William Garrett Horder.

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

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learned Norwich physician : —

The Dight is oome, like to the day
Depart not Thou, Rreat God, away.
Let not my sins, bbtck as the night,
Edipee the lustre of Thy light.
Keep still in my horizon ; for to me
The sun makes not the day, but Thee.
Thou, whose nature cannot sleep.
On my temples sentry keep ;
Guard me 'gainst those watchful foes
Whose eyes are open while mine close.
Let no dreams my head infee*t
But such as Jacob's temples blest.
While I do rest, my soul advance ;
Make my sleep a holy trance :
That I may, my rest being wrought.
Awake into some holy thought ;
And with as active vigour run
My course as doth the nimble sun.
Sleep is a death ; — make me try,
By sleeping, what it is to die !
And as gently lay my head
On my grave as now my bed.
Howe er I rest, great God. let me
Awake again at last with Thee ;
And thus assur'd, behold I lie
Securely, or to wake or die.


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These are my drowsy days : in vain
I do now wake lo sleep again ;^
O, come thai hour, when I shall never
Sleep again, but wake for ever I

John Milton (1608-1674), translated nine of the Psalms
in metre. They are remarkable for fidelity to the original,
as well as for their poetic beauty. The best known of
these is of the ld6th, '^ Let us with a gladsome mind."
Not less worthy are his renderings of parts of the 82nd,
85th, and 86th Psalms, '^ The Lord will come, and not be
slow," and of the 84th Psalm, " How lovely are Thy
dwellings fair." These are so fine in quality, and dis-
tinctive in character, as to deserve rank as original

Bishop Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), published in his
book called "The Golden Grove," twenty-two "Festival
Hymns," from which the one on "The Second Advent
of Christ, or Christ coming to Jerusalem in triumph,"
has passed, in an altered form, into common use. In
the original it begins, " Lord, come away," but in its
altered form, " Descend to Thy Jerusalem, Lord."

John Austin (died 1669), who belonged originally to
the Church of England, but afterwards joined the Eoman
communion, issued a devotional manual, containing
prayers and devout meditations for private and family
use, under the title, " Devotions in the Ancient Way of
Offices, containing Exercises for every day in the week,
and every Holiday in the Year." It contained forty-
three hymns, some of which are from his own pen, others
are by Richard Crashaw. It received the rare honour of
being adapted for the use of members of the English
Church. This is not to be wondered at, since Austin's


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mind combined, in a very high degree, devoutness of

feeling with deep insight into truth. He is one of the

few men who reach through the letter to the spirit. Two

of his hymns have, in recent times, been included in

hymnals, and are likely to acquire a well-deserved

popularity. ** Blest be Thy love, dear Lord,'* is a hymn

as true in thought as it is simple and tender in

expression : —

Blest be Thy love, dear Lord,
That taught us this sweet way.
Only to love Thee for Thyself,
And for that love obey.

O Thou, our souls' chief hope !
We to Thy mercy fly ;
Wh<»re'er we are, Thou canst protect,
Whate'er we need, supply.

Whether we sleep or wake,
To Thee we both resign ;
By nif^ht we see, as well as day,
If Thy light on us shine.

Whether we live or die.
Both we submit to Thee ;
In death we live, as well as life,
If Thine in death we be.

Whilst "Hark, my soul, how everything," is both
poetically and lyrically lovely : —

Hark, my soul, how everything
Strives to serve our bounteous King;
E^ch a double tribute pays,
Sings its part, and then obeys.

Nature's chief and sweetest quire,
Him with cheerful notes admire ;
Chanting every day their lauds
While the grove their song applauds.

Though their voices lower be.
Streams have too their melody ;
Night and day they warbling run.
Never pause, but btiU sing on.


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All the flowen that gild the spring
Hither their still music bring ;
If Heaven bless them, thankful, they
Swell more sweet, and look more gay.

Only we can scarce afford
This short office to our Lord ;
We, on whom Hi« bounty flows.
All things gives, and nothing owes.

Wake ! for shame, my sluggish heart,
Wake ! and gladly sing thy part ;
Learn of birds, and springs, and flowers,
How to use thy nobler powers.

Call all nature to thy aid,
Since 'twas He whole nature made ;
Join in one eternal song.
Who to one God all belong.

Live for ever, glorious Lord I
Live, by all Thy works adored !
One in Three, and Three in One,
Thrice we bow to Thee alone !

The man who wrote such hymns as these must have been
resting on those sublime truths which underlie even the
corruptions of the Eoman Church.

From Henry More, the Platonist (1614-1687), a few
verses have passed through the adaptations of John
Wesley, first into " Hymns and Sacred Poems," by John
and Charles Wesley, and thence into the hymnals of
different sections of the Methodist body. He belongs,
however, to philosophy rather than hymnody.

Richard Baxter (1615-1691), produced a metrical
version of the Psalms, which was published after his
death, and also two volumes of poetry. From the latter,
two hymns have passed into collections. ** Lord, it
belongs not to my care " is part of a larger hymn, con-
sisting of eight verses of eight lines each, called " The
Covenant and Confidence of Faith." It is so evidently
the utterance of the heart, and so tenderly expressed, that


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it has won for itself a wide and deserved popnlarity
amQng all sections of the Chnroh. The first yerse is : —

Christ leads me through do darker rooms

Than He went thioogh before;
He that into Ood's kingdom comes.

Most enter by His door.

"Te holy angels bright," a Psalm of Praise, has merit,
but lacks the distinctiveness and individuality of the

The well-known hymn ** Jerusalem, my happy home "
belongs to this period. Of its authorship little is known.
It is contained in a MS. quarto volume number 15,225 in
the British Museum, the date of which seems (from the
internal evidence) to be about 1616. The hymn itself
(which is entitled, " A Song," by F. B. P., to the tune
"Diana ") is probably of Queen Elizabeth's time. F. B. P.
is usually regarded as standing for Francis Baker, Priest ;
but this is mere conjecture. In earlier days, it was
attributed to David Dickson. Dr. Neale says : — "It was
most impudently appropriated to himself, and mixed up
with a quantity of his own rubbish, by one Dickson, a
Covenanter." The hymn has undergone so many altera-
tions at various times, that our readers may perhaps be
glad to see it in its original form.

Hiemsalem I my happie Home !

When shall I oome to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end ?

Thy joyes when shall I see ?

O happie harbor of the saints,

O sweete and pleasant soyle,
In thee no sorrow may be found,

Noe greefe, noe oare, noe toyle I

In thee noe sickneMe may be seeoe,

Noe hurt, noe aohe, noe soie ;
There is noe death, nor ngly devill.

But Life for evermore.


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Koe damoish mist ib seene in thee,
Noe cold nor darkBome night ;

There eyerie Bonle shines as the sun ;
There God Himaelfe gives light.

There lost and lucre cannot dwell,

There envy bears no sway ;
There is noe hunger, heate, nor oolde,

But pleasure everie way.

HierusalemI Hiemsalem I

God grant I once may see
T^ endless joyes, and of the same

rartaker aye to bee I

Thy walls are made of pretious stones,
Thy bulwarkes diamondes square,

T1^ gates are of right orient pearle,
Exceedinge riche and rare.

Thy turrettes and thy pinnacles

With carbuncles doe shine ;
Thy verrie streets are paved with gould,

Surpassinge clear and fine.

Thy houses are of yvorie,

Thy windows crystal deare ;
Thy tyles are made of beaten gould ;

-— O God, that I were there I

Within thy gates nothinge doth come

That is not passinge cleane ;
Noe spider's web, no durt, no dust,

Noe filthe may there be seene.

Ah I my sweete Home, Hiemsalem,

Would God I were in thee I
Would God my woes were at an end,

Thy joyes that I might see !

Thy saints are crowned with glorie great.

They see God iace to face ;
Th^ triumph still, they still reioyoe ;

Most happie is their case.

Wee that are heere in banishment

ContinuaUie doe moane ;
We sigh and sobbe, we weepe and waile,

Perpetuallie we groane.

Our sweete is mixed with bitter ganle,

Our pleasure is but paine ;
Our ioyes scarce last the lookeing on.

Our soROwea stfll remaine.


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Bat there they live in soch delight,

Sach pleMore and such play,
As that to them a thousand yeares

Doth seeme as yesterday.

Thy vineyardes and thy orohardos are

Most heautifoll and iaire,
Full ftirnished with trees and fruits,

Most wonderftill and rare.

Thy gardens and thy gallant walkes

Continually are greene ;
There growe such sweet and pleasant flowers

As noe where else are seene.

There's nectar and ambrosia made
There's muske and dvette sweete ;

There manie a fair and daintie drugge
Are troden under feete.

There cinnamon, there sugar grows,

There narde and halm abound .
What tounge can telle or harte conceive

The ioys that there are found ?

Quyt through the streetee, with silver sound,

The Flood of Life do flowe ;
Upon whose banke«. on everie syde,

The Wood of Life doth growe.

There trees for evermore beare fruite,

And evermore doe springe ;
There evermore the angels sit.

And evermore doe singe.

There David stands, with harpe in hands,

As master of the queere ;
Tenne thousand times that man were blest.

That might this musicke heare I

Our Ladie singes Ma^ifieat,

With tune surpassmge sweete ;
And all the Viigmns beare their parte,

Sitting aboue her feete.

Te Deum doth Saint Ambrose singe.

Saint Austins doth the like ;
Ould Simeon and Zacharie

Have not their songes to seeke.

There Magdalene hath left her mone,

And cheeriullie doth singe
With blessed Saints, whose harmonie

In everie street doth ringe.


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HieniFalem ! my happie Home I

Wotdd Qod I were in thee I
Would Ood my woes were at an end,

Thy Joyefl that I might see !

Of the writers of the period covered by this chapter we
may say generally, that none of them made hymn-
writing a distinct object. It may be questioned whether
any of them wrote hymns with the idea of their being
sung in worship. Most of them are adaptations, either
from poems, or verses written for private reading or
meditation. They are sporadic utterances due to the lyric
feeling which forced itself into expression. And the
reason is evident : song, save in metrical versions of the
Psalms, was unknown in the Church of those times.
Stemhold and Hopkins monopolised the choir, and there-
fore there was no demand to create a supply of hynms.
This accounts for their paucity during this period ; and it
also accounts for the great merit of most of those which
were'produced. They were not productions of men who
wrote to order, but of those who could not help breaking
into song. Quality, not quantity, is the diaracteristic of
this period of hymnody, which bears the mark of
the ibreshness and power so evident in tiie literature of
that age.


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We are now nearing a period on which the coming glory
of hymnody begins to cast its light. Foregleams of the
hymn-singing ages now become visible. Of this period,
(George MacDonald, in his " England's Antiphon," says : —
**We find ourselyes now in the zone of ^mn-writing.
From this period, that is, from toward the close of the
seventeenth century ,^ a large amount of the fervour of the
country finds vent in hymns: they are innumerable."
John Mason, who died in 1694, is, perhaps, the first
Englishman who set himself, with success, to produce
hymns for actual use in worship. They were probably the
first to be used in congregational worship in England. He
wrote thirty-four songs of praise, six penitential hymns,
and a version of the 86th Psalm. To these were added
** Penitential Cries," chiefly by the Rev. Thomas Shep-
herd, an Independent minister, of Braintree. These,
and the hymns included in W. Barton's '' Psalms and
Hymns" (1681), and his **Six Centuries of Select
Hymns" (1688), formed the thin end of the wedge by
means of which, at last, hymn singing found its way into
the services of the Independents, who, therefore, are the
true pioneers of hymn singing in England ; but, at the


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same time, the first real hymn writer of merit belongs to
the Established Church, for John Mason is a writer of
great merit. This is evident from the fact that, although
William Barton preceded him, none of Barton's hymns have
established themselves in the favour of the Church. Mr.
Enoch Watts, in a letter urging his brother to publish his
hymns, rests his plea on the ground that " Mason now
reduces this kind of writing to a sort of yawning in-
difference, and honest Barton chimes us asleep." The
Church of later times has endorsed the second part of this
plea by rejecting Barton's hymns, but it has repudiated
the first part by retaiuing the finest of Mason's hymns,
which are clearly growing in popularity. There are
those in our day who prefer Mason to Watts himself.
George MacDonald says of Mason's hymns : — " Dr. Watts
was very fond of them ; would that he had written with
similar modesty of style ! " Their popularity, even in
those times, is seen in the fact that they passed through
twenty editions. Montgomery says of his hymns: —
** The style is a middle tint between the raw colouring of
Quarles and the day-light clearness of Watts." Speaking
of both Mason and Shepherd, George MacDonald says : —
" In the writings of both we recognise a straightforward-
ness of expression equal to that of Wither, and a quaint
simplicity of thought and form like that of Herrick ;
while the very charm of some of the best lines is their
spontaneity. The men have just enough mysticism to
afford them homeliest figures for deepest feelings." It
seems to me that John Mason's style is best accounted
for by two influences ; one derived from George Herbert,
whose poems, it is clear, he knew and loved, and
the other from the fact that his purpose in writing his


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hymns was that they should be sung. The first accounts
for his method of thought ; the second for his style of
verse. Deeper than both these influences, of course, was
the devout and thoughtful nature of the man himselfr
To all these combined we owe his fine hymns, so
increasingly prized, and which are fast recovering the
place from which they were pushed by the hymns of
Dr. Watts (which for so long held exclusive possession
of the Independent Church). Barely did Watts rise to
the height of thought and beauty of expression which
are found in Mason's hymns. Here are specimens : —

Now from the altar of our hearta

Let iocense-flames arise.
Assist us, Lord, to offer up

Our evening sacrifice.

Awake! our love; awake! our joy,

Awake ! our heart and tongue ;
Sleep not when mercies loudly call ;

Break forth into a song.

Minutes and mercies multiplied

Have made up all this day ;
Minutes came quick, but merdes were

More fleet and free than they.

New time, new favours, and new joys

Do a new song require :
Till we shall praise Thee as we would,

Accept our hearts' desire

Lord of our time, whose hand hath set

New time upon our score ;
Thee may we praise for all our time,

When time shall be no more.

and what is, perhaps, his finest hymn, of which I quote
the first three verses : —

Thou wast, O God, and Thou wast blest.

Before the world began ;
Of Thine eternity possest

Before time's hour glass ran.
'1 hou needest none Thy praise to sing.

As if Thy joy oould fade ;
Couldst Thou have needed anything.

Thou oouldst have nothing made.


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Great and good God, it plewM Thee

Thy Godhead to declare:
Aad what Thy goodnen did aecree,

Thy greatnees did prepare ;
Thoa ipak'st, and heaven and earth appeared

And answered to Thy call ;
As if their Maker's voice they heard,

Which is the creature's all.

To whom, Lord, should I sing, but Thee,

The Maker of my tongue!
Lo, other lords would seize on me,

But I to Thee belong.
As waters haste into their sea.

And earth unto its earth,
80 let my soul return to Thee,

From whom it had its birth.

So good a judge as George MacDonald regards this as one
of the very finest hymns in the language. I once quoted
the lines —

To whom, Lord, should I sing but Thee,
The Maker of my tongue,

to Mr. T. H. Gill, the well known hymnist, and shall
never forget his ecstatic delight. The influence George
Herbert exerted over Mason is seen in the hymn,
"Blest day of God, most calm, most bright," which is
clearly an echo of Herbert's " day most calm, most
bright." The influence of Herbert over Mason is as
evident as that exerted hy Mason over Watts. Had
Mason's lot been cast in a later and hymn singing age,
he would probably have reached a more perfect hymnic
style. The compactness of his thoughts would then
have taken on more lyric forms. But still, he deserves
lasting honour as one of the very few who wrote fine
hymns in English before^ the hymn singing era really

Thomas Shepherd (1665-1739), belongs to a somewhat
later period, but should, perhaps, be mentioned here, both


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because he belongs to the same school, and because his
hymns were so closely associated with those of Mason.
He wrote twenty *^ Penitential Psabns." His style is like
that of Mason, but his verses lack his yigour and insight.
He was originally a clergyman in Buckinghamshire, but
joined the Independents, and became pastor of the church
in which another great hymnist, Doddridge, afterwards
ministered, at Northampton. His finest hymn contains
the following verses —

Alas ! my Gk)d, that we should be

Such strangers to each other t
O that as friends we might agree,

And walk and tallc together 1

ThoQ know'st my soul doth dearly love,

The plaoe of Thine abode ;
No mosic drops so sweet a sound

As these two words, My €hd.

If Henry Vaughan (1621-1695), the "Silurist's" lot
had been cast in a hymn-singing age, he would have been
almost sure to have written noble hymns, but there was
then no musician waiting to wed his words to music, nor
choir ready to sing them when thus wedded, and so he
wrote only for men to read. Still, there is a rich mine of
sacred ideas in his poetry, which only need setting by
the skilful hymnist to shine in the crown of worship.
Both Yaughan, and his predecessor, Herbert, with whom
he has so much in common, might be to hymnists what
Spenser is to the poets. Two of Vaughan's hymns have
found their way into modem collections, viz. : ** My soul,
there is a countrie," and ''Bright Queen of Heaven,
Ood's Virgin Spouse," whilst his version of Psalm 121,
beginning '' Tip to those bright and gladsome hills," has
been included in several public school hymnals.

Samuel Grossman (1624-1683), has given us nine


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hymns which have a certain ^lyric merit, but are not
very healthy in tone. The best known are : ** Jerusalem
on high, my joy and city is," " My life's a shade, my
days," and " My song is love unknown." They lack the
vigour and insight of John Mason, and have a certain
morbid tone of dissatisfaction with earth, which is,
happily, passing from the faith of modem times.

The Earl of Eoscommon's (died 1684) part in hymnody
did not extend beyond a rendering of the Dies Ira^ which
has acquired a certain fame, and [was used commonly in
England in his day. The two last lines of this —

My God, my Father, and my Friend,
Do not fonake me in my end —

were uttered by him just before he expired. Mr. Orby

Shipley, in his ''Annus Sanctus," says that, in all

probability, it is wrongly attributed to the Earl.

To John Dryden (1623-1700) we owe the most
popular rendering of the "Veni, Creator, Spiritus," of
which we have spoken in an earlier chapter, beginning
'* Creator, Spirit, by whose aid." Much of the evidence
points to him as the author of other renderings of
ancient hymns, but it is not absolutely conclusive. He
has been called '^ the most felicitous and the most reckless
of English translators."

Bishop Thomas Ken, of whom Dryden's Hues on the

** Gk)od Parson " are said to be a picture : —

Letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky.
And oft with holy hymns he charmed m ears,
A mnaio more melocuous than the spheres ;
For David left him, when he went to rest,
His lyre ; and, after him, he sang the best.

Tip to the present time, this would seem to be the popular
judgment, since his Morning and Evening Hymns are


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probably the best known of any in English-speaking
countries, and are included in nearly every collection,
whilst the doxology with which they both close is
certainly not only the finest, but the best known in
the world. These hymns were first published in the
*^ Manual of Prayers, for the scholars of "Winchester
College." They were afterwards revised by their author.
It was in the first version the Evening Hymn began,
** Glory to Thee, my God, this night." The Bishop
afterwards altered it to ^^ All praise to Thee, my God, this
night." The hymn for Midnight, beginning " Lord, now
my sleep does me forsake," has fine lines in it, but, as
was natural, since it is very rarely people sin^ at that
time, did not come into use like those for Morning and
Evening. None of the other hymns in his " Christian
Year " are worthy to be compared with these, nor have
any of them attained to use in the Church.

It might perhaps be questioned whether the Morning
and Evening Hymns were entirely original productions of
Bishop Ken, on the ground that certain verses, in a more
rugged version, are included in the "Verbum Sempi-
temum" of John Taylor, known as the water poet, which
was republished in 1693, whilst the "Winchester Manual, in
which Ken's hynms are first found, did not appear till two
years later, in 1695. These are the verses, as they
appear in the ""Verbum Sempitemum." A Prayer for
the Morning ; —

Glory to Thee, my God, who safe has kept,
And me refiesh'd, while I securely slept;
Lord, this day ffoard me, lest I mav transgress,
And all my ondertakings guide and bless.

And since to Thee my vows I now renew.
Scatter my by-past sins as Morning Dew,
"** ►Tl ...

That so Thy glory may shine dear as day,
In all I either think, or do, or say.


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Another for the Evening : —

Forgive me, dearest Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The maDv ills that I this day have done,
That with the world, my self, and then with Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at perfect peaoe may be.

Teach me to live that I may ever dread
The Qrare as little as I do my bed ;
Keep me this night, O keep me, King of Kings,
Secure under Thine own .Almighty Wings.

Bat it is not at all improbable that Ken's hymns may
have appeared earlier than 1695, in some more fagitive
form of publication; it is possible, too, that the verses
already quoted represent the Bishop's first version, which
may have been afterwards improved. It was a very
common practice in that age, to insert hymns in religious
books without any acknowledgment of the source whence
they were taken. In the edition of the *^ Lama Sabac-
thani, or the Cry of the Son of God," a high Anglican
book on the Passion, published in 1708, is inserted a
mangled version of Dr. Watts' "When I survey the
wondrous cross," which appeared in the first edition of
his hymns in 1707 ; whilst in the 1701 edition of Bishop
Joseph Hall's " Jacob's Ladder " are given several hymns,
" Jerusalem, my happy home," and others from the pen of
Mason, no acknowledgment of their authorship being
appended. It has also been suggested, that Ken drew
some of his materials from Elatman, who published a
volume of poems and hymns in 1674, but a candid con-
sideration of the hymn from which he is said to have

Online LibraryWilliam Garrett HorderThe hymn lover: an account of the rise and growth of English hymnody → online text (page 7 of 37)