers (1812-1882), and


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Fanny J. Van Alstyne (bom 1823), I do not discover a
single hymnist represented in English collections. A
great hymn writer like Charles Wesley — perhaps the
greatest the Church has ever had — naturally so fills the
worship of the Chnrch he did so much to found, as to
discourage others from entering the field, or putting their
work into comparison with his.

The Unitarian Church never had a "Watts or Wesley
to express its conceptions of religion, and so there was a
more open field for those in its midst who possessed the
poetic gifts. To quote the words of a great authority
on American Hymnody, belonging to the Episcopal
Church : ''It possessed a large share of the best blood
and brain in the most cultivated section of America." It
has probably contributed the most finished hymns to the
treasury of American song. This is not to be wondered
at, when it is remembered that the great majority of the
more noteworthy poets of America belong to this Church
— ^William Cullen Bryant, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jones
Very, James Eussell LoweU.

It must be remembered that, in the main, the Unitarian
Church in America has been far nearer to orthodoxy,
both in doctrine and spirit, than that which goes under
the same name in England. Many of its hymns are
sufficient evidence of this ; so much so that when, many
years ago, the Beligious Tract Society published a volume
called Lyra AfMrieana^ the Editor, in his preface, said :
" It would be difficult, or^even impossible, to determine
the ecclesiastical or doctrinal status of each writer from
the internal evidence afforded by his poetry. The great
object of their adoration and their grateful love is Christ


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crucified. All are one in Him. Differences are merged
in a common unity when He is the theme. "With * diver-
sity of gifts ' there is but * one spirit.' * They know
but one Saviour, and one God and Father of all, who is
above all, and through all, and in us all.'" In a
book thus prefaced, I found, out of a total of one
hundred and twenty-four hymns, at the very lowest
computation, forty-three by writers who belong to the
Unitarian Church. But the Editor, judging them only
by their productions, declares that they all are one in
Christ. And the unprejudiced mind which goes over the
chief hymns of this school will agree with this dictum.
The spirit is eminently and deeply Christian, far more so
than in a large number which might be named by
orthodox writers. Headers may judge for themselves by
the specimens which I append.

Taking them in chronological order, we have —

John Pierpont (1785-1866), whose life was varied and
remarkable. After graduating at Yale College, he taught
for a time both in an academy and in a private family,
then he studied law, and became a barrister — a profession
which conscientious scruples led him to give up, and he
gave himself to literary and commercial pursuits. At
last he entered the Cambridge Divinity School, where he
graduated in 1818, and up till 1859 was engaged in
the regular ministry over various Unitarian Churches.
"When the war broke out in 1861, he became chaplain to
the Massachusetts regiment, but his increasing infirmities
compelled him to retire, and the rest of his life was
employed in the Treasury Department at "Washington in
arranging its Decisions. His hymns combine terseness and


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tenderness in an unusual degree, as may be seen in the
one by which he is best known in England : —

O Thoa, to whom in andent time

The lyre of Hebrew bards wis stnmg ;

Whom kings adored in songs sublime,
And prophets praised with glowing tongue :

Not now on Zion's height alone,

Thy favoured worshippers may dwell,
Nor where at sultry noon Thy Son

Sat weary, by the patriarch's well :

From every place below the skies,
The grateful song, the fervent prayer.

The incense of the heart, may rise
To heaven, and find acceptance there.

To Thee shall age with snowy hair.
And strength and beauty, bend the knee ;

And chndhood lisp with reverent air.
Its praises and its prayers to Thee.

O Thou, to whom, in andent time.
The lyre of prophet bards was strung, —

To Thee, at last, in every dime.
Shall temples rise and praise be sung.

This hymn was written for the opening of the

Independent Congregational Church in Bartin Square,

Balem, Massachusetts, December 7th, 1824, to which

reference is made in the following verse, which is usually

omitted: —

In this, Thy house, whose doors we now

For social worship, first unfold,
To thee the suppliant throng shall bow.

While circling years on years are rolled.

His Morning and Evening Hymns for a child are marked
by the characters to which I have already referred, and
are very beautiful.

Henry Ware, junior (1794-1843), eldest son of the
Hollis Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, was pastor of
the Second Church at Boston, in which charge, on account
of illness, he had for a time as colleague Balph Waldo
Emerson. Mr. Ware afterwards became Professor of


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Fnlpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care in the Cambridge

Theological School, a post he held from 1829 to 1842,

and, exhausted by his arduous work, retired to

Framingham, where he died. Dr. Ware was a hymnist

of a very high order. Some of his hymns are][full of

lyric fire. Perhaps the finest is the following : —

Lift your glad voiceB in triumph on high.
For JeeuB has risen, and man cannot die;
Vain were the teirora that gathered around Him,

And short the dominion of death and the grave ;
He burst from the fetters of darkness that bound Him,

Besplendent in glory to live and to save.
Loud was the chorus of angels on high,
The Saviour hath risen, and man shiJl not die.

Glory to Qod. in full anthems of joy ;

The being He gave us death cannot destroy ;

Sad were the life we must part with to-morrow.
If tears were our birthright, and death were our end ;

But Jesus hath cheered the dark vallev of sorrow.
And bade us, immortal, to heaven ascend.
Lift, then, your voices in triumph on high,
For Jesus hath risen, and man shall not die I

Probably the best hymn we possess for the opening of

an organ we owe to him.

All nature's workB His praise declare.

To whom they all belong ;
There is a voice in every star.

In every breese a song.
Sweet music fills the worid abroad

With strains of love and power ;
The stormy sea sings praise to Gh>d,

The thunder and the shower.

To Qod the tribes of ocean cry,

And birds upon the wing;
To God the powers that dwell oo high

Their tuneful tribute bring.
Like them, let man the throne surround,

With them, loud chorus raise.
While instruments of loftier sound

Assist his feeble praise.

Great €K)d, to Thee we conteorate

Our voices and our skiU ;
We bid the pealingorgaD wait

To speak alone Thy will.


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O teach ito rich and swelling notes

To lift our souls on high,
And while the music round as floats,

Let earth-born passion die.

The following, suitable for family gatheiingSi is
ezquiflitdy tender : —

In this glad hour, when children meet,
And home with them their children Ining,

Oor hearts with one affection beat,
One song of praise onr voices dng.

For an the faithful, loved and dear,
Whom Thou so kindly. Lord, hast given.

For those who still are with us here.
And those who wait for us in heaven ; —

For every past and present joy.

For, honour, competence, and health.
For hopes which time may not destroy,

Our soul's imperishable wealth ;

For all, accept our humble praise ;

Still bless us, Father, by Thy love ;
And when are dosed our mortal days.

Unite us in one home above.

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1881), by some regarded
as the finest poet of America, has contributed hymns of
great delicacy and beanty. These were included in a little
book published in 1864, which contained nineteen hymns;
another illustration of the fact that the nobler the poet
the more reticent he is in the composition of hymns. The
best known of his hymns in England, was written for the
dedication of a church in Prince Square, New York,
afterwards destroyed by fire.

Thou, whose unmeasured temple stands

Buflt over earth and sea.
Accept the walls that human hands

Have raised, O God, to Thee.

And let the Comforter and Friend,

Thy Holy Spirit, meet
With those who here in worship bend

Before Thy mercy-seat.


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May they who err he guided here

To find the hetter way ;
And they who mourn, and they who fear,

Be strengthened as they pray.

May faith grow firm, and love grow warm.

And hallowed wishes rise.
While round these peaceful waUs the storm

Of earth-hom passion dies.

The above is the original rendering. Tlie first line is
often altered, but not improved by the alteration, to "
Ihou whose own vast temple stands."

The following hymn for Home Missions is the finest we
possess for such a purpose : —

Look from Thy sphere of endless day,

O God of mercy and of might ;
In pit^ look on those who stray

Benighted, in this land of light.

In peopled vale, in lonely glen,

In crowded mart, by stream or sea,
How many of the sons of men

Hear not the message sent from Thee.

Send forth Thy heralds, Lord, to call
The thoughtless young, the hardened old,

A scattered homeless flodL, till all
Be gathered to Thy peaceful fold.

Send them Thy mighty word to speak.
Till fidth shall dawn, and douht depiirt,

To awe the hold, to stay the weak.
And hind and heal the broken heart.

Then all these wastes, a dreary scene,

That make us sadden as we gaze,
Shall crow, with living waters green.

And liii to heaven the voice of praise.

His hymn of Intercession for Children is very tender.

Standing forth on life's rough way,

Father, guide them ;
Oh I we know not what of harm

May betide them !
'Neath the shadow of Thy wing,

Father, hide them;
Waking, sleeping, Lord, we pray.

Go beside them.


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When in prayer they cry to Thee,

Thou wilt hear them :
From the stains of sin and shame

Thou wilt dear them ;
'Mid the quicksands and the rocks,

Thou wilt steer them ;
In temptation, trial, grief,

Be Thou near them.

Unto Thee we give them up.

Lord, receive them ;
In the world we know must be

Much to grieve them —
Many striving oft and strong

To deceive them :
Trustful, in Thy hands of love

We must leave them.

William Henry Fiimess (bom 1802) has-been for more

than half a century minister of the Congregational

Unitarian Chnrch of Philadelphia. He has been a

Toluminous and able writer on many subjects, and an

eloquent advocate of freedom and peace. To a yolume of

prayers, called "Domestic "Worship," he appended six

hymns, one of which for Evening is in my judgment the

most suggestive we possess. It embodies the exquisite idea

of Blanco White's sonnet — ^probably the finest in the

language, beginning, "Mysterious night, when our fizst

parents knew."

Slowly, by Thy hand unfurled,
Down around the weary world
Falls the darkness; O how still
Is the working of Thy wiU 1

Mighty Maker, here am I,
Work in me as silently ;
Veil the day's distracting sights ;
Show me heaven's eternal l^hts.

From the darkened sky oome forth
Countless stars—a wondrous Urth I
So may fleams of glory start
From this dim abyss, my heart.

Living worlds to view be brought
In the boundless realms of thought.
High and infinite desires.
Flaming like those upper fires I


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Holy Troth, Eternal Right-
Let them break upon my sight;
Let them shine serenely still,
And with light my being filL

Thou who dwelleet there, 1 know
Dwellest here within me too ;
May the perfect love of Qod
Here, as there, be shed abroad.

Let my sonl attmiM be
To the heavenly harmony
Which, beyond the power of sound.
Pills the miiverse around.

Ealph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), who fills so large a

place in American literature, and exercised so deep an

influence on religious thought both in that country and in

England, is represented in many English Hymnals bylthe

following hymn, which is yery distinctive and beautiful: —
We love the venerable house

Our fathers built to God :—
In heaven are kept their gratefbl vows,
Their dust endears the sod.

Here holy thoughts a light have shed

From many a radiant fisuse,
And prayers of tender hope have spread

A perfume through the place.

And anxious hearts have pondered here

The mystery of life,
And prayed the eternal Light to dear

Their doubts and aid their strife.

From humble tenements around

Game up the pensive train,
And in the Church a blessing found*

That filled their homes again ;

For faith, and peaoe, and mighty love.

That from the Godhead flow,
Showed them the life of heaven above

Springs from the life below.

They live with €K)d, their homes are dust;

Yet here their children pray,
And in this fleeting life-time trust

To find the narrow way.

On him who by the altar stands,

On him Thy blessing faU I
Speak through his lips Thy pure commands

Thou Heart, that lovest alL


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It is a donbtful question, which I have not been able to
determine, whether the hymn, <'A11 before us lies the
way," is by him or by his brother, Charles Chauncy
Emerson, who died in 1836.

Frederick Henry Hedge (bom 1805) is one of the most

accomplished scholars of America, and occupied the post of

Professor of German literature at Harvard College. In

conjunction with Bishop Huntington he edited '* Hymns

for the Church," where most of his own hymns are to be

found. Perhaps the most striking of his original hymns

is the following, which is finding its way into many

English Hymnals.

It 18 ftniahedl Man of Sottowb I
From Thy ctom our frailty borrows
Strength to bear and oonqoer thus I

While extended!there we view Thee,
Mighty Sufferer 1 dnw us to Thee,
Sufferer victorious I

Not in vain for us uplifted,
Man of Sorrows, wonder gifted.
May that sacred emblem be ;

Lifted high amid the ages.
Guide of heroes, saints, and sages.
May it guide us still to Thee!

SUU to Thee ! whose love unbounded,
Sorrow's depths for us hath sounded.
Perfected by conflicts sore.

Honoured be Thy cross for ever ;
Star that points our high endeavour
Whither Thou hast gone before !

His work as a translator is very fine. His rendering of
Luther's famous ''Ein feste burg ist unser Oott," is of
very high merit. The same may be said of his translation
of the " Veni Sanote Spiritus."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1883), the most
popular, though, in my judgment, not the greatest poet of
America, has written much sacred poetry of a very tender


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kind; but although some editors haye included his ''Psalm
of Life," and his **Hymn for his Brother's Ordination," in
their Hymnals, I cannot say that these can rightly be

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 28 of 37)