William Garrett Horder.

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

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accounted hymns, or that he should be included among the

Susan Elizabeth Miles (bom 1807) wrote in her early
days three hymns which her father (Nathaniel W.
Appleton) recognised as worthy, and sent to be piinted. ,
One of these is of great merit, and is known all over the
English-speaking world. It first appeared in 1827 in the
"Christian Examiner," The following is the full and
correct text ; it has often been altered, but not improved :

Thou who didst stoop below

To drain the cap of woe,
Wearing the form of frail mortality ;

Thy bles^M labours done.

Thy crown of victory won,
Hast passed from earth, passed to Thy throne on high.

Our eyes behold Thee not,

Tet hast Thou not forgot
Those who have placed their hope, their trust in Thee

Before Thy Father's face

Thou hart prepared a place.
That where Thou art, there they may also be.

It was no path of flowers,

Which, through this world oi ours,
BelovM of the Father, Thou didai tread ;

And shall we, in dismay

Shrink from the narrow way,
When clouds and darkness are around it spread ?

O Thou, who art our life,

Be with us through the strife ;
Thy holy head by earth's fierce storms was bowed :

Raise Thou our eyes above.

To see a Father's love
Beam, like a bow of promise, through the doad.

And O, if thoughts of gloom

Should hover o'er the tomb.
That light of love our guiding star shall be :

Our spirit shall not dread

The shadowy path to tread,
Friend, Guardian, Saviour, which doth lead to Thee.


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Stephen Oreenleaf Bulfinch (1809-1870), who minis-
tered to yarions churches in the hody to which he helonged,
was a man of beautiful spirit, a good classical scholar, and
possessed considerable poetic power. Many of his hymns
appeared in *' Lays of the Gbspel." Three of these are
becoming increasingly popular. One of the most poetic
of£our hymns for " The Sabbath-day " is from his pen.

Hail to the Sabbath-day,
The day divinely given,
When men to God Uieir homage pay.
And earth draws near to heaven.

Lord, in Thy sacred hour,
Within Thy oourts we bend ;
And bless Thy love* and own Thy power,
Our Father and our Friend.

But Thou art not alone
In courts by mortals trod ;
Nor only is the day Thine own
When crowds adore their God.

Thy temple is the arch
Of yon unmeasured sky;
Thy 8aH)ath the stupendous march
Of vast Eternity.

Lord, may a holier day
Dawn onThy servants' sight :
And jpant us in Thy oourts to pray
Of pure, unclouded light.

Singularly tender and sympathetic is the following : —

Most gradoufl Saviour I 'twas not Thine
To SDum the erring from Thy sight;

Nor dia Thy smile of love divine
Turn from the penitent its light.

Shall we who own the Christian name,

A bcother's &ult too sternly view,
Or think Thy holy name can blame,

The tear to human frailty due ?

M^ we, while human guilt awakes
Upon our cheek the generous glow.

Spare the offender's heart that breaks
Beneath ita load of shame and woe.


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Consoioiis of frailtv, may we yield
Forgiveneflfl of the wrongs we bear ;

And strive the penitent to shield
From further sin or dark despair.

And when onr own offences weigh

Upon our hearts with anguish sore.
May we remember Thou didst say,

" In peace depart, but sin no more."

His hymn for the Commmiioii strikes a new note, and is
fall of a large-hearted charity.

We gather to the sacred board,

Perchance a scanty band ;
Bat with us in sublime accord

What mighty armies stand 1

In creed and rite however apart,

One Saviour still we own,
And pour the worship of the heart

Before our Father's throne.

A thousand spires o'er hiU and vale

Point to the same blue heaven ;
A thousand voices tell the tale

Of grace through Jesus given.

High choirs, in Europe's ancient fimes.

Praise Him for man who died ;
And o'er the boundless Western plains

His name is glorified.

Around His tomb, on Salem's height,

Greek and Armenian bend ;
And through aU Lapland's months of night

The peasants' hymns ascend.

Are we not brethren ? Saviour dear!

Then may we walk in love.
Joint subjects of Thy kingdom here,

Joint heirs of bliss above I

Whilst the^ following moves along a line very rare in
hymns ;^—

Hath not thy heart within thee burned

At evening's calm and holy hour,
As if its inmost depths discerned

The presence of a loftier Power ?

Hast thon not beard 'mid forest glades,
While ancient rivers murmured by,

A vdce from forth the eternal shades,
That spake a present Deity ?


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And M upon tiie sacred page,
Thine ^e in rapt attention turned

0*er records of a holier age,
Hath not thy heart within thee burned ?

It was the voice of GM, thai spake

In silence to thy silent heart ;
And bade each holier thought awake,

And every dream of earUi depart.

Voice of onr Gk>d, O yet be near !

In low, sweet accents, whisper peace ;
Direct ns on onr pathway here ;

Then bid in heaven our wanderings oease.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D. (bom 1809), whose
delightful books, "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,"
and the "Poet" and the " Professor" in the same series,
are known and prized by all lovers of suggestive thought
and beautiful English, fills a small place among American
hymnists, but fills it as no one else could do. Every
reader of the "Professor at the Breakfast Table" will have
been struck with the following Sunday hymn, with which
one of its chapters closes : —

Lord of all being ! throned afar,
Thy g^ory flames from sun and star,
Centre and sun of every sphere.
Yet to each loving heart how near !

Sun of our life I Thy quickening ray
Sheds on our path the glow of day :
Star of our hope I Thy softened hght
Cheers the long watches of the night.

Our midnight is Thy smile withdrawn,
ntfdei "■"

rch 'ttij 1
All save the douds of sin are Thine I

Our noontide is Thy giadous dawn,
Our rainbow arch Thy mercy's sign.

Lord of all life, below, above.

Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love ;

Before Thy ever Uadng throne

We ask no lustre of our own.

Grant us Thy truth to make us free,
And kindling hearts that bum for Thee;
Till all Thy living altars daim
One holy l^ht, one heavenly flame.


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Equally beautiful, but even more tender, is the following
hymn of Trust : —

O Love Divine, that stooped to share
Oar sharpest pang, our bitterest tear,

Od Thee we cast each earth-bom care :
We smile at pain while Thou art near !

Thooffh long the weary way we tread,
And sorrow crown each lingering year ;

No path we shun, no darkness dread,
Oiir hearts still whispering. Thou art near.

When drooping pleasure turns to grief,
And trembling &ith is changed to fear :

The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf.
Shall softly tell us, Thou art near !

On Thee we fling our burdening woe,

O Love Divine, for ever dear :
Ckmtent to suffer, while we know.

Living and dying, Thou art near !

Oh that the man who could write such hymns had written
mor$ !

There are three hymnists bom in the same year (1810)
who deserve notice. The first is —

Edmund Henry Sears, D.D. (1810-1876), one of the
most spiritual teachers of the American Unitarian Church ,
to whom we owe the volume, "The Heart of Christianity,"
has given us two Christmas hymns. The first of these,
which begins, " Calm on the listening ear of night," is
probably the more popular in America, and is described by
Dr. "Wendell Holmes as "one of the finest and most
beautiful h3rmn8 ever written." The second, beginning,
" It came upon the midnight clear," is the more popular
in England, and is, I think, the finer of the two. Dr.
Morison of Milton says of this hymn : " I always feel that
however poor my Christmas sermon may be, the readinj:
and singing of this hymn are enough to make up for all
deficiencies." It is happily too well known to need
quotation here.

■ 2


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The second^is —

Chandler EobbiiiB, D.D., the successor of Ealph Waldo
Emerson in the charge of the Second Ghnrch in Boston,
did much good work in improving American hymnody.
If for no other, he deserves remembrance as the author
of the following hymn for the close of worship :

Lo ! the day of rest dedineth.

Gather fast the shades of night ;
May the Son that ever shineth

Fill our souls with heavenly light.

Softly now the dew is fidling :
Peace o'er all the scene is spread ;

On His children, meekly calling,
Purer infloenoe Ood will sh^.

While Thine ear of love addressing,
Thus our parting hynm we sinpf—

Father, give Thine evening blessing ;
Fold .us safe beneath Thy wing.

Of this hymn the following story is told : — ^A company of

Bostonians, among whom was Mrs. Hill, a daughter of Dr.

Bobbins, were returning from England in a Cunard

steamer. An aged Scotch Presbyterian minister and his

wife were among the passengers. The party were singing

hymns on deck at the close of a lovely Sabbath day, when

the clergyman went to his state-room and brought a book

of hymns and tunes to show them what he said was the

sweetest hymn he knew, set to the sweetest tune. What

was the Boston lady's surprise to hear him repeat the lines

which her own father had written : ** Lo ! the day of rest

dedineth," and began to sing " Bedford Street " — a tune

composed for the words by Mr. L. B. Barnes, President of

the Handel and Haydn Society, and named after the

author's own church, which was in Bedford Street,


cy. Putnam's " Singers of Songs of the Liberal Faith," p. 3U9.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


The third is—

James Preeman Clarke, D.D. (1810-1888), who has
only recently passed away, was one of the most erudite
and popular authors of America. For many years he was
minister of the Church of the Disciples in Boston, and for
a part of the time held the Professorship of Natural Theology
and Christian Doctrine in the Theological School at
Camhridge. Many of his hymns are worthy of a place in
our English collections. At present, however, only one,
perhaps the most distinctive and heautiful of them all, is
known at all^widely on this side of the Atlantic.

Dear Friend, whoee presence in the house,

Whose graoiouB word benign,
Could once, at C&na's wedding- feast,

Change water into wine-
Come, visit us, and when doll work

Grows weary, line on line.
Revive our souls, and make us see

Life's water glow as wine.

Qay mirth shall deepen into joy,

Earth's hope shall grow divine,
When Jesus visits us, to turn

Life's water into wine.

The social talk, the evening fire,

The homely household shrine,
ShaU glow with angel- visits when

The Lord pours out the wine.

For when self-seeking turns to love,

Whidi knows not mine and thine,
The miracle again is wrought,

And water changed to wine.

William Henry Burleigh (1812-1871), on his mother's
side a descendant of Gbvemor William Bradford of the
Maf(flawerf was the harbourmaster of New York, and an
earnest advocate of temperance and freedom. He wrote
many hymns, through which there runs a mingled strain
of tenderness and confidence which is very beautiful.


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They are becoming better known and more largely used in
this country. The most popular are the following : —

Father ! beneath Thy shelteriDg wiog

In sweet security we rest.
And fear no evil earth can bring,

In hfe, in death, supremely blest.

For life is good, whose tidal flow

The moUons of Thy will obeyv :
And death is good, that makes us know

The life divine that all things sways.

And good it is to bear the cross,

And so 1 hy perfect peace to win ;
And nanght is ul, nor brings us loss.

Nor works us haim, save only ^.

Redeemed fiom this, we ask no more.
But trust the love that saves to guide—

The grace that yields so rich a store.
Will grant us all we need beside.

This, too, is of great merit —

Still will we trust, though earth fseems dark and dreary.

And the heart faint beneath His chastening rod.
Though rough and steep our pathway, worn and weary.
Still will we trust in God!

Our eyes see dimly till by faith anointed.

And our Uind choosing brings us grief and pain ;
Through Him alone, who hath our way appointed,
We find our peace again.

Choose for us, God, nor let our weak preferring

Cheat ourj)Oor souls of good Thou hast deogned :
Choose for us, GK)d ; Thy wisdom is nnening,
And we are fools and blind.

So from our sky the night shall furljher shadows.

And day pour gladness through her golden gates ;
Our rough path leads to flower-enamelled meadows,
Where Joy our coming waits.

Let'us press on : in patient self-denial,

Aooept the hardship, shrink not from the U « :
Our guerdon lies beyond the hour of trial,
Dor crown beyond the cross.

In a similar vein are the foUowii^g: — "We ask not that

our path be always bright ;" " When gladness gilds our

prosperous ; day ;" "Lead us, Father, in the paths of


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peace ; " whilst his Morning Hymn is one of the finest we
possess for that season.

For the dear love that kept us through the night,
And gave our senses to sleep's gentle sway—

For the new miracle of dawuing light
Flushing the east with prophecies of day,
We thank Thee, O our God !

For the fresh life that through our being flows
With its fhU tide to strengthen and to bless —

For calm sweet thoughts, upsprioging from repose
To bear to Thee their song of thankfulness.
We praise Thee, O our God I

Day uttereth speech to day, and ni^ht to night
Tellfl of Thy power and glory. So would we,

Thy children, duly, with the morning light,
Or at still eve, upon the bended knee
Adore Thee, O our God 1

Thou know'st our needs. Thy fulness will supply,
Our blindness— let Thy hand still lead us on,

TUl, visited by the dayspring from on high
Our prayer, one only, " Let Thy will he done I "
We breathe to Thee, O God I

Samuel Longfellow (bom 1819), brother ^of the poet

H. W. Longfellow, gave a large amount of attention to

Kymnody, and, with Samuel Johnson, compiled one of the

best of American hymnals, "Hymns of the Spirit." For

the "Book of Vespers" he wrote the two evening hymns

now so well known in this country, "Now on land and sea

descending," and "Again as evening's shadow falls;"

very fine they are. But beyond these the following are

finding their way into English hymnals : —

" Prayer for inspiration : " •

Holy Spirit, Truth Divine !
Dawn upon this soul of mine;
Word of God, and inward Light,
Wake my spirit, dear my sight.

Holy Spirit, Ijove Divine !
Glow within this heart of mine ;
Kindle every high desire ;
Perish self in Thy pure fire I


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Holy Spirit, Power Divine !
Ffll ana nerve this will of mine ;
By Thee may I stronely live,
^vely bear, and nobly strive !

Holy Spirit, Right Divine I
King, within my consdenoe reign :
Be my Ijord, and I Ahall be
Firmly bomid, for ever free.

Holv Spirit, Peace Divine!
Still this restless heart of mine ;
Speak to calm this tossing sea,
Stayed in Thy tranquillity.

Holy Spirit, Joy Divine !
Gladden Thou this heart of mine;
In the desert ways I'll sing,
Spring, O Well, for ever spring !

" A New Commandment : "

Beneath the shadow of the cross,
As earthly hopes remove;

His new commandment Jesus gives,
His blessed word of love.

O bond of onion, strong and deep !

O bond of perfect peace I
Not e'en the lifted cross can harm,

If we but hold to this.

Then, Jesus, be Thy spirit ours.
And swift our feet shall move

To deeds of pure self-sacrifice.
And the sweet tawks of love.

And *' The Church TJniveraal : "

One holy church of God appears
Through every age and race,

Unwasted by the lapse of years,
Unchanged by changing place.

From oldest time, on farthest shores,
Beneath the pine or palm.

One unseen presence she adores.
With silenoe or with psalm.

Her priests are all God*s faithful sons,
To serve the world raised up ;

The pure in heart her baptisea ones,
Love her communion-cup.

The truth is her prophetic gift,
The soul her sacred page ;

And feet on mercy's errand swift,
Do make her pilgrimage.


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O lirinf^ Charch, thine errand speed,

Fulfil thy task sublime ;
With bread of life earth's hunger feed ;

Bedeem the evil time !

Jones Very (1813-1880), was a preacher without pastoral
charge, who devoted his time chiefly to literary pursuits.
There are those who regard him as one of the foremost
poets of America. His hymns are very, beautiful, but
more suited for private reading and family worship than
for public worship. The best known are the following: —
*' Father ! Thy wonders do not singly stand ; " ** Father !
there is no change to live with Thee ; " " Wilt Thou not
visit me?'*

James Eussell Lowell (bom 1819), the delightful
literary critic, the versatile poet, the successful diplomatisti
has been regarded by some as holding a place among the
hymnists ; but after a careful search among his writings,
I cannot find anything which rightly can be called a hymn.
His lines on '^ Freedom," and even his magnificent poem,
"All Saints' Day," perhaps the finest thing he ever wrote,
have been included in hymnals, but they are out of place

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (bom 1823), a descendant
of the Eev. Francis Higginson, one of the Puritan
Senators of America— originally a pastor of a Free Church
at Worcester, and afterwards a colonel of black troops in
the American War, in which he was wounded, is one of
the literati of America, but he is at the same time one of
its most remiEU*kable hymnists. In his hymns there is a
warmth and vigour and tenderness which are all too rare.
They grow more dear the better they are known. Take
the following as examples : —


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** The Mystery of God:"

No human eyes Thy face may see ;

No human thought Thy foim may know ;
But all creation dwells in Thee,

And Thy great life through all doth flow ;

And yet, O stranse and wondrous thought !

Thou art a (iod who hearest prayer,
And every heart with sorrow ftanght

To seek Thy present aid may dare.

And though most weak our efforts seem
Into one creed these thoughts to bind,

And vain the intellectual dream,
To see and know th* Eternal Mind;

Yet Thou wilt turn them not aside,

Who cannot solve Thy life divine,
But would give up all reason's pride

To know their nearts approved by Thine.

And Thine unceasing love gave birth

To our dear Lord, Thy holy Son,
Who left a perfect proof on earth.

That Duty, Love, and Trust are one,

So though we &int on life's dark hUl,
And thought grow weak and knowledge flee.

Yet faith shall teach us courage still,
And love shall guide us on to Thee.

"I will arise and go to my Father;"

To Thine eternal arms, O God,

Take us, Thine erring children, in ;
From dangerous paths too boldly trod,

From wandering thoughts and dreams of sin.

Those arms were round our childhood's ways,

A guard through helpless years to be ;
O leave not our maturer days.

We still are helpless without Thee I

We trusted hope and pride and strength ;

Our strength proved (Use, our pride was vain,
Our dreams have faded all at length —

We come to Thee, O Lord, a^^n I

A guide to trembling steps yet be !

Uive us of Thine eterDal power !
So sludl our paths all lead to Thee,

And life still smile, like childhood's hour.

Mr. Higginson has recently published a volume of
poems — " The Afternoon Landscape " — ^which includes


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all his hyams, and a scries of his translations from

From the German Reformed' Church we have —

Edward H. Nevin, D.D. (bom 1814), who wrote the
popnlar hymn, "Always with us, always with us," whilst
the following are difficult to classify ecclesiastically : —

The two sisters, Alice and Phoebe Gary (who both died
in 1871), and to whom we owe many delightful sacred
verses more suited for private than public use. To Phcebe
we owe the well-known " One sweetly solemn thought."

The same remark applies to Lucy Larcom (bom 1826),
whose poetry often reaches a very high level. She has
found a place in one or two English hymnals by her
hymns, " Hand in hand with angels," and " When for me
the silent oar."

John Greenleaf Whittier (bom 1807) belongs ecclesias-
tically but scarcely theologically, to the Society of Friends.
His writings, pathetically beautiful beyond those of any
poet of America, are becoming increasingly prized, and are
exerting an immense influence on the religious thought
and feeling of England.

It is strange to £nd among the Quakers, whose as-
semblies are never enlivened or inspired by song, one
contributing so many verses to the worship song of the
Church at large. Few of these were written for use in
public worship, but many of his verses are so beautiful, so
pathetic, so charged with the tenderest Christian feeling,
that they have again and again been arranged and inserted
in recent Hymnals. His greatest hymn is one extending
to thirty-nine verses, called " Our Master," from which
many contributions have been taken. At first only a very
few verses were taken, but these have gradually been


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increased until now nearly the whole hymn has found its
way into public worship. I give one part as a specimen.

Our Friendt'onr Brother, and our Loid,

What may Thy aervice be ?
Nor name, nor form, nor ritual word,

But simply following Thee.

Thoujudgestus; Thy purity

Doth aU our lusts condemn ;
The love that draws us nearer Thee

Is hot with wrath to them.

Our thoughts he open to Thy sight,

And naked to Thy glance :
Our secret sins are in the light

Of Thy pure countenance.

Yet weak and blinded though we be.

Thou dost our sendee own ;
We bring our varying gifts to Thee,

And^hou rejectest none.

To Thee our full humanity.

Its joys and pains, belong ;
The wrong of man to man on Thee

Inflicts a deeper wrong.

Deep strike Thy roots, O heavenly Vine,

Within our earthly sod,
Most human and yet most divine,

The flower of man and God !

Apart from Thee all gain is loss,

All labour vainly done ;
The solemn shadow of Thy Cross

Is better than the sun.
Alone, O love ineffable !

Thy saving name is given ;
To turn aside from Thee is hell.

To walk with Thee is heaven.

We faintly hear, we dimly see.

In differing phrase we pray ;
But dim or dear, we own in Thee

The Light, the Truth, the Way I

Other examples of adaptations from Mr. WTiittier may
he found in the following: — "To weary hearts, to
mourning homes," from "The Angel of Patience," a
free paraphrase from the German. "Another hand is
beckoning us," from "Gone." "All as God wills who


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wisely heeds," from ** My Psalm." ** With silence only
as their benediction," from " To my Friend on the death
of his Sister." " Shall we grow weary in our watch,"
from "The Cypress-Tree of Ceylon," beneath which
venerable Jogees or saints sit, silent and motionless,
patiently awaiting the falling of a leaf.

"What can be finer than such hymns as the following:—

Dear Lord and Father of uiankiDd,

Fofgiye our feverish ways i
Bedothe us in onr rightful mind ;
In pnrer livee, Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee I

O calm of hills above !
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The tQenoe of eternity

Interpreted by love !

With that deep hush subdninff all

Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call.
As noiselese let Thy blessing fall,

As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thv still dews of quietnees.

Till all our strivings oease :
Take from our souls the strain and sitesf^ :
And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the pulses of desire

Thy coolness and Thy balm ;
Let sense be dumb, — ^its heats expire :
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still am^ voice of calm I

Or the hymn written for the Anniversary of the
Children's Mission, Boston, 1878 : —

Thine are all the gifts, O God I

Thine the broken bread ;
Let the naked feet be shod.

And the starving fed.

Let Thy chfldren, by Thy grace,

Give as thev abound,
Till the poor have breathing-space,

And the lost are found.


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Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 29 of 37)