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Full text of "Romance of Psalter and Hymnal : authors and composers"


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Foot 76th Street, E. R. 






"^""^^^'■ta^i'- LIBRARY, 

Foot 76th Street, E. R. 




§.utlj0rs anir Composers. 


R. E. WELSH, M.A., 

\A-2^ s " \ l^Y THE REV. 



Author cf " United Praise" 

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Foot 76th SVeet, E. R. 


'nr^HE past thirty years have witnessed the issue 
of a host of Hymnals, each having its own 
special feature or guiding purpose. The Tractarian 
Movement and, at an earlier period, the Methodist 
Revival, awakened emotions and left tastes and ten- 
dencies which contributed largely to this outburst of 
the Churches into song. Roundell Palmer's Boo^ 
of Praise^ and Hymns Ancient and Modern^ published 
in i860, of which a million copies have been sold 
every year, are significant landmarks. 

This multiplication of Hymnals has naturally 
excited a new and keener curiosity regarding the 
makers and the historic associations of the Hymns 
and Psalms with which our lips have become so 

The present volume seeks to meet and guide this 
new curiosity ; takes some of our choicest sacred 


verse and endeavours to throw around it the living 
interest of curious origin, personal incident, and 
historic episode, which weave for us a veritable 
romance, the Romance of Sacred Praise. 

The scope of the book is too wide to leave room 
for much literary criticism or exhaustive detail. It 
makes no claim to be a Dictionary of Hymnology, 
or complete book of reference. Specialists must go 
elsewhere. It perhaps attempts to cover too wide 
a field, and, in consequence, much that was written 
has had to be excluded ; but its object is to be a 
companion to the entire Praise, literary and musical, 
of the Christian Church, giving to well-known 
Psalms, Hymns, and Tunes the charm of having a 

The facts have been gleaned from many fields. 
For the story of the Psalter I have been under 
great obligations to Dean Stanley, Four Friends 
(Ewald), Maclaren, Van Dyke, and Dr. Ker. I 
have also to thank Dean Perowne for courteous and 
cordial permission to make frequent use of his vivid 
translation of The Psalms. 

Although this work is not critical, the conclu- 
sions of Professor Robertson Smith and Canon 


Cheyne on the one hand, and of Canon Fausset on 
the other, have not been overlooked. The historic 
setting of many of the Psalms is a matter of 
probability only ; and some of my positions I 
assume with considerable diffidence. 

In relating the story of the Hymnal, I have 
made large use of the biographies of many of the 
Hymn-writers ; and, whilst making fresh additions to 
modern Hymnology, I owe much to Duffield, King, 
and other previous workers in the same field. 

This Companion would be incomplete without 
some account of the makers of the Music to which 
our best-loved hymns are wedded ; and this part 
of the work has been committed to the hands of 
my musical friend the author of United Praise. 

R. E. W. 

St. George's, Brondesbury, 
London, N.W. 

The biographical sketches of representative 
modern hymn-tune composers, forming Part HI. 
(p. 273) of this book, have been prepared at the 
suggestion of my friend the Rev. R. E. Welsh, M.A. 

Like much other biographical matt^f^ the material 

viii PREFACE. 

for them has been gathered from various sources, 
largely from periodical literature. I must express 
my indebtedness to my friend Mr. J. Spencer 
Curwen (whose books Studies in Worship MtisiCy 
First and Second Series, are invaluable to all who 
take an interest in Church Music) for much infor- 
mation contained in his writings ; and to Mrs. 
Gauntlett for kindly giving me some interesting 
details relating to her late husband, Dr. Gauntlett. 

R G. E. 

South Hampstead, 

Midsummer Day, 18S9. 

sions ot 



I. General Survey'; Christ's Hymxal; The Psalms in 

History .......•• 3 

II. Songs of a Shepherd 15 

III. Cave Songs : Imprecatory 31 

IV. Coronation and Processional Hymns .... 38 
V. A Royal Penitent's Wail 47 

VI. Psalms of a Royal Fugitive 5^ 

VII. Songs of Solomon 67 

VIII. Odes of Victory 79 

IX. Songs in a Strange Land . ..... 86 

X. Pilgrim Songs 99 


. General Survey. 

I. Nilometer of the Church 

. 113 

2. The Church Universal .... 

. 116 

3. Children's Hymns 

. 118 

4. Sermonic Hymns 

. 123 

5. Introspective Hymns .... 

. 123 

6. Sensuous H^'mns , . . . . 

. 125 

7, Hymns or Soliloquies ? , 

. 125 

8. Rejected Hymns ..... 

. 127 


II. Early Christian Hymns : 

1. Primitive Church Praise : " Tersanctus " ; "Gloria 

in Excelsis " ; " Gloria Patri " ; "Lamp-lighting 
Hymn " 

2. Hymns of Heresy and Orthodoxy : " Bardesan " 

"Ephrem"; "Synesius" . 

3. Ambrosian Hymns: "Te Deum " . 

4. Ambrose ..... 

5. Prudentius and Anatolius 

6. Gregory the Great : Gregorian Music 

III. Hymns from the Cloisters : 

1. Monks of Mar Saba 

2. Monks of the Studium . 

3. The Two Bernards 

4. From a Prison and a Palace 

5. " Dies Irse " . 

IV^. Hymns of the Reformation : 

1. Martin Luther 

2. Nicolai .... 

3. Gustavus Adolphus 

4. Rinckart 









V. Classic English Poets : 

1. Milton . 158 

2. Dryden 158 

3. Addison 159 

4. Sir Walter Scott . . . . . . .161 

5. Kirke White 161 

VI. Classic Evening Hymns 

1. Lyte 

2. Ken 


VII. Puritan Hymns : 

1. Watts 170 

2. Doddridge 176 


VIII. Methodist Revival Hymns. 


1. Toplady i8i 

2. Wesley . . . , i86 

IX. Olney Hymns : 

1. Cowper ......... 195 

2. Newton ......... 200 

X. Classic Missionary Hymns : 

1. Heber 207 

2. Montgomery . . . . . . . .210 

XI. Evangelical Hymns : 

1. Charlotte Elliott 215 

2. Bonar 218 

3. Ray Palmer ........ 220 

4. Havergal 221 

XII. Oxford Hymns : 

1. Newman ........ 22S 

2. Faber ......... 233 

3. Keble 238 

XIII, Hymns of Four Broad Church Deans : 

1. Stanley . , . 241 

2. Milman 242 

3. Alford 243 

4. Plumptre ... ..... 244. 

XIV. Hymns of Three Bishops : 

1. Bickersteth 245 

2. Wordsworth . . . . . . . . 246 

3. Walsham How . . . . . . . 247 

XV, Hymns of Three Poet-Vicars : 

1. Monsell 248 

2. EUerton 249 

3. Stone 250 


XVI. Hymns of American Poets : 


1. Oliver Wendell Holmes ..... 253 

2. J. G. Whittier 255 

3. W. C. Bryant 258 

XVII. Hymns of Three Female Singers: 

1. Adelaide A. Procter . . . . . .261 

2. Jean Ingelow 264 

3. Harriet Aiiber 264 

XVIII. Last, but not Least : 

1. T. T. Lynch 266 

2. Adams . . , 269 

3. Palgrave , . . . . . . . 270 

XIX. Retrospect ......... 272 


I. Dr. H. J. Gauntlett ....... 277 

II. Henry Smart 285 

III. Dr. E. J. Hopkins ........ 295 

IV. Rev. J. B. Dykes, Mus. Doc 302 

V. Dr. W. H. Monk 310 

VI. Sir John Stainer 317 

VII. Sir Arthur Sullivan ....... 327 

VIII. Mr. Joseph Barney ........ 332 

Index I. Psalms Mentioned 

II. Hymns Mentioned 

III. Hymrw- Writers Mentioned . 

IV. Hymn-Tune Composers Mentioned 
V. Hymn-Tunes Mentioned 




I. Christ's Book of Praise. 

THE Bible, like each separate Book in it, has a 
natural history. It was not always a bound 
volume. Its sixty-six Books sprang from distinct 
human experiences, and cover a period as long as the 
Christian era. We are, perhaps, prepared to believe 
that the historical Books were the product of natural 
circumstances as truly as were Homer's Odyssey 
and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; but to one Book 
we have not been in the habit of applying this 

The Psalter has been to some a sort of Melchisedec 
in the Bible, "without father, without mother, without 
descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of 
life." Others have always had the vague idea that 
to David belonged the entire Book. Are they not 
called " The Psalms of David " ? 

It is wonderful how devoutly we have read and 
loved them, how profitably we have used them, and 
yet how little curiosity we have shown as to the 


lives and histories and experiences which they 

Who collected them ? Are the inscriptions pre- 
fixed to most of them of the same date as the Psalms 
themselves ? How can we understand and use the 
Psalms of Cursing ? What are the Songs of Degrees ? 
Why that clause at the end of Ps. Ixxii., " The 
prayers of David the Son of Jesse are ended," while, 
later, several Psalms bearing his name are given ? 
What is the reference in " Lift up your heads, O 
ye gates " ? 

These and scores of questions like these we have 
been content to leave in nebulous mystery. It would 
add greatly to the charm and living interest of the 
Psalms if we could give the Romance of their history. 
It is possible to do for some of them what we can 
do for Lyte's "Abide with me," Newman's "Lead, 
kindly Light," and Havergal's " Thy life was given 
for me." 

The former is not so easy a task. The Psalms 
are so ancient that fewer sidelights remain for us. 
But we can do much to surround them with tales of 
their origin, the tragic and pathetic episodes of their 

Regard the Book for the nonce purely as a hymnal, 
Christ's Hymnal, used by the Jews as their Book of 
Praise. Examine it as you would examine Hymns 
Ancient and Modern. 

Its name explains its contents. As the lyre gave 
its name to lyric poetry, the stringed instrument to 


which these sacred odes were sung gave its name— 
The Psalter — to the collection of Psalms. 

The Psalter we find divided into five distinct 
books, a second Pentateuch : as has repeatedly been 
pointed out, the fivefold word of the congregation to 
Jehovah, as the Pentateuch is the fivefold word of 
Jehovah to the congregation. It must be confessed 
that this parallel has the look of manufacture about it, 
and the keener criticism of the present time believes the 
fourth and fifth books to have been originally one. 

The First Book ends with Ps. xli., concluding with 
the Doxology and the double Amen. 

The Second Book begins with Ps. xlii. and closes 
with Ps. Ixxii., ending with the Doxology and the 
note " The Prayers of David the Son of Jesse are 

The Third Book opens with Ps. Ixxiii. and concludes 
with Ps. Ixxxix., ending again with the Doxology — 
which thus separates the Books much as the ** Gloria " 
separates the chants in a Service. 

The Fourth Book begins with Ps. xc. and closes 
with Ps. cvi., with the Doxology, Amen, and 

The Fifth Book contains the rest 'of the Psalms, the 
last being one long Doxology with Hallelujahs. 

Why these five Books ? The division points clearly 
to the fact that the Psalter comprises different collec- 
tions of Hymns. It is not the " Higher Criticism " 
that has found this out. One confirmation patent 
to all is the fact that certain Psalms are found in 


more than one of the five compilations. The four- 
teenth and the fifty-third are almost identical; the 
latter part of the fortieth and the seventieth ; the 
fifty-seventh and one hundred and eighth have . 
close resemblances. ^ 

The First Hymnal contained forty-one pieces, all, 
with few exceptions, written by David. A little later 
an Appendix or Second collection was formed, many 
of them by the "Sons of Korah," and others by 
David. Still again a Third Selection was made, one 
set by "Asaph " {i.e. the Guild of Asaph), and another 
by the " Sons of Korah." Similarly with the others 
— or other. 

When the second compilation was completed with 
Ps. Ixxii., a note was appended to the effect that no 
more of David's songs were known to exist, although 
others were found at a later point — "The prayers of 
David the son of Jesse are ended." 

Then followed some editor who combined the five 
(or four) successive collections into one. The In- 
scriptions and the Doxologies are no doubt the work 
of the editor or editors, and hence did not stand part 
of the Psalms as originally written. Like the notes 
affixed to the New Testament Epistles, the Inscriptions 
which are prefixed to one hundred and twenty-six 
of the Psalms are not decisive, but " are entitled to 
a general respect as ancient editorial annotations." 
The thirty-four anonymous Psalms, called " Orphans " 
by the Jews, are none the less authoritative because 
they have no editorial authorship prefixed. 


These Psalms cover a period of at least a thousand 
years, as long as that covered by our Hymnal collec- 
tions. At one extremity stands the Song of Moses, 
Ps. xc, — if indeed it be his ; at the other the Psalms 
of the Captivity, a period corresponding to that which 
lies between Stephen the Sabaite's '' Art thou weary ? " 
written a hundred years prior to King Alfred's reign, 
and Bonar's " I heard the voice of Jesus say." 

The Reformation, the EvangeHcal revival of the 
Wesleys, the Olney history, the Tractarian Movement, 
have all left their impress on our hymn books. After 
the same fashion, the great movements in Hebrew 
history left their high water mark in the Psalms. 
These periodic outbursts of praise are quite distin- 

The tragic deliverance at the Red Sea produced 
the great " Ode to Liberty " of ancient times, the 
triumphal song of Moses. 

The pathetic retrospect of Moses as he resigned 
himself to death without entering the promised land 
gave us, if the tradition may be believed, Ps. xc, 
" Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all 

The eventful story of Deborah is crystallized in her 
bold and fiery ode in Judges. 

It was David, however, whose poetic genius, fed by 
his dramatic history, enriched the Psalter with the 
loftiest lyrics. It was during his reign that sacred 
praise sprang into maturity, as it did again at the 
Reformation. In addition to writing so many Psalms, 


he founded a School of Sacred Poetry, many fruits of 
which are contained in the Psalter. During one part 
of his reign there were twenty-four bands of Levite 
musicians taking turn in pubhc worship, each band 
consisting of one hundred and sixty-six musicians. 

The reign of Jehoshaphat, the reign of Hezekiah, 
and lastly the Captivity and Restoration, left separate 
and large deposits of Sacred Song. These two kings 
devoted their energies to the restoration and improve- 
ment of the musical service at the Temple. 

Jehoshaphat established public instructors in every 
part of his kingdom. Hezekiah organized a sort of 
Literary Antiquarian Society, " a society of learned 
men whose duty it was to collect and preserve all the 
scattered remains of the earlier literature " (Perowne). 
They probably saved numerous Psalms from perishing. 
That royal reformer, also, revived the ancient Hebrew 
music, and restored the singing of the Psalms of 
David and his school. He himself wrote sacred 
songs, as witness the plaintive lines composed on his 
recovery from his nearly fatal illness (Isa. xxxviii. 9). 
The Korahite singers, " Sons of Korah," during his 
reign, also wrote several Psalms. 

As in the case of the Hymnal, the Psalter is thus 
an epitome of the history of the Jewish Church. The 
great personal and national events, the religious re- 
vivals, the social movements, are registered here in the 
sacred lyrics called into existence by these awaken- 
ings and deliverances. Periods that permitted sacred 
praise to languish were periods of languishing religious 


life. New outbursts of song were the immediate pro- 
duct of new advances in piety. 

The later Psalms are less passionate, less lofty and 
poetic, and more didactic and formal. Ps. cxix. — which, 
as an acrostic, is evidently of late origin — is full of pro- 
verbial lines about the glory of the law, and has the 
antithetic formaHty of its late creation.* It w^as in 
David's time that sacred poetry had reached its purest 
and divinest tones. 

The Inscriptions prefixed to most of the Psalms 
cannot all be satisfactorily explained. Some of them 
are musical directions. ^^To the chief Musician^'' would 
be, in modern dress, " For the Precentor " or " Choir 
Conductor," meaning that the Choir-master or Organist 
was to set these Hymns to music for the Temple Ser- 
vice. Indeed the name of one choir-master is prefixed 
to three of the Psalms ; namely, Jeduthun or Ethan, 
one of the three famous Choir-leaders of David's time. 

This Inscription serves to illustrate the fact that 
not all of the Psalms were written with the Temple 
Service in view. Just as the Olney Hymns were 
private and personal expressions of devotion, so some 
of the Psalms were written no doubt first of all for 
private use. 

Other musical directions are given. Some Psalms 
were to be accompanied by flutes, others by stringed 

* Some of the later Psalms were evidently composed for 
liturgical sen-ices in the second Temple, and compiled from 
earlier Psalms. ' 


instruments. That word Selah, that has been a mystery 
to so many young (and some old) minds, is some musical 
instruction or poetic break. Most probably it marks 
the place where a pause was made in the Hymn. 

Sometimes the name of the tune is prefixed, antici- 
pating the fashion in modern Hymnals. Ps. xxii. is to 
be sung to the " Hind of the Dawn ; " Ps. Ivi. to the 
" Silent Dove in far off lands." 

Other titles indicate the aim of the Psalms : " For 
Teaching" (Ps. Ix.) ; "For Thanksgiving" (Ps. c). 
One is called " A Prayer," another a '^' Song of Loves " 
(xlv.), and others are described as "Songs of 

2. The PsALMts in History. 

The Psalter has been the Prayer and Praise Book 
of the Church Universal. It has moulded the very 
language and desires of all devout spirits, binding 
Ancient and Modern, Eastern and Western, in a 
brotherhood of common praise. It has been the 
liturgy of the Jewish as well as of the Christian, of 
the Protestant as well as of the Greek and Romanist 
Churches. In creeds and forms they differ, but in 
devotion they are alike. 

We may guess how deeply the Psalms had sunk 
into the Jewish Church of our Lord's time from the 
fact that of the two hundred and eighty-three quota- 
tions in the New Testament from the Old, one hundred 
and sixteen are from the Psalms. 


It was the Hymn Book of the primitive Christian 
Church. Christ at the last Supper, along with His 
disciples, sang the Hallel Psalms, cxiii. — cxviii. This 
was the *'hymn" they sang before starting for the 
Garden of Gethsemane. 

In the early centuries of the Christian Church 
the Psalter was the book put into the hands of young 
Christians as their vade mecum ; and " no man was 
admitted to the superior orders of the clergy unless, 
among other prerequisites, he could say all the Psalter 
by heart. 

They formed an essential part of the service. 
"After the reading from the Epistle, a whole Psalm 
was sung, or partly read and partly sung, and then 
followed the reading of the Gospel." "Sometimes 
they were sung by the whole congregation ; at other 
times they were recited by one individual, who was 
followed by the rest." It was a very early practice 
also to sing them, as they were sung in the Temple, 
antiphonally. They sang either the verses or the 
two halves of each verse alternately, the decani and 
cantoris responding to each other. 

How these Psalms have rung not only through the 
Jewish temples, but through the centwries ! It fills 
us with awe to think that David sang them ; that 
Isaiah," Nehemiah, Gamaliel, chanted them ; that, more 
than all, our Divine Lord sang them the night before 
He embraced the cruel cross, that He consoled His 
spirit as He expired with the words of the Psalms ; 
that Paul and Silas sang them while their feet were 


held fast in the stocks, and praised God in such 
vigorous tones that their fellow-prisoners heard 

"Jerome tells us that in his day the Psalms were 
to be heard in the fields and the vineyards of Pales- 
tine. The ploughman, as he guided his plough, 
chanted the Hallelujah, and the reaper, the vine- 
dresser, and the shepherd sang the songs of David." 
Gallic boatmen, as they urged their heavily-laden 
barges up stream, sang the Psalms till the river 
banks echoed with the Hallelujah. 

Augustine at his conversion burst into a Psalm, 
and a Psalm consoled him as he died. Chrysostom 
in exile, Bernard on his death-bed, Huss and Jerome 
of Prague in the midst of the martyr-fire, Xavier and 
Savonarola in persecution, sang comfort to their 
souls in Psalms." At his execution, Wallace had the 
Psalter suspended before his eyes. 

Gustavus Adolphus marched to victor}^ Martin 
Luther went to " meet all possible devils at Worms," 
George Wishart dared the perils of the plague at 
Dundee, Bunyan waked the echoes in his prison cell, 
singing Psalms. 

Cromwell's troops, true Ironsides, went to the 
battle of Dunbar singing the sixty-eighth Psalm : 
" Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered." 
When the Huguenots were crowding the French 
prisons to overflowing, they were beaten and dragged 

* Stanley's y<?'2£;/i'/^ Omrchy vol. ii. 


by their hair for persisting in singing Psalms. They 
sang them in the ships which bore them into 
banishment beyond the seas. " Women and young 
girls were mixed with the vilest criminals, and the 
Psalms were their defence against oaths and foulness. 
Meeting among the mountains and forests of the 
'Desert/ the sound of Psalm-singing guided their 
friends to their assemblies ; but sometimes also 
brought on them the sudden fire of the enemy. 
When at last madness drove them to arms, the Psalms 
became their battle-songs, and their opponents speak 
of their singing as wild and fierce like a trumpet." 

In many a glen, on many a moss and moor, by 
many a lonely stream, have the Scottish Covenanters 
worshipped God with Psalms, with the blue sky as 
roof, and the mist as sole shelter. 

*' What a wonderful story they could tell," says 
Dr. Ker, '' if we could gather it all from lonely 
chambers, from suffering sick-beds, from the brink 
of the valley of the shadow of death, from scaffold and 
fiery piles, and from moors and mountains." " What 
a history, if we could discover the place this book has 
occupied in the inner life of the heroes of the king- 
dom " (Tholuck). "When we sing them we join with 
a multitude which no man can number, a long line 
of pilgrims in the most distant ages, who drew from 
them strength for their journey and solace for their 
hardships. There is no river of melody which has 
made glad so many generations in the city of God." 
Herein is the Communion of Saints. 


The Psalms give shape and intensity to all those 
delicate, lurking instincts and cravings which lie un- 
formed in our hearts. They meet the soul, not in its 
lighter moods, but in its secret and unspeakable 
experiences, in its great crucial moments. They 
gather all our wide, profound existence, our better 
and worse selves, up into the searching, beneficent 
presence and pity of God. Not only do they hold 
a mirror to our hearts, give an "anatomy" of all 
its parts, but they 

" Sing God's comfort through our soul." 

The Psalter is "not for an age, but for all time;" 
a modern book, defying its two thousand years 
of existence. Compjare the songs of a later period 
in Greek or Latin literature. The ancient classics 
remain as standard examples of literary culture and 
genius. But while they sing of bloody battles, of 
wine and passion, the Hebrew psalmists, in sublime 
vision of the Father Spirit, sing of His moral purity, 
His holiness. His supreme majesty, His tender com- 
passion ; and come so close to the very thoughts of 
God that their songs have absorbed into themselves 
the highest conceptions of the Gospel. 



I. The Hebrew Poet King. 

IT is a remarkable fact that no Psalm celebrates the 
fame of any Hebrew hero. Not only was the body 
of Moses buried out of the sight and out of the ken of 
men, but his generalship, his statesmanship, his moral 
grandeur, are never rehearsed in song. The poets of 
Greece and Rome sang the praise of their national 
heroes, but the Hebrew poets sang the glories of 
Jehovah and Jehovah alone. 

Even David, whose life of stirring incident, of light 
and shadow, of swift change and sudden tragedy, 
would have supplied material for a noble epic, re- 
mains unsung. 

A better memorial of him than an Epic exists in the 
Lyrics into which he poured his heart. They write his 
life-history, transcribe the thoughts, the passions that 
throbbed within him as he watched his sheep or studied 
the night-sky, as he fled before the blind fury and mad 
jealousy of Saul, as he sank into sin and shame and 
endured the dread Nemesis of his dark past. 


The historical books construct the scaffolding of his 
life : his Psalms raise the real man, give shape and 
colour and expression to the true personality. They 
are the mirror of his mind. They reveal a character 
distinguished for noble aims and warm-hearted enthu- 
siasms, a spirit fervid with great loves and hates, and 
torn with conflicting passions. We can almost tell 
which Psalms are his by their intensity of feeling, 
their poetic elevation, their creative freshness. They 
stand in strong contrast to the dogmatic lines, pro- 
verbial sayings of later singers. 

Seventy-three Psalms are attributed to David by the 
Inscriptions. But no one accepts their authority as 
decisive. The destructive critic Ewald allows only 
fifteen to pass muster. Probably the truth lies some- 
where between these two extremes ; and we are not 
far from the truth when, with Maclaren, we set down 
forty-three as the contribution of the " sweet singer of 

Some twenty-three of these can, with approximate 
accuracy, be classified according to the succeeding 
stages of his history. 

2. Songs of a Shepherd. 

Psalms viii., xix., xxiii., xxix. 

The Romance of David's lyrics begins with the 
Making of the Poet. 

His home lay in Bethlehem, six miles from Jerusalem, 
at that time Jebus. The scene was a sloping ridge, 


with a deep valley in front and another behind, in 
which the cornfields were so rich that they gave its 
name to the village, " Beth-lehem," " The House of 
Bread." Beyond lay a wilderness broken with bare 
limestone hills sheltering deep rugged ravines. 

It was on these slopes, through these valleys, and 
beside these Hmestone gorges that the future poet 
and king kept his father's sheep. 

Like Sir Walter Scott, he w^as surrounded by scenes 
which nourished his poetic soul. 

Yonder, close by, was the grave of Rachel, memorial 
of Jacob's sorrows. On those very cornfields Ruth 
gleaned after the reapers. This ver}^ house was 
probably the home to w^hich came his great-grand- 
parents, Boaz and Ruth, when the alien woman became 
the ancestress, not only of David, but of David's 
greater Son. 

Homestead and field alike served to quicken his 
imagination : and no doubt he heard the romantic 
story as embodied in RittJi, as well as many another 
incident about her told by aged people. Other influ- 
ences, too, must have moulded his character. 

The memory of Samson was still fresh in people's 
minds, and stories of that Hebrew Hercules, of his 
daring exploits and wild riddles, must have fired the 
soul and kindled the eye of one who was a warrior 
and a poet in the making. 

Possibly a deeper spiritual cast was given to his 
awaking mind by the revival which Samuel had inau- 
gurated at his School of the Prophets, or Religious 



Training School for Young Men at Ramah, a few miles 
off. Like Wycliffe and his poor preachers, Samuel 
had formed Theological Schools, where godly young 
men were prepared to be sent out to different places 
as preachers. 

It was a time of awakening, and what more likely 
than that the earnest youth David should have been 
influenced by the spiritual teaching of Samuel ? It is 
certain that he was brought into contact with these 
Sons of the Prophets, who were not only Divinity 
students, but also students of poetry and music. The 
school was a college of sacred song and music, as well 
as of religion. By these students, young men like him- 
self, he was made familiar with the treasures of sacred 
poetry, the odes of Moses and Deborah, and with the 
music of the harp and the lyre. Under such influences 
his devotional, musical, and poetic tastes were cultivated. 

Like so many who have afterwards risen to fame as 
authors, he appears to have stood alone in his family, 
who saw nothing in him. This is betrayed in the 
dramatic story of his consecration by Samuel. 

Samuel appears at Jesse's door, calls on the sons of 
the house to appear, rejects one after another until 
apparently all have been set aside. 

"Are these all your children?" 

" There remaineth yet the youngest, and behold he 
keepeth the sheep" — as if his father had scarcely 
ranked this dreamy shepherd lad beside his t)ther, 
seveij, stalwart sons. 

" Send and fetch him." 


And when they have brought him in from the 
sheep runs, we see him, pictured with a few strokes 
of the brush, a youth of some sixteen or eighteen. 

Here he comes with shepherd staff in his hand, 
of fair complexion, with auburn hair remarkable among 
the raven-locked Syrians, and '' oi a beautiful coun- 
tenance," or rather with keen, bright, deep eyes, in 
which shone the light oi genius and the warmth of 
a fervid heart. 

In this youth of thoughtful face, manly bearing, 
liquid eye, Samuel recognises the future king, and 
pours the sacred oil on his head. 

Whether he was told the meaning of the act we 
do not know. But it must at any rate have marked 
an era in his history, must have given him the sense 
of ccvjiing responsibility, and waked him to deeper 
meditation and self-mastery. This symbol oi a call 
to some large service would ripen his mind and 
mature his character. 

The fascination that was felt by Samuel was felt 
by all who met him. Some irresistible charm in him 
won, in later years, the devoted attachment o( the 
brave 3'oung Jonathan ; captivated Saul's daughter, 
who confessed her love unasked ; drew around him 
lo3'al retainers ; and gained the admiration of his ver}" 
foes the Philistines. He was always ''David," ''The 

But as yet he was keeping his father's tl' ^ks. 
With no companion save his dumb sheep, he was 
thrown in upon himself and out upon God. 


One companion he had, his harp, with which he 
was yet to soothe the madness of King Saul, and 
which was to be the solace of all his years of royal 
eminence and of exile wanderings. 

His calHng developed daring and strength. A 
shepherd's life there and then, unhke the quiet pas- 
toral life on British hillsides, was full of perils and 
hardships. Bedouin tribes swept down upon the 
flocks at intervals ; hons, wolves, bears, made the 
sheep their prey. It required courage and strength, 
firm nerve and presence of mind, to deal with such 
dangers. And these David displayed, as when he 
smote a lion, and caught a bear by the beard and, 
as it was rising to give him the fatal hug, slew it. 

There are Shepherd Songs which are the poetical 
transcript of these years of pastoral life. Such are 
Psalms viii., xix., xxiii., and xxix. That they were 
composed while he was still with his flocks cannot 
be demonstrated, although it is highly probable. 
They are certainly the product of his early manhood, 
full of high hope, and of wild delight in nature, God, 
and truth. 

They do not bear the scars of sorrow, the brand 
of his fall. He has not yet done battle with the 
problems of successful sin, the perplexity of life's 
inequalities and misfortunes, the strange contradic- 
tion of saints suffering. 

His questions are those of an opening mind. His 
are the thoughts of a young thinker. Even if written 
subsequently to his pastoral life, these Psalms are the 


reminiscences of his life among the sheep, under the 
sky, among nature's varied scenes. 

Persians were still worshipping the stars as 
divinities ; Greek imagination was yet to people the 
hills and glades with varied gods. 

David makes all nature praise its Creator, every 
star and mountain acknowledge Jehovah. 

Whence this clear perception of the unity, 
supremacy, majestic and holy personality of God, 
while elsewhere polytheism and astrology flourished 
without protest ? 

Psalm xxix. 

is a dramatic picture of a thunder-storm. Such a 
thing was rare in Palestine, and, when it did come, 
must have impressed the shepherd-poet as he watched 
it from his rocky shelter. 

The Psalm consists of five parts : — 

1. A prelude, in which the poet, as he sees the 
gathering thunder-clouds, bids the " sons of God," 
the angels, in the holy attire of worship, bow before 
the approaching Jehovah. We can almost catch the 
hush of nature, the ominous stillness that awaits the 
voice of God. 

2. Then follows the body of the Psalm in three 
equal strophes, each of five lines, and each marking 
a new phase of the storm : 

(i) The distant muttering is heard, the gathering 
bellow ; and, as the first peal bursts on the ear, he 
exclaims : — 



"Hark! Jehovah is above the waters (clouds), 
The God of Glory thundered, 
Jehovah ! above the water floods." 

And each new "Hark!" seems to follow a pause, 

a fresh peal : 

" Hark ! Jehovah — is in power, 
Hark ! Jehovah — is in majesty." 

(ii) Then, after a pause, the storm breaks on the 
northern mountains, crashing the cedars of Lebanon, 
leaping across to Hermon (Sirion) to shatter its peaks 
and make its trees skip like young buffaloes, and the 
awe-struck poet is blinded with the flash of fire. 

(iii) Then a slight pause, and once again a long 
peal rolls across the sky, shaking the solid earth 
underfoot ; and the storm sweeps southwards to spend 
its fury on the trembling wilderness of Kadesh. 

It has bowed the very beasts in labour, " made the 
hinds to ealve," stripped the leaves off the trees, and, 
as it dies away, the heavenly host are heard "shouting 
Glory ! " 

3. The conclusion follows, containing the poet's 
musings on the storm : that the Jehovah who wakes 
cloud and flood to uproar sits as King, in royal 
power above them all, and can still them ; that He 
is the same God who gives strength to His people 
and blesses them with peace. 

The storm has gone and left delicious calm, a 
softened freshened atmosphere, and dew-covered 
grass ; and the calm seems to be God's promise of 
peace after tempest, of quiet after strife. 


How David must, like a select number still, have 
revelled in the grandeur of the thunder-storm ! The 
very structure of the language echoes the rugged 
thunder-peals ! It gives him one overwhelming 
thought : Jehovah revealing His grandeur and waking 
worship in man. 

Psalm xix. 

is a nature-psalm, but of a very different kind. 

Many a time has the young shepherd seen what 
he describes. 

Already in the fields before day-dawn he sees the 
first flush of the Eastern sunrise. Ere the sun has 
leaped into the sky, nature is hushed and silent : 

" There is no speech and no word, 
Their voice is not heard." 

But quickly the sun lifts himself into sight : 

" He goes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber ; " 

and emerging, not through long twilight as in these 
northern zones, but with sudden energy, he climbs 
the skies : 

" He rejoiceth as a mighty man to run his race ; 
From one end of the heaven is his going forth, 
And his circuit as far as the ends thereof, 
Neither is anything hid from his heat." 

Day and night " utter speech," come in succession, 
singing as it were strophe and antistrophe, answering 
each other like decani and cantoris in a grand nature- 
cathedral. All " declare the glory of God." They 


proceed in silence ; no speech ! no language ! Yet 
their silent testimony to Jehovah goes round the 
world afresh with the throb and glory of each new 
morning's light. 

Then comes a sudden transition from the glory 
of God's round heaven to the glory of God's dome 
of truth. The change in style and subject is so 
complete that some critics are disposed to break the 
Psalm into two parts, and to ascribe the second to 
a later writer. But this sudden transition is meant 
to give dramatic force to the comparison of God's 
truth to God's sky. 

There in the Law, David's Bible, is a revelation 
of God more glorious than the revelation in the 
heavens. God's words. His statutes, His precepts, 
are perfect, pure as the stars, refresh the soul like 
the light, heal the wounds of the heart which nature 
cannot cure. 

The heavens have beauty for the eye but little balm 
for the sin-bruised and abashed soul. Only Thou, 
O God, canst cleanse me from these stains ; and so 
the poet's heart reaches out to grasp that pity of 
which nature's gift of beauty was the foregleam. 

Psalm nineteen is a study of the heavens by day : 

Psalm viii. 

is a study of the same heavens by night. 

Like other Eastern shepherds, he had spent many 
a night with his sheep ; and he had wandered alone, 



gazing on the colossal dome over-arching the earth, 
and studded with the briUiant gem-hke stars, and with 
the clear moon. All were of surpassing splendour 
in that Eastern sky. 

His first exclamation is : what majestic glory it 
reveals in God : 

" Thy glory is high above the heavens ! " 

What is he, a mere shepherd youth, a mere babe 
of yesterday ? Yet even from his, a babe's, lips can 
come the acknowledgment of glory. 

Compared with that mysterious immensity above, 
with the moon and the stars : 

" What is man, that Thou art mindful of him ? 
And the son of man, that Thou visitest him ? " 

The problem that baffled the mind of the shepherd- 
poet is the same as perplexes earnest and thoughtful 
minds three thousand years later. It is the young 
man's question in all time. 

Only, it has gathered force with the discoveries 
of the astronomers and the geologists. David could 
have had no conception of the bewildering vastness 
of creation : that our earth would make merely a 
mound on the surface of the sun ; that our sun is 
but one of millions of suns, and one of the smallest 
of them ; that there are some stars so far distant 
in the depths of space that the light of our earth, 
though it has travelled one hundred and eighty-six 
thousand miles per second since the world first gave 


light, has not yet reached them. It would take fifty 
thousand years to reach even the nearest fixed 

And geology has done for time what astronomy 
has done for space — stretched it into infinite depths. 

Before the illimitable sweep of creation, we shrink 
into unspeakable insignificance. What is man, that 
the Almighty Being who presides over all this should 
give a thought to him, to a mere speck of dust in the 
infinite palace of His universe ? Who can believe 
that He ever came to dwell among men ? 

These are the questions that stagger the eager, 
earnest minds of men to-day; and the answer is the 
same as quieted the shepherd-poet of yore. 

He swiftly thinks again — referring no doubt to the 
story of creation in Genesis which he had often 
read — 

•' Thou hast made him a little lower than God (the angels)/' 

a little lower because in the image of God. 

" Thou hast crowned him with glory," 

the glory of Thine own attributes, with mind and 
soul, and power to commune with Thee. Earth's 
creatures are His servants. 

All these stupendous discoveries of science only 
point the more convincingly to the superior greatness 
of man's mind, which can hold all these stars and 
constellations in the hollow of its thoughts. 

Man is not measured by the yardstick. Quantity 
of atoms cannot compete with spirit. 


There is a second universe, namely, the spirit- 
universe, of which the soul is a denizen. With all 
its intellectual, moral, and spiritual powers, it stands 
higher than a galaxy of stars, for it is like God in 

The endless sweep of creation proves Him to be 
infinite. But His infinity must reach down to the 
infinitely little as well as rise to the infinitely great. 
A straight line is not infinite which only stretches 
up without limit ; it must stretch down as far. 

God is not infinite unless He reach down to the in- 
finitesimally small. His power is infinite, as astronomy 
proves. If He is love. His love must be infinite too. 
Enlarge the universe and you only enlarge God ; and 
His Godhood widens down as well as up. 

Psalm xxiii. 

contemplates the same question, the minute Divine 
care, in another light and mood. 

It is the great shepherd song, which has sung itself 
into the holy of holies of our souls, and has become 
the heart's great comforter and companion. 

It is a transcript of David's life. It was written 
perhaps after he had risen to the throne, as he looks 
down on those valleys and ridges where he has kept 
his sheep, and thinks of all the care he had spent 
on them. 

" The Lord is my shepherd." 

When the fierce sun had burnt up the vegetation. 


and the sheep had been panting and exhausted with 

the heat, he had often gone ahead of them, and led 

them down into the green strips of meadow-land beside 

the quiet-flowing stream that made the grass fresh and 

cool. My shepherd 

" Maketh me to lie down in green pastures ; 
He leadeth me beside the still waters." 

Many a time he had rescued the careless sheep that 
had fallen into the ravines ; from many a prowling wild 
beast had he rescued them. Many a time had he gone 
after them, when they had strayed away out to the 
pathless, rough heights and thickets, and had restored 
them to the familiar and safer ground. 
" He restoreth my soul : 

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness." 

He had often led his sheep through the rocky gorges, 
through the narrow defiles where the Bedouin lurked 
ready to kill the shepherd and seize the flock. 

" Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of 
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." 

And when they wandered into perilous positions, 
were in danger of falling over cliffs, or of becoming the 
prey of prowling wild beasts, he had used his rod to 
smite the wolf, or lion, or bear, — a rod of wood, as in 
India to-day, with a spiral piece of iron at the end, — 
and, with his staff, his crook, he had drawn them back 
and gently chastened them, and guided them out into 
safety again. 

" Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." 

5c\\'Ji- CF A SHEFHEFiD. 


In presence of these watching enemies, beasts and 
brigands, he had shielded them and fed them -^^-ith 

" Thou preparest a table for me, 

presence of mine enemies." 

From his flocks he had one day been called in to be 
confronted with Samuel, who poured the holj- oil over 
him, and his heart had overflowed with hope; and the 
recollection winds itself into his shepherd-memories : 

" Thou anointest my head with oil. 
My cup runneth over/' 

Then thinking of all the strong ties that bound him to 
his flock, how he kept them all the day and then 
gently folded them at night, he exclaims in deep 

confidence : 

"Assuredly goodness and mercy shall follow me all flie 
days of my life, 
And I will dwell in the house of Jehovah for evermore." 

At last He ^vill gather us into His fold, will be with 
us all through life's day, and at eventide will fold us in 
His safe Home for evermore. 

A thousand years later, other shepherds were keerirc: 
w^atch over their flocks by night on the s::::. ri^ls :f 
Bethlehem, while the same stars !::/.e: :v : upon 
them. "And lo I the ansrel of the L:. : :.-.:.■. r 



them, and the glory oi the Lord shone round about 
them.'' It was :r: 5s.-ge of **good tidings of great 
joy." And there at F. :'.':::-■ ?. new sun rose, a nevr 
glor}' in God surpassii:., : ^ > "f --'- heavens; and 


feeble man found God mindful of him, visiting him with 
His salvation, proving that the Infinite Creator is the 
Shepherd who knows each separate life among His 
charge, and '' gives His life for the sheep," till at last 
He will fold them in peaceful security. 


Psalms vii., Ivi. 

THE next group of Psalms marks a new epoch 
in David's history. They are no longer 
weavings of speculation. He finds himself suddenly 
drawn into the maelstrom of life's fierce wrongs and 
stern duties. This new period is linked with Saul. 

King Saul, who had in him the materials for a 
splendid man, had destroyed himself. Brooding over 
his predicted downfall, vindictive, gloomy, he seemed 
to lose his moral and mental balance. 

Browning's dramatic description (" Saul ") of the 
young shepherd-harpist flinging out his ravishing 
music and stealing away the king's moody passion* 
pictures with surpassing skill David's loyal love — 

" And oh ! all my heart, how it loved him ! " 

Every one remembers how the young shepherd's 
slaughter of the Philistine giant and the people's song 
in his honour woke the king to jealousy ; how as 
David tried again the medicine — the therapeutic 
power — of music, a swift spear grazed the agile harper 


as he sprang aside; how the hand of the eldest 
princess was first promised and then mockingly with- 
drawn, Michal being given instead ; how the courtiers 
and even Prince Jonathan received secret orders to 
assassinate David ; how the former advocated his 
bosom friend's innocence ; how a new victory renewed 
the vengeful jealousy, and the spear again whizzed 
past him ; how he escaped to his house, the " lurk- 
ing dogs " (Ps. lix.) after him ; how his wife let him 
down in a basket, placing a figure ("teraphim") in 
his bed as a blind to detain his pursuers. 

The title of Psalm lix. ascribes it to this narrow 
escape, but without much authority. 

We see him next at Nob, a hungry refugee, eating 
the priest's consecrated bread, watched by the bronzed 
face of Saul's sneaking, spying herdsman, Doeg. 

He seizes Goliath's sword, and flees to the hills, 
taking refuge at last in Gath, the very capital of the 
Philistines. To escape recognition — for he is viewed 
with suspicion he stoops to a demeaning trick, — 
feigns madness, and acts like a slavering idiot. 

At the first opportunity he escapes to the hills 

In the deep caves, many of them excavations, of 
Adullam, he is joined by some six hundred outlaws 
like himself, driven to the mountains by Saul's mad 

Then, like Robin Hood, we find him in the woods. 
With the forest for covert, Jonathan and he 
" lived one day of parting love." 


Listen to the two friends. Jonathan speaks : '* Fear 
not ; for the hand of Saul, my father, shall not find 
thee ; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall 
be next to thee." It was their last meeting : for 
Jonathan was fated to fall with his father. 

Engedi is his next refuge, high up among the hills, 
under cliffs that hide deep natural caves. These 
caverns are dark as night. The motley band of 
followers are enjoying themselves ; but David retires 
to the extreme end of the cave. 

Saul's regiments, three thousand strong, are on 
his track again. Not knowing the outlaw's hiding- 
place, in the heat of the day the malignant but 
wearied king turns into a cave for shelter from the 
sun. In the darkness he sees nothing, but throws 
himself down and falls into a deep sleep. 

Now is David's chance ! How easy to lift his 
sharp javelin and pin the king to the ground, and 
then claim the throne ! Now we shall see the real 
mettle of the man. 

He refuses to touch the God-anointed king. He 
will not force the hand of Providence. He will bide 
God's time. Were he to stab the king and claim 
the crown, it would be said that he had been a rebel 
all the time. Though in the Psalms he calls down 
curses on his pursuers, he is at heart no hater of 
his persecutor. With difficulty but determination 
he holds back his men thirsting for revenge. 

It is a striking picture : these outlaws looking in 
that dim cave on the sleeping form of the man who 



has hunted them, and David, the chief sufferer, re- 
straining them ! The king has slept his sleep, and 
leaves the. cave all unconscious of the situation. 

David will venture it : perhaps it may restore 
friendly relations, and end the conflict. 

'* My lord the king ! " he calls ; holds up the strip 
of cloth he had cut off from the king's skirt ; appeals 
to it in proof of his loyalty and love for the king. 
We can almost see the awestruck king, tears falling 
down his cheeks, as he calls : " Is this thy voice, 
my son David ? Thou hast rewarded me good : 
whereas I have rewarded thee evil." 

The marks of this period are numerous in the 

Psalm vii. 

points to this occasion. He protests his innocence 
of any evil design on King Saul. He calls down the ' 
curse of God on himself if he has been guilty of any 
such sinister scheme : 

" If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with 
me,^ — 
Yea, rather, I have delivered him that "jjithoiit cause 
was viy enc?7ty, — 
Let the enemy persecute my soul and take it." 

At Engedi he had asked Saul : "Wherefore hearest 
thou men's words, saying, ' Behold, David seeketh 
thy hurt.' " The poor, half-mad king was evidently 
the tool of intriguers and slanderers, who were always 
poisoning his mind against David. 


This is clear from 

Psalm lvi., 
if it belongs to this period : 

" All the day long they wrest my words : 
All their thoughts are evil against me. 
They gather together, they lie in wait, 

As they have hoped to take away my life.*' 


" Thou tellest all my wanderings : 

O put Thou my tears into Thy bottle.'' 
" In God have I put my trust ; I am not afraid ; 

What can man do unto me ? " 

It is against these false-hearted counsellors that 
he utters his imprecations. These are the lies, the 
bitter opponents so often denounced in the Psalms. 
No wonder the hunted outlaw, half in despair, pours 
out indignant appeals to God's retributive justice. 

Many a man's lips refuse to sing Psalms so full of 
withering anathemas. The curses uttered make us 
tremble as we read them. 

How are we to interpret the Imprecatory Psalms ? 

The story already told supplies the chief part of 
the answer. 

These Psalms have to be interpreted, not as if 
they were written in a Christian country by a pious 
man seated in a cosy study, but by a brave, noble- 
hearted, passionate, but innocent man, who was 
marked for assassination, exiled from home, pursued 
as an outlaw, hunted from hill to hill, from forest to 
forest, from cave to cave. 


He was conscious of his integrity, — and hence the 
bold claims of innocence before God, — and I do not 
wonder that he put hot, burning words into his songs 
at the time, that he denounced the men who dogged 
him with malignant falsehoods. We do not look for 
fine forgiving phrases from such pre-Christi'an times, 
and from men under such persecutions : we find the 
natural, unchristianized language of a heart that 
resents slanders. 

Indeed, David was magnanimous, in spite of his 
denunciations. When he had the chance of putting 
Saul to death, his heart failed him. 

Here is the progress of revelation. There is but 
broken, partial light at first ; there are but half-truths. 
We do not look for Christ's loftiest teaching in 
Deborah, Samson, David, Solomon. 

Let the Book finish its story : read it all : it reveals 
the truth when we have heard it out. 

Besides, we are in danger of losing all moral in- 
dignation against sin. We would take Christ aside 
and rebuke Him for speaking of a hell. No man loves 
God who does not hate the devil. 

The Imprecatory Psalms have a basis in God's 
character, and in man's nature. 

"The poet Wordsworth was once walking on the 
sands of Morecambe Bay when a courier passed him 
on the gallop. As he raced by, waving the flag of 
England in the air, he announced the fall of Robes- 
pierre, which had taken place two days before. 
*■ Immediately,' says the poet, * a passion seized me, 


a transport of almost epileptic fervour.' He reverently 
lifted his hat; and there, alone, under the open 
heavens, he shouted forth ' anthems of thanksgiving 
for the vindication of eternal justice.' His biographer, 
in relating the incident, grows eloquent in sympathy. 
Did not the whole civilised world respond in like 
passion of retributive gladness ? Yet what has the 
Hebrew poet sung in Psalms of imprecation more 
offensive to the ethical instincts of modern culture 
than the poet-laureate of England shouted on the 
sands of Morecambe Bay ? " 


Psalms xviii., xxiv,, Ixviii., ci., cxxxii. 

DAVID is no longer an outlaw, chased from cave to 
cave. His pursuer is dead, and he is king. 

When a swift runner brought the news of Saul's sad 
and lonely end to David at Ziklag, all his pity for the 
once noble king, all his love for his true and tried 
friend Jonathan, broke into passionate lamentations. 
Like Tennyson's sorrow for A. H. Hallam, his grief 
grew into a touching " In Memoriam," a pathetic dirge 
called " The Song of the Bow " (in reference probably 
to Jonathan's great skill as an archer). 

He apostrophises (2 Sam. i.) the mighty fallen and 
the dewy mountains of Gil boa. 

" Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, 
And in their death they were not divided. 

I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan ; 
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me." 

*' The king is dead ! Long live the king ! " 

But a new capital must be selected. Many a time 


he had looked across those six miles that intervened 
between his home at Bethlehem and that stronghold, 
Jebus, that had thus far stood impregnable. David saw 
his opportunity. Here were thousands of warriors 
gathered for his coronation. He would utilize at once 
the ardour of such an army, and would lead them to 
the capture of the lofty fortress. 

So impregnable had their city been that the Jebusites 
mocked the besieging troops below with taunts and 
gibes. The blind and lame could defend the place, 
they said in scorn. 

David offered to make the first man who scaled the 
cliffs and took the fortress his commander-in-chief. 
Joab it was who, like Wolfe at Quebec, climbed the 
precipitous heights ; and the place was in David's 

The strong citadel, a very Edinburgh Castle, became 
the city of David, the city of wonderful history and of 
most hallowed associations. But as yet it was a rude 
fortress. Much must be done to it ere this rock}^ 
castle would be a fit capital for the king. Among 
other things, a palace must be built. 

More important still, God must be enthroned in the 
very citadel of the nation, making it a true theocracy ; 
the Ark, the symbol of His presence, must be brought 
and enshrined in a house of the Lord in Zion. Saul 
had sunk into semi-heathenism ; David, whose con- 
fidence had always been in Jehovah, is resolved to set 
Him in the throne above the throne. 


Coronation Hymn. 
Psalm ci. 

was probably written at this point. It contains " the 
godly purposes and resolves of a king." It is language 
natural to David, as he enters on his reign with grati- 
tude to God and with devout resolutions for his future 
action. It is full of royal vows. 

It begins with adoring praise of God and His loving- 
kindness and judgment in all David's past career. 
Awed by God's evident care of him and by his grave 
responsibilities, he vows that he will conduct himself in 
an upright, godly, "perfect" manner. 

" When wilt Thou come unto me ? '' (vcr, 2). 

When wilt Thou, Thine ark, come to my capital ? I 
will keep my court clear of all unfaithful men (vv. 3, 
4). Then, as if he went back in thought to Saul's 
slandering, cunning courtiers and resolved to make his 
court a contrast to his predecessor's, he proclaims 
(ver. 5) :— 

" He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house ; 
He that speaketh falsehood shall not be established in 
my sight." 

It was a splendid coronation oath, a high-toned 
commencement of his reign. 

The Philistines, however, were roused to jealous}^ by 
the sudden success of David. They took the field 
against him, carrying their idols with them in the hope 
of surer victory. But David's troops swept them down 


the valley with irresistible force. He seized their idols, 
and burnt them. Ere long they made a second attack ; 
and David, after again inquiring of God and receiving 
His command, marches to a second, a decisive and 
glorious, victory. 

These were but the beginnings of numerous con- 
quests. Neighbouring nations began to recognize the 
strength and wide sway of this new monarch, and 
some came to do him homage. All these conquests 
he ascribes to Jehovah and His goodness. 

Hymn of Providence. 

Psalm xviii. 

is a retrospective survey taken at this point. It is an 
outburst of adoring praise in view of all the ** hair- 
breadth 'scapes " of his past history, of all his perils 
in caves, perils in forests, perils in battles, perils of 
spies and traitors, and also in view of Divine protecting 
care and favour that had led him safely and brought 
him to the throne. 

But the king cannot rest till the Ark has been in- 
stalled in the royal city. A chest of locust-wood covered 
with gold, the Ark contained the stone slabs on which 
the Ten Commandments had been written on Mount 
Sinai, also the golden pot of manna, and the rod of 
Aaron which blossomed, memorials of the migration. 
Its lid was the mercy-seat, on which the blood of 
atonement was annually sprinkled. Over this mercy- 
seat cherubim spread their wings. It was the symbol 


of Jehovah's presence, the Jewish palladium. It 
had been carried round Jericho till the city walls 
crashed to the ground. It had become a fetish to 
the wicked sons of Eli, who took it out to battle, 
trusting to its magical protection, but ignorant of 
its God ; and in the defeat it had been captured by 
the Philistines. 

Every one remembers how it had been placed as a 
trophy in the temple of Dagon ; how that image fell to 
the ground before it ; how it carried pestilence and 
death to the Philistines wherever it went, until they 
were glad to get rid of it. 

Irreverent curiosity had led the men of Bethshemesh 
to lift the lid and peep in, when they were instantly 
struck dead. For nearly seventy years it had lain 
neglected in its forest home at Kirjath-jearim ('^ forest 
town"). Both it and the God symbolized had been 
forgotten or ignored by Saul and his son. 

David remembers it, resolves to restore it to its central 
place in the national life. The Tabernacle which had 
sheltered it had been separated from it ; so he erects a 
new tabernacle or tent for it on his hill capital. 

He sets out with thirty thousand men to accompany 
the Ark in state procession. Among these are nine 
hundred and sixty-two priests and Levites. Under 
David's fostering care, the choral service has been 
reorganized ; trained singers compose large choruses, 
and, accompanied by instruments, form the musical 
service on this state occasion. Thus prepared, that 
vast body of people sets out. 


Reminiscences of this great desire of David are 
given, written perhaps after the event is over, in these 

Processional Hymns : 
Psalm cxxxn. 
He had sworn unto Jehovah (ver. 2, etc.) — 

" I will not give sleep to mine eyes, 
Nor slumber to mine eyelids, 
Until I find out a place for Jehovah, 
A dwelling-place for the Mighty One of Jacob." 

At Ephrathah (ver. 6) he had heard of the neg- 
lected ark, and in the fields of the wood (Kirjath- 
jearim) he had found it. 

" Arise, O Lord,"— 

and perhaps these words were sung by the priests as 
they bore it to the Holy City, — 

*• Arise, O Jehovah, into Thy resting-place, 

Thou and the ark of Thy strength " (ver. 8). 

'• Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness. 
And let Thy saints shout for joy " (ver. 9). 

" For Jehovah hath chosen Zion " (ver. 13) ; 
" Here will I abide, for I have desired it." 

The Ark is lifted to the shoulders of the Levites, 
and the triumphal march begins with the sound of 
the trumpet, and as these thirty thousand people move 
on and up toward the new capital the choruses and 
orchestra ring out the nation's rejoicing. 


Psalm lxviii. 

is commonly believed to belong to this period. It 
certainly celebrates the triumphal entry of the Ark 
into Jerusalem. It is too long to be treated in detail 
here. Enough to say that it touches on the historic 
episodes in the nation's past, and in ver. 1 6 apos- 
trophises the hills as if jealous of God's special choice 
of Zion : — 

" Why look ye enviously, ye many-peaked mountains, 

Upon the mountain which God hath desired to dwell in ? 
They have seen Thy goings, O God, into the sanctuary" 
(ver. 24). 
'•Before went the singers, behind the players on stringed 
In the midst the maidens playing with timbrels." 

It is a triumphal Processional Psalm. 

Psalm xxiv. 

is positively known to have been sung by that colossal 

They have now come to the foot of the steep gra- 
dient up to the fortress city. David, who leads the 
procession, begins the ascent with the proclamation : — 

" The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: 
The world, and they that dwell therein." 

Not only the royal city, not only the chosen land, but, 
as he already sees with prophetic eye, the whole earth 
and its people are Jehovah's. 


Then one of the singers chants the thrilHng chal- 
lenge : — 

" Who shall ascend into the hill of God ? 
And who shall stand in His holy place ? " 

Then one half of the chorus, the decani, answer in 
clear, full tones : — 

" He that is of clean hands and pure of heart, 
Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, 
And hath not sworn deceitfully." 

The other half of the chorus, the cantoris, respond : — 

" He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, 

And righteousness from the God of his salvation." 

The full chorus takes up the theme, and the valley of 
Jehoshaphat resounds with the shout : — 

" Such are they that worship Him, 

That seek Thy face, [O God of] Jacob." 

Then a considerable pause, " Selah," during which 
the instruments play till the procession reaches the 
closed gate of the city, when the whole host halts. 
These gateways were here perhaps when Melchisedec 
entered the ancient town ; they are, as it were, from 

The king again raises his voice in ringing strains : — 

" Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; 

And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors. 
That the King of glory may come in." 

The semi-choral response asks : — 
•• Who is this King of glory ? " 


The rushing answer comes from the other semi- 
chorus : — 

" Jehovah, strong and mighty, 
Jehovah, mighty in battle." 

The whole choir catches up the king's command, 
and pours out in full volume : — 

** Lift up your heads, O ye gates, 

Yea, lift them up, ye everlasting doors. 
That the King of glory may come in." 

Once more the question, now intensified, is asked — 
some think by those within the closed gates — 
' Who is this King of glory ? " 

And as the one triumphant choral shout peals out, 

" Jehovah of hosts, 

He is the King of glory,": 

the heavy gate is drawn open, and the Levites bear in 
the Arkj followed by the procession. The curtains of 
the tent are rolled aside ; and in presence of the joyful, 
reverent thousands, the sacred emblem passes in to its 
rest, tio remain there till the Temple should be erected 
to contain it. Then burnt-offerings are presented, 
and the glorious event is over. 

Jehovah is once more installed in the throne. 


Psalms xxxii., li. 

SOME ten years have elapsed since the triumphal 
removal of the Ark to Jerusalem amid the 
people's rejoicings. That decade had its successful 
wars, and was the most prosperous period in all 
David's reign. His palace was built, his pro-Temple 
service improved, his army organized more thoroughly, 
and the national life consolidated. 

We no doubt have Psalms which were written 
during these years ; and some of these it might be 
possible to distinguish. But little fresh light and 
interest are thrown upon them by contemporaneous 

Ten years have passed, and now we find the king 
under a dark shadow. I do not recount the facts ; 
every one knows the story. 

" How are the mighty fallen ! " 

David's shame seems almost to compromise the 
Book that tells it. We have been so long accustomed 


to look on Bible characters as if they were set up 
as models that any stain on their reputation is felt 
to imperil the sanctity of Scripture. 

But we are learning that the Bible teaches us, not 
by painting immaculate saints on the one hand and 
incarnate demons on the other, but by picturing the 
mixed character of all human life, by revealing the 
struggle between good and evil such as we ourselves 
experience. It is left to religious novelists to create 
angelic heroes. 

True to life, the Bible reveals the war of passion, 
the mixture of motive, the light and shadow in its 
characters ; and they teach us better thus. 

When sitting for his portrait, Alexander the Great, 
as every one knows, leaned his head on his hand 
and rested his fingers on his face as if deep in thought, 
but in reality for the purpose of hiding a scar. 

If the Bible were a concocted book, it would place 
a finger on every scar in its favourite characters. 
But it paints them as they were : the drunkenness 
of Noah, the falsehood of Abraham to Pharaoh, the 
deceit of Jacob, and the cowardice of Peter. And it does 
not spare David. It tells the whole black tale without 
the faintest attempt to soften the sin or screen the 
sinner. It speaks with impartial justice. It is a 
true Book. 

Moreover, the story is the key to all that follows. 

David seems to fall suddenly from heaven to hell. 
But a great sin never comes suddenly. Hints are 
given of a hidden decadence, a weakening of moral 


fibre, that had been stealthily preparing for the king's 
sudden fall. 

Why was he not at the head of his army, as he 
used to be, in his expedition against the Ammonites ? 
Why did he "tarry at Jerusalem," and this ''at a 
time when kings go forth to battle " ? He was still 
in his prime. Why was he idling at home when a 
bitter struggle was going on at Rabbah with a power- 
ful enemy ? Clearly success, ease, luxury, had sapped 
away much of his old heroism, and had helped to make 
him self-indulgent and effeminate. 

Some great change has taken place ; for the man 
who at one time had scruples about cutting off a 
piece from the skirt of his sleeping persecutor, Saul, 
now plunges into sin after sin of the basest kind. We 
think of only one sin, but we never find a solitary 
sin. One sin brings a train of others. 

After his first great transgression, he orders Uriah 
home from the war in order to hide his sin. Stooping 
to the most despicable shifts, he even makes his brave 
general drunk in order to effect his purpose of con- 
cealment. When that fails, and Uriah hastens to the 
front again, he makes him — daring wickedness ! — the 
unsuspecting bearer of a message to Joab plotting 
the general's death. Joab exposes him in the fore- 
front of the battle ; Uriah falls ; and the once pure 
shepherd-poet, the once tender fugitive, is a cold- 
blooded murderer; and the crafty Joab knows his 
guilty secret. 

Sin drags sin after it, as link drags link in a chain. 



David, strange to say, has a long period of in- 
sensibility to his sin. A year wears away, and he 
shows no visible sign of having revolted from his sin. 
No avenging angel may disturb a bad man's sleep. 
The worst of all consequences of sin is to be blinded 
to it. The man one of whose arms may be pricked 
without causing him any pain is scarcely to be 
congratulated on his impunity. It is paralysis. To 
sin away all sense of sin is the unpardonable sin, 
because it is unfelt. 

Yet, under his mask, David was evidently ill at 
ease. Although carrying out his policy with un- 
blushing effrontery, he was irritable under the horrid 
shadow. That is evident in the cruel treatment to 
which he subjected the prisoners taken at Rabbah. 
Joab had sent to Jerusalem bidding the king com.e 
and finish the siege, and take the town in person. He 
had come, and on the surrender of the city he had put 
the prisoners under saws and harrows, and" into brick- 
kilns. Such deeds — if we are to accept the common 
interpretation of the language — are utterly unlike the 
man. He is evidently violent and cruel because of the 
torture of concealed sin. A conscience that is sullen 
and ill at ease makes its possessor harsh and savage. 

David had been glad to be called out to battle. It 
is a relief to a sin-tracked man to lose himself in 
exciting events, to forget the foul thing in some 
absorbing interest. Some men have plunged into a 
busy life and made a fortune all in order to escape 
a dark memory. 


There are two Psalms, li. and xxxii., which tell us 
how it fared with him during these months of seeming 
insensibility. In 

Psalm xxxii. 

we see behind the mask he wore. 

** While I kept silence, my bones waxed old " (ver. 3). 

His obstinate refusal to see and own his sins sent 
them in and aged his very bones, as sin has made 
many another man feel aged. He had no music left 
in him ; his harp was unwelcome ; his heart shrunk 
and his lips closed. He " roared " or groaned all 
day long. 

Day and night (ver. 4) God's heavy hand lay like 
a burden on him. There were no tears ; emotion, 
fresh feeling, tender regrets — all were dried up, 
evaporated. The natural moisture of feeling had 
turned into the drought of summer. 

He may well call sin a ''missing of the mark," a 
blunder. It wears out the heart, ages the face, and 
lies like hot iron in the hand. Sin burns — that is 
hell-fire — and burn it must. God has in mercy joined 
burning anguish to sin that He may, if possible, force 
us to fling it from us. As pain is the warning of 
disease that, unheralded by suffering, would kill us 
before we knew of its existence, so compunction 
mercifully forewarns of moral death. But the sin 
that burns may also sear^ so that it can be carried 
hot in the palm without pain. See how David can 



look on a good man and listen to his significant 
parable without a pang. 

He has returned from his successful war ; Nathan, 
the prophet, goes in to pay a visit to the king. He 
lays before him a tale of cruel wrong that calls for 
the king's interference, the exquisite parable of the 
ewe lamb, so simple, so direct in its quick power, 
so artless and pathetic. 

" There were two men in one city ; the one rich, 
and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding 
many flocks and herds ; but the poor man had nothing 
save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and 
nourished up ; and it grew up together with him and 
with his children ; it did eat of his own meat, and 
drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was 
unto him as a daughter. 

"And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and 
he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd 
to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto 
him ; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it 
for the man that was come to him " (2 Sam. xii.). 

It is a clever plot of Nathan's. He gives no names, 
getting conscience to give a verdict on its own case 
slightly disguised. A significant fact. Self-love 
blinds to sin in oneself We require to see it in 
another before we can give an impartial judgment. 
Who knows his own heart ? *' Search me, O God, 
and know my heart; see if there be any wicked way 
in me." 

The tale of cruel robbery wakes the king to an 


outburst of honest indignation ; and he swears that 
the man who stole the poor man's ewe lamb shall die 
for it. Then, with swift but calm, brave thrust, Nathan 
says : " Thou art the man ! " 

For a moment he is stunned and amazed ; and then 
the sudden, searching light bursts in on the soul, and 
the whole black affair lies before his opened eyes in 
its naked ugliness, and he breaks into the confession • 
" I have sinned against the Lord." 

What a lifetime was crowded into that minute ! Men 
in the act of drowning have seen the whole of their past 
life flung at once on the screen of memory — have lived 
forty years in a minute. May not the crisis of the 
Judgment recall all the past in a moment by touching 
memory thus ? This was David's judgment hour, and 
how he felt he tells us in the two Psalms of this 

Psalm li. 

is the earher of the two. It is, as Maclaren says, '' all 
blotted with tears as he sobbed out his penitence." 

Aye, and how many sinning, overwhelmed hearts 
since then have used its language to pour out their 
sorrowful shame ! He has only one cry : 

" Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkind- 
ness ; 
According to the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out 
m}^ transgressions." 

Here is the difference between remorse and repentance; 
the former a bitter gnawing of the heart on itself such 


as David had during his year of sullen silence, the latter 
a sorrowing hope that God's mercy will forgive the 
shameful sin. 

Then, as if revolting from the foul thing : 

" Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity." 

" For" — not as a claim, but as an admission justifying 
God's condemnation — 

"For I acknowledge my transgressions, 

And my sin is ever before me." 
"Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned." 

Inasmuch as he has done it unto these, he has done it 
unto God. 

He finds not only a few acts of sin, but a tainted 
nature, a deep root of sin. The discovery of one act 
has revealed a luxuriant undergrowth of sin. To use 
Maclaren's metaphor, a great mass of knotted weeds 
growing by a stagnant pool is dragged towards you as 
you drag one filament. Draw out one sin, and it brings 
with it a whole matted nature of sin. 

"Behold, ill niiquity I was brought forth." 

He does not throw the blame on heredity, but discovers 
that he has been sheltering sin from the beginning. 

God will have truth within (ver. 7), truth and not a 
mask of peace, not a veil of pretence. 

Then comes again and again (vv. 7-9) the cry to be 
purged with hyssop, to be washed whiter than snow, to 
have the joy of pardon, to feel youth come back to the 
aged bones. It seems as if he could not forgive himself, 


as if his sin was ever before him, for stiil (ver. 9) he 
cries : 

" Hide Thy face from my sins, 

And blot out all my iniquities." 

Such a warm and passionate nature, that had sinned 
with such intensity, repents with equal intensity. 

We are told that " Voltaire once attempted to bur- 
lesque this Psalm. While carefully perusing it, that he 
might familiarize himself with the train of sentiment he 
designed to caricature, he became so oppressed and over- 
awed by its solemn, devotional tone, that he threw down 
the pen, and fell back senseless on his couch in an 
agony of remorse." 

Only a man with noble strains in his nature could 
make confessions and utter laments characterized by 
such generous frankness and such passionate emotion. 

Psalm xxxii. 

is a fit sequel to Ps. li., marking another stage in the 

Ps. li. opened with a moan of shame; Ps. xxxii. opens 
with a burst of joy in God's pardon : 

" O the blessedness of the man whose transgression is 
taken away, whose sin is covered." 

In Ps. li. he used various synonyms for sin, " a 
missing of the mark," or " blunder," " transgression," 
etc. ; here he uses various phrases to exhibit the various 
sides of the blessedness of pardon. In Ps. H. the utmost 
stretch of his hope was that perhaps God would have 


pity on the contrite heart. Here he has grasped with 
eager dehght the Divine forgiveness. 

But the horrid nightmare of his sin is ever before 
him (ver. 3). He recalls (ver. 5) how he was glad to 
fling out the whole horrid thing, glad to cast out the 
gnawing secret, the serpent that he had kept warm 
only to sting him the more. 

" I said, I will confess." 

" Faults !" says Carlyle in his Heroes, " Faults ! the 
greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of 
none. Readers of the Bible above all, one would think, 
might know better. Who is called there the man 
according to God's own heart ? David, the Hebrew 
king, had fallen into sins enough : blackest crimes : 
there was no want of sins. And thereupon unbelievers 
sneer and ask, ' Is this your man according to God's 
own heart ? ' The sneer, I must say, seems to me but 
a shallow one. What are faults ? What are the 
outward details of a life if the inner secret of it — the 
remorse, temptations, true, often-bafQed, never-ending 
struggle of it — be forgotten ? . . . 

*' Of all acts, is not, for a man, repentance the most 
divine ? The deadliest sin, I say, were that same super- 
cilious consciousness of no sin. That is death. The 
heart so conscious is divorced from sincerity, humihty, 
and fact : is dead." 

After ignoble sin, David did the only noble thing that 
he could now do — made frank and shame-struck confes- 
sion ; and God sent the swift answer of pardon through 


the same messenger, Nathan. He cannot forgive himself, 
the shame ever comes back, but (ver. 5) 

" Thou tookest away the iniquity of my sin." 

No man must cover his own sin ; only the One against 
whom we have sinned can cover it. 

The same messenger brought the charge and the 
pardon. Christ is God's Nathan, and brings with Him 
both dismay and peace. His holy, searching eye smites 
with conviction, and then to the humbled heart utters 
the warm assurance of pardon. The Cross is the great 
charge against mankind, the supreme proof, lifted up 
before all time, of human hatred of goodness. Yet the 
Cross proclaims pardon and peace, and stands for ever 
as the proof and means of Divine redemption. 

God will make your sin burn you ; in mercy He will 
make it too hot for you to hold it. But confess it, and 
the wrong is half undone. Confess it, and you have 
divided yourself from it in heart. Give God your eye> 
and be led by the language of His eye ; but if not 
(vv. 8-10) He will hold you with bit and bridle, and 
make sorrows sober you. What a patient, persistent 
love in God ! " Thou art my hiding-place." Such 
grace fills us with '' songs of deliverance." 


Psalms iii., iv., xli., Iv. 

DAVID'S children have been quick to follow in 
their father's self-indulgent and vicious ways; 
and with unutterable anguish he sees them repeat his 
own sins. Now, after ten years of gathering sorrows, 
his very throne is threatened. 

It makes terrible reading, the story of his Nemesis. 
His son Amnon outrages his daughter, and the vile 
criminal is allowed to go unpunished. How can David 
carry out the law upon his son, when he himself had 
incurred the penalty of death by his sin ? This ties 
his hands. 

But Absalom, who is bound to revenge his sister's 
insult, decoys Amnon to his distant sheep-farm, and, 
during the excesses of a feast, hired assassins kill the 

Poor David ! three of his own family repeating in 
blacker colours his own sins of vice and murder ! And 
his own past robs him of all moral power to punish 
any crime, and Absalom is finally restored and forgiven 
This is the beginning of the decline. 


A handsome young fellow, with flowing hair that 
yielded an enormous yearly crop, inheriting his father's 
charms of beauty and gracefulness, Absalom captivated 
the people's hearts as he moved about among them. 
Like the Jacobite Pretender, he won as many by his 
personal attractions as by the worth of his cause. 
He made a princely show as he drove his chariots 
and horses, attended by his fifty guardsmen. 

The king seems to have become passive, apathetic. 
The sins and sorrows of the past decade had pro- 
bably unmanned him. It was his duty to " sit at the 
gate " to act as judge in his people's disputes. But he 
withdrew from pubHc life. 

London grumbles if the Sovereign lives too private 
and retired a Hfe. Even the EngHsh people love 
State pageantry. 

The fickle populace of Jerusalem were captivated by 
the State splendour and personal graces of Prince 
Absalom ; and he took advantage of the retired and 
sad life of his father to win over, by crafty tricks, the 
affections of the people. 

This dashing young Pretender frequented the "gates," 
and fanned the slumbering feeling of disaffection. " O 
that I were made judge!" he would say, ''that every 
man which hath any suit might come to me and I would 
do him justice." So he became the idol of the army, 
and the hope of the disloyal, and laid plots to displace 
the heir-apparent, Solomon. 

No doubt David was aware of the change, heard 
echoes of the taunts flung at his feeble government. 


But heart and arm were broken. All bold sense of 
righteousness was lost. His misery under the shadow 
of the past, and the threatening changes of the present, 
must have been most poignant. May God have mercy 
on him ! 

Psalm xli. 

gives us a glimpse of his sorrows at this time. He 
pronounces his blessing on the man who considers and 
pities the miserable, the unfortunate sufferers. 

" Blessed is he that considereth the miserable.'' 
" Heal my soul ; for I have sinned against Thee." 

He complains of the popular discontent and of 
disloyal subjects : 

" Mine enemies say evil of me : 

When will he die and his name have perished? " 

Already some of his trusted counsellors have broken 
off from him. Perhaps it is Ahithophel ; for whenever 
Absalom gives the signal of insurrection, Ahithophel 
— once one of David's closest friends and advisers — is 
found to have left Jerusalem, and forthwith joins the 
Pretender's cause. 

This trusted but treacherous counsellor has hidden 
his disloyalty under fair and fawning words (ver. 6). 

" And if he come to see me he speaketh vanity ; 

When he goeth abroad he speaketh of it " (of his 
" Together against me do all they that hate me whisper, 

Against me do they devise evil for me." 

There is good reason for believing that all these 


years David was suffering from some serious illness 
that hindered him from performing his kingly functions. 
Perhaps it was this disease that prevented him from 
sitting at the gate, and accounted for his feeble govern- 
ment. At any rate his enemies made capital out of it, 
predicting and hoping for his speedy death. 

"A thing of Belial" {i.e., some shocking thing) " they say is 
poured out upon him ; 
And now that he lieth he shall rise up no more." 
" Yea, mine own familiar friend, whom I trusted. 
Who did eat of my bread, 
Hath lifted up his heel against me." 

" But Thou, O Jehovah, be gracious unto me." 

The fact that he fled whenever his son raised the 
standard of rebellion shows that he had known how 
powerful Absalom's party was. He knew the mine 
was laid and ready for the match. How he wished 
he could escape from it all ! 

It is all written i^pace Robertson Smith) in the 
agonizings of 

Psalm lv. 

Tired of all the vigilance and strife of party, he 
cries — 

" Oh that I had wings like the dove, 

Then would I fly away and be at rest. 
Lo, then would I flee afar off, 

I would lodge in the wilderness. / 

Again, referring, probably, to the fawning but false 
loyalty of Ahithophel, he declares (ver. 12) — 


"It is not an enemy that reproacheth me ; 

Then I might bear it : - ■ 

But thou art a man mine equal, 

My familiar and well known friend ; 
We were wont to take sweet coimsel together, 

To walk to the house of God among the festal throng." 

Then addressing himself, he calls upon his heart to 

(ver. 22) — 

" Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, 
And He shall sustain thee." 

Spies are in every town, ready for Absalom's signal. 
He pretends to have a religious vow which requires 
him to go to Hebron, and immediately sets up his 
standard as king. 

The evil news soon reaches Jerusalem, and at once, 
discouraged, broken-hearted, forsaken, David gives it 
all up without striking a blow. Now he will take 
wings as a dove, will fly away and be at rest. 

The story of his flight is told with great pathos and 
tenderness. He hurries away out of the city with his 
bodyguard, his regiment of six hundred men. 

The fugitive procession hastens across the brook 
Kedron, up the slopes of Olivet, with all the signs of 
woe and grief; the king barefooted, his head covered 
with the mantle of sorrow, and tears falling hot and 
fast — a faint forecast of David's greater Son, who, 
one thousand years later, looked down from the summit 
of this path, and wept over the city that rejected Him. 

Hushai, one of his privy councillors, is sent back to 
feign allegiance to the Pretender and delay the rebel 



army's pursuit of the fugitives. They have rounded 
the shoulder of the hill, when Ziba comes from the 
stronghold of Mephibosheth with the present of supplies 
of food and fruit. As they hurry along a ridge with a 
deep gorge on one side and a higher ridge on the 
other, Shimei, a still bitter remnant of Saul's family, 
keeps pace with him, from the heights flings down 
stones and curses at the head of the exiled king. He 
curses him as only an Oriental can curse. Abishai 
would make short work of him, but, with a strange 
humility and submissive meekness, David says, " Let 
him curse ; " as if these curses were partially merited, 
as if David felt their justice. 

It was a dreary march — the saddest journey in all 
David's life — a march away from home and throne and 
a nation's allegiance, away to his old haunts in the 
wilderness, to be chased and hunted by his own son, 
the ungrateful usurper, as he had been by Saul of 

Absalom has hurried to Jerusalem, has called a 
council, and asked advice. Ahithophel would press 
on in the track of the fugitives and catch them weak 
and helpless. Hushai, the secret agent of David, 
advises delay, on the plea of organizing a more power- 
ful force ; and his advice is taken. A secret and swift 
message is sent in hot haste to David, to bid him hurry 
forward across the Jordan. The message reaches him 
at night, and he speeds on, never resting till he gets to 
Mahanaim across the Jordan — a famous spot in Jacob's 
life, and now a fortified city. 


Psalms hi. and iv. 

belong to this period. The one is a Morning and 
the other an Evening Hymn. Psalm iii. is probably 
the product of one of those mornings after he had 
fled from his son, and before the fatal battle at 
Ephraim. In 

Psalm in. 

David pours out his sorrows in humble trust : 

" Lord, how numerous are mine adversaries ! 
Many are they that rise up against me." 

Many there are who fling the malicious gibe at him : 

" ' There is 710 help for him in God' 

" But Thou, O Jehovah, art a shield about me. 

He has travelled with bowed head : 

" But Thou art the hfter up of mine head," 

" Even from His holy mountain He will send help.' 

He had encamped the previous night among the 
hills, amid many perils — perils of pursuers, perils of 
spies, perils of traitors (ver. 5). The unsleeping God 
had been his only protection. 

" I laid me down and slept : 

I waked, for Jehovah sustaineth me." 

This security gives him courage : 

** I will not be afraid of ten thousand of the people 

Which have set themselves against me round about." 


Psalm iv. 

begins with an appeal to God for some response, some 
sign of care : 

" When I cry, answer me, O God of my righteousness. 
Thou hast enlarged me in distress." 

In my sorrows and misfortunes, in my flight and 
sufferings, Thou hast waked me from my horrid 
slumber of soul. As Richter says : " The canary- 
bird sings sweeter the longer it has been trained in 
a darkened cage." 

Then he recalls the persecutions he had suffered, the 
treacherous Ahithophel, the curses of Shimei, and, in 
imagination, he addresses them and remonstrates 
with them : 

" Ye sons of men " [a phrase applied only to men of rank and 
power], " how long will ye turn my glory to shame ? " 

How long will ye blacken my character with slander 
and falsehoods ? 

Perhaps addressing himself, or possibly his fainting 
followers : 

" Stand in awe and sin not : 

Commune with your heart on your bed and be still." 

Trust in God and do the right. 

" Many say, ' Who will show tis any good?''' 

His followers are half despairing, are ready to give 
up the struggle. " Whafs the good of it all?^^ many of 
them say. His answer is a mighty prayer — a prayer 



that bids the faint hearts look up higher than man and 
seek God's favour. There is good there. 

" Lift Thou upon us the light of Thy countenance, O 

The gladness which he feels (ver. 7) now that God's 
loving presence has been restored to him, this gladness 
is better than his gratification when Ziba brought large 
supplies of corn and wine to the royal fugitives. 

It is evening : 

" In peace, at once will I lay me down and sleep : 

For Thou, Jehovah, alone makest me to dwell in safety." 

And so again, in the midst of pursuing perils, he casts 
all his care on Jehovah, pillows his head on the Divine 
providence, and, committing himself to the unslumbering 
God, lies down to a peaceful sleep. 

When his forces meet the rebel army, the latter are 
utterly routed, the Pretender caught in a tree in the 
forest and then slain. David returns to Jerusalem, 
and to his throne ; and his heart is made happy in the 
thought that his son Solomon is to succeed him, happy 
in that son's wisdom, and happy that Solomon will 
build the Temple which he himself had longed to erect 
for God. 




Psalms Ixxii., xlv. 

OLOMON does not seem to have inherited his 

father's poetic gifts. The age of heroic enterprise, 
which always bursts into song, passed now into a period 
of quiet and reflection. Not a Httle Hterature is ascribed 
to Solomon ; but little or none of it has any touch 
of David's poetic fire. The son's special literary gift 
was the creation of proverbs, proverbs that contain 
tit-bits of wisdom, that are the compressed results of 

He is said to have composed and collected three 
thousand of these proverbs, and of that number we 
have a fraction in our Book of Proverbs. His proverbs 
can scarcely be called poetry, although they are com- 
posed in rhythmic form. They are, like Pope's Essay 
on Man, didactic Hnes arranged antithetically, without 
fire and passion, and aiming only at moral effect. 

We hear of him having composed a thousand and 
five songs, but of these, whatever they may have been, 
we have only two or three. His fame rests, not on any 
poetic gifts, but on his knowledge and wisdom. 


Psalm lxxii. 

crystallizes a great amount of Solomon's life. We 
shall find, as we study it, that " a greater than Solomon 
is here " in dim prophetic outline ; that the Ideal King 
who was yet to come hovers above and beyond the 
figure of Solomon. But Solomon is evidently the first 
subject of the Psalm. The writer is probably some 
sacred Psalmist of his reign who celebrates the far- 
reaching sway, the wisdom, and the magnificence of 
Solomon. It is a "Song of Solomon," although 
perhaps not composed by him. It is arranged in 
couplets, which are balanced and formal, after the 
manner of the Book of Proverbs. Every verse is 
radiant with allusions to the glories of Solomon's 

" O God, give Thy judgments unto the king, 

And Thy righteousness unto the king's son," 

calls us back to a memorable and dramatic incident in 
Solomon's reign. 

It was at his great coronation ceremonial, when he 
marched to the sacred Gibeon, and offered an enormous 

There, in a night vision, God comes to him and 
bids the young king make a choice of any great gift he 
desires. ^^ Ask what I shall give thee^ "I am but a 
little child," he says— and he is only twenty; *T know 
not how to go out or come in. Give, therefore. Thy 
servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, 
that I may discern between good and bad." 


It is a noble prayer for a young man to make, and 
his very asking for wisdom shows that he already had 
wi«dom in embryo. 

God commends the wish, and, seeing he has not 
asked riches, as he might have done, or long life, as he 
might have done, wisdom will be liberally bestowed, 
and, in its train, riches and long life too. He has 
sought first of all God's kingdom ; wisdom and all else 
will be added to it. 

Here in ver. i of this Psalm we have the echo of 
that young king's coronation prayer : 

" O God, give Thy judgments unto the king, 

And Thy righteousness unto the king's son." 

In ver. 2 — 

" May he judge Thy people with righteousness, 
And Thine afflicted with judgment " — 

we are reminded of a striking instance of the sagacity 
which he displayed while still so young. 

Two women appealed to him as he sat at his court 
at the gate. Each brought an infant boy, one living, 
and the other dead ; born about the same time, and in 
the same house. One charged the other with having 
overlain her child, and, finding it dead, with having 
exchanged it for the living baby by stealth. Both 
claimed the living one : who was to be believed ? It 
was a splendid stroke of sagacity to apply a test which 
would reveal the true mother's heart. 

He bade one of his soldiers divide the living child in 
two^ and give a half to each. In an instant the true 


mother's love showed itself. " O my lord, give her the 
living child, and by no means slay it." Solomon's 
device had served its purpose ; that was the mother 
who spoke, and, using her own words, but now about 
herself, he says to his soldiers, " Give her the living 
child, and in no wise slay it : she is the mother 

This was an instance of the prayer of the second 
verse of the Psalm : 

" May he decide the cause of Thy people with righteous- 
And of Thine afflicted with judgment ; " 

and again ver. 4 : 

•' May he judge the afflicted of the people, 
Save the sons of the poor, 
And crush the oppressor ; " 

and then in ver. 5, — as if referring to the effect of his 
sagacious decision about the two children, when, as we 
are told, ''all Israel heard of the judgment, and they 
feared the king " — 

" (So that) they fear Thee as long as the sun endureth. 

Solomon's reign was a period of peace and pro- 
sperity. He had no long wars like David's ; and his 
commercial success combined with the thirty or more 
years' peace to make the people happy and prosperous. 

" May the mountains bring forth peace to the people." 
" Let him be as rain coming down upon the mown grass." 

His rule was to come to the war-wearied nation like 
rain on mown grass, like showers that water the earth. 


He had extended the realm as left by his father until 
now his rule was acknowledged from the Mediterranean 
on the west, to the bank of the great river Euphrates 
on the east ; and from Damascus on the north, to the 
" stream of Egypt " on the south. These seemed to 
the Jews almost the utmost ends of the earth. Hence 
the prayer : 

" Let him have dominion from sea to sea." 

" Before him let the inhabitants of the wilderness bow." 

In the first clause of ver. 10 — 

" Let the kings of Tarshish and the isles render gifts " — 

we are reminded of the great commercial enterprises in 
which Solomon engaged. 

The Phoenicians had always been the great sea- 
faring race of the Mediterranean, had built up an 
immense shipping trade. Besides being sailors, they 
were also skilful artisans. David had drawn his 
skilled workmen from Tyre when he built his palace. 
And this relation between the two countries became 
more intimate under Solomon. 

The Jews thus far had been purely an agricultural 
people, forbidden to engage in commerce. But now 
Solomon joined with Hiram, King of Tyre, in his 
shipping enterprises. A numerous fleet of merchant- 
men traded with Cyprus, Sicily, Malta, and the north 
of Africa. A new country, also, had been discovered, 
which excited the Phoenician merchants with visions of 
wealth and pleasure, much as the discovery of America 
inspired and enriched the Old World. 


It was Tarshish, a southern section of Spain, where 
they founded a colony, and from which they shipped 
precious metals, the richest ores, gold, silver, iron, lead, 
even the anchors being sometimes made of silver to 
save freight. These ships of Hiram and Solomon 
sailed through the " Pillars of Hercules" at Gibraltar 
out into the Atlantic, up to the mouth of the Tartessus 
or Guadalquivir. Some conjecture that the Phoenician 
ships may have come across the Bay of Biscay and as 
far as the shores of Britain, but such is nothing better 
than a speculation. From the south of Spain, and 
then from Sicily, Malta, Cyprus, — from "Tarshish 
and the Isles," — rich gifts and precious products were 
shipped, and the palaces of Tyre and Jerusalem grew 
gorgeous with the gold and silver, the woods and 
spices from the West. 

Solomon had also a harbour opened^in the Red Sea, 
which he visited in person, and from which voyages 
were made to the far-distant Ophir. Ophir is now 
generally believed to be, not where Rider Haggard 
has placed King Solomon^s Mines, but at the mouth 
of the Indus. The imports they brought back were 
of Indian origin, and bore Indian (Sanskrit) names. 
They included ivory, apes, peacocks, and the almug 
wood. Besides these, immense quantities of gold — 
four hundred and twenty talents — were transferred to 
Jerusalem to adorn palace and Temple and add to the 
gorgeous magnificence of Solomon's court. 

Besides his shipping enterprises, he carried on a 
land traffic with Arabia. It was from this country 


that he received his supplies of spices, of cassia (a 
sort of cinnamon), of aloe, of myrrh, of spikenard, 
and of other aromatic spicery, to which we find 
frequent reference in the Solomonic writings. 

With Egypt also he carried on a brisk trade, pur- 
chasing many horses and chariots, for which that 
country was famous. Huge caravans transported them 
across the desert. At his zenith Solomon had four 
thousand two hundred horses, and one thousand four 
hundred chariots (three horses in each). In those 
richly-chased and splendidly-coloured chariots he was 
carried by swift horses, attended by a train of archers 
remarkable for handsome looks. 

In such luxurious style he drove to his well-watered 
garden at Etam, or in gorgeous palanquin was carried 
to his summer retreats in the cool hills of wooded 
Lebanon. Elsewhere we have allusions to his houses 
and vineyards, his orchards and pools, his men-singers 
and women-singers. By sea and by land, by a fleet 
of ships and by long lines of camels, the precious 
products of Spain, Sicily, Egypt, Arabia, and India, 
were brought to enrich and beautify Solomon's palaces. 
Hence the line : 

" Let the Kings of Tarshish and the Isles render gifts." 

But the second part of ver. 10 points to the out- 
standing proof of his fame. 

" Let the Kings of Sheba and Saba offer presents." 

Rumours of his wisdom and of his magnificence had 
spread far and near, and had reached Sheba, in the 


south of Arabia. The Queen of Sheba had heard of 
Solomon's brilliant wit, of his refined wisdom, of his 
wise sayings and sagacious answers to deep questions. 
This Arabian queen, evidently a woman of exceptional 
earnestness, courage, and capacity, resolved to break 
through the seclusion of her royal home, and brave the 
dangers of a desert journey, in order to see this paragon 
of wisdom and of splendour at Jerusalem. " She came 
to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels 
that bare spices and very much gold and precious 

He showed her his palace and lion-throne of ivory 
and gold, his hall of cedar where he sat as judge, 
his harps framed in aromatic wood, his goblets and 
vessels of pure gold, his Egyptian chariots and his 
noble guardsmen. She also tested his wisdom by 
intellectual riddles, by hard questions, and he " told 
her all her questions." She opened out her mind, 
'* communed with him of all that was in her heart ; " 
and " there was not anything which he told her 

When she discovered all his wisdom, saw the 
splendours of his palace and capital, she said that 
the reports she had heard she had not credited, but 
now she finds half had not been told her. She 
was so amazed that " there was no more spirit left 
in her." Happy, she said, happy were the servants 
and subjects and councillors around such a king : 
blessed the God that delighted in him. 

Solomon gave her on her departure the best presents 


from his stores, in return for the gifts of gold and 

spices and precious stones which she had brought 

with her. 

Hence the sentence, 

" Let the Sovereigns of Sheba and Saba offer presents. 
Let all nations serve him." 

Then, in succeeding verses, follows a picture of a 
land where royal beneficence (ver. 12) rescues the 
poor, helps the helpless and afflicted ; (ver. 1 3) spares 
the weak; (ver. 14) rights the wrongs of the oppressed, 
and values the blood of the injured. 

So that (ver. 15) many another offers gifts of 
gratitude to this beneficent king, as gold came to him 
from Sheba, and men pray for him and bless him all 
the day. There are (ver. 16) abundant harvests, fields 
of corn on the mountain terraces that wave and rustle 
like the forests of Lebanon under the breeze. It is 
a picture of fertility, peace, and prosperity, while the 
people multiply and grow strong; and (ver. 17) the 
fame of the illustrious king promises to last for 
ever, to go down through the endless generations to 

(What follows, "Blessed be Jehovah," etc., is added 
by the editor at the end of the second book of 

Psalm xlv. 

is called a " Song of loves," and is to be sung 
to a tune entitled "Lilies." It is a Marriage Song, 
and celebrates the espousals of a Jewish king wjth 


a princess of some foreign country. There is no 
one whom it suits so well as Solomon ; and — while of 
course not written by him — was no doubt composed 
in honour of his marriage with the daughter of a 
Pharaoh, King of Egypt (or perhaps with the daughter 
of the King of Tyre). It was a splendid alliance for 
him, helping to raise him to a position of equality with 
other Oriental potentates. 

The writer (ver. i) delights to have such a good 
theme for his song, a royal ode, that makes his pen 
run swift. He refers (ver. 2) to Solomon's beauty 
beyond the rest of men, and to his eloquent lips and 
golden, gracious speech. Then he glances at his 
military eminence and wide sway : 

'* Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty one ; 
Yea, in thy majesty ride prosperously. 
Thine arrows are sharp — people fall under thee, 

They are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies. 
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, 

A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy 

Myrrh and aloes and cassia perfume all his garments 
(ver. 8), and music steals on the ear out of the ivory 

Kings' daughters (ver. 9) — Pharaoh's and Hiram's 
— are among his loved ones, and the queen-consort 
stands richly clad in robes gilt with the gold brought 
from the Indian Ophir. 

In ver. 10 he bids her forget her own native 
country : 


" Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house, 

That the king may desire thy beauty." 
•' And the daughter of Tyre shall come with a gift ; 

And the rich among the people shall seek thy favour. 
All glorious is the king's daughter in the inner palace, 

Of thread of gold is her clothing. 
On tapestry of divers colours is she conducted unto the 
The virgins in her train, her companions, are brought 
unto thee. 
They are conducted with joy and exultation ; 
They enter into the king's palace." 

Instead of her father and relatives, she is to take 
her children. 

" Let me make thy name known through all generations : 
Therefore shall the people give thee thanks for ever 
and ever." 

But though Solomon is the first subject of these 
Psalms, he does not fill all the splendid outlines. There 
is history in these Songs, but there is prophecy too. 
We know that the Jews looked for centuries for a 
glorious sovereign who would fulfil all their hopes. 
These hopes are rising and taking shape here. They 
are painting the ideal portrait, but Solomon does not 
fill it. He rose to magnificence and far-famed wisdom, 
but both his splendour and wisdom were shattered by 
folly, idolatry, polygamy — and he fell, and in his fall 
showed that these ideals of a perfectly wise, perfectly 
noble, perfectly beneficent, perfectly glorious and ever- 
lasting king were not to be realized by any common 
human being. Hovering behind the real king of the 


time rose in dim outline the coming Ideal, the longed- 
for DeHverer, the Messiah that would fulfil all their 
conceptions and aspirations. 

I do not mean that these seers had clear notions 
who their Messiah King would be. At this stage 
the vision was shadowy, yet it was there. 

Round the sufferings of David, round his sorrows 
and his solitude, rose the vision of the sufferings of the 
coming Ideal Man ; and the rapt language of the half- 
conscious prophet transcends David and fits only the 
Man of Sorrows; and Christ Himself applies the words 
to Himself: 

"My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" 

So of Solomon as king. The words that took their 
rise in the glory and splendour and vast dominion of 
Solomon far transcend the first subject, rise to an 
Ideal King, and are true only of one King, Christ. 
He is fairer than the sons of men, reigns in righteous- 
ness and peace. He comes down like showers, etc. 
All men come to Him and bow before Him. 

" Thy throne is for ever and ever." 



Psalms xlvi., xlviii., Ixxvi. 

WE leap across an interval of three hundred 
years, to about 700 b.c. 

Solomon's sumptuous luxury had sapped away the 
vital force of the nation, which had split into two, 
and had sunk under godless kings into idolatry, strife, 
and bloody war. Hezekiah on his accession had to 
dethrone paganism and restore the service of God. 

The Eastern horizon had been growing dark with 
the hosts of the Assyrians as they swept, tide after 
tide, westwards to Palestine and Egypt. Swaying 
between alliance with Egypt and submission to Assyria, 
the Jews were " between the devil and the deep sea." 

Sennacherib despatches an army, led by two officers 
and his cup-bearer Rabshakeh, to capture Jerusalem 
and spoil it of its remaining wealth. They send a 
blasphemous and mocking call to surrender. Rabshakeh 
sarcastically offers Hezekiah two thousand horses if, 
indeed, he can find men enough to ride them. Now 
with jeers at their religious confidence, now with 


threats and again with promises, the Assyrian general 
demands surrender. 

Hezekiah, rending his clothes and wearing sackcloth, 
sends a message to Isaiah, telling him his trouble and 
fear, and bidding him cry to God for deliverance. True 
to his unflinching courage, Isaiah bids the king be 
brave and firm, for the enemy will be diverted by 
the rumour of rebeUion in their own Babylon. 

Now Sennacherib sends an insolent letter to Heze- 
kiah, asking whether he expects his God to protect 
him when so many other cities have fallen trusting in 
their gods. Has he not heard of the fate of Haran 
and Sepharvaim and others ? 

" And Hezekiah received the letter and read it ; and 
Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and 
spread it before the Lord." 

Then comes the reply that God has heard the prayer, 
and Isaiah stands forward to hurl defiance at the 
enemy around the walls of the city. With dauntless 
eloquence and confidence in God he asks. Do they 
know whom they have been reproaching, that they 
have been blaspheming the true God ? They have 
besieged the city in their pride of conquest, but they 
shall not shoot an arrow, nor use a shield, nor raise a 
defence ; and they shall return by the way they came. 

These were brave words, for Hezekiah had but a few 
infantry, and no cavalry. The city battlements were 
weak, its treasure exhausted, while below the walls 
were gathered mighty bearded warriors. There were 
ranks of bowmen, and regiments of cavalry with chariots 


and horses, all fearless with past victories. If ever 
resistance seemed hopeless, it was the resistance of the 
besieged within the ancient capital of Solomon and 

When night fell, it brought little sleep to the besieged, 
you may be sure. Next day these well-armed and 
irresistible Assyrians would scale the crumbling walls 
and sack the sacred city. 

When the sun rose and looked upon the place where 
yesterday stood an irresistible army, the whole host, 
one hundred and eighty-five thousand, lay dead on the 
ground ! 

" Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, 
That host with their banners at sunset were seen ; 
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, 
That host on the morrow lay vvither'd and strown. 

*' For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, 
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed ; 
And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill, 
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew 
still ! " 

We do not know, we can only conjecture, what that 
natural agent was. One thinks it was the poisoning 
of the waters ; another suggests a storm ; some suppose 
a simoom; others pestilent vapours from a volcanic 
eruption ; but Josephus, followed by the vast majority, 
believes it to have been a pestilence. Whatever it was, 
it terrified Sennacherib, who, we know, fled precipitately 
to his own eastern home at Nineveh. And the 
mysterious and sudden destruction of the invader 



struck awe into the hearts of Hezekiah and his people. 
What sensations they must have had of mingled fear 
and triumph as daybreak revealed the armed thousands 
lying stiffened in the sleep of death ! 

No wonder if this event fired the devout imagination 
of the Jewish poets, produced sacred Odes of Triumph, 
and crystallized in Hymns of Praise. It was evidently 
this event which gave shape to 

Psalm lxxvi. 

This Psalm, written probably some little time after 
the destruction of Sennacherib, and after he had with- 
drawn his dreaded forces to Assyria again, begins by 
celebrating Jerusalem as the sacred abode of Jehovah. 
There He is known and there is His tabernacle. 
Then ver. 3 : 

" There brake He the arrows of the bow, 
Shield and sword and battle ; 
The stout-hearted have been spoiled, 

They have sunk into their sleep, 
And none of the men of valour have found their hands. 

That is, those who stretched out their hands in mocking 
defianee of God's city have not been able to use or 
raise them. 

" At Thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, 

Both chariot mid horses were cast into a dead sleep " 

overpowered by the languor and lassitude of death. 

The event, no doubt, struck awe into all the surround- 
ing nations : 


" Thou, even Thou, art to be feared." 
" From heaven didst Thou cause judgment to be heard. 
The earth feared and was still. 
For the wrath of man must praise Thee." 

That is, every angry attempt of men to defeat God's will 
is turned to their own overthrow, and is used for His 
glorious ends. And these last feeble, impotent acts 
of resistance are overruled and made an instrument 
for a Divine work. 

Then the Psalmist closes with another call to hushed 

" He is to be feared by the kings of the earth." 

Psalms xlvi. — xlviii. 

are also the product of this event. The first of these 
is the chief and most memorable one. The other two 
are bursts of triumph, with few direct references to 
the event, and yet coloured by the glorious deliverance. 
Psalm xlvii. is one repeated shout of thanksgiving. 
There is reason to think that Psalm xlviii. was m.eant 
to be used in the Temple service. 

Psalm xlvl 
is particularly rich in reminiscences of the event. 

" God is our refuge and stronghold, 
A very present help in trouble." 

In vv. 2 and 3 we have a reflection of the shaking 
of the nations before the sweep of the invading 
Assyrians. It is in metaphorical language : the earth 


changing, the mountains removed to the seas, the 
floods roaring and rising — yet in all " we will not 

•' There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city 
of God;" 

referring to the fact that a supply of water had been 
brought within the walls by the construction of an 
aqueduct hidden underground. 

" God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved. 
God shall help her when the inoming dawns; " 

i.e.y at early daybreak, the hour of the discovery of the 
dread slaughter. 

" Nations roared : the kingdoms were moved ; 
He uttered His voice — the earth melteth. 
Come, behold the deeds of Jehovah, 

Who hath done terrible things in the earth ; 
Who stilleth wars to the ends of the earth." 
" Be still, and know that I am God." 

This Psalm was paraphrased by Luther in his " Ein 
feste Burg," which is translated for us in the well- 
known lines, " A safe stronghold," etc. This was the 
'' Marseillaise of the Reformation." In the dark 
Reformation times Luther would say to Melanchthon, 
"Come, Philip, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm." 
When the Protestant cause seemed to be losing 
ground, '^ he sang it to the lute every day, standing 
at the window and looking up to heaven." 

When he and Melanchthon and others were sent 
into banishment, and were entering Weimar in great 


despondency, they heard a girl singing this Psalm. 
"Sing on, dear daughter mine," Melanchthon said, 
" thou knowest not what comfort thou bringest to 
our hearts." 

Gustavus Adolphus prepared for the battle of Leipsic 
by singing this Psalm along with his whole army. 
Wesley preached on it when a shock of earthquake 
threw London into terror last century. The people 
of Moscow used this Psalm as their memorial song of 
triumph for that night on which twenty thousand of 
Napoleon's horses perished by frost, and the French 
army were driven back by an unseen hand into its 
disastrous retreat. It has nourished the Christian 
heroes of the world, and may well nourish us. 



Psalms xlii., xliii., Ixxxiv., cii., cxxxvii. 

A HUNDRED years have passed since the tragic 
destruction of Sennacherib's host beside the 
walls of Jerusalem, and during that period the Assyrian 
Empire has crumbled to insignificance. 

The Babylonian Empire has sprung up into power 
and splendour in its place, and now casts its dark 
shadow over surrounding nations. Nebuchadnezzar 
sweeps westwards hke an irresistible flood. Egypt is 
his aim, but Palestine lies on the highway to the Nile, 
is in league with the King of Egypt, and must be 
subdued in passing. 

The Egyptian host anticipates the attack, speeds 
eastwards to meet the army of Nebuchadnezzar, and 
not far from the Euphrates is driven back in defeat 
by the Assyrians. 

Like a pitiless tide they roll on. The people every- 
where flee to their fortified cities, and even the Bedouins 
take refuge within the walls of Jerusalem. King after 
king among the Jews had cast off God and God's laws, 
and now doom is at the gate. 


Jeremiah foresees that submission to Babylon is 
inevitable, and urged, but urges in vain, that terms of 
peace should be made with Nebuchadnezzar. The 
invaders enter the city, fling the king, Jehoiakim, into 
fetters, and rifle the Temple, from which many of 
the sacred vessels are carried as plunder to deck 
Babylonian palaces. 

Upon the untimely death of Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin 
(or Jeconiah) is enthroned ; but he has reigned only 
three months when the Babylonian forces for some 
reason make a second attack, sack the city, hack off 
the golden ornaments from the Temple, take away 
extensive and precious booty, and carry off the king, 
his wives, the queen-mother, the princes, priests and 
minstrels, seven thousand warriors, and one thousand 
skilled workmen. Altogether, according to the best 
account, some ten thousand captives were carried off 
to Babylon at this time. 

Over those that were left in Palestine Zedekiah 
was set king as vassal to Nebuchadnezzar. He made 
a journey to Babylon to take the oath of allegiance ; 
but scarcely had he returned, when he set up a flag of 
rebellion, in company with neighbouring nations, and 
formed an alliance with Egypt. It was against the 
warnings of Jeremiah that this fatal step had been 
taken, and that prophet might have been seen in the 
streets of Jerusalem wearing a wooden collar round his 
neck, such as prisoners were compelled to wear. This 
was Jeremiah's dramatic way of foreshadowing the 
approaching captivity. 


That type, the wooden collar, was soon fulfilled. 
Nebuchadnezzar marched in person to lay siege to 
Jerusalem. It was a crisis so terrible and so momen- 
tous that it has been commemorated ever since by a 
Jewish fast. Forts were reared beside the city, and 
from them the assailants discharged their missiles. 
Battering irams shattered the walls. Troops hemmed 
in the people. 

The siege lasted for a year and a half. Within the 
city famine and disease turned the fair princes and 
proud people into walking skeletons. Jewish ladies 
might have been seen sitting in splendid robes on the 
refuse heaps, glad if they could pick up a morsel of 
food. The siege of Paris had no horrors to equal those 
of the siege and fall of Jerusalem. Hunger turned 
fathers and mothers into brutish cannibals, as they 
devoured their own starving children. 

Yet all the while, in the very Temple erected for 
the worship of Jehovah, might have been seen priests 
prostrate before the rising sun ; and in underground 
chambers * the base Egyptian idols were receiving 
offerings of incense from the Jewish elders. The 
people seem to have become utterly demoralized and 

One midnight in July 587 B.C., under the covering 
of the darkness, the Babylonian forces made a breach 
in the walls, stole into the very Temple itself, and, ere 
morning broke, killed the occupants of the sacred 

Stanley's Jewish Churchy sect. xl. 


courts, the false priests and prophets and princes, so 
that " the virgin marble ran red like a rocky winepress 
in the vintage." 

In the twilight of daybreak, the king and his harem, 
in mufQed disguise, escaped by a secret exit, and made 
for those very scenes beyond Jordan to which David 
had hastened at the rebellion of Absalom. But he 
was overtaken and carried to Nebuchadnezzar, who, 
according to the savage Oriental custom, killed his sons 
in their father's presence, put out the captive king's 
eyes and took him to Babylon, where, according to 
tradition, he was forced to toil in a mill as a slave. 

Now had come the destruction of Jerusalem. All 
the sacred vessels that were left from other devasta- 
tions, the brazen laver, even the two famous pillars 
with their ornaments, were collected and removed ; the 
captives were secured ; and then the whole city, Temple, 
palace, public buildings, all were deliberately fired, and 
Jerusalem was in flames. The savage cruelty of the 
spoilers is beyond description, and makes terrible read- 
ing. We are told that even the royal tombs were 
rifled, and the dead kings given to the birds of prey, 
and soon jackals were wandering even over the sacred 
hill of Zion. 

And as the captive host were conducted to their 
foreign home, the Ammonite and Moabite flung at 
them derisive shouts of delight. Even their nearest 
kinsmen, the descendants of Esau, the Edomites, had 
gloated over the siege of Jerusalem, crying, " Down 
with it ! Raze it even to the ground." They caught 


any Jewish fugitive that attempted to escape, and held 
wild revels on the ashes of the fallen city. Then and 
ever after the curses of the Jews fell on these Edomites 
the very songs of the captives in Babylon break out 
as do the prophets, into denunciations of them. The 
second Isaiah pictures the Messiah Conqueror as coming 
" knee-deep in Edomite blood." 

This was the second or third band of captives that 
had been marched off to Babylon. The present one 
was smaller and less important, for the previous depor- 
tation had taken away most of the nobles and skilled 
workmen : and amongst the melancholy band had been 
Ezekiel, and Daniel with his three companions. 

We can well imagine these captive hosts lingering 
on the heights of Hermon, on the ridge of Mizar, and 
looking back with unutterable grief and yearning on 
their beloved city and Temple and home, now blackened 
ruins, and now seen for the last time. We can well 
imagine their idolatrous captors, or the insulting 
Edomites, taunting the pious with the derisive ques- 
tion, "Where is your God now?" "What can He 
do for you now ? " 

It was this scene which probably gave us 

Psalms xlii. and xliii. 

which are really one Psalm. 

It is composed by one of the ''Sons of Korah," 
one of the leaders of sacred song, one of the Temple 
Psalmists. It crystallizes his emotions as he pauses 
on the eastern hills and takes his farewell look at his 


darling city. Whether or not it was written there and 
then, it pictures the scene and the thoughts of the 
pious minstrel as he looks back from the Hermon hills. 
It falls into three sections or strophes, each passing 
through the same ebb and flow of faith, and each 
ending with the singer's assurance to his own heart : 

" Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? 
Hope in God." 

It begins with the picture of the wild gazelle of the 
forests, panting in the summer heat for the fresh, cool 
water of Jordan. He may have seen it as he passed 
across the river. 

" As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, 
So panteth my soul after Thee, O God," 

after God's house and city and immediate presence. 

" When shall I come back and appear before God ? " 

He has mourned and wept day and night, but his 
captors ask, derisively, " Where is thy God now ? " 
Then (ver. 4) he recalls in his grief how he used to go 
with the crowd of worshippers to the Temple. 

" How I passed with the (festal) throng, 

How I led them in procession to the House of God, 
A multitude keeping Holy Day." 

He looks back from the eastern hills (ver. 6) : 

" I remember thee from the land of Jordan, 

And from the Hermons, from the mountain Mizar." 

His misfortunes, descending upon him in quick succes- 
sion, he likens to the torrents (ver. 7), to the floods 


that answer each other with their rush and roar. Yet 

(ver. 8) Jehovah is with him, and gives him a song in 

the night. Why go in sorrow, then (ver. 9) ? And 

again hope triumphs in the power of faith. 

He prays, in the third strophe, that God will judge 

between him and the cruel conquerors, that He will 

not cast him off (xliii. 2), that He will send out light 

and truth, and bring the captives back to the holy 

mountain, to the holy altar, to the harp and the song 

of God in His House. Three times he cries : 

" Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? 

Hope in God : for I shall yet praise Him, 
The Health of my countenance and my God." 

Now we pass with these captive bands to the banks 
of the Euphrates, leaving a few inhabitants in the 
sacred land to till the soil and keep the vineyards. 
We are now in Babylon the great, in the centre of 
a vast plain, and beside the fourth river of the Garden 
of Eden. The city is fifty-six miles in circumference 
(according to Herodotus), larger even than London. 
The wall surrounding it, three hundred feet high, is a 
broad terrace on its summit, as wide as Westminster 
Bridge. Its streets are rectangular (like American 
cities) and abut on the river. It has ten brazen gates, 
and two hundred and eighty towers, ranged at intervals 
round the walls. Its Great Palace is, '' a city within 
a city," seven miles round, has mountain gardens, 
'' hanging gardens," constructed for the delectation of 
the Median princess who is now the queen. 

The gigantic temple of Bel, or Baal, rose as high 


and square as the Pyramids. The name of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, who built both temple and palace, may still be 
seen on the bricks and sculptured fragments that are 
found among the ruins. 

It must have been a strange scene to these Jewish 
captives. Their own court and buildings at Jerusalem 
were as children's playthings compared to Babylon. 
All were strange : the gorgeous cavalry, the chariots- 
and-four, the soldiers' scarlet costumes and shields 
and burnished helmets, the pomp and luxury, the 
science and art, the magicians' and astrologers' lore, 
the idolatrous worship, the King Nebuchadnezzar, 
who spoke with pride of *' this great Babylon which 
I have built." 

The Euphrates ran through the city, and was divided 
into canals for the purpose of irrigation, forming a 
*' network of watercourses." Lofty poplars lined their 
banks and cast their sheltering shadows on the captive 
people as they clustered together to cheer each other 
in their foreign land. Their harps, their music, they 
had carried with them ; and often when by themselves 
they sang for their own comfort the songs of Zion. 

Here is one, composed probably by some Levite 
Psalmist : 

Psalm cxxxvii. 

" By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down ; yea, we wept 
When we remembered Zion." 

It is the " Home, Sweet Home " of the Jewish 
captives : 


" 'Mid pleasures and palaces 
Though we may roam, 
Be it ever so homely, 

There's no place like home." 


"An exile from home, 

Splendour dazzles in vain." 

But not only are they patriotic songs ; they are 
Psalms sacred to Jehovah ; and to sing them for the 
amusement and mirth of their heathen captors would 
be to degrade and desecrate them and to trifle with 
their God. As well sing "Abide with me" at a 
mayor's banquet, or recite a prayer for the entertain- 
ment of a company of sceptics. Before the idolaters 
they will suspend their harps (ver. 2, etc.) : 

" Upon the willows in the midst thereof 
We hanged up our harps." 

And as the singer broods over his wrongs, recalls 
the ruined city and Temple, and the taunts of the 
Edomites, he bursts into a terrible storm of indignation, 
foresees — what actually took place — the destruction 
of the Babylonian captors (ver. 7) : 

" Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom, 
In the day of Jerusalem, 
Who said, ' Down with it ! Down with it, even to the 
ground ! ' 
O daughter of Babylon, thou shalt be destroyed. 
Happy shall he be that rewardeth thee 
As thou hast served us." 
" Happy shall he be that taketh thy little ones 
And dasheth them against the rock." 



It is a terrible cry for vengeance, true to the times. 
There is progress in revelation. We do not look for 
an anticipation in the Old Testament of Christ's 
Sermon on the Mount. 

" We sate down and wept by the waters 

Of Babel, and thought of the day 
When our foe, in the hue of his slaughters, 

Made Salem's high places his prey ; 
And ye, O her desolate daughters ! 

Were scattered all weeping away. 

" While sadly we gazed on the river 

Which roll'd on in freedom below, 
They demanded the song ; but, oh never 

That triumph the stranger shall know ! 
May this right hand be wither'd for ever, 

Ere it string our high harp for the foe ! 

" On the willow that harp is suspended, 
O Salem ! its sound should be free ; 

And the hour when thy glories were ended 
But left me that token of thee ; 

And ne'er shall its soft tones be blended 
With the voice of the spoiler by me ! " 

True, they were not treated as slaves. There were 
few cruelties practised on them such as the negroes 
suffered when shipped to America. Jeremiah wrote 
and advised them to make the best of their subjection, 
to build houses and plant gardens, and to prove them- 
selves loyal. Some of them rose to positions of 
influence and wealth. Daniel, for example, rose to a 
high and responsible post. Yet the command that 
he should not pray to his God, his refusal to comply. 


and the tragic consequences in the hons' den ; and 
the treatment of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego ; 
show that pagan despotism rode roughshod over the 
Hberties and rehgious convictions of the captives. 

Not only the heathen worship, but the heathen food, 
was repugnant to the Jews, and some, Hke Daniel, 
refused to eat anything but pulse. They suffered 
many indignities, and were made the butt for the 
contempt of their masters. 

Psalm cii. 

is also a cry of the captives. It describes their bitter 

" I have forgotten to eat my bread. 

Because of the voice of my sighing 
My bones have cleaved to my flesh. 

I am Hke a pelican in the wilderness, 
I am become an owl of the ruins." 

They have '' eaten bread like ashes and mingled 
their drink with weeping." But 

" Thou wilt arise, and have compassion on Zion, 
For it is time to be gracious unto her. 
For the set time is come," — 

the time set by the prophets in their predictions. 

" Thy servants find pleasure in her stones (Zion's ruins), 
And are gracious unto her dust." 

But God will 

" Hear the sighing of the prisoner. 

And set athberty those that are doomed to death." 


In the course of years the captivity was made easier : 
the captives earned greater privileges, and a few were 
permitted to pay a visit to their own land and home. 

Psalm lxxxiv. 

expresses the yearning of the exiles for the return, 
their envy of those who can go up to the festivals and 
see the sacred courts so dear to them. 

" How lovely are Thy dwellings, O Jehovah of Hosts ! 

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of 

He envies the very sparrows and swallows, which 
are free to build their nests in the sacred eaves and 
walls : 

" Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, 

And the swallow a nest for herself, where she hath laid 
her young, 
Even Thine altars, O Jehovah of Hosts." 

Happy are they that have access to God's House ! 

Then he thinks of those who have gone to visit 
Jerusalem, or he recalls the caravans of pilgrims that 
go up to Jerusalem at the great festivals : and he 
envies those (ver. 6) 

" Who, passing through the valley of Baca " 
(the vale of weeping — some sorrowful valley), 

" Make it a place of springs ; " 
i.e., who forget the trials of the journey for the joy of 
reaching the holy city ; and who (ver. 7) 

•' Go from strength to strength " 



(as they go from station to station, becoming more 
buoyant as they come nearer the sacred place), 

" Till each one appeareth before God in Zion." 
" For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand (else- 
where) ; 
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the House of my God 
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Babylon). 
Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee." 


Psalms cxv., cxviii., cxx. — cxxxiv. 

THE inscription, ''Songs of Degrees," prefixed to 
Psalms cxx. to cxxxiv., has bewildered young 
minds — and old ones too — almost as much as the 
mystic "Selah." 

These are literally " Songs of Ascents," or " Songs 
of the Upgoings." Some have supposed they were 
sung by the Levites as they ascended the steps of 
the Temple. Others think they were chanted by the 
caravans of pilgrims as they gathered at Jerusalem 
for the great festivals. And others believe they were 
sung by the pilgrim bands as they returned from 
Babylonian captivity. 

The second and third interpretations must be com- 
bined as the true explanation. Some of these Psalms 
point to the return from captivity ; and all of them 
were sung by the companies who ascended to Jerusalem 
for the yearly holy days. 1 hey accordingly connect 
themselves with two different sets of scenes. 

For the first set of scenes we must return to Babylon. 


The captive Hebrews are no longer weeping hopeless 
tears. For years the prophets have foreseen the over- 
throw of Babylon. " Comfort ye ! comfort ye ! " — these 
words, which have come like soothing music to count- 
less weary hearts since then, were first addressed as 
a message of good cheer to the captives in Babylon 
foretelling speedy release : '* Comfort ye My people^ saith 
your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and 
cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her 
iniquity is pardoned : for she hath received of the Lord's 
hand double for all her sins." 

Cyrus had become King of Persia, had overrun one 
territory after another, carrying his conquest as far 
as the Himalayas. The prophet, with far-sighted 
wisdom, pointed to Cyrus as the coming deliverer. 
At length the seventy years' predicted captivity were 

All remember how Belshazzar, now on the throne of 
Nebuchadnezzar, was giving a great feast to his princes 
and nobles and generals ; how the cups once used in 
the Temple at Jerusalem were here to grace this scene 
of luxurious revelry ; how in the midst of it there 
creeps forth a hand ; how the proud king turns pale 

as he sees the finger move and write but, O ye 

gods, write what ? The court scholars, the astrolo- 
gers and magicians fail to read it; but a Jew, one 
of the captives, Daniel, is called, and foretells imme- 
diate doom to Babylon — and, indeed, already doom is 
at the door. 

For Cyrus has diverted a branch of the Euphrates 


from its course, and has stealthily stolen up the half- 
dry river-bed and emerged with his army within the 
wall ; and these revelling, half-drunken Babylonians 
are struck with consternation more tragic than that 
at Brussels before Waterloo. The winecups slip from 
their hands ; the tread of heavy feet, the clang of 
approaching troops is heard. '' In that night was 
Belshazzar the King of the Chaldeans slain." 

It was a terrible night. The Persian invaders met 
with no resistance, cut down the young men, set fire 
to the houses, heedless of their treasures, hunted the 
terror-stricken population like chased deer, and actually 
carried out the vengeful wish of the Hebrew captive 
singer in Psalm cxxxvii., for they literally took the 
little children and hurled them against the ground.* 
" Babylon the great is fallen ! " The news echoed 
through the whole land, and many hearts woke to 

Ere long Cyrus, with generous spirit, gave permis- 
sion to the Jewish captives to return to their own 
native land and city. To this they had looked forward 
for years with restless impatience. Now the day had 
come. Far and near heralds proclaimed the decree of 

All know how, when the abolition of slavery was 
declared in the West Indies, to take effect at sunrise on 
a certain day, the slaves climbed the hills the night 
before and waited and watched for the morning rays ; 

* Dean S\.?in\eys Jewish C/nnrli, iii., 59. 


how they kept their eyes on the eastern horizon to 
catch the first streaks of daylight, and as the sun 
peeped into sight these slaves sprang to their feet with 
the cry, " We are free ! we are free ! " and the cry 
rang down the valleys and among the huts of the 

It was with such overflowing gladness that these 
Hebrew captives greeted the day that was to see them 
on the way back to the Holy City and Holy Land. 

Psalm cxxvi. 
pictures their feelings. 

"When Jehovah brought back the returned of Zion, 
We were like unto them that dream." 

It was like a happy dream, from which one wakes 
afraid lest it be only a dream, too good to be true. 

•' Then was our mouth filled with laughter, 
And our tongues with songs of joy." 

The heathen no longer mock at their God-forsaken lot, 
no longer cry, " Where is your God ? " 

" Then said they among the nations (the heathen), 
'Jehovah hath done great things for them.' 
Yea, Jehovah hath done great things for us, 
Whereof we were glad." 

So also 

Psalm cxxiv. 

celebrates the liberation of the captives. 

" If Jehovah had not been on our side 
— Israel may now say — 


If Jehovah had not been on our side, 

When men rose up against us ; 
Then they had swallowed us up alive." 
" Our soul is escaped as a bird from the snare of the 
fowlers : 
The snare is broken and we are escaped." 

This emancipation was a second exodus, and they 
themselves compared their deHverance to the escape 
of the IsraeHtes from Egypt. 

It is true, many, indeed the majority, of the Jews 
chose to remain in their new homes. Some had pro- 
spered, others had succumbed to idolatry. But the 
best of them had sung : 

" If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, 

Let my right hand forget her cunning," 

and hastened to return. 

By order of Cyrus, the vessels of gold and silver 
which had been taken from the Temple on Zion were 
handed back to the Jewish priests among the pilgrims. 
There were thousands of them, cups, salvers, etc., 
many of which had graced the fatal feast of Belshazzar. 
So generous was their liberator that he even provided 
beasts of burden and supplies for the four months' 

They set out under the leadership of Zerubbabel, 
and the mustering of so many released captives, all 
aglow with patriotic enthusiasm, must have been an 
impressive sight. The pilgrim host consisted of over 
forty-two thousand persons, male and female, adults 
and children above twelve, besides more than seven 


thousand slaves. There were two hundred singers, 
and one hundred and twenty-eight trained musicians 
of the clan of Asaph. 

Tradition describes the enthusiasm of the start. We 
are told that " an escort of a thousand cavalry accom- 
panied them for protection against the desert Arabs, 
and they started at the sound of tabrets and flutes."* 
The old and infirm were placed on camels ; a few rich 
people were able to ride on horseback — a luxury in 
those days, — while two hundred and seventy asses 
carried the supplies and baggage. But, as there was 
only one animal to every seven pilgrims, by far the 
greater portion of them must have done the journey 
on foot. 

But their enthusiasm and courage were all required. 
The journey was a long and dreary one, occupying four 
months. Over the rough gravel plains, one monotonous 
level stretch, with but few if any springs, they trudged 
on resolutely. No doubt the minstrels and singers 
relieved the weary marches and the evening rests 
with the songs of Zion. 

They were returning to a land that lay in ruins. 
When they had passed through all the perils of robbers 
and of beasts of prey, they found almost all their land 
occupied by Edomites and others, and only a narrow 
strip, including Jerusalem, open to them. That sacred 
city itself was still a heap of ruins, and the dream of 
all their captivity had been to restore it to its former 

* Geikie's Hours with the Bible. 


and even to greater glory. It was the work of long 
years. It was this in 

Psalm cxxvi. 
that made the writer say : 

" They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." 

Though they go back in tears and trouble, there will be 
a time of joy and prosperity by-and-bye. They may 
go along weeping, bearing a handful of seed, but they 
shall by-and-bye come again with songs of rejoicing, 
bringing their sheaves with them. 

Their first task was to erect the new altar, twice the 
size of Solomon's. This w^as accomplished in face of 
the saUi and taunts of the wild hordes that roved 
round Jer -.ii. When the day fixed for its consecra- 
tion — the great Feast of Tabernacles — arrived, it saw a 
vast gathering of people who had looked forward to 
this occasion for many long years gone by. It was 
an impressive ceremony. Once more, after Zion had 
lain dismantled and profaned, the smoke of sacrifices 
ascended to heaven, and Levite singers and musicians 
raised songs of thanksgiving. It is believed that some 
of the Jubilant Psalms at the end of the Psalter (cxli.v.- 
to cxlviii.), so full of Hallelujahs, also such psalms 
as Ps. cvii., were composed for or sung upon this 

Ewald believes that 

Psalm cxv. 
was intended to be sung while the sacrifices were being 


presented. (And, as said already, this was one of the 
Psalms sung at the Passover Feast. That night when 
Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, He sang, as usual 
in the early part of the Passover, Psalms cxiii. and 
cxiv. ; at the close, cxv. to cxviii. This was the 
** hymn " which we are told He sang before going out 
to the Garden of Gethsemane.) 

Psalm cxv. 

shows how they felt the taunts of the marauders, and 
how they now looked with scorn on the idols of their 
recent captivity. 

" Their idols are silver and gold, 
The work of men's hands. 
A mouth have they, but they speak not ; 
Eyes have they, but they see not," etc. 


" Our God is in the Heavens : 

He hath done whatsoever He pleased." 

The deliverance has come from God, and the praise 
shall be His : 

^ " Not unto us, O Jehovah, not unto us, 
^ "\ But to Thy name give glory." 

It wouliiklake too long to tell how, in course of time, 
other bands of captives returned from Babylon under 
Ezra and Nehemiah ; how they built the walls, under 
the constant- attacks of the hostile races an'd brigand 
hordes that resented their return ; how they built with 
one hand and held their weapons with the other ; how 


some worked while others watched ; how at last the 
whole city was restored, and the jubilations of the 
people burst forth in such Psalms as 

Psalm cxviii. : 

" O give thanks unto Jehovah, for He is good, 
For His mercy endiireth for ever." 

These verses were shared by priests and congregation, 
the priests reading the first clause and the people 
answering : 

" For His mercy endureth for ever." 
"Let Israel now say 

That His mercy endureth for ever." 

As the procession enters the city : 

" Open to me the gates of righteousness, 

I will go into them, and give thanks unto Jehovah.'' 
" Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of 
the altar." 

Now we turn to another set of scenes. Years have 
gone by, and the Jews are settled throughout the land, 
coming up to the holy city to the great annual holy 
festivals. It will help our imagination if we remember 
how Jesus was brought up from Nazareth to Jerusalem 
when twelve years of age, and how in the crowd of 
caravans and pilgrims on the return journey His 
absence was not missed until different companies 
took different roads. 

Josephus calculates that over two millions were in 
Jerusalem at the Passover time. Philo says : " Many 


thousands from many thousand towns and cities make 
a pilgrimage to the Temple at every feast ; some by 
land, others by sea, from the east and the west and the 
north and the south." The whole landscape and high- 
ways were dotted with companies of travellers to the 
holy city, the Mecca of the Jews. Pious bands from 
villages gather and travel together for protection against 
the robbers and wild beasts. ''Veiled women and 
venerable men ride on camels or mules ; younger men 
walk alongside, staff in hand ; " children play and romp 
by the side of the slow-moving cavalcade. 

I have seen bands of Buddhist pilgrims in Japan on 
their way to their sacred places. They carried long 
staffs with tinkling bells. Some walked on one side 
of the road, others on the other side ; and as they 
trudged along, one company exchanged a sort of 
plaintive chant with the other, each answering each 
in turn. 

These bands of Jewish pilgrims had tabret and flute, 
singers and players with them, and sang as they 

Psalms cxx. to cxxxiv. were sung as " Songs of 
Degrees," "Songs of Ascents," and probably at one 
time formed a separate collection, afterwards incor- 
porated within the Psalter : " A Psalter within the 

They are characterized by allusions to the cap- 
tivity, intense affection for the holy city, references 
to domestic life, the blessings of families and the 
delights of the pilgrims to the feasts. 


Psalm cxxi. 

pictures the pleasure the pilgrims felt when the first 
sight of Jerusalem burst on them — 

" I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains : 
From whence should my help come ? " 

It pictures, in ver. 3 and onwards, the perils of the 
night and of the rough road, the perils of the pilgrims 
from brigands and beasts of prey, requiring them to 
travel in armed companies. 

" He that keepeth thee will not slumber. 

Behold, He doth neither slumber nor sleep 
That keepeth Israel. 

By day the sun shall not smite thee, 
Nor the moon by night. 

Jehovah shall keep thy going out and thy coming in, 
From this time forth and for evermore." 


opens with the recollection of the pleasure of the call 
to the feast. 

" I was glad when they said unto me, 

Let us go unto the House of Jehovah." 

It describes the pride they felt in standing within the 
gates of the sacred city, the impression the country 
people got of the grandeur and stateliness of the 

"Jerusalem, that art built 

As a city which is compactly built together ; 
Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of Jehovah, 
Even the tribes of the Lord ." 


Then a prayer of loyalty, a prayer for prosperous 
peace : 

" O pray for the peace of Jerusalem : 
They shall prosper that love thee. 
Peace be within thy bulwarks, 
Prosperity within thy palaces," 

Jerusalem is profaned ; the Holy City is now a 
Turkish town ; and we have no Mecca remaining 
to-day. None here on earth. Here we have no con- 
tinuing city, but we seek one above, where Christ is 
sitting. We are pilgrims ; our life is a Pilgrim's 
Progress to the Celestial City. The way is full of 
perils and discouragements. But Christ has been a 
Pilgrim too, and He knows every step of the way. We 
are not alone, for He is with us. We are not alone, 
for we go together in bands, and we need Christian 
communion to give cheer to each other and encourage 
the faint-hearted and feeble. We have the Songs of 
Zion for our pilgrimage. 

" Onward we go, for still we hear them singing, 

' Come, weary souls, for Jesus bids you come ; ' 
And through the dark, its echoes sweetly ringing, 
The music of the Gospel leads us home." 



I. The Kilometer of the Church's History. 

THERE is an instrument called the Nilometer, 
which is used to register the height to which 
the Nile rises each year in its inundations. 

Hymns are the Nilometer of the Christian Church. 
Each rise and fall in its spiritual condition is registered 
in the hymns of the period. 

The Advent of the Christ is marked by the outburst 
of adoring gratitude in the " Benedictus," the ''Mag- 
nificat," the " Nunc Dimittis." 

The desperate state of the world at the time is 
reflected in the hymns of the Middle Ages, in their 
" other-worldliness," in the heaven-hunger, the con- 
tempt of man's " brief life," in the longing for " Jeru- 
salem the Golden," in Bernard of Cluny and Bernard 
of Clairvaux. 

During the unhistoric intervals the Church was 
almost without sacred song. The Dark Ages were 
silent ages. 

Luther found the Church almost songless. He 
resolved to remedy this deficiency, and secure not 


only liberty of conscience but liberty of praise. Him- 
self an ardent flute player, he provided music for the 
young and prepared a hymn book for schools. In 
those schools which he and Melanchthon established 
nearly one-fourth of the time was devoted to musical 
tuition. What the " Theses " declared in dogma was 
sung into the hearts of the people in hymns. The truth 
was carried into every corner of the country on the wings 
of praise, until whole villages resounded with hymns at 
the time of morning and evening family worship. 

Luther marching to Worms, singing " Ein feste 
Burg" is typical of the Reformation^ which marched 
singing to victory. 

Then during the succeeding era of tuibelief ihtre was 
a comparative lull in hymn-writing. 

But, again, in the great Evangelical Revival of the 
eighteenth century, there came a mighty outburst of 
song. Charles Wesley is the representative name from 
among many — Olivers, Anne Steele, Cowper, Newton. 
People went singing to their meetings in great com- 
panies, and made the streets echo with their hymns on 
the way home. 

The beginning of the Missionary Movement is clearly 
marked in the praise of the Church. Heber and 
Montgomery's hymns proclaim the opening of the 
mission era. 

•' From Greenland's icy mountains " 

and kindred hymns are a landmark in the history of 
Christ's cause. 


The revival of Ritualism inaugurated by the Trac- 
tarians produced, and in turn was aided by, Keble's 
Christian Year and Faber and Newman's hymns. 

The Evangelical and Evangelistic Revivals of the 
present half-century have left their imprint on our 
praise. The awakenings that gave us San key's Sacred 
Sojigs were only part of a far wider movement. The 
religious life of individuals and of Churches has 
experienced a deepening of faith and consecration. 
Bonar, Miss Havergal, Ray Palmer, are a few of the 
names that mark this movement. Their lyrics are 
the ex-pressed juice in song of a Gospel Renaissance 
which has been advancing without din or strife. 

The great work among the students of EngUsh and 
Scotch and American Universities, the flood of student 
volunteers for foreign missionary labour, the frequent 
Conferences for the deepening of the spiritual life, 
such as the Keswick Convention, all witness to the 
existence of a religious renewal. 

Hymnals have, therefore, a historic value and interest. 
The story of Church praise is the story of all the great 
movements which have stirred the Christian Church. 
Church praise is the essence of Church History. 

Hymns are thus the *' high-water mark" of the 
Church's spirituality. The songless periods have been 
stagnant periods. During the dark ages the clergy 
sang for the people as well as prayed for them. And 
to-day the songless Churches are the stagnant ones. 
Where there is priestcraft, there the service of praise is 
performed for the congregation, and there it is still night. 


Progress and power have always gone hand in 
hand with praise. Men sneeringly called Cromwell's 
Ironsides ''Psalm-singers;"* but, if history proves 
anything, it proves that '' Psalm-singers " are likely to 
be ''Ironsides." 

2. The Church Universal. 

A hymn book is a miniature of the Church Universal. 
It laughs to scorn the claim of any single Church 
to be the one true Church of Christ. It proves the 
true unity of Christians in spite of the absence of 

Roman Catholics — Faber, Xavier, St. Bernard — 
stand side by side with Protestants, — Luther, Ger- 
hardt. Ritualists — Keble, Neale — associate with 
Evangelicals — Lyte, Cowper, Havergal; and both are 
compelled to mix with Baxter the Puritan, Watts 
and Doddridge the Congregationalists, Wesley and 
Olivers the Methodists, and Bonar and McCheyne 
the Presbyterians. 

The Arminian Wesley and the Calvinist Toplady no 
longer dispute and wrangle, but dwell together in peace. 

Even the Unitarian's yearning— Adams' " Nearer, 
my God, to Thee " — is called into the service of 
God, along with Heber's Trinity Hymn, " Holy, 
Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." 

All are here, and all are needed. Without the 
rest, no Church's praise would be perfect. Hymn 

* The Study ^ 1873, P- io3- 


books remind Romanists and Ritualists and all 
bigots of Christ's words : " Other sheep I have 
which are not of this fold." Each sings his part ; 
all combine to produce that Harmonized Anthem which 
the Christian Church is learning here, and which it 
will sing perfectly hereafter. 

When men sing hymns and offer prayers, no one 
can tell their theological differences. Toplady and 
Wesley angrily disputed upon points of theology. 
We sing their hymns, and cannot discover which is 
the Arminian and which the Calvinist. Indeed, the 
Calvinist's " Rock of Ages " was attributed to the 
Arminian — and that by an Arminian ! 

It seems difficult to put cold dogma into hymn 
or prayer. In devotion, before God, all are one, 
although in controversy, towards each other, they 
may stand opposed. 

This is the true Catholic Church, or Christian 
Union, or EvangeHcal Alliance, forecast of the One 
Church above. 

Hymn books contain and teach the theology of 
the people. Creeds are for controversialists, Con- 
fessions of Faith for ecclesiastics : but neither con- 
tributes much to the theology of average Christians. 
Hymnals are the people's creeds : hymns their 
religious teachers. What has set itself to music, 
what we sing, becomes part of ourselves. It is 
always with us. Prose has not the same capacity as 
Song to shape thought and belief. Our hymns have 
teen among the most potent preachers. 


They have been EvangeHsts. They have put words 
into the Hps that have helped the heart to beUeve. 
They have enabled many to take the decisive step. 
We cannot doubt that numbers, as they have sung 
the song, " Just as I am," have seen the truth and 
found rest in Christ. 

They have also been the Comforter's chosen 
channels of peace and consolation. 

Hearts that could not enjoy prayer have often 
found relief in holy song. Hymns have given 
wings to their thoughts. 

3. Children's Hymns. 

Until the days of Watts, no hymn-writer seems to 
have recognized the need of hymns specially adapted to 
children. It appears to have been taken for granted 
that if the young were not able to sing ordinary hymns 
with interest and intelligence, it was merely one of the 
disadvantages of youth which they must endure till 
their minds had developed. Meanwhile, the little folks 
must commit to memory the words of ordinary hymns, 
and discover their meaning by-and-bye. 

What a change since the days of Watts ! To-day 
every Hymnal has its section for " The Young," and 
no Morning Service is complete without its hymn for 
the children. The benefit for the little folks is 

At first the hymns written for the young were 
solemn, dry, doctrinal, and threatening. They ex- 
pressed sentiments impossible to any but wayworn 


travellers ; weariness of earth, longing for Heaven^ 
the passion of rehgious conflict. They embodied dog- 
matic theology which could, even if it were in its 
proper place in a hymn, be understood only by mature 

Still worse : they brandished punishment, death, and 
even hell before the eyes of the children. They 
sought to drive them from sin by a threat rather than 
win them to goodness by love. They could not but 
leave in young minds the impression of God as a sort 
of detective, with a gaol at His command ; whereas 
hymns for the young should be like the young 
themselves — bright, happy, warm-hearted, winsome, 

Dr. Watts was the first to provide for the " lambs 
of the flock ; " and we owe him a large debt for his 
contributions. But it is evident he was a bachelor and 
knew little of the real wants of children, in spite of his 
experience as a tutor in a family. 

Here is a verse from one of his hymns meant for 
children ; and how wicked is the representation given 
of the Gracious Father : 

" What if His dreadful anger burn, 
While I refuse His offered grace, 
And all His love to fury turn, 

And strike me dead upon the place?" 

With reference to the sin of falsehood he puts these 
lines in young lips : 



*'The Lord delights in them that speak 
The words of truth ; but every liar 
Must have his portion in the lake 
That burns with brimstone and with fire." 

Even more awful is the following : 

" There is a dreadful hell, 
And everlasting pains, 
Where sinners must for ever dwell 
In darkness, fire, and chains. 

" Can such a wretch as I 
Escape this cursed end? 
And may I hope, whene'er I die, 
I shall to Heaven ascend ? " 

What can be said on behalf of putting these 
sentiments, however true, into a hymn of praise ; and 
especially of putting them into children's lips ? Well 
for the children if their love for sacred things can 
survive such a test ! 

Happily, some that Watts wrote were conceived in 
a more kindly vein ; but such were limited in number. 

In spite of the halo of respect which we throw 
around all we were taught at our mother's knee, we 
cannot fail to see the comical side of such remarks as 
these in a hymn fixed in everyone's memory : 
" Let dogs delight to bark and bite, 
For God has made them so ; 
Let bears and lions growl and fight, 

For 'tis their nature too. 
But, children, you should never let 

Your angry passions rise ; 
Your little hands were never made 
To tear each other's eyes." 


Charles Wesley remembered the little ones ; and is 
sometimes very happy in his lines, as in 
" Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, 
Look upon a little child ; 
Pity my simplicity, 
Suffer me to come to Thee." 

Ann and Jane Taylor strove to meet the wants of 
child-worshippers. The latter received her inspiration 
in a pecuHar way. ''My method was to shut my eyes 
and imagine the presence of some pretty Httle mortal, 
and then endeavour to catch, as it were, the very 
language it would use on the subject before me. \{ in 
any instances I have succeeded, to this little imaginary 
being I should attribute my success. And 1 have failed 
so frequently, because so frequently I was compelled 
to say, ' Now you may go, my dear ; I shall finish 
the hymn myself.* " 

The origin of Mrs. Luke's well-known children's 

" I think when I read that sweet story of old," 
is interesting. 

'' Mrs. Luke was one day travelling in a stage-coach, 
when the thought struck her to write something which 
would be suitable for use in the village school in which 
her father took an interest. As the coach rattled on 
its way she jotted down that hymn, which has been 
lisped by infant voices in every land, making music on 
each and joy in heaven."* 

* Edwin Hodder. 


To Heber also the children are indebted for several 
of their favourite hymns, — 

" Brightest and best of the sons of the morning ; " 

" By cool Siloam's shady rill ; " 

" From Greenland's icy mountains." 

Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander, wife of the Bishop 
of Derry, has, however, met the wants of the 
children better than any other writer in the present 
generation. Her language and her thought are alike 
simple. She recognises their love of incident, and in 
more than one hymn gives her thought a historical 
setting ; e.g. — 

" Once in Royal David's city ; " 
" There is a green hill far away." 

Her sentiments befit the mind of a child ; her lines 
express the brightness and naturalness of children, 
as in 

" All things bright and beautiful ; '' 
** We are but little children weak ; " 

and in another, which is less widely known : 


" Do no sinful action, 
Speak no angry word : 
Ye belong to Jesus, 
Children of the Lord." 

Among no class of hymns can we mark such progress 
as in those for the young. And the growth has been 
more remarkable in quality and suitabiHty than even 
in quantity. 


4. Sermonic Hymns. 

Not a few of our veteran hymns were written to 
follow and sum up sermons. 

Dr. Watts and Dr. Doddridge both adopted this 
method. Many of their hymns were sung at the 
close of their sermons. Hence they were frequently 
cast in a sermonic mould, declaratory, doctrinal, di- 
dactic. It is said that often the preaching was less 
effective and impressive than the recital of the hymn 
at the close. It is certain that some of our standard 
hymns were composed under such conditions. 

Edwin Hodder tells of an extreme instance of 
specific hymn-writing, the case of George Wither, 
who made pieces for every event, pubHc or private. 
The titles of some are amusing : " A Hymn for a 
House-warming ; " "/or a Widower or Widow delivered 
from a Troublesome Yokefellow ;^^ ^' A Hymn whilst we 
are washing^ George Wither happily finds his place 
among the '' Rejected " to-day. 

5. Introspective Hymns. 

The tendency in the hymns of recent times is to 
indulge in excessive self-analysis. This tendency is 
not, of course, confined to our own period. The 
hymns of the cloisters are often self-contemplative. 
But this feature is distinctive of certain writers of 
the present half-century. 

They weigh their feelings, measure their moods. 


record the fluctuations of their inner life. They 
accordingly become morbid and unhealthy. 

Faber is specially guilty of this sin. You may 
open his collected ^^ Hymns ^^ at any place and find an 
instance, such as this, taken almost at random : — 

" My very thoughts are selfish, ahvays building 
Mean castles in the air ; 
I use my love of others for a gilding 
To make myself look fair." 

His self-analysis leads to painful exaggeration. He 
revels in self-recrimination. He certainly holds the 
mirror up to human nature : but we are none the 
better or brighter for it. Whilst in spirit lofty and 
pure, his descriptions are often sensational, almost 

Hymn-writers who at one time were desperately 
wicked are liable to introspection and exaggeration. 

This is true of John Cennick — whose life was 
godless and vile — author of 

" Children of the Heavenly King," etc. 

It applies still more accurately to Joseph Hart, who 
abandoned himself to all sin and infidelity. When, 
through a companion writing a letter to him, he was 
brought under conviction, he was so overwhelmed 
with a sense of his sin that his health gave way. He 
happened to wander into a Moravian Chapel in Fetter 
Lane on a Whit Sunday, where he heard the good 
news of Divine pardon. His hymns embody these 
deep experiences of personal sin, although they do 


not indulge in continued self-analysis. He is best 

known by those lines, which have won many 

hearts : 

"Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, 
Weak and wounded, sick and sore." 

Miss Havergal delights to express personal feelings 
and to describe spiritual states. The first personal 
pronoun is much on her lips. Moods and sentiments 
are plaintively pictured, and consequently there is a 
want of healthy vigour. A singer may start, as 
David often starts, with his own weaknesses and 
experiences, but he should quickly be absorbed in 
God, and in this contemplation of God the morbid 
self-analysis should be dropped. 

6. Sensuous Hymns. 

Our praise is threatened with a deluge of amorous 
vapourings, sentimental effusions that verge on- carnal 
passion and not on worship. To the emotional Mary, 
in the act of clasping the risen Christ, Jesus said, 
"Touch Me not." Many hymns, especially some from 
America, clasp Him with endearments, or gloat over 
His bodily wounds. " Touch Me not." 

7. Hymns or Soliloquies ? 

Some hymns included in recent collections are little 
more than devout meditations. 

They are not praise, they are not prayer — unless 
by implication : they are pious reflections. They have 


great excellences as religious poems, but they are 
not hymns. 

Yet, in spite of this fact, they are found to be 
profitable for comfort and devotion. 

Adelaide A. Procter has written several pieces 
that a devout mind loves to repeat ; but scarcely one 
of them is a hymn proper ; e.g. : 

" I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be 
A pleasant road ; 
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me 
Aught of its load." 

A. L. Waring has written two pieces dear to our 
hearts, yet subject in some measure to the same 
criticism. Reflections occupy too much space. They 

are : 

" Father, I know that all my life 
Is portioned out for me ; " 
and : 

" My heart is resting, O my God," 

Pieces that were written first as pure literature, and 
not as materials for worship, are naturally more likely 
to be mainly meditative. Those authors whose pro- 
fession is literature do not generally follow the hymn 
model. And it is well that we should utilize in praise 
matter that is unconventional and free in its form. 
This more liberal treatment has admitted to the latest 
Hymnals such writers as Whittier, Bryant, Tennyson, 
O. W. Holmes, Longfellow, Jean Ingelow, and George 


8. Rejected Hymns. 

When we remember that Charles Wesley wrote 
six thousand hymns, that other authors composed 
hundreds, we see that the rejected must vastly 
outnumber the accepted. In the " struggle for 
existence," the fittest have no doubt survived. The 
elements that constitute unfitness are very varied. 

Some are rejected because they indulge in fantastic 
metaphors, ingenious comparisons, quips and cranks 
of expression, or in minuteness of detail. Such 
abound specially in the Elizabethan era, which is 
unaccountably deficient in great hymn-writers. 

One by George Wither calls upon all to join in 
worship with heart, and voice, and instrument. The 
trumpet, the lute, and the viol are the chosen instru- 
ments. The choir is arranged thus : humanity to be 
choirmaster ; birds to sing the warbling treble : — 

" Angels and supernal powers, 

Be the noblest tenor yours. 

* * * * 

From earth's vast and hollow womb 

Music's deepest bass may come. 

♦ * * * 

Seas and floods from shore to shore 
Shall their counter-tenors roar." 

The father of Nahum Tate, by name Faithful 
Tate, might have figured as an approved hymn- 
writer to-day had he indulged less in overstrained 
and whimsical metaphors. The following belongs to 
the rejected, and no wonder ! 


"O Conscience! Conscience! when I look 
Into thy register, thy book, 
What corner of my heart, what nook, 
Stands clear of sin ? 

"And though my skin feels soft and sleek. 
Scarce can I touch my chin, my cheek, 
But I can feel Death's jawbone prick 
Even through my skin," 

John Berridge " took up thie trade of hymn- 
making because some jingling employment was re- 
quired which might amuse and not fatigue him." He 
was remarkable for his humour and eccentricity, as 
also for his earnestness. As an example of his 
eccentric ways, he was buried by his own directions 
in that section of the churchyard where lay the 
suicides and the banned. His object was to remove 
the stigma, to consecrate the spot. His hymns are 
as eccentric as his ways. 

" Jesus, Thou art the Rose 

That blushest on the thorn ; 
Thy blood the semblance shows 

When on Mount Calvary torn : 
A rugged tree Thou hadst indeed. 
But roses from a thorn proceed." 

George Herbert is almost as quaint and rich 
in "conceits" as Francis Quarles himself: 

" The Sundays of man's life. 

Threaded together in time's string. 
Make bracelets to adorn the wife 
Of the Eternal, glorious King." 



I. ■nr^HE primitive Christian congregations were 
■^ secessions from the Jewish synagogues, and 
they carried the Hebrew praise with them into their 
services. The earliest attempts at Christian hymns 
were substantially compositions of the psalms of 
Miriam, Hannah, David. The '' Magnificat " of Mary, 
the " Benedictus " of Zacharias, the "Nunc Dimittis" 
of Simeon, are all cast in the phraseology of the praise 
sung for long centuries previously in the Temple. 

The '' hymn " sung by Christ and the Twelve before 
leaving the Passover and first Lord's Supper to face 
Gethsemane's dread night was the Great Hallel 
(Psalms cxiii. — cxviii.) 

The new faith soon demanded new expressions of its 
gladness. Yet for several generations the ''hymns 
and spiritual songs " of the Christian Church rang with 
echoes of the sacred praise of the Temple. 

The three most ancient hymns, sole remnants of the 
first two centuries, are the " Tersanctus " — 

" Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts '"'' — 



retained in the Communion Service of "Common 
Prayer ; " the " Gloria in Excelsis," an expansion of 
the Angels' Song ; and the " Gloria Patri," sung 
in various forms. 

The first name that meets us, the first writer to 
compose hymns in metrical form, is 

Clement of Alexandria. 
Translated freely into modern dress, his single piece 
that remains appears in our Hymnals as : 

" Shepherd of tender youth, 
Guiding, in love and truth, 
Through devious ways," etc. 

Clement had spent his early years at Athens, 
had, in spite of a Christian parentage, adopted, first 
the Stoic and then the Eclectic philosophy, — had 
been intellectually ill at ease till finally he learnt by 
experience the wisdom and power of the Gospel. 
At Alexandria he lived and laboured for years as 
Principal of the Catechetical College. Among his 
pupils was the illustrious Origen. His later years 
were darkened by a storm of persecution, which 
drove him from learned and luxurious Alexandria to 
distant Cappadocia. Among many works, he wrote 
The Tutor, in which appeared the hymn which, slightly 
recast, we sing to-day. It was a hymn for the young, 
written towards the close of the second century. 


" Lamplighting " Hymn 
can be traced to a date almost as early. Keble has 



given it to our modern Hymnals in the rich dress so 
well known : 

" Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured, 
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest." 

It is supposed to have been sung at " Lamplighting," 
and hence its name. 

2. Hymns of Heresy and Orthodoxy. 

The next century is barren of song ; and it is not 
till about 350 A.D. that we encounter other hymn- 

When we remember that Toplady wrote " Rock of 
Ages " partly to counteract the Arminian teaching of 
Wesley, we need not be surprised to find that 
orthodoxy defended itself in early times by means 
of hymns. 

Heretical hymns had been composed by the Gnostic 
Bardesan of Edessa; and with the aid of his son, 
Harmonius, he had wedded them to tunes so popular 
that the very girls and children knew them by heart 
and sang them at work to the accompaniment of the 
guitar, and at play.* Bardesan's hymns, like Luther's, 
were spreading his heresies as his teaching never 
could have done. 

But he found his match in Ephraim the Syrian, 
who, to counteract these heresies, wrote numerous 
hymns radiant with orthodox teaching, set them to 
Bardesan's popular tunes, and trained companies of 
young women, future nuns, to sing them in chorus. 

* Smith's Did. of Christian Biog7'aphy, 


They bewitched the people, and drowned out the 
heresies of Bardesan. 

But controversy drove him, as it drove Wesley and 
Toplady, to desperate and indefensible methods of 

A heretic, by name Apollinaris, had written two 
volumes which he had left in the hands of a lady of 
Edessa. From her Ephraim succeeded in borrowing 
the books, pretending he was a disciple of the author. 
" Before returning them he glued the leaves together, 
and then challenged the heretic to a public disputation. 
Apollinaris accepted the challenge only so far as to 
consent to read from these books what he had written, 
declining more on account of his great age. They met; 
but when he endeavoured to open the books, he found 
the leaves so firmly fastened together that the attempt 
was in vain : and he withdrew mortified almost to death 
by his opponent's victory." 

Hymns sprang from a more critical contraversy. The 
Avian v. The Athanasian. Arius, who repudiated the 
Deity of Jesus, had composed sacred songs to popu- 
larize his teaching. When, seventy years after, John 
Chrysostom arrived at Constantinople as its bishop, he 
found a strange state of things. '' The Arians," says 
Dr. Prescott, quoting Gibbon's Decline and Fall^ " had 
been forbidden by the Emperor Theodosius to have 
places of worship within the city. But on Saturdays 
and Sundays and great festivals they were in the habit 
of assembling outside the gates, then coming into the 
city in procession at sunset, and all night, in the 


porticoes and open places, singing Arian hymns and 
antliems with choruses. Chrysostom feared that 
many of the simple and ignorant people would be 
drawn from the faith. He therefore organized nightly 
processions of orthodox hymn-singers, who carried 
crosses and lights, and with music and much pomp 
rivalled the efforts of the heretics. Riots and bloodshed 
were the consequence. Very soon an imperial edict 
put a stop to Arian hymn-singing in public. The use, 
however, of hymns in the nocturnal services of the 
Church became established." 

Charles Kingsley has drawn in Hypatia a striking 
and lifelike portrait of the hunting philosopher-bishop, 

Synesius of Cyrene. 

Hypatia, Alexandria's great teacher of philosophy, 
powerfully influenced his mind ; and on her he always 
looked with the sincerest veneration. His was more 
than muscular Christianity. In his North African 
diocese he divided his time between writing poetry, 
talking philosophy at midnight, and planting trees, 
breeding horses and training dogs for hunting. Ten 
of his hymns are extant, most of them amalgams of 
philosophical theories and Christian truths. 

Of this " squire-bishop's " hymns, one is sung 
to-day (Hymns Ancient and Modern, 185) : 

" Lord Jesus, think on me, 
And purge away my sin ; 
From earth-born passions set me free, 
And make me pure within." 


3. Ambrosian Hymns. 
Various hymns are currently called Ambrosian 
which, however, are not from the hand of Ambrose. 

Te Deum. 

The ** Te Deum " has been attributed to him. The 
story of its origin goes thus : — 

On Easter night in the year 387 a.d., Ambrose 
stood with his convert Augustine before the principal 
Christian altar in Milan. The latter had just been 
baptized — a mighty victory over Manichean error ; 
and the heart of Ambrose swelled with triumph as he 
pronounced the new name of Augustine ; and perhaps 
he had some dim prevision of the greatness to which 
that name should attain in the army of the Cross. He 
broke forth in thanksgiving : ^' We praise Thee, O 
God ! we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord ! " And 
the newly-baptized answered in the same strain : "All 
the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting." 
Thus in alternate strophes they sang, as men inspired 
by one Spirit, that sublime hymn of praise the " Te 
Deum," which has since been the voice of the Church 
for nearly fifteen hundred years. 

It is a pity to spoil such a beautiful story, suspiciously 
perfect. But the facts do not support it. Ambrose 
was probably not the author. Parts of it may be 
traced to the Eastern Church and an earlier date. 
It is first mentioned a hundred and fifty years later, 
in 527, although it is then named as one among other 
Psalms, well known and of long standing. 


It is, however, under any circumstances, one of the 
most ancient of Christian hymns, and, with its mag- 
nificent roll of praise, one of the grandest. Its theme 
is the Trinity and the redemption of man by Christ. 

Probably it was originally addressed to Christ and 
not to the Trinity. We know from Pliny that the early 
Christians sang their morning hymn, " Christo quasi 
Deo " — " To Christ as to God ; " and it is quite probable 
that this hymn in its first shape, before the contro- 
versies on the Trinity arose, ran : " We praise Thee 
as God : we acknowledge Thee the Lord." 

It was first sung in English at Heme Church, of 
which Ridley was vicar from 1538 to I549- 

4. Ambrose, 

a consular magistrate at Milan, maintained order 
so wisely among Arian and Orthodox factions in their 
choice of a bishop, that the tumultuous company 
demanded "Ambrose for bishop!" The cry was said 
to have been raised by a child. 

He shrank from the responsibility, but, constrained 
to consent, he became the most powerful bishop of his 
generation. Sovereigns had to bow in obedience to 
his will. 

The Empress Justina, an Arian, resolved to depose 
the bishop. But the people of Milan rose en masse 
to champion his cause. They rallied round him, kept 
guard over his person day and night, and prepared to 
perish with him in case of need. To the devoted 
assembly he preached fervent and brave sermons. He 


wrote hymns and psalms to cheer and embolden 
them ; and for some of his hymns he composed suitable 
tunes. Again his courageous stand was rewarded by 
success. So Ambrose, the John Knox of his day, beat 
the Empress. 

Ambrose is the " Father of the Western Hymn." 
He did for public worship in Italy what David did for 
it at Jerusalem. 

The hymn-singing in the Milan Basilica is described 
in glowing terms by Augustine. The Ambrosian 
chant deeply affected him. '' The voices flowed in at 
my ears, truth was distilled into my heart, and the 
affection of piety overflowed in sweet tears of joy." 
He organized a " high " service. " Antiphons, hymns, 
and vigils " were sung, and he practised and advo- 
cated an ascetic life. 

His reputation as a hymn-writer and composer was 
so great that numerous sacred pieces and chants that 
he never saw have been stamped with his name. The 
Te Deum and Ambrosian Hymn are specimens of the 
ninety falsely attributed to him. 

Ten hymns can with moderate accuracy be ascribed 
to Ambrose. 

5. Prudentius, 

the early Spanish hymn-writer, the "Christian Pindar," 
celebrating the martyrs in song, wrote, about 410 a.d., 
one of our Christmas hymns : 

" Of the Father's love begotten." 



was Bishop of Constantinople, but is known to us best 
as the author of 

" The day is past and over, 

All thanks, O Lord, to Thee." 

Hence the name of Dykes' tune — St. AnatoHus — to 
which the words are set. "This little hymn," says 
Dr. Neale, the translator, " is a great favourite in the 
Greek Isles. . . . It is to the scattered hamlets of Chios 
and Mitylene what Bishop Ken's Evening Hymn is to 
the villages of his own land, and its melody singularly- 
plaintive and soothing." 

6. Gregory the Great 

stands on the border-land between the early Christian 
and the mediaeval periods. 

In early manhood we see him first Senator and then 
Prefect of the Eternal City, walking through its streets 
in silk robe sparkling with gems. A few years later 
we find him renouncing almost all his patrimony, 
founding monasteries, and himself becoming a monk. 

When the news arrived that he was Pope Gregory, 
he disguised himself and fled from the city to a forest 
cave. He was soon discovered by the pursuing people 
and ordained at Rome. 

He devoted himself to the reformation — improve- 
ment, shall we say, or otherwise ?— of sacred music. 
The Ambrosian singing had been antiphonal, congrega- 
tional, and melodious. Gregory regarded it as frivolous, 


and instituted the monotone, with only a few inflexions. 

Gregorian Music 

had no bars, no measure of time, no harmonies, no 
rhythm, no sharps, no flats, and was sung by the 
choir alone. Gregorian chants, intonations, recitations, 
cadences have been cultivated largely in cathedrals, 
and have shared the popularity, or unpopularity, of the 
Ritualistic school. 

He founded a song-school in Rome, ^' endowed it 
with some farms, built for it two habitations. There, 
to the present day, his couch, on which he used 
to recline when singing, and his whip with which 
he menaced the boys, are preserved with fitting 

The Gregorian music was a powerful aid to the 
missionaries of Gregory in captivating the pagan 
people of Kent. The story of this mission is worth 

Ere yet he was Pope, Gregory one day saw in the 
Roman Forum some boys ^'with fair skin, comely faces, 
and bright flowing hair." They were to be sold as 
slaves. In pity for them, he asked whence they came. 

" From Britain." 

" Were the inhabitants of that island Christians 
or pagans ? " 

" Pagans." 

"Alas!" heaving a deep sigh, "Alas! that men of 
such lucid countenance should be possessed by the 


author of darkness, and that such grace of form should 
hide minds void of grace within." 

Being told that they were called "Angli," "Well 
called so," he exclaimed, ** for they have angelic 
faces, and should be co-heirs in heaven of angels. 
What is the name of the province from which they 
come ? " 

" Deiri." 

" True again : de via Dei eruti, et ad misericordiam 
Christi vocati." 

On hearing that the king of the province bore the 
name Aella, he said, " Alleluia ! the praises of God 
the Creator must be sung in those parts." 

He himself started off to evangelize the '' Angli," 
but was brought back to fill the Papal Chair. Unable 
to go in person, he sent Augustine and others to the 
shores of southern Britain. This momentous mission 
was accompanied by a band of choristers, whose 
plaintive chanting helped to gain the Saxon people and 
their king, Ethelbert, to Christianity. 

" Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire, 
And lighten with celestial fire," 

is ascribed to Gregory the Great. In the Romish 
Church it is used at the consecration of a Pope ; in the 
Anglican Church at the consecration of a Bishop. 

Some nine hymns are attributed to Gregory, of 
which the above, " Veni, Creator Spiritus," is the 
best known. 



I. The Monks of Mar Saba. 

NE of the choicest of Christian hymns — 

" Art thou weary, art thou languid, 
Art thou sore distrest ? " — 

came from the lonely monastery of Mar Saba. Its 
history takes us into a small company of hymn-writing 
monks in the eighth century, somewhat resembling 
the Keble-Newman coterie at Oxford eleven centuries 

There were three of them, and their lives were bound 
up together. 

St. John Damascene^ 

or St. John of Damascus, was the great poet of the 
Eastern Church, the defender of Images or Icons. His 
father had adopted an orphan boy into his family, the 

St. Cosma. 
These two foster-brothers played together, learned 


together, composed youthful hymns in friendly com- 
petition, and retired together to the monastery at 
Mar Saba. 

A nephew of St. John's, the future 

St. Stephen^ the Sabaite, 

author of the hymn translated by Dr. Neale in the 
familiar Hnes already quoted, 

" Art thou weary, art thou languid?" 

was placed in this monastery at ten years of age. He 
spent the remainder of his life, sixty years, in this 
place along with uncle and foster-uncle, and together 
the three cultivated their love of sacred poetry. 

Noble as are some of the hymns of the foster- 
brothers, those from the hand of the youngest member 
of the trio stand above the rest in unique simplicity 
and tender beauty. 

The author of the admirable Anglican Hymnology 
describes a visit he paid to the scene of the writing 
of ^^ Art thou weary?''' 

" The monastery stands nobly on a lofty cliff over- 
hanging the valley of the Kedron, which here forms 
a deep chasm. It was founded in the beginning of 
the sixth century, and this secluded convent has 
therefore stood in the midst of savage desolation 
for fourteen centuries. Several times in the course 
of ages it has been plundered, and the inmates put to 
death, by Persians, Moslems, and Bedouin Arabs ; and 
therefore, for the sake of safety, the monastery is 
surrounded by massive walls. Inside the gate we 


found chapels, chambers, and cells innumerable, for 
the most part cut out of the rock, perched one above 
the other, and connected by rocky steeps and intricate 
passages. The huge building seems as if it were cling- 
ing to the face of a steep precipice, so that it is difficult 
to distinguish man's masonry from the natural rock. 

*' The Sabaites at present number about forty, and 
their rule is very severe, being under a vow never 
to eat animal food. They have five religious services 
by day and two by night. We were shown their gaily 
decorated chapel, the tomb of St. Sabas, the tomb of 
John of Damascus, and a cave chapel containing 
thousands of skulls of martyred monks. 

" We were led to the belfry on the roof of their 
little sanctuary, and saw the bells which send forth 
their beautiful chimes and gladden the hearts of 
pilgrims, who, 'weary and languid,' pursue their journey 
through the desolate wilderness. The bells of Mar 
Saba recalled to mind the soothing words : 

" 'Far, far away, like bells at evening pealing, 

The voice of Jesus sounds o'er land and sea.' 

''We were then conducted to a terrace, from the dizzy 
height of which we looked down into the deep gorge 
of the Kedron, five hundred feet below. Every morning 
wolves and jackals assemble at the bottom of the rocks, 
and are fed by the monks, who cast down food to the 
ravenous animals. Viewed from this terrace, the scene 
around and below is one of stern desolation, and a 
sight so impressive as never to be forgotten. Here 


Stephanos, eleven centuries ago, wrote the touching 
hymn : 

" 'Art thou weary, art thou languid? '" 

2. The Monks of the Studium. 

At the great Abbey at Constantinople, named the 

St. Joseph of the Studium 

lived the life of a monk. His early manhood had been 
adventurous ; his later life he -spent in pouring out 
large numbers of hymns. His is the original of 

/' O happy band of pilgrims, 
If onward ye will tread." 

His also the inspiration of Dr. Neale's 

" Safe home, safe home in port, 

Rent cordage, shattered deck, 

Torn sails, provisions short, 

And only not a wreck : 
But oh ! the joy upon the shore 
To tell our voyage perils o'er." 

3. The Two Bernards. 

Bernard of Clairvaux. 

The Normans had conquered the Saxons and were 

robbing them of their lands when (1091) Bernard was 

. born. His father, a rich baron of Burgundy, was a 

vassal of the Duke of Burgundy who shared in the 

first Crusade. 

He was nineteen when his mother died, and her 


pious death-bed awoke him to earnest thought, and led 
him three years later to devote himself to a severe 
monastic life. So enthusiastic was he, so strong his 
persuasive power, that four of his brothers were drawn 
by him to join the monastery of Citeaux, two of them 
abandoning their wives to do so. Even his father for- 
sook his baron's castle to become a monk like his son. 
His sister would not desert her husband to join a con- 
vent, and he refused to see her when she came to visit 
him : piety could exist only in a convent, he believed. 
She afterwards entered one. " Mothers hid their sons, 
wives their husbands, companions their friends," lest 
they should fall under his fascinating influence. 

An Englishman, Harding, was at the head of this 
small monastery, his rule austere. He strove to crush 
the bodily senses, took food only to keep himself from 
fainting. This excessive severity suited Bernard. 

His genius as well as his devotion was soon 
recognised. He was chosen to lead a band of monks 
to found a new monastery. A well-wooded valley — 
afterwards named Clairvaux, " Clara Vallis," " Bright 
Valley " — was selected. At first it was a struggle for 
existence. At times they could find no food better 
than beechnuts and beech leaves boiled in water. 
Their first and only meal was taken at two o'clock in 
the afternoon, twelve hours after they rose, — a meal 
generally of vegetables and water. 

Two rival Popes arose, and such was the influence 
which Bernard had gained, that he was called upon to 
advise the French king and council upon their choice. 


His advice was followed, and Innocent II. became 
Pope. He became the greatest ecclesiastical teacher 
and the most noted preacher of the time. His sermons 
on the " Song of Solomon " and the Psalms threw their 
spell over knights and monks, peasants and princes 
alike. A band of fifteen young knights came from the 
University to hear him, and were so impressed that 
they entered the monastery. The same lot befel the 
son of the King of France. 

His preaching was almost evangelical ; although the 
liberal teaching of Abelard was bitterly assailed by 
him, and led to the great dispute of the century. Able 
to make Popes, he persecuted his opponent with much 

This austere monk and intellectual giant passed away 
in 1 153. Luther calls him "the best monk that ever 

" Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts ; " 
" Jesus, the very thought of Thee," 

are both taken from Bernard's poem, two hundred lines 
in length, beginning : 

" Jesus, dulcis memoria." 

The latter is a translation by Caswall, the former by 
Ray Palmer, the author of 

" Nearer, my God, to Thee." 

" O sacred Head once wounded " 

is a translation, by Dr. J. W. Alexander, Professor at 

Princeton, of the translation of a part of Bernard's 

hymn into German by Gerhardt : 

•' O Haupt voll Blut und wunden." 



Bernard of Cluny^ 

or Bernard of Morlaix, the latter marking his birth- 
place .(although of English parentage), the former the 
scene of his life. 

He lived and died a monk at the glorious abbey of 
Cluny. His famous poem he dedicated to Peter the 
Venerable, the Abbot-General of his Order. It 
contains about three thousand lines, and bears the 
title " On the Contempt of the World,^^ contrasting the 
world's wickedness with the blessed country above. 

A translation of four hundred and forty-two lines was 
made by Dr. J. M. Neale, of which three portions are 
well known and much loved. 

They may be charged with that " other-worldliness " 
of which George Eliot wrote. But in this they bear the 
marks of a century — the twelfth — when the wickedness 
of the world was so deep and dark as to compel earnest 
souls to long for a better country. 

" Brief life is here our portion ; " 
" For thee, O dear, dear country; " 
" Jerusalem the golden," 

appear in most Hymnals. 

4. From a Prison and a Palace. 

" All glory, laud, and honour 
To Thee, Redeemer, King," 

is in English dress the Latin hymn of 


Bishop of Orleans. 


The story goes that the Emperor Lewis, successor to 
Charlemagne, suspected the bishop of conspiring against 
the throne, and flung him into prison at Metz. While 
in his cell he composed the above hymn. 

As the emperor, his court, and the priests were 
passing the prison in solemn procession on their way 
to the cathedral, Theodulph, or some choristers under 
his orders, sang aloud : 

" All glory, laud, and honour." 

The emperor was so impressed with the devout song of 
praise that he at once gave instructions for the release 
of the falsely-accused bishop. 

King Robert II. of France 

had an unruly wife, Constantia, and a turbulent people. 
Whether or not he was feeble as a sovereign, he was 
skilful as a hymn-writer. One of his hymns, highly 
valued still, reflects the troubles of his reign and home : 

" Come, Thou Holy Spirit, come, 
And from Thy celestial throne 
Shed a ray of light Divine." 

At the great dispute between Luther and Ech before the 
Elector of Saxony, a Latin discourse was delivered, the 
whole company knelt at the sound of music, and this 

" Come, Thou Holy Spirit, come," 

was solemnly chanted.* 

* Dr. Prescott's Christian Hymns. 


5. Dies Ir^. 

This most dramatic and thrilling of all hymns was 
written in Latin about the middle of the thirteenth 
century by Thomas of Celano. 

It is dramatic, for it is the cry of a soul struck with 
awe at the " Dreadful Day," the earth in ashes, the 
trumpet's call, the Judge seated. Then the trembling 
inquiry : 

" What shall I, frail man, be pleading '? 
Who for me be interceding ? " 

With this tragic event in view, the speaker cries : 

" Grant thy gift of absolution 
Ere that reck'ning day's conclusion." 

The first to translate it into English was Crashaw, but 
his was a free paraphrase. 

Sir Walter Scott imitated the first three stanzas in his 
hymn at the close of '^ The Lay of the Last Minstrel : " 

" That day of wrath, that dreadful day 
When heaven and earth shall pass away, 
What power shall be the sinner's stay, 
How shall he meet that dreadful day ? " 

John Newton also made a paraphrase of this grand 

sequence : 

" Day of Judgment, day of wonders." 

Several translations of the ''Dies Irse" exist. One is 
by Dean Stanley, beginning : 

" Day of wrath, O dreadful day," 
and appeared first in Macmillan! s Magazine in 1868. 


Another version appears in the Presbyterian Hymnal, 
by Dr. W. B. Robertson, of Irvine : 

" Day of anger, all arresting." 

But the most perfect is that by Dr. Irons, of St. Mary 
Woolnoth (ob. 1883): 

" Day of wrath, O day of mourning." 



GERMANY more than any other country has 
enriched the praise of Christendom. It has 
produced probably not less than a hundred thousand 
hymns. The explanation lies in the fact that con- 
gregational singing was one of the chief features of 
the Reformation in Germany. 

I. Martin Luther 

is the father of German hymnology. 

Every one remembers how as a lad he sang in the 
streets for alms. How as a monk he toiled and travailed 
in the resolute search for peace ; how Staupitz guided 
his search to the atonement of Christ for sin ; how he 
found and ravenously devoured a copy of the Bible, 
and, as he read, saw the new light ; how he paid a visit 
to Rome ; how he nailed his Theses to the church door 
at Wittenberg ; how he burned the Papal Bull ; how he 
gave the New Testament to the people in their own 
language ; and how he " shook the world," every one 

Coleridge slightly, but only slightly, exaggerates 


when he says that " Luther did as much for the 
Reformation by his hymns as by his translation of 
the Bible." 

^'The hymns of Luther have destroyed more souls 
than his writings and sermons," is the view taken by a 
Romanist writer. " It is my intention," says he to his 
friend Spalatin, '' after the example of the prophets and 
the ancient fathers, to make German psalms for the 
people ; that is, spiritual songs, whereby the Word of 
God may be kept alive among them by singing. We 
seek, therefore, everywhere for poets. . . . 

" But I desire that all new-fangled words from the 
Court should be left out ; that the words might be all 
quite plain and common, such as the common people 
may understand, yet pure, and skilfully handled."* 

Luther wrote in all nearly forty hymns. Many he 
translated from Latin sources. He invited two cele- 
brated choirmasters to live with him and assist him in 
recasting the Liturgy for the Reformed Church. 

He and his " house-choir " ransacked the ancient 
stores of sacred music, and adapted for common use 
many chorales, Latin and German. Several he himself 
composed, one of lasting fame, to which his own hymn, 

"A safe stronghold our God is still," 
is sung. 

He kept four printers at Erfurt busy producing and 
publishing his hymns. " The whole people," said a 
Romanist with bitter dismay, ''are singing themselves 
into this Lutheran doctrine." 

* Miss Winkworth. 



The grandest of his hymns, bidding defiance to all 
opposing hosts, blowing the trumpet-blast of the 
Reformation, is a translation of the forty-sixth Psalm — 

" Ein feste Burg ist iinser Gott," 
translated in rugged lines by Carlyle : 

" A safe stronghold our God is still, 
A trusty shield and weapon." 

There is some support for the belief that it was 
written on his way to Worms, to the epoch-making 

The Emperor Charles V. had summoned him to 
appear and recant. His friends urged him not to go. 
His answer, sent to Spalatin, is a memorable one : — 
'' If there were as many devils in Worms as there 
are tiles on the roofs, I would go and not be afraid. 
If Huss was burnt to ashes, the truth was not burnt 
with him." The resemblance of these words to the 
third verse of his hymn — 

"And were this world all devils o'er," etc., 

gives colour to the common belief as to the occasion of 
its composition. 

Heine has well called it "The Marseillaise of the 
Reformation." Over his grave at Wittenberg the first 
line is carved as his epitaph. 

More popular even than this hymn was his second, 
his Gospel one. It crystallized the central truths of 
the Evangelical faith : 

" Dear Christian people, now rejoice." 
We are told that " a number of princes belonging to 


the reformed religion being assembled at Frankfort, 
they wished to have an evangelical service in the 
Church of St. Bartholomew. A large congregation 
gathered, but the pulpit was occupied by a Roman 
Catholic priest, who proceeded to preach according to 
his own views. After listening for some time in 
indignant silence, the whole congregation rose and 
began to sing this hymn, till they fairly sang the 
priest out of church." 


lived through a terrible pestilence which ravaged the 
town in Westphalia of which he was pastor. Over a 
thousand of the dead passed his window to the ceme- 
tery. These saddening sights made him think much 
of death and heaven, and coloured his writings. 
Two of his hymns have become popular, one : 

" Wake, awake, the night is flying." 

He composed a chorale for this hymn, which appears 
in Mendelssohn's St. Paul, 

3. GusTAVus Adolphus, 

the hero of the Thirty Years' War, had come from 
Sweden to the rescue of the Protestant forces. Before 
the great battle of Leipsic he had given " God with 
us" to his troops as their battle-cry. When the battle 
was won he wrote his triumphal hymn : 

" Fear not, O little flock, the foe," / 


the last stanza of which points to the watchword of the 

" God is with us, we are His own, 
Our victory cannot fail." 

A year later we find him leading on his troops to 
meet Wallenstein, singing his own hymn and Luther's, 
" A safe stronghold." It was the fatal fight of Lutzen, 
in which the hero, the Lion af the North, fell. 


The Thirty Years' War, with its horrors and long- 
drawn miseries, produced many other celebrated 

One by Rinckart, pastor at Eilenburg, is introduced 
by Mendelssohn into his Hymn oj Praise. It has been 
called the German " Te Deum " : 

" Now thank we all our God, 
With hearts and hands and voices." 

This great hymn had a remarkable origin. The 
story is told in full in The Sunday at Home (August 

The long war with pestilence and famine had ravaged 
Eilenburg. Its remaining inhabitants were in despair. 

Rinckart was sitting at his study window one day 
watching the white snow which lay thick on road and 
roof, and threatened to deepen the people's distress. 

'' Suddenly the sound of a trumpet struck his ear. 
^Just God/ cried the clergyman, 'more foreign 
soldiers ; what will become of us ? We have not 

Hymns of the reformation. 155 

enough to satisfy our own hunger ; and now these 
foreigners will take from our mouths the last morsel 
of bread.' 

"Again the trumpet sounded, and now much nearer 
than before. At the same moment Rinckart's faithful 
wife entered the room, and in spite of her advanced 
age, came up to him with unwonted speed. ' You are 
sitting here, Martin, meditating, while out there — out 
in the street — all the people are hurrying and crowding 
round the horseman. Go and see what news the man 
brings. It must be something extraordinary, for the 
people are all rejoicing.' 

" The old man now rose and placed his little satin 
cap on his head : ' What will it be ? ' he replied, with 
a mournful shake of the head. ' The news of some 
victory, of some fresh bloodshed. When will the 
scourge be ended ? When will men leave off murder- 
ing one another ? The poor victims are equally to be 
pitied whether the trumpeter wears the Imperial or the 
Swedish uniform.' 

'' ' You are wrong, Martin. It is a Saxon soldier, 
probably sent by our gracious Elector from his palace 
at Torgau.' 

*' Rinckart hastened to the door. He found the street 
all in a state of joyful excitement, the people fell weep- 
ing into his arms. For the trumpeter had brought the 
news that peace had been concluded on October 24th, 
at Munster in Westphalia. He had been commissioned 
by the Elector to convey the joyful tidings to the Council 
and the University of Leipsic, and then to proceed to all 



the principal towns, to make known the great news 

'' While the trumpeter, followed by the people, moved 
on, Rinckart returned to his study and offered up a 
sile«t prayer of thanksgiving to heaven. Then he opened 
his Bible, and his eye fell on the twenty-second verse 
of the fiftieth chapter of the apocryphal book of Ecclesi- 
asticus, * Nun danket alle Gott, der grosse Dinge 
thut an alien Enden.' ' Now, therefore, bless ye the God 
of ally which only doeth wondrous things everywhere, 
which exalteth our days from the womb, and dealeth with 
us according to His mercies. He grant us joyfulness 
of heart and that peace may be in our days in Israel for 

" Urged on, as it were, by an invisible power, he sat 
down at his writing table, and as though the angel of 
peace who had at last overcome the demon of war were 
whispering in his ear, verse by verse the hymn of 
thanksgiving rose from the very depth of his heart : 

" ' Nun danket alle Gott 

Mit Herzen, Mund und Handen.' 

" ' Now thank we all our God, 
With hearts and hands and voices, 

Who wondrous things hath done, 
In Whom His world rejoices ; 

Who from our mothers' arms 

Hath blessed us on our way 

With countless gifts of love, 

And still is ours to-day,' " 

And as he wrote the last line, a soft melody seemed to 



Strike his ear. Again he took up his pen, and in a few 
minutes he had committed to paper the air so simple 
and so wonderfully inspiriting. 

'' The horseman had meanwhile dismounted, but the 
inhabitants of the town, full of joyful emotion, gathered 
in front of the Pfarrhaus and waited for their minister. 
He came out to them in his clerical robes, and in 
earnest words the venerable man praised Providence 
for their deliverance ; then with all his flock he knelt 
down, and drawing from his pocket the hymn he had 
just composed, he began to sing it. For the first time, 
the new-born tune sounded from the lips of the old 
man, and when he ended, those present, deeply moved 
and grateful, surrounded their faithful minister and 
grasped his hand." 

The famine was ended, the strain relaxed ; but the 
prolonged suffering and struggle had left him in 
shattered health, and within a year he was buried 
amidst the raining tears of the devoted population. 

J by his essays, 



ENGLISH poets who have contributed to the praise 
' of the Church — besides Cowper (p. 195) — 
are Milton, Dryden, Sir Walter Scott, Addison, and 
Kirke White. 

It will be enough, in the case of such great names, 
to mention merely their contributions to our Hymnals. 

1. Milton 

has one hymn in common use — 

'• Let us with a gladsome mind 
Praise the Lord, for He is kind." 

He wrote it when only fifteen years of age, when at 
St. Paul's School. It is based on Psalm cxxxvi., and, 
entire, consists of twenty-four stanzas. 

2. Dryden 

appears only as a translator. '^ Veni Creator Spiritus," 
attribu^'"^ to Gregory the Great (p. 137), he has done 

And as he wrote^reator Spirit, by Whose aid." 



Dryden, however, contributed more to irreligion than 
to Christianity. He led the movement of the latter half 
of the seventeenth century against Puritanism and 
towards license and impiety. 

His religious opinions, if he had any sincere opinions, 
may be gathered from his controversial allegory called 
the " Hind and Panther." The Roman Catholic Church 
he represents as a Hind. 

"A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchanged, 
Fed on the lawns, and in the forest ranged : 
Without unspotted, innocent within, 
She feared no danger, for she knew no sin." 

The Church of England appears as the Panther : 

" The Panther, sure the noblest next the Hind, 
And fairest creature of the spotted kind ; 
Oh, could her inborn stains be washed away, 
She were too good to be a beast of prey ! " 

The Bear is the emblem of the Independents, the Hare 
of the Quakers, the Ape of the Freethinkers, the Wolf 
of the Presbyterians. 

3. Addison. 

Joseph Addison, the greatest of English essayists, 
is found also among the hymn-writers. His Roman 
drama Cato contains one passage well known, on the 
Immortality of the Soul : 

" It must be so ; Plato, thou reasonest well. 
Else whence," etc. 

It was in the Spectator^ made immortal by his essays, 


that his hymns appeared. He has at least five, of 
which three are well known. 

"When all Th}'' mercies, O my God," 

originally in thirteen stanzas, in connection with which 
Addison observes : '' If gratitude is due from man to 
man, how much more from man to his Maker ? Any 
blessing we enjoy, by what means soever derived, is 
the gift of Him Who is the great Author of Good 
and the Father of Mercies." 

" How are Thy servants blest, O Lord ! 
How sure is their defence ! " 

published in the Spectator in 17 12. This piece is 
described as the production of "a gentleman at the 
conclusion of his travels." 

Addison had set sail from Marseilles on a foreign 
tour. While near the coast of Italy, a "dreadful 
tempest bore him high on the broken wave." Others 
gave up all hope. The captain, in despair, was making 
confession of his sins to a Capuchin friar. Addison 
calmed himself with writing this hymn, partly descrip- 
tive, partly devotional. Hence these verses : 

" When by the dreadful tempest borne 
High on the broken wave, 
They know Thou art not slow to hear, 
Nor impotent to save." 

Another hymn, included in those mysterious pieces 
which stole in at the end of the Scotch " Paraphrases," 
marches with a splendid tread : 


" The spacious firmament on high, 
And all the blue ethereal sky." 

It is based on Ps. xix. 

Addison died at Holland House, saying to the Earl 
of Warwick : '* See in what peace a Christian can 
die ! " 

4. Sir Walter Scott 

has only one hymn, its subject the Pilgrimage of the 
IsraeHtes : 

" When Israel, of the Lord beloved. 

Out from the land of bondage came, 
Her father's God before her moved, 
An awful Guide in smoke and flame.'' 

The story of his life, its romance, its heroism, must be 
sought in the history of English literature. 

5. Henry Kirke White. 

After young Kirke White's death, there was found 
written on the back of one of his mathematical exercise 
papers the celebrated war-song of the Christians : 

" Much in sorrow, oft in woe, 

Onward, Christians, onward go ! 
Fight the fight though worn with strife. 
Strengthened with the bread of life." 

While still a boy in a humble home in Nottingham, 
he exhibited poetical tastes and gifts. At fifteen he 
succeeded in gaining a silver medal for a translation 
from Horace, and at nineteen published his first volume 
of poems. 



His parents spent themselves in the endeavour to 
foster his talents and give him an education. For this 
purpose his mother herself opened a school. Through 
the temporary failure of some of these schemes he had 
to work at a stocking loom. From that position he 
entered a law office in Enfield. 

As an instance of the univers:d aptitude of this 
Admirable Crichton, we are told that, while a law 
student, he taught himself Chemistry, Astronomy, and 
Electricity, practised Music and Drawing, and learnt 
four languages. 

His companions were mostly deists and infidels. 
One of them, however, experienced a saving change, 
and during walks and talks with Kirke White was led 
to see the truth and beauty of the Christian life. There- 
after he became anxious to study for the ministry. 

Through the aid of the Rev. Charles Simeon and the 
illustrious missionary Henry Martyn, Kirke White was 
able in 1804 to go to Cambridge. 

For two years he was the first man of his year. 
But, like so many of nature's gifted sons, excessive 
study and hardship proved too much for his weak 
constitution, and in 1806 he died of consumption. 

The author of this inspiring hymn was thus only 
twenty-two years of age when he was removed to a 
higher ministry. Only ten lines of the hymn are from 
his hand. It was left unfinished, and has been com- 
pleted by Miss Maitland. He was the writer of ten 
other hymns, and is best known as a poet by his epic 


I. Lyte. 

LYTE'S birthplace was Kelso, where another great 
hymn-writer — Dr. Horatius Bonar — lived and 
wrote and preached for about thirty years. 

He was a clergyman of the Church of England for 
some years before he passed through any change of 
heart. He was suddenly sent for to stand by the 
death-bed of a neighbouring clergyman, who was 
aware that he would soon be dead, and knew as well 
that he was totally unprepared for the change. Both 
were equally in the dark, and together they turned 
to St. Paul's Epistles in search of peace and hope. 
Together they found what they sought. The one died, 
as his companion afterwards wrote of him, — " died happy 
under the belief that, though he had deeply erred, there 
was One Whose death and sufferings would atone for 
his delinquencies, and be accepted for all that he had 

Lyte confesses : " I was greatly affected by the whole 
matter, and brought to look at life and its issue with 
a different eye than before ; and I began to study my 


Bible and preach in another manner than I had 
previously done." 

So deeply touched was he by this loss, that he took 
charge of the children left by his departed friend ; and 
thus took heav}^ burdens and responsibilities on a 
frame already too weak. 

He says himself that he '* was jostled from one 
curacy to another." It was on the south coast, at 
Lower Brixham in Devonshire, that his hymns were 
written. He '* made hymns for his little ones, and 
hymns for his hardy fishermen, and hymns for 
sufferers like himself." 

His people were a hardy but rough sea- faring folk, 
and not able to appreciate his tender yet lofty spirit. 
But in this he took up his cross bravely, and he was 
but expressing his own practice when he sang in one 
of his hymns : 

" Jesus, I my cross have taken." 

That prayerful, restful hymn, 

"Abide with me! fast falls the eventide," 

was written under the following circumstances. 

His health had been steadily declining, and the 
climate of his parish was declared to be injurious. 
When this was announced to him, he wrote : " I hope 
not, for I know no divorce I should more deprecate 
than from the ocean. From childhood it has been 
my friend and playmate, and I have never been weary 
of gazing on its glorious face." 

He was compelled to prepare for a sojourn in a 


southern and warmer climate. "The swallows," he 
says, '^are preparing for flight, and inviting me to 
accompany them ; and yet, alas ! while I talk of flying, 
I am just able to crawl, and ask myself whether I shall 
be able to leave England at all." 

Although so feeble, he sought to meet his people 
once more, and celebrate the Lord's Supper and leave 
some parting words. " I stand before you seasonably 
to-day, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to impress it 
upon you, and induce you to prepare for that solemn hour 
which must come to all, by a timely acquaintance with, 
appreciation of, and dependence on, the death of Christ." 

After the Sacrament, Lyte dragged his weary frame 
to his room, and he remained there for a long time. 
The same evening he handed to a relative this hymn in 
its original eight stanzas. No doubt he had been at 
work that afternoon soothing his own mind into peace 
by writing this hymn. He was thinking, not of the 
evening hours of the day, so much as of the eventide 
of life, when he wrote '' Fast falls the eventide," etc., 
" Hold Thou Thy cross," etc. 

He went to Nice, and died there, pointing upward 
and whispering, " Peace ! joy ! " His was a calm and 
beautiful eventide. 

A certain Dr. Baker, when at Nice, went to see Lyte's 
grave, and found a young man standing by the spot, 
under deep emotion, tears of gratitude falling. To 
Lyte he owed his hope in God, his salvation — emblem 
of many thousands who have been soothed and calmed 
even in sorrow as they sang this hymn. 


He says, in a little poem called Declining Days : 

" Might verse of mine inspire 
One virtuous aim, one high resolve impart — 
Light in one drooping soul a hallowed fire, 
Or bind one broken heart, 

" Death would be sweeter then, 
More calm my slumber 'neath the silent sod ; 
Might I thus live to bless my fellow-men 

Or glorify my God." 


" O Thou ! Whose touch can lend 
Life to the dead, Thy quickening grace supply ; 
And grant me, swan-like, my last breath to spend 
In song that may not die." 

He has had his wish in the immortality of " Abide 
with Me." 

2. Ken. 

Bishop Ken is the author of the Protestant *'Te 
Deum," distinguished as "The Doxology," 

" Praise God from Whom all blessings flow." 

These lines are sung more frequently and more widely 
than any other sacred stanza. They formed the close 
of both of his great hymns ; namely, for the morning — 

" Awake, my soul, and with the sun 
Thy daily stage of duty run ; " 

and for the evening — 

" All praise to Thee, my God, this night, 
For all the blessings of the light.' 


These hymns have an interesting history. Ken, who 
had been a scholar at Winchester College, after gra- 
duating at Oxford became a Fellow of Winchester, and 
wrote a Manual of Prayers for the use of its scholars. 
These hymns, along with another — for "midnight" — 
were appended to a later edition of the Manual. But 
even prior to publication, they were, it is believed, 
hung as broadsheets on the walls of the bedrooms of 
the Winchester boys. 

All three — morning, evening, and midnight — can be 
traced to Latin sources. They are not translations, but 
probably are the fruit of influences received by their 
author at Winchester, where the college exercises in- 
cluded the singing of the '^Jam lucis orto siderey 
" Awake, my soul " would thus be suggested by " A 
solus ortus cardine ;'^ " All praise to Thee" by *' Te lucis 
ante ierminumy 

They are associated with the famous Thumb Bible, " 
— an abstract of the Bible prepared by Jeremy Taylor 
for one of the royal children. In this miniature Bible, 
Ken's hymns are printed, with the lines, however, 
extended to ten syllables. The process weakened the 
hymns ; e.g. : 

'• Forgive me, dearest Lord, for Thy dear Son, 
The many ills that 1 this day have done, 
That with the world, myself, and then with Thee, 
I, ere I sleep, at perfect peace may be." 

Both of his hymns were written to be sung to Tallis's 
Canon. He had musical skill, played on the organ, 
having one in his room at Winchester ; every morning 


sang his Morning Hymn, accompanying himself on 
the lute. 

Ken's life was an eventful one. Early left an orphan, 
his education was directed by his sister, afterwards the 
wife of Izaak Walton, author of the Compleat Angler. 
After passing through Winchester and Oxford, and 
enjoying various benefices, he was made chaplain to 
Charles II. Ken was faithful in his dealings with the 
king, strove to awaken his conscience, and attended him 
on his death-bed, urging him to receive the Sacrament. 

In 1684 he was raised to the Episcopal Bench as 
Bishop of Bath and Wells. Seven years later he was 
removed from his See, and sent to the Tower for refusing 
to read the " Declaration of Indulgence." Queen Anne, 
however, relieved his later life by giving him ;^200 a 
year as a pension. Buried at his own request ^* under 
the east window of the chancel just at sun-rising," 
his friends appropriately sang his own favourite lines : 
" Awake, my soul." 

Lord Houghton (Monckton Milnes), touched by 
the incident, has written lines upon his tomb from 
which the following is an extract : 

" These signs of him that slumbers there 

The dignity betoken ; 
These iron bars a heart declare 

Hard bent, but never broken ; 
This form portrays how souls like his, 

Their pride and passion quelling, 
Preferred to earth's high palaces 

This calm and narrow dwelling." 

To relieve his weariness, the exiled bishop wrote 


verses which he called Anodynes. They were com- 
posed during the sleepless hours of night, when pain 
tortured him : 

•' Pain keeps me waking in the night ; 
I longing lie for morning light : 
Methinks the sluggish sun 
Forgets he this day's course must run. 

heavenly torch ! why this delay 
In giving us our wonted day ? 

1 feel my watch, I tell my clock, 

I hear each crowing of the cock." 

Pie had his watch so constructed that by his finger he 
could '' discern the time to half a quarter of an hour." 
Dryden made him his model of his ''good parson " : 

" Letting down the golden chain from high, 
He drew his audience upwards to the sky : 
And oft with holy hymns he charmed their ears ; 
(A music more melodious than the spheres :) 
For David left him, when he went to rest, 
His l)Te : and after him he sung the best." 



I. Watts. 

ISAAC WATTS was born at Southampton in 1674, 
where his father was a deacon in an Inde- 
pendent Church, and conducted a successful boarding 
school. It was the age when Dissenters paid heavy 
penalties for their nonconformity. Both the deacon 
and his pastor were locked up in prison, and the 
deacon's wife, with the infant Isaac in her arms, used 
to come on sunny days, and sit on a stone near the 
cell where her husband was confined, to cheer him by 
singing to him through the bars. 

But, though his father was imprisoned more than 
once, young Watts' education was not neglected. At 
four, he was learning Latin. His mother used to 
employ the pupils after school hours in writing verse. 
The reward offered was a little copper medal. Master 
Isaac, then eight, won a prize by this rather saucy 
couplet : 

" I write not for a farthing, but to try 
How I your farthing writers can outvie. 


Thus early his mind was poetical ; he " lisped in 

At fifteen he passed through the great change, the 
heart change. So intensely had he studied, and so 
promising was his scholarship, that at sixteen a friend 
offered to give him a university education if he would 
renounce Dissent. The offer was rejected, and he 
studied for the Congregational ministry. 

At this time some congregations had no sacred song 
in their services. The Southampton congregation, 
however, sang praise ; but the jaw-breaking lines of 
Sternhold and Hopkins, or the jolting measures of 
Nahum Tate, did not please one young worshipper 
there, the future poet. When he complained on the 
subject one morning, he received the retort from one 
of the deacons, ''Give us something better, young 
man." He accepted the challenge ; and forthwith he 
produced a hymn which was sung, line by line being 
read, by the congregation. It was the h3aTin : 

"Behold the glories of the Lamb 
Amidst His Father's throne 
Prepare new honours for His name, 
And songs before unknown." 

The compilers of the Scottish Paraphrases^ in 1745, 
combined this hymn with another that came later from 
Watts' pen : 

" Come, let us join our cheerful songs 
With angels round the throne." 

This combination was amended and improved by 


another hand (Rev. W. Cameron, of Kirknewton), and 
in this shape formed the sixty-fifth Paraphrase : 

" Come, let us join our cheerful songs," 

"Hark how the adorhig host above." 

Strange to say, this innovation was cordially re- 
ceived by the congregation, and young Watts was 
urged to write other hymns. For two years a new 
one was sung each Sunday in that church. He was 
thus, as the poet Montgomery has called him, "the 
inventor of hymns in our language." There had been 
occasional and solitary sacred pieces before him of 
intrinsic value, but " he struck the Meribah-rock of 
melody and the waters continued to gush forth." 

His verses were published in several volumes in 
successive years, and won immense popularity. 

In the second collection — called Hymns and Spiritual 
Songs — were many of his best ; while in the third — 
entitled The Psalms of David imitated in the Language 
oj the New Testament — amongst others was the famous 
version of the Hundredth Psalm. It began : 

" Sing to the Lord with joyful voice, 
Let every land His name adore ; 
The British Isles shall send the noise 
Across the ocean to the shore." 

John Wesley left out this verse, and altered the 
first lines of the next verse, which ran : 

" Nations attend before His throne 
With solemn fear with sacred joy, 



" Before Jehovah's awful throne," etc., 

an alteration and improvement adopted in most 

When Commodore Perry anchored the American 
fleet off Japan, and demanded the opening of the ports 
to commerce, Divine Service was held on the flag- 
ship, and the chaplain, within sight of thousands upon 
the shore, gave out this hymn to be sung. The 
marine band struck up the notes of Old Himdredth^ 
and the natives of that empire, where Christian 
civilization was so soon to win such conquests, 
beheld and heard the worship of One Who was yet 
to be King of all nations. 

The mechanical execution of many of his hymns 
is very imperfect ; some of the rhymes are excru- 
ciating. The sentiment, too, is at times ascetic, 
monastic, as when he writes : 

^' Lord, what a wretched land is this," 

— a libel on nature, art, and human love, and life's 
delights. But the Church had not in his time rid 
itself of this monkish estimate of this world. 

Watts had been, before entering on his ministry 
in Mark Lane, tutor to the children of a certain knight 
at Newington. It was thus that he got his knowledge 
of children — for he died a bachelor— and thus in later 
life he wrote those hymns which as children we used 
to sing. True, we think we have something better 
for our children than — 


" How doth the little busy bee 
Improve each shinmg hour," 


" Let dogs delight to bark and bite 
For God has made them so," etc. 

But they served their day and deserve honour 

Millions of copies of his Divine Songs for Children 
v^ere circulated ; they became the favourites in school 
and nursery ; were for many years the only book of 
praise used in Scottish Sunday Schools, being even 
printed on the fly-leaves of the Catechism. 

It is said that — 

'* There is a land of pure delight, 

Where saints immortal reign," etc., 

was written when the author was twenty-one or 
twenty-two years old ; that it was suggested by the 
view across the Southampton Water — the " narrow 
sea " with its '' swelling flood," beyond which lie the 
" sweet fields " and '' living green " of New Forest. 

He has not given us hymns so dear to the heart 
as Toplady's '^ Rock of Ages," or Wesley's " Jesus, 
lover of my soul ; " but he has soared to the highest 
regions of spiritual devotion in such hymns as : 

•' When I survey the wondrous cross." 

Mrs. Evans — the '' Dinah Morris " of Adam Bede, 
whose prayer on the village green we all remember in 
George Eliot's story — was a female preacher at a place 
near Matlock. We are told that she lived to a great 



age, and in her last illness — in great pain, but in great 
peace and happiness — she soothed herself by singing : 

" See, from His head, His hands, His feet, 
Sorrow and love flow mingled down ; 
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, 
Or thorns compose so rich a crown ? " 

Father Ignatius, preaching in a church in Lombard 
Street, gave out this hymn : and when it was ended, 
he slowly repeated the line : 

" Demands my soul, my life, my all," 

and proceeded: ''Well! I am surprised to hear you 
sing that. Did you know that altogether you only put 
fifteen shillings into the collection this morning ? " 

" Jesus shall reign where'er the sun " 

was sung on the occasion on which King George the 
Sable gave a new Constitution to his people, exchanging 
a heathen for a Christian form of government. Under 
the spreading branches of the banyan trees sat some 
five thousand natives from Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, 
on Whit Sunday, 1862, assembled for Divine worship. 
Foremost sat King George. Around him were ranged 
old chiefs and warriors, who had shared with him the 
dangers and fortunes of many a battle. Old and young 
rejoiced together in the joys of that day. It would be 
impossible to describe the deep feeling manifested 
when the solemn service began by the audience 
singing : 

" Jesus shall reign where'er the sun." 


In the Sunday at Home plebiscite, Watts had a larger 
number — five — in the favourite hundred than had any 
other author. The Paraphrases contain twenty-two of 
his hymns. 

Dr. Watts went to spend a week at Sir Thomas 
Abney's at Stoke Newington, but, instead of a week, he 
stayed under this kind and hospitable roof for thirty- 
five years. His body rests in Abney Park ; and his 
tomb bears the simple, truthful eulogy : 

" Isaac Watts, the Father of the English Hymn.' 

2. Doddridge. 

Philip Doddridge was a descendant of a Bohemian 
refugee who had found shelter in England from perse- 
cution at Prague. He was born in London nearly two 
centuries ago (1702). His biographer says, that at his 
birth '' he was thrown aside as dead ; " but kind and 
pious parents sheltered and nourished his feeble child- 
hood. At thirteen he was left an orphan. 

Hearing of his wish to enter the ministry, the 
Duchess of Bedford offered to educate him at her own 
cost, and find him a living in the Church of England. 
Like young Isaac Watts in a similar position, he 
declined the offer, being by conviction as well as 
upbringing a Dissenter. 

Most of his ministerial life was spent at Northampton, 
where he was also the Principal of a Theological Col- 
lege. The fame of his lectures drew students from all 
quarters and from other countries ; and the University 
of Aberdeen conferred the degree of D.D. upon him. 


He is known to-day both as an author and as a hymn- 

As an author, his most famous work is his Rise and 
Progress of Religion in the Soul. It held an honoured 
place on the shelves of our fathers, and we may re- 
member seeing it in our early days side by side with 
Boston's Fourfold State. A century ago it was one of 
the most popular volumes among earnest people. 

Wilberforce read it, and became a new man in 
Christ, afterwards writing his Practical View of Chris- 
tianity. Wilberforce's book found its way into the 
manse at Kilmany in Scotland, into the hands of 
a minister who was preaching, not the Gospel, but 
morahty. God used it to open the eyes and change 
the heart of that preacher, by name Thomas Chalmers 
— afterwards, as Dr. Chalmers, to be one of the 
most mighty influences in the religious life of his 

This is the true Apostolic Succession, the mantle of 
truth and influence passing down from one heart to 

He is best known to us, however, as a writer ot 

They appear to have been first circulated in MS., and 
not printed till 1755. It was probably through the 
circulation of some of his hymns in MS. that they 
were embodied in the Paraphrases^ which were firs 
printed in 1745. 

His family crest bore the motto " Dum vivimus 
vivamus " — '' While we live, let us live " — and upon it 



he wrote lines which Samuel Johnson called "the best 
epigram in the English language : " 

" ' Live while you live,' the Epicure will say, 
' And take the pleasure of the passing day ; ' 
' Live while you live,' the sacred Preacher cries, 
' And give to God each moment as it flies.' 
Lord, in my views, let both united be ; 
1 live in pleasure when I live to Thee." 

Travelling to preach the funeral sermons of Dr. 
Samuel Clarke, he caught the cold that induced his 
death. He was too poor to go abroad at his own 
expense. A Church of England clergyman proposed 
that a subscription should be raised. The Countess 
of Huntingdon, ever his friend, contributed ;^I00. He 
sought a warmer climate, reached Lisbon, but had been 
there only a fortnight when, in 175 1, he died. 

He wrote three hundred and seventy-four hymns. 
In his Works they are classified in the order of the 
books of the Bible, according to the text which supplied 
the theme. 

One of his hymns, not in general use, 

" Awake, my soul, to meet the day," 

he repeated to himself every morning as he rose. At 
five o'clock he prepared to leave his bed, repeating five 
stanzas before doing so; at the sixth he rose and 
dressed ! 

That hymn is no longer in use. Advocating early 
rising, it is not likely to be widely popular in these 
days ! 

His hymns are good, sound, pious songs of praise. 


But he made no claim to be a poet. They are without 
genius, and are of unequal merit ; rising in some verses 
to the heights of devotion, sinking in others to prosaic 
statements. In his case, the menders of hymns have 
improved upon the original. 
In the hymn — 

" Hark the glad sound ! the Saviour comes,' 

Doddridge says that the idea in the fourth verse- 
" He comes the prisoners to release "' — 

was borrowed from Pope's lines on the Messiah : 

" Hear Him, ye deaf; and, all ye blind, behold: 
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray, 
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day." 

The hymn — 

" O happy day that fixed my choice ! '' 

is, in some of the Church of England Hymnals, used 
for Confirmations. We are told that, at the request of 
the Queen and Prince Albert, it was sung at the con- 
firmation of one of the royal children. A newspaper 
correspondent, in reporting the circumstance, stated 
that the hymn, 

" O happy day that fixed my choice ! " 

was composed for the occasion by Tennyson, the Poet 
Laureate ! and added that, if he could write nothing 
better than this, it was time to consider whether he 
should continue to receive national pay. 


" O God of Bethel, by Whose hand 
Thy people still are fed/' 

was written to be sung after a sermon which Doddridge 
preached on ^'Jacob's Vow." It is found in an altered 
form in Logan's Poems, and is also among the Scotch 
Paraphrases. As written, it ran : 

" O God of Bethel, by Whose hand 
Thine Israel still is fed."' 

This hymn is associated with David Livingstone. 
He had learnt it among the Paraphrases, and it re- 
mained fixed in his memory. It became his favourite 
piece in his wanderings in Africa, and it was sung 
when he was buried, in April 1874, in Westminster 




AUGUSTUS M. TOPLADY, a native of Surrey, 
was, like C. Wesley, educated at Westminster 
School. At the age of sixteen he had gone to Ireland 
to aid his widowed mother in claiming an estate. 
He strolled into a barn at Codymain, where a layman 
was preaching a homely sermon from the text, "Ye 
who sometime were afar off are made nigh by the 
blood of Christ." 

It was a red-letter day in his soul's history. Of 
this occasion he wrote afterwards : '* Strange that I, 
who had so long sat under the means of grace in 
England, should be brought near to God in an obscure 
part of Ireland, amidst a handful of God's people, 
met together in a barn, and under the ministry of 
one who could hardly spell his name." 

No small encouragement to humble workers ! A 
hymn that has been an inexpressible blessing to 
mankind can be traced back to a poor, stumbling, 
illiterate speaker in a barn in a remote Irish hamlet. 


Toplady entered Trinity College, Dublin, and 
during his undergraduate career seems to have written 
numerous small pieces of verse, which he published. 
Only one or two of the hundred and five are remem- 
bered to-day. 

At his Ordination, in subscribing to the Articles^ 
Homilies, and Liturgy^ he wrote his signature five 
times, to show his hearty acceptance of them. 

It was in Devonshire, as Vicar of Broad Hembury, 
that he spent most of his ministerial life, "passing 
rich on eighty pounds a year." 

But he was delicate and sickly. His mind was too 
active for his body ; the engine too powerful for the 
ship. Unable for duty, he removed to London, became 
associated with the Countess of Huntingdon as minister 
of Leicester Fields, and drew such multitudes, that not 
a fourth part of the people could be accommodated 
in the chapel. At times no fewer than thirteen 
hundred horses used by the worshippers were turned 
into adjoining fields. 

But consumption soon laid him low again. During 
his illness he wrote and sent to Lady Huntingdon the 
piece — not a hymn, but a sacred poem — entitled 
" The Dying Believer to his Soul " : — 

" Deathless principle, arise : 
Soar, thou native of the skies." 

When near his end, he was told that his heart was 
beating weaker and weaker. He replied with a smile : 
" Why, that is a good sign that my death is fast 


approaching ; and, blessed be God, I can add that 
my heart beats every day stronger and stronger for 

" It will not be long before God takes me, for no 
mortal can live," said he, bursting into tears, '' after 
the glories which God has manifested to my soul." 

He was only thirty-eight when he died, just about 
a hundred years ago. 

His hymns appeared first in the Gospel Magazine^ 
a magazine which espoused the cause of Calvinism. 
For a time he was its editor. It was here that the 

" Your harps, ye trembling saints, 
Down from the willows take," 

appeared under the heading '' Weak Believers en- 
couragedy Also one entitled ^^ Happiness found :'^ 

" Object of my first desire." 

The first verse of the hymn, as Toplady wrote it, is 
never used in hymn books. It ran thus : — 

•' Happiness, thou lovely name, 
Where thy seat, oh ! tell me where ? 
Learning, pleasure, wealth, and fame, 
All cry out, ' It is not here,' " etc. 

A bitter controversy had arisen between Toplady 
the stern Calvinist and Wesley the Arminian. They 
flung angry, almost slanderous epithets at each other. 
Toplady was specially indignant at the doctrine of 
perfection supposed to be held by Wesley. 


Curious that the most precious hymn ever written 
should bear a reference to this controversy, namely, 

" Rock of Ages," 

which appeared under the title, ^^ A Living or Dying 
Prayer for the Holiest Believer in the IVorld.'* 

This was a sly hint that even the "holiest believer" 
— perfectionist or not — could and must be able to 
use the language of this hymn ; no one too holy 
to employ it. 

It is a curious bit of irony, and a strange com- 
mentary on that angry controversy, that this hymn 
is to be found in every Wesleyan hymn book to-day ; 
and its authorship was even attributed to Charles 
Wesley — and this by an eminent Wesleyan, Richard 
Watson ! 

When Calvinists and Arminians come to pray or 
write hymns of devotion, it is impossible to tell 
which is Calvinist and which Arminian. 

*'Rock of Ages" might quite well have been written 
by C. Wesley, and '' Jesus, Lover of my soul " by 
Toplady. Will not the voices of all Christians of 
all names blend just thus above in the grand chorus 
sung to the Lamb that was slain ? 

The editors of the Sunday at Home issued to their 
readers an invitation in their January number, 1887, 
to send lists of the hundred best hymns. In the 
May number the result was tabulated. Between 
three thousand four hundred and three thousand 
five hundred lists were received, and '^ Rock of 


Ages " topped the poll with three thousand two 
hundred and fifteen votes. The second in favour 
was "Abide with me;" the third, ''Jesus, Lover 
of my soul ; " the fourth, " Just as I am," etc. ; the 
fifth, " How sweet the name of Jesus sounds ; " the 
sixth, " My God, my Father, while I stray." 

We are not surprised that " Rock of Ages" should 
be the best-loved hymn in the language. It is not 
by any means the most perfect in poetical form ; 
but it directs the heart at its most critical and 
most anxious hour, its most momentous experience. 
It certainly confuses metaphors, the " pierced side " 
changing to " the riven rock/' which is at once a 
"hiding-place" and a " cleansing fountain." But few 
notice or care to remember these peccadilloes, for 
we love the hymn too dearly to pick tiny holes in 
its phraseology. 

In Mr. Gladstone's Latin translation there is no 
phrase corresponding to " Rock of Ages," no corre- 
sponding metaphor : 

" Jesus pro me perforatus 
Condar intra tuum latus." 

In the best and most recent Hymnals the hymn is 
given much as it was written: "riven" is retained 
(not "wounded" substituted); "Foul" (not "vile") 
"I to the fountain fly;" "When I soar through 
tracts unknown " (not " to worlds unknown "). The 
only alteration retained is in the line, " When my 
eyelids close in death," which originally read. 


"When my eyestrings break in death," — referring to 
an old idea that the eyestrings snapped when a 
person died. But there is reason for believing that 
the alteration was accepted by the author. 

Curious that this hymn is the only one of Top- 
lady's that appears among the favourite hundred voted 
by the readers of the Sunday at Home (May 1887), 
or is widely known and loved. He has had one 
hour of lofty illumination ; but only one : one hymn, 
and that the best of all in the language ! 

One is pleased to remember that the respected 
Prince Consort, when on his deathbed, turned to 
this hymn, repeating it constantly. " For," said he, 
'^ if in this hour I had only my worldly honours and 
dignities to depend upon, I should be poor indeed." 

Dr. Pomeroy tells that a few years ago, when in 
an Arminian Church at Constantinople, he observed 
many weeping as they sang, and found on inquiry 
that they were singing a translation of this hymn. 
It has been translated into many languages and 
dialects ; lately into the language spoken round Lake 
Nyassa, by Dr. Laws, of the Livingstonia Mission. 

2. Wesley. 

Charles Wesley was born into a family or suc- 
cession of hymn-writers. His father, the Rector of 
Epworth, was the author of various hymns. One 
of these, written on a piece of music, was rescued 
from the fire which destroyed the parsonage. The 
infant Charles was saved from the flames at the 


same time. He was born into an atmosphere of 
poetry and music. 

He had a narrow escape — what his more famous 
brother called a '' fair escape " — from being a man 
of wealth and rank. A rich namesake, a landed 
proprietor in Ireland who was without an heir, offered 
to adopt him. Although only a schoolboy at West- 
minster, young Wesley had a life-plan, and declined 
the proposal. A cousin was adopted in his stead, 
Richard Colley Wesley, whose son became an earl 
and the father of the Duke of Wellington, who 
changed Wesley into the older form of Wellesley. 

Curious to think of the influence which young 
Charles Wesley's refusal ' of the heirship had upon 
the history of religion in England, upon the sacred 
song of the Church, and upon the military glory of 
Britain under the great Duke. Like Moses, he refused 
to be the heir of a landed proprietor, and chose to 
suffer hardships in the poor parsonage at home, and 
to win his way to spiritual usefulness. 

He had a long and complete classical training ; was 
nine years at Christ Church, Oxford ; became a deft 
master of pure English ; and so was being prepared 
for writing some of our richest and most classic 

At Oxford he began a course of such systematic 
study, such scrupulous regularity in the use of his 
time, and in attendance at the services of the Church, 
that he was nicknamed " Methodist." 

He became the centre of a small ''Society" of 


pious gownsmen. This ** Godly Club " was soon 
joined by John Wesley, whose energy and generalship 
gave it a wider influence. These two were the Moses 
and Aaron of the movement afterwards called " The 
Methodist Revival." 

But thus far neither had learnt the simple Gospel. 
They were intensely religious, but their religion was 
one of rigorous Churchism. 

The brothers went on a mission to Georgia under 
the " Society for the Propagation of the Gospel." 
The life of Charles was attempted more than once, 
and his efforts proved a failure. In feeble health he 
returned to England, during his two months' voyage 
experiencing a terrible storm at sea. The impression 
left on his mind by this voyage led him to write, in 
later years, the hymn to be sung at sea : 

" Throughout the deep Thy footsteps shine, 
We own Thy way is in the sea, 
O'erawed by majesty divine. 
And lost in Thy immensity." 

At home he met many of the godly aristocracy. 
He became tutor to Peter Bohler, a Moravian who 
was preparing to go as a missionary to Georgia. 
The tutor taught his pupil English, and the pupil 
taught his tutor a higher subject. 

Wesley seemed once " on the point to die," and the 
Moravian asked him, " Do you hope to be saved ? " 
Charles answered, '' Yes." " For what reason do you 
hope it ? " " Because I have used my best endeavours 
to serve God." In recounting the event Charles 


Wesley says, " He shook his head and said no more. 
I thought him very uncharitable, saying in my heart : 
Would he rob me of my endeavours ? " But that 
sad, silent, significant shake of the head shattered his 
confidence in his "endeavours." It was left to a 
*' poor ignorant mechanic, who knows nothing but 
Christ," to teach him to hope, not in endeavours, but 
in the merits of a perfect Saviour. 

Curious that Luther On the Galatians was the 
book which brought him most light. This again is 
the Apostolic Succession, the succession of world- 
wide influence. 

It does not fall within the scope of the present 
sketch to tell of all his work as an evangelist, and 
as the founder of Methodist Societies. It is as a 
hymn-writer that we are now studying him. 

Coleridge says of Luther : " He did as much for 
the Reformation by his hymns as by his translation 
of the Bible, for in Germany the hymns are known 
by heart by every peasant. They advise, they argue, 
from the hymns." 

So Charles Wesley sang the Gospel into hundreds 
of hearts that would never have been touched by the 
preaching of his brother. 

George Eliot in Adam Bede describes Seth Bede, 
the village Methodist, as driving away all his griefs 
and perplexities as he strode across the lonely Derby- 
shire moors, on a bright Sunday morning, by singing 
Wesley's '' Morning Hymn : " 

" Christ, Whose glory fills the skies.' 


The same author describes another Methodist, 
Dinah Morris (in Adam Bede), as singing away her 
sorrows with another of Wesley's hymns : 

"Eternal Beam of light divine, 
Fountain of unexhausted love ; 
In Whom the Father's glories shine 
Through earth beneath and Heaven above." 

Wesley had learnt a system of shorthand, and 
usually dashed down his hymns in this shape at 
first, just as they came into his mind. 

It was his habit to carry small cards in his pocket- 
book, on which he wrote down the lines of his hymns 
as they arose in his mind. Many of his verses 
upon Prayer and Communion were composed and 
jotted down immediately after leaving the Prayer 
Meeting and the Communion Table. 

" Often would he get off his horse, throwing the 
reins loose to let the animal graze by the roadside, 
while he sat upon a stone-heap or a stile, and recorded 
in verse the ' experiences ' through which his soul 
had passed in some little conventicle where he had 
been holding forth the Word of Life." 

One of his hymns, not commonly sung, interprets 
a scene at Land's End. There the extreme projection 
of the land stands two hundred feet above the boiling, 
seething waters of the British Channel and the 
Atlantic : 

" Lo ! on a narrow neck of land 
Twixt two unbounded seas I stand." 


The motif of his 

" Oh ! for a thousand tongues to sing 
My dear Redeemer's praise," 

was to commemorate his own conversion. The key- 
note was probably given him by a remark of the 
Moravian missionary, Peter Bohler : ^' Had I a 
thousand tongues I would praise Him with them 

Of his hymns some twenty -two are in common 
use. The most precious, and most famous, however, 
is : 

" Jesus, Lover of my soul." 

The traditional origin of the hymn is that *' Wesley 
was seated at his desk when a bird, pursued by a 
hawk, flew in at the open window. The baffled hawk 
did not dare to follow, and the poet took his pen 
and wrote this immortal song about Christ, the 
Refuge of the soul." 

Few hymns have been such a comfort to the weary 
and dying as this. One could tell many stories 
connected with it. 

Several years ago a ship was burned in the English 
Channel. Among the passengers were a father, 
mother, and their infant daughter. When the alarm 
of fire was given the family became separated in 
the confusion. The father was rescued and taken 
to Liverpool ; but mother and child were carried 
overboard, drifted out of the Channel, the mother 
clinging to a fragment of the wreck, her little one 
clasped to her breast. 


A vessel bound from Newport, Wales, to America, 
was moving slowly on her course. Their attention 
was called to the floating object : there was no ship 
within sight, and they thought it could not be a 
human being. But they sent a boat. As the boat 
approached the floating fragment, suddenly the sound 
of a gentle voice was borne on the breeze, and the 
sailors heard these words sung : 

•' Jesus, Lover of my soul." 

Mother and child were rescued, were afterwards 
conveyed to America, where they found husband and 

Another story is told, and, although evidently 
'* cooked," may well have had something true to 

A party of Northern tourists formed part of a large 
company gathered on the deck of an excursion 
steamer, that was moving slowly down the historic 
Potomac one beautiful evening in the summer of i88i. 
A gentleman had been delighting the party with his 
happy rendering of many familiar hymns, the last 
being the petition, so dear to every loving heart, 
" Jesus, Lover of my soul." 

The singer gave the first two verses with much 
feeling, and a peculiar emphasis upon the concluding 
lines that thrilled every heart. A hush had fallen 
upon the listeners, that was not broken for some 
seconds after the musical notes had died away. 

Then a gentleman made his way from the outskirts 


of the crowd to the side of the singer, and accosted 
him with, " Beg your pardon, sir, but were you 
actively engaged in the late war ? " 

" Yes, sir," the man of song answered courteously ; 
" I fought under General Grant." 

" Well," the first speaker continued, ** I did my 
fighting on the other side, and think — indeed am 
quite sure — I was very near you one bright night 
eighteen years ago this very month. It was much such 
a night as this. If I am not mistaken, you were on 
guard-duty. We of the South had sharp business 
on hand. I crept near your post of duty, my weapon 
in my hand ; the shadows hid me. Your beat led 
you into the clear light. As you paced back and 
forth you were humming the tune of the hymn you 
have just sung. I raised my gun and aimed at your 
heart, — and I had been selected by my commander 
for the work because I was a sure shot. Then out 
upon the night floated the words : 

" ' Cover my defenceless head 
With the shadow of Thy wing.' 

Your prayer was answered. I couldn't fire after 
that. And there was no attack made upon your 
camp that night. I felt sure, when I heard you 
singing this evening, that you were the man whose 
life I was spared from taking / 

The singer grasped the hand of the Southerner and 
said, with much emotion : " I remember the night very 
well, and distinctly the feeling of depression and 



loneliness with which I went forth to my duty. I 
knew my post was one of great danger. I paced 
my lonely beat, thinking of home and friends and 
all that life holds dear. 

'' Then the thought of God's care came to me with 
peculiar force, and I sang the prayer of my heart, 
and ceased to feel alone. How the prayer was 
answered I never knew until this evening. * Jesus, 
Lover of my soul ' has been a favourite hymn ; 
now it will be inexpressibly dear." 




T^ROM his early years he had been a sensitive 
-*- plant, and in the loss of his mother — whose 
portrait was in after years the theme of one of his 
most pathetic poems — he lost that shelter which his 
tender, delicate nature needed. 

Yet as a young man he was active, an excellent 
cricketer and football-player. He started the '' Non- 
sense Club," and wrote ballads, some of which won 
wide popularity. One, in particular, became famous, 
John Gilpin, the story of " how he went farther than 
he intended, and came safe home again." 

That ballad, with its wild, sportive delight in the 
Gomical, is as unhke the hymns he wrote, so full of 
conflict, as two things can be 

But his sun suddenly became dark at noonday. 
A morbid fancy seized him that he had sought 
a certain official's death ; and the balance of his 
reason was upset. The account he gives in his 
Autobiography of these ghastly times is terrible 
reading. He tried to take his own life in various 


ways — by laudanum, cord, and knife. But every 
attempt failed ; and he felt conscience-stricken, and 
an outcast from Divine mercy. 

Under high professional skill he was slowly re- 
stored to mental health. He became filled with 
religious assurance and delight in God. '' Sometimes 
a light surprises," etc., he sings in one of his hymns. 
At this stage there came a " clear shining after 

He had several delightful and lofty friendships — 
with Newton, the Unwins, Lady Hesketh — which 
form one of the loveliest stories in literature. How 
he and Newton came to live beside each other at 
Olney, and together wrote the Olney Hymns, must 
be told when Newton's record is given. 

But, under the religious strain, and swaying between 
assurance and despair of his own salvation, his reason 
began to reel. He said, " The meshes of that fine 
network, the brain, are composed of such spinner's 
threads in me, that when a long thought finds its 
way into them, it buzzes and twangs and bustles about 
at such a rate as seems to threaten the whole con- 
texture." Attempting his own life several times again, 
he was taken by Newton into his own home and 
tenderly cared for. So deep was his despair of God, 
and foreboding of eternal ruin, that, when " grace " 
was being said, he would purposely play with knife 
and fork to show he had no part in it. 

Strange that he whose hymns have brought thou- 
sands such tender comfort and peace was a man 


subject to the most melancholy moods, the darkest 
gloom. Of Dante his contemporaries said, '* There 
goes a man who has been in hell." The same might 
be said of Cowper. And it was probably just because 
he knew all the heart's worst experiences that he 
could put so powerfully in verse the conflicts and 
comforts of the Christian. 

His hymns bear the marks of these conflicts, as 
in : 

" Oh, for a closer walk with God ; " 

" Sometimes a light surprises." 

The first signs of his recovery appeared one day 
when, in the usual course of his gardening, some 
trifle made him smile. ''That is the first smile 
for sixteen months," said Newton. Gardening and 
carpentering gave him gentle employment. 

Everyone knows about Cowper's hares, which a 
friend gave him, and the "Epitaph on a Hare" which 
he wrote. These, as well as some other animals and 
birds, helped to lift the gloom off his mind ; and 
once more he became able to write. 

Among his poems are '' The Task," the " Progress 
of Error," " Truth ; " forming some of the most 
exquisite gems of English literature. 

For seven years he was comparatively cheerful. 
But a foreboding of another attack of insanity haunted 
him. In terror of the approaching gloom, he ordered, 
it is said, a postchaise, and told the coachman to drive 
him to the River Ouse, his intention being to drown 


himself in it. The night was very dark : the coach- 
man mistook the road, and they found themselves 
unexpectedly back in front of Cowper's house again. 
This strange thwarting of his purpose so affected 
kim that he went in and wrote those lines : 
" God moves in a mysterious way." 

This incident probably gave him hope that God had 

better things in store for him than a fresh attack : 

"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; 
The clouds ye so much dread 
Are big with mercy, and shall break 
In blessings on your head." 

The hymn — 

" Jesus, where'er Thy people meet " 

was written upon the occasion of the removal of the 
prayer-meeting at Olney from its old scene to the 
"Great House." Emphasis is placed on ''where'er." 

When escaping from his blighting malady he paid 
a visit to Huntingdon. Finding himself a stranger 
among strangers, and dreading a return of his trouble, 
" he wandered away, stroUing quietly through lanes 
and fields ; alone, yet not alone, for God was with 
him. The scene was so peaceful and calm that its 
spirit entered into his own soul. Coming to a 
grassy knoll beneath a leafy canopy, he knelt down 
and poured out his heart in prayer and praise. 
Confidence in God came back again. On the follow- 
ing morning he went to church for the first time 
since his period of insanity. 

'' A worshipper, whose whole soul seemed thrown 


into the praise of God in the Psalm which was being 
sung, attracted his attention. He says : ' I looked 
at him, and could not help saying in my heart, with 
much emotion, '* The Lord bless you for praising Him 
Whom my soul loveth." ' 

'* When the service was over he went back to the 
quiet spot where he had found joy on the previous 
day, and there again he felt that glorious Presence 
which giveth life." 

This was the birthplace of the hymn, included in 
some books : — 

" Far from the world, O Lord, I flee, 
From strife and tumult far, 
From scenes where Satan wages still 
His most successful war. 

" The calm retreat, the silent shade, 
With prayer and praise agree ; 
And seem by Thy sweet bounty made 
For those who follow Thee." 

His spirit was gentle, and could be playful when 
healthy ; not unlike Charles Lamb in his pawky 
humour, which, however, was of a more religious 
tone. In his brighter and saner moments he was 
not gloomy, but a delightful companion. His life 
was as harmless and lovely " as the lilies he loved." 
He had the true poet's genius — genius akin to 

Strange that he, who had been a minister of grace 
to thousands, died in despair, saying to all the 
assurances of friends : ^' You know it is false ; spare, 


spare me." Yes, here again, " God moves in a 
mysterious way." But no one, except the dying man 
himself, doubted that he was a true child of God, a 
true saint burdened with a constitutional malady. 
Some bad men die without horror : their calmness 
does not save them. Some good men die in fear : 
their fear does not destroy them. 

Mrs. Browning's exquisite piece on " Cowper's 
Grave " touches a sympathetic chord in every heart : 

" O Poets ! from a maniac's tongue was poured the deathless 

O Christians ! at your cross of hope, a hopeless hand was 

O Men ! this man in brotherhood, your weary paths 

Groaned inly while he taught you peace ^ and died wJiile ye 

were smiling.'" 

2. Newton. 

John Newton's life was an eventful one, full of 
desperate deeds and hairbreadth 'scapes. 

His mother, a devout, godly woman, had from his 
infancy dedicated him to the ministry. But she *' died 
in faith, not having received the promise." 

Following his father, young Newton became a sailor. 
But he was reckless and vicious, and '' being his own 
enemy he seemed determined that no one should be 
his friend." 

He was forced into naval service on board the 


Harivich man-of-war, and flung virtue and religion 
to the winds. 

His Narrative, from which we learn the facts of 
his history, depicts these years in the blackest colours. 
Perhaps the picture is overdrawn. Prodigals who have 
returned are always tempted to exaggerate the wicked- 
ness of their godless life. But when full allowance is 
made for such natural exaggeration, it is clear that his 
life was an abandoned and vicious one. 

Yet he had conscience-stricken hours. In the utter- 
most parts of the sea, even there God's hand found and 
touched him. Though a scapegrace, he occasionally 
fasted and prayed and read his Bible. But these 
whims and superstitions did not last long. He turned 
to infidelity for a time. He delighted to talk virtue 
and to practise vice. 

Not every infidel is a profligate by any means ; but 
it is equally clear that profligates are glad to be infidels. 
The profligates of the world are a witness to Chris- 
tianity, just because they do not like, cannot endure, 
its light cast upon their evil deeds. 

He deserted, was caught, kept in irons, publicly 
whipped, and was degraded from the rank of midship- 
man. He was in consequence filled with bitter anger 
and despair. 

By a mere accident — a midshipman having maliciously 
cut his hammock, and dropped him on the deck and 
injured him — he was exchanged on board a merchant 
vessel trading with the west coast of Africa. 

It was here that he landed without anything but the 


clothes on his back, became practically a white slave 
among black ones, and, like the prodigal, in hunger was 
glad almost of the swine-husks for food. 

Newton was an instance of the common experience 
that men who are morally shipwrecks are intellec- 
tually clever, the ruins of great citizens. He amused 
himself in his semi-slavery by studying mathematics. 
He mastered Euclid, drawing the figures of the first 
six books on the sand. 

His father sent out money to ransom him ; but the 
master of the vessel who received the commission was 
told that Newton had gone far inland, and so took no 
further trouble about him. But in reality the semi-slave 
was not a mile off. Following his custom, he was 
walking along a narrow neck of land on the beach. He 
saw and hailed a passing vessel : it stopped : he took 
a canoe and went out to it. It was the very vessel 
whose captain carried the ransom for Newton's 

On the homeward voyage he was treated kindly by 
the captain, and having httle to do, took up Thomas a 

An inventory of all the earnest minds that have been 
influenced by the Imitatio would contain many great 
and curious names. It would include George EHot, 
and others who had lost their Christian* faith, indeed 
many of the greatest thinkers and workers of these 
later centuries. 

Newton was affected by it. " What if these things 
be true ? " A storm arose ; the ship seemed ^sinking 


and book and storm united to arouse his conscience. 
The hurricane passed, but while he had been at the 
wheel, steering at midnight, a crisis in his heart came, 
when his Hfe of sin passed before him, and he began 
to pray and think wistfully of Christ, Whom he used to 
deride. This was the '' Great Deliverance." 

But light did not come all at once. He desired 
to change. He renounced swearing and other evil 
habits. But it was little more than an attempt to 
mend himself 

He made several voyages as a captain ; purchased 
slaves, and sold them again in the West Indies. 
Curious what contradictory principles can hve in the 
same mind ! His conscience did not trouble him on 
the slave question. We sometimes wonder if there is 
any question on which our consciences are as yet 
as unenlightened. 

He by-and-bye met a captain who taught him the 
true way of faith in Christ, and he became a sincere 
child of God. 

Through a sudden attack of illness he was 
compelled to leave the sea, and became a tide- 
surveyor or ship-inspector at Liverpool ; met White- 
fieldj Wesley, Wilberforce ; occupied spare time in 
studying classics ; applied for Ordination, and was 
refused by the Archbishop of York because of some 
formal irregularity. 

But the Bishop of London ordained him, and he 
became the minister of Olney Parish. Thus the Pro- 
vidence that had so strangely watched over his life 


brought Newton and Cowper together. Living close 
beside each other, they were scarcely twelve hours 
apart. They were like David and Jonathan in their 

Newton, while a man of the deepest piety, was too 
stern and ultra-Calvinistic a companion for the sensitive 
Cowper, and sometimes unintentionally increased his 
mental troubles. 

From the time of his " great deliverance " he kept a 
diary, of which the following passage is the opening : 
" I dedicate unto Thee, most blessed God, this clean, 
unsullied book, and at the same time renew my tender 
of a foul, blotted, corrupt heart." 

Together they held a prayer-meeting every week, and 
Newton proposed that they should unitedly write a 
volume of hymns, partly " for the promotion and com- 
fort of sincere Christians," and partly as a memorial of 
their intimacy. Many of them were written for use 
in these weekly prayer-meetings. The volume was 
not published for eight years after it was begun. It 
appeared under the name of Olney Hynms^ the place 
giving the title to the book. 

Of the Olney Hymns Cowper composed about sixty- 
eight, Newton about two hundred and eighty. Many 
of these are quite unsuitable for public praise. In 
proportion to the number that each wrote, Cowper 
has far more that are held dear by Christian hearts 

Newton wrote one well-known prose work — 


When fifty-four he became Rector of St. Mary 
Woolnoth, in Lombard Street, in the City of London. 
Here his ministry was much blessed ; far more popular 
than in his former sphere in Buckinghamshire. Many 
flocked to Lombard Street to get their spiritual food 
from him. Here he died at the age of eighty-two. His 
epitaph was written by himself: 

" John Newton, Clerk, 

Once an infidel and libertine, 

A servant of slaves in Africa, 

Was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour 

Jesus Christ, 

Preserved, restored, pardoned, 

And appointed to preach the Faith 

He had long laboured to destroy. 

Near 16 years at Olney, in Bucks ; 

And years in this church." 

He was certainly a brand plucked from the burning ; 
his life a study in Providence ; the change in his cha- 
racter a witness to the transforming power of grace ; 
the hymns he has left among the most devout and 
simple, full of grace and truth. 

Few of his hymns appear to be drawn from episodes 
in his career. One, not found in most Hymnals, 
beginning — 

" Saviour, visit Thy plantation," 

is clearly drawn from the time when he used to plant 
lime and lemon trees in Africa. If his hymns have not 
a special history, he himself has. 


Another contains a biographical metaphor 

«' Begone, unbelief, 

My Saviour is near, 
And for my relief 

Will surely appear : 
By prayer let me wrestle, 
And He will perform ; 
With Christ in the vessel 
I smile at the storm." 


I. Heber. 

BISHOP HEBER, a native of Cheshire, entered 
Brasenose College, Oxford, just when this cen- 
tury began. His father was a clergyman both wealthy 
and scholarly, and his brother had collected a hundred 
and fifty thousand volumes in his library : both circum- 
stances helping to foster in young Heber a literary 
taste. At seven he had versified Phaedrus ; and at 
Oxford he gained, in his first year, the prize for the 
best Latin poem, and, two years later, the prize for 
the best English poem (''Palestine"). This position of 
honour has often since then foretold literary fame. 

His brilliant career won for him a scholarship, and 
then he began his travels on the Continent. The path 
to literary fame lay open to him, but he preferred to 
be a minister of Christ. On his return his brother 
gave him the living of Plodnet in Shropshire. He 
became Preacher at Lincoln's Inn and Bampton 
Lecturer, and author of various works in prose and 
poetry. In his parish work he devoted himself to the 


welfare of his people heedless of personal danger in 
times of epidemics. 

Twice he was offered the Bishopric of Calcutta, and 
twice refused the responsibility. Asked for the third 
time, he accepted, and sailed in 1823, and was soon 
actively engaged in planting churches, and visiting and 
cheering missionaries. His travels he described in his 
Journey through India. . 

But his work lasted only three years. He returned 
one day from a Confirmation in a heated state, and 
soon after was found dead in his bath, an attack 
of apoplexy having cut him off at the age of forty- 

He was thus a many-sided man : observant traveller, 
enthusiastic missionary, scholar, and author and 

Thackeray, in his Foiir Georges, writes of Heber 
thus : '' We have spoken of a good soldier and good 
men of letters as specimens of English gentlemen of 
the age just past ; may we not also speak of a good 
divine, and mention Reginald Heber as one of the 
best of English gentlemen ? The charming poet, the 
happy possessor of all sorts of gifts and accomplish- 
ments — birth, wit, fame, high character, competence — 
he was the beloved parish priest in his own home 
of Hodnet, counselling the people in their troubles, 
advising them in their difficulties, kneeling often at 
their sick-beds at the hazard of his own Hfe; where 
there was strife, the peacemaker ; where there was 
want, the free giver. 


" When the Indian Bishopric was offered him he 
refused at first, but after communing with himself (and 
committing his case to the quarter whither such pious 
men are wont to carry their doubts), he withdrew his 
refusal and prepared himself for his mission and to 
leave his beloved parish. ' Little children, love one 
another and forgive one another,' were the last sacred 
words he said to his weeping people. Like those other 
good men of whom we have spoken, love and duty 
were his life's aim. Happy he, happy they, who were 
so gloriously faithful to both." 

He is most widely known and will be remembered 
longest as a hymn-writer. 

His desire was, as he says in a prefatory note, to 
write hymns '' for the Sundays and principal Holy Days 
of the year, connected in some degree with their par- 
ticular Collects and Gospels, and designed to be sung 
between the Nicene Creed and the sermon." He was 
not able to finish his design, but he wrote in all fifty- 
seven pieces, and other authors were drawn upon after 
his death in order to complete the Christian year. 

" Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," 

meant for Trinity Sunday, is one of the loftiest 
expressions of devout adoration. The tune '' Nicsea " 
was expressly composed by Rev. J. B. Dykes for this 
hymn, and takes its name from the Council of Nice, at 
which the doctrine of the Trinity was affirmed against 
the Arians. 

" From Greenland's icy mountains " 



was written by Heber when he was on a visit to his 
father-in-law, the Dean of St. Asaph and Vicar of 
Wrexham. It was Whit Sunday, and a missionary 
collection in aid of the '' Society for the Propagation of 
the Gospel " was to be taken. On the Saturday the 
Dean asked Heber to prepare some verses to be sung 
at the close of the Morning Service. Seated at the 
vicarage window he set to work, and at a heat com- 
posed this hymn, with the exception of the lines 
''Waft, waft, ye winds. His story." Not thinking it 
complete he returned to the window and added that 
verse. He would have added another stanza, but 
the Dean pleaded that anything more would mar 
the unity of the whole. The MS. was shown at the 
great Exhibition of 185 1. 

2. Montgomery. 

James Montgomery, a native of Ayrshire, born over a 
century ago (1771), belonged to a Moravian family. 
Of Irish parentage, he was born in Scotland, and spent 
his life in England. He was educated at the Moravian 
Seminary at Fulneck, near Leeds. When twelve his 
parents left him at home to go as missionaries to the 
slaves of the West Indies, and there in a few years 
they died. 

He refused to become a minister, and chose to be 
apprenticed as a chandler at Mirfield. Quitting this 
business, he came to the metropolis to seek his fortune 
in the fields of literature. At the age of sixteen he 


was a wanderer in the world. Disappointed, he joined 
the staff of a Sheffield paper, and, upon the departure 
of the editor, he took charge of it. 

For writing what was considered a seditious hbel 
he was twice sent to York Castle to prison. Here he 
found material for his first volume. Prison Amuse- 
ments: by Paid Positive, which was issued soon after his 
release. He wrote stories, squibs, satires, and sonnets, 
which brought him local fame. 

He now devoted himself to literature. Besides 
editing his paper, and contributing to The Eclectic 
Review, he wrote various volumes of poems. But, 
while his hymns are remembered, his more ambitious 
efforts are forgotten. 

After conducting the Sheffield Register for twenty- 
five years he resigned his arduous duties ; but his pen 
was never idle. A gift which had been made to him he 
generously used to re-establish the Moravian Mission 
in Tobago, which had been abandoned since his father 
died. It was thereafter known as the ^' Montgomery 
Station." He visited various towns to promote the 
cause of Missions. 

Although so generous and missionary in spirit, he 
passed through, like Cowper, periods of deep despon- 
dency and spiritual gloom. 

It was, no doubt, this wide experience of the sorrows 
of the soul that made him meet for the Master's use as 
a hymn-writer. 

The Government — v/hich at one time had put him in 
prison — cheered his later life by giving him a pension of 


£i^O. In his quiet home, near Sheffield, he gathered 
a few chosen spirits around him, who were privileged 
to come in contact with his kindly nature, and listen 
to his simple and ardent conversation. On his death, 
in 1854, he received a public funeral. 

Most of his hymns were written in the earlier part 
of his life — some of them in prison, like Bunyan's 
Pilgrim's Progress and Raleigh's History. In later years 
he had less facility in writing verse, although it was near 
the close that he wrote one of his most lofty pieces : 

" For ever with the Lord." 

He composed his verses, we are told, " very slowly 
and only by fits." He " lay in wait for his heart," to 
catch its highest emotions. 

" When seriously ill and advanced in years, he 
once offered some of his hymns to his attending 
physician that they might be read aloud to him. But 
he became very much affected by them, saying that 
every one embodied some distinct experience, and 
adding that he hoped they might be profitable to 
others from this fact." 

There is one piece which is sometimes designated 
a hymn, and even appears in certain books of praise ; 
which, however, is unsuitable for use in public worship. 
It is the well-known and much-loved piece : 

" Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, 
Uttered or unexpressed." 

Among Christian lyrics there are few things more pure 
and spiritual. The author has told us that he received 


more proofs of good having been done by these verses 
than by any other of his productions. One of its lines 
was fulfilled in his own experience, for he " entered 
heaven by prayer." 

"O spirit of the living God," 

is one of his missionary hymns ; also another, and more 
widely known, on the same subject : 

'• Hail to the Lord's Anointed," 

written in 1 82 1, and printed privately as a leaflet for 
use in a congregation at Fulneck. 

The author was addressing a great meeting in a 
church at Liverpool, and at the close he recited this 
hymn. Dr. Samuel Clarke, who was present, begged 
the loan of the MS. and printed it in his illustrious 
Commentary beside the seventy-second Psalm, of which 
it is a version. 

" Sow in the morn thy seed, 
At eve hold not thy hand." 

Montgomery took a deep interest in the welfare of 
the young, and he wrote a new hymn for each Whit 
Monday gathering of the Sunday Schools of the town. 
Every year, for about twenty-five years, his hymn was 
sung by twenty thousand children. This is one of the 
number that he wrote for the Sunday School ''Treat." 
It clearly refers to the " morn " of youth, and the seed 
sown then — the fruit to be gathered at the eve of life. 
Originally it consisted of seven stanzas. 

" For ever with the Lord " 


had, he said, brought more hearts comfort than any 
other of his verses except those on '' Prayer." This 
hymn was the favourite of the late Earl Cairns, and 
was sung at his funeral services. As written, it con- 
sisted of twenty-one stanzas. 

There is another hymn of his which had an interest- 
ing origin. In 1849 he received a well-merited honour 
when the Church Missionary Society, on the occasion 
of its Jubilee, asked him to write a missionary hymn, 
which was to be translated into all the languages in 
which the Gospel had been preached, and which was 
to be sung, and was sung, at the same time by Christians 
in all lands under Heaven. The hymn was 

" The King of Glory we proclaim." 



I. Charlotte Elliott. 

CHARLOTTE ELLIOTT was born at Brighton 
a century ago. One of her grandfathers was 
Henry Venn, of holy memory, author of The Complete 
Duty of MaUy and honoured for his graces and gifts. 
The home and surroundings into which she was born 
were pious, cultured, musical, artistic, and happy. 

From a comparatively early age she was a sufferer, 
and by-and-bye, when forty, became a helpless, in- 
curable invalid. 

Dr. Caesar Malan, of Geneva, was on a visit at her 
father's house at Brighton, when he became acquainted 
with her case. He found her trying to work out her 
own righteousness, only looking to Christ to make 
up for her failures, unwilling to trust Him entirely. 
He is reported to have urged her : '* Cut the cable ; 
it will take too long to unloose it ; cut it ; it is a small 
loss ; the wind blows and the ocean is before you — 
the Spirit of God and eternity." 

His visit marked the turning-point in her life, and 




his correspondence, carried on till his death in 1864, 
was a constant source of strength and comfort to her. 

She was able to be moved about with care from 
one place to another, but Torquay, next to Brighton, 
was her home for the longest period. There she 
Hved fourteen years, and there she wrote many of 
her hymns, in a harbour overlooking the beautiful 
bay of Torquay. It was not far off, across Tor Bay, 
at Brixham, that Lyte wrote his most exquisite 
lines, " Abide with me," etc. 

The place of her birth was the place of her death, 
which occurred in 187 1. Considering her chronic 
ill-health she attained a great age — eighty-two. She 
had been a martyr to pain and helpless feebleness for 
fifty years. Many of her hymns were written during 
times of suffering, and she seems to have found relief 
in thus giving poetic expression to her devotion and 
clinging faith. She says of her illness : 

^' He knows, and He alone, what it is day after 
day, hour after hour, to fight against bodily feelings 
of almost overpowering weakness, languor, and ex- 
haustion, to resolve not to yield to slothfulness, 
depression, and instability, such as the body causes 
me to long to indulge, but to rise every morning, 
determined to take for my motto, ' If any man will 
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his 
cross daily, and follow Me.' " 

But no one can write such verses as 

" My God and Father, while I stray," 


without passing through the hot '* furnace of Hving 
pain." He who would sit on the throne of honour 
must drink the cup she drank, and be baptized with 
her baptism of suffering. 

In 1836 the Invalid's Hymn Book was pubhshed, 
and contained one hundred and fifteen pieces from 
Charlotte Elliott's pen, including the hymn we all 
know so well and love so sincerely, 

"Just as I am." 

It has led many to throw off all self-trust, has 
enabled others to take the decisive step, has put 
words into many lips by which the heart has been 
able to get the true resting-place. It is the actual 
language of faith. He who can think it as he says it 
is assuredly accepted. 

The son-in-law^ of the poet Wordsworth wrote to 
her to thank her for her hymn, and to tell her what 
comfort it had given his wife, Wordsworth's daughter, 
on her dying bed. " When I first read it," he wrote, 
** I had no sooner finished than she said, very 
earnestly, * That is the very thing for me.' At least 
ten times that day she asked me to repeat it, and 
every morning from that day until her decease, nearly 
two months later, the first thing she asked for was her 
hymn. ' Now my hymn,' she would say, and she 
would often repeat it after mie, line for line, in the 
day and night." 

Charlotte EUiott's doctor once brought her a leaflet 
on which this hymn was printed anonymously. *' I 


know," he said, little guessing who was the author, 
" that this will please you." It pleased her in a way 
he had not intended, for it could not fail to be a delight 
to her to find to her surprise that her hymn had been 
printed, and was thus being circulated and prized. 

"A little street waif once came to a New York 
city missionary, and held up a torn and dirty piece of 
paper. ' Please, sir,' said he, * father sent me to get 
a clean paper like that.' Opening it, the missionary 
found it was a page leaflet, containing this hymn. He 
asked where she got it. ' We found it, sir, in sister's 
pocket after she died. She used to be always singing 
it while she was ill. Will you give us a clean one, 
sir? She wanted father to get a clean one and 
frame it.' " 

In the Sunday at Home plebiscite, it stands fourth 
in favour — the first being " Rock of Ages," the second 
** Abide with me," the third ''Jesus, Lover of my 

2. BONAR. 

The Rev. Horatius Bonar, D.D., is the most prolific 
writer of first-rate hymns in the present century. He 
began composing sacred pieces before he was ordained, 
and has issued various volumes of verse, the best 
being Hymns of Faith and Hope in three series. 

While minister at Kelso (iZl'j-^G)^ he did much 
to revive spiritual life in his country by his Kelso 
Tracts. In the same line he has even done better 
service in writing two little prose works, called God^s 



Way of Peace dind. God's Way of Holiness. The former 
is scarcely surpassed as a simple yet thoughtful guide 
for the heart in its search for peace with God. Chris- 
tian workers would do well to possess a copy. 

At the Disruption in 1843, he followed his old 
professor (Dr. Chalmers), and Dr. Guthrie in their 
secession. In 1866 he became minister of the 
*' Chalmers Memorial " or Grange Free Church, Edin- 
burgh, and has since been selected to be Moderator 
of the Free Church Assembly. In March 1888 his 
jubilee was celebrated, and in August 1889 he died. 

His hymns appear to have no known history. In 
a courteous and kind reply to a letter of enquiry which 
the writer sent, his son says : 

" There is no publication which contains any 
account of the history or circumstances connected 
with the origin of any of my father's hymns. Indeed, 
my father has kept no record himself of even their 

" His * I lay my sins on Jesus,' about which you 
ask, was written more than fifty years ago, for the 
children of a Sabbath School of a Leith church where 
he was assistant. Some of his best known he wrote 
in railway trains ; others, when sitting by the fireside 
at night." 

Curious that until lately no hymns were sung in 
his own congregation. While they sang only the 
Metrical Psalms, Christians throughout the world 
were singing his hymns with delight. 



3. Ray Palmer. 

The Rev. Dr. Ray Palmer occupies the place of 
honour among American hymnists. 

His great hymn was written when he was twenty- 
two years of age, a teacher in a ladies' school, and in 
training at Yale for the Congregational ministry. 

He had been reading a short description in German, 
in two stanzas, of a suppliant before the Cross. He 
was struck by it, and made an English translation. 
He added four stanzas, telling what the suppliant was 
saying, and these stanzas form the present hymn. 

He put the MS. in his pocket-book and forgot it. 
Two years after, Lowell Mason, the composer, met 
him and asked him if he had any hymns to contribute 
to his new hymn book. Palmer produced 

" My faith looks up to Thee, 
Thou Lamb of Calvary, 
Saviour Divine ; " 

and Lowell Mason begged for a copy. Together they 
went into a store (in Boston), where the composer took 
a copy of the young hymn-writer's Hnes, assuring him 
of future fame by means of them. 

For this hymn, Dr. Mason wrote the well-known 
tune " Olivet," to which it is wedded. 

Ray Palmer said of his production : " 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 Hne with tears." Many have sung it 
as he wrote it. 


He was pastor of a church at Albany, N.Y., for 
fifteen years, and afterwards of a church in New York 
City. He is described as '' a wise teacher, and a 
simple-minded and devout Christian. He was a healthy, 
cheerful, buoyant man, loved by everybody who knew 


" Take me, O my Father, take me ; 

Take me, save me, through Thy Son ; " 

" Yield not to te^nptation, 
For yielding is sin ; " 

are others taken from his considerable number of 

4. Havergal. 

Miss Frances Ridley Havergal belongs to our 
own generation, having died in 1879, at the age of 

The name of her father, the Rev. W. H. Havergal, 
is well known by his numerous chants and hymn 
tunes, as well as by his Cathedral Services and Sacred 
Songs. Of his tunes " Evan" and " Baca" are widely 

At his vicarage at Astley, in Worcestershire, Miss 
Havergal spent the first nine years of her life, when 
her father removed to Worcester to be Rector of St. 
Nicholas, and Canon of Worcester Cathedral. She 
ripened early, and she died while in her prime. 

At three she could read and at seven she "lisped 


in numbers." Beginning in her school days, she 
frequently went to the Continent. Although delicate 
in health, she delighted to climb the Swiss mountains, 
and revelled in the glory of the white snow. 

Early anxious, she was led to Christ by a much-loved 
school companion. Her life was a close walk with 
God. At a later stage she was enabled to enjoy what 
is technically called " the Rest of Faith," and her peace 
and pleasure in Christ were thereby multiplied. 

She acquired languages with great facility. She was 
versed not only in French and German, but also in 
Latin and Greek and even Hebrew, and could read 
both Old and New Testaments in the original. 

She had musical genius ; could play through Handel 
and much of Mendelssohn and Beethoven without 
notes. She also composed much original work ; many 
of her tunes being published in her Songs of Grace and 
Glory and Loyal Responses. 

Four of her tunes are well known, namely "Hermas," 
to the words, 

" Jesus, I will trust Thee," 

*^ Epenetus," '' Patmos," and '' Nymphas." 

Her memory was singularly powerful. She knew by 
heart the whole of the New Testament, the Psalms and 
Isaiah, and in later years committed to memory the 
Minor Prophets. 

She was equally active in Christian service, in 
work in Bible Classes, Young Women's Christian 
Associations, and numerous other Christian agencies. 


Hundreds consulted her, personally and by post, on 
the concerns of the soul. 

She wrote much, both in prose and verse. Of her 
little books in prose, perhaps the best known are 
Kept for the Master's Use, Royal Commandments, The 
Royal Invitation, Swiss Letters. 

She does not profess to meet intellectual needs, or 
answer the deepest questions of life. She gives highly 
spiritual teaching in devout language. Some minds 
find her too mystical, too unhuman, too purely spiritual ; 
others are led by her to a more perfect trust and 
a more constant joy in Christ. 

When twenty-four she was contributing poems to 
Good Words, and thereafter she had applications for 
sacred pieces from numerous editors. The best known 
collections of her poems are : The Ministry of Song, 
Under the Surface, and Under the Shadow. 

She could write hymns only when the inspiration 
came to her : she could not command it at will. 

In a letter she says : " I have not had a single poem 
come to me for some time, till last night, when one 
shot into my mind. All my best have come in that 
way, Minerva fashion, full grown. 

^' One minute I have not the idea of writing any- 
thing, the next I have a poem; it is mine; I see it all, 
except laying out rhymes and metre, which is then 
easy work." 

Again she says : *' Writing is praying with me : 
for I never seem to write even a verse by myself; and 
feel like a little child writing ; you know how a child 


would look up at every sentence and say, 'And what 
shall I say next ? ' That is just what I do. I ask 
at every line that He would give me, not merely 
thoughts and power, but also every word^ even the 
very rhymes. I can never set myself to write verse. 
I believe my King suggests a thought, and whispers 
me a musical line or two, and then I look up and thank 
Him delightedly, and go on with it. That is how the 
hymns and poems come." 

For five years the gift was suspended or unused ; 
and again, after a long illness, she lost the power to 
write verse, but it was restored. 

She was a frequent sufferer, and was exceptionally 
sensitive to pain. But her enjoyment of Christ's 
presence made her, like Paul, glory in her infirmities. 
She did not submit to, so much as delight in, what was 
God's will. Her own description was true of her 
feeling throughout : " ' Thy will be done ' is not a 
sighy but only a song J' 

The sheets of MS. music for Songs of Grace and 
Glory had been prepared at a great cost of personal 
labour. Soon she heard that the publishers' premises 
had been burnt down, and the stereotypes of her 
musical edition destroyed. She sat down with perfect 
acquiescence, and did the work over again. It was 
a six months' task, but she took it joyfully as the 
Divine Will. 

Her sufferings prepared her for writing many of 
her sacred pieces. She wrote only what her own life 
or heart taught. Hence she is subjective, personal, 


introspective, dealing with the experiences of the 

She died at Mumbles, near Swansea. When told of 
the approach of death she said, *' If I am going, it is 
too good news to be true." 

On her tombstone is carved, at her own request, her 
favourite text : "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, 
cleanseth us from all sin." 

The hymn, 

" Golden harps are sounding," 

was written thus : 

Visiting some friends, she walked to the boys' 
schoolroom, and, being very tired, she leaned against 
the playground wall, while a clerical friend went in. 
Returning in ten minutes he found her scribbling on 
an old envelope ; and at his request she handed him 
the hymn, just pencilled, " Golden harps are sounding." 

" Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is King ! Tell it 
out! Tell it out!" 

was written one day when she was unable to go to 
church. She had been following the service in the 
Prayer Book, and had read, "Tell it out among the 
heathen that the Lord is King." " I thought," she said, 
'^ what a splendid first line ! and then words and 
music came rushing in to me. There, it's all written 
out : words, music, and harmonies complete." The 
tune usually sung to it, " Epenetus," is her own, the 
tune referred to. 





Among others well known are : 

" I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus ; " 

" Jesus, Master, Whose I am ; " 

" Jesus, Master, Whom I serve ; " 

" Thy life was given for me," 
which as written began 

" I gave My life for thee "— 

the change being made so that the worshipper might 
address Christ, instead of using words meant only 
for Christ's lips. 

This hymn first appeared in Good IVords, and was 
written in Germany, when she was onl}' twenty-two 
years of age. 

'' She had come in weary, and had sat down opposite 
a picture with this motto. At once the lines flashed 
upon her, and she wrote them in pencil on a scrap of 
paper. Reading them over, they did not satisfy her. 
She tossed them into the fire, but they fell out 
untouched. Showing them some months after to her 
father, he encouraged her to preserve them, and he 
wrote the tune ' Baca ' especially for them." 

Count von Zinzendorf, the head of the Moravian 
body, said he was led to devote himself to God by the 
sight of a picture in a gallery at Dusseldorf — a picture 
of our Saviour crowned with thorns, with the writing 
above it : 

" All this have I done for Thee : 
What doest Thou for Me ? ' 


Possibly it was some engraving of the same painting 
that Miss Havergal saw, and that gave rise to this 

" Take my life and let it be 
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee," 

was written while on a visit to a friend's house. 
There were ten members of the household, some not 
Christians, for whom she had long prayed ; others 
Christians, but not able to rejoice in Christ. She 
prayed that God would give her all in the house. Her 
prayer was answered : all were blessed. And con- 
tinuing the description of the event in a letter she 
says : " The last night of my visit I was too happy 
to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and 
renewal of my own consecration, and these little 
couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart 
one after another, till they finished with 

" Ever, only, all for Thee." 

It was her practice to carry out literally the lines : 

" Take my voice, and let me sing 
Always, only, for my King." 

She sang sacred pieces only. In this and in other 

things she overstrained duty. Yet we admire the 

intensity of her devotion and the thoughtful self- 
denial of her life. 


I. Newman. 

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN has captivated the 
imagination of religious England more perhaps 
than any other living character. As the leader of 
the most important religious movement of the present 
century, as a pure and lofty personality, as a master of 
liquid and transparent English, and as a hymn-writer, 
he has received the admiring and reverent affection of 
Protestants and Catholics alike. 

Born almost with the century (1801), a native of 
London, the son of a banker, Newman might have 
been seen, at the age of nine, playing in Bloomsbury 
with a boy of five, little Benjamin Disraeli. 

As a child he was superstitious, used to cross him- 
self in the dark (although in the midst of Protestant 
surroundings) ; read the Arabian Nights and wished 
they were true ; and delighted in talismans and magical 

While in his teens he studied Church history, and 
learnt to regard the Pope as Antichrist ; read Scotfs 


Commentary, and, as he said many years later, passed 
through a great change of heart as the result of reading 
it. Of this change, he said onl}^ in recent years, " I 
am still more certain than that I have hands and feet." 
To Scott " I almost owe my soul." 

He went to Oxford and won a high place : met the 
men — Dr. Arnold, Whately, and others — who were at 
the time leading a movement towards a more liberal 
Christianity. But the bent of his mind was in an 
entirely different direction. 

He had become a tutor at Oriel, and one of a circle 
of kindred spirits consisting of Keble, Pusey, and 
others. The story of this circle — their influence on 
each other, of the work they did, of the far-famed 
Tracts for the Times which they issued — is briefly told 
in connection with Keble's hymns. 

Enough to say that Tract XC, a proclamation re- 
minding us as a landmark of Luther's Theses, was 
written by Newman ; that it aimed to show that a 
clergyman might remain in the Church of England 
while holding many Roman Catholic doctrines, such 
as the Mass, Purgatory, Invocation of the Saints. 
Tract XC, plunged the author and his friends into a 
hot controversy, turned the widespread suspicion of 
the movement into open hostility to it. This tract 
had such an enormous circulation that the proceeds 
enabled him to purchase a valuable library. 

It was condemned by the authorities, but he re- 
fused to retract. He consented, however, to stop its 


He had been Incumbent of St. Mary's, Oxford, and 
held the chaplaincy of the Church at Littlemore, and 
from his pulpit preached sermons that left lasting 
impressions and influences on many of England's 
future thinkers, teachers, and writers. He was slowly 
drifting into Roman Catholicism, resigned his Oxford 
living in 1843 and retired to Littlemore, where he 
formed a Monastic Brotherhood. He had already re- 
tracted publicly all that in earlier years he had said 
against the Pope. The stories told of the cures and 
miracles which saints and sacred relics had wrought in 
mediaeval times, he accepted without question. 

In 1845 he only took the next natural and logical 
step when he joined the Church of Rome. Others 
— Hope Scott, Frederick Faber, two Wilberforces — 
followed him ; and, although there was no secession 
of large numbers at the time such as formed the 
Free Church secession in Scotland two years earlier, 
Newman channelled a course into the Roman Church, 
and the stream of perverts has been flowing with 
steady volume ever since. 

Since that time Newman's life has been spent mainly 
at Edgbaston, Birmingham. He there established a 
school for the sons of Roman Catholic gentry, and at a 
later period became Head of the Oratory of St. Philip 
Neri. He gathered round him a number of priests of 
kindred spirit, among whom was Edward Caswall, also 
a pervert from the Anglican Church, the author of 
" Days and moments quickly flying," 

and translator of 


" Jesus, the very thought of Thee" (Bernard of Clairvaux), 
" When morning gilds the skies " (original unknown), 
" The sun is sinking fast." 

In 1879 Newman received the cardinal's hat. 

His features are famihar : his keen, ascetic face, the 
furrows worn deep with thought and self-discipHne. 
No one, whether Protestant or Romanist, but feels the 
charm of his character, of his clear intellect, of his 
simplicity of mind and earnestness of belief. 

It is remarkable how wide the intellectual separation 
may be between members of the same family : J. H. 
Newman a cardinal, his brother, F. W. Newman, at the 
opposite pole of belief (or unbelief) ; Hurrell Froude 
a Tractarian, James A. Froude of undefined negative 
position ; W. R. Bradlaugh a Christian evangelist, 
Charles Bradlaugh an infidel ; George Eliot a Positivist, 
and her brother a Church of England clergyman. 

One thinks of certain words of George Eliot in 
Adam Bede : " Family likeness has often a deep 
sadness in it. Nature, that greet tragic dramatist, 
knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us 
by the subtle web of our brain, blends yearning and 
repulsion, and ties us by our heartstrings to the beings 
that jar us at every movement. . . . We see eyes — 
ah ! so like our mother's, averted from us in cold 

Newman's great hymn, 

" Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom," 

was written before he entered on the Tractarian 


movement, while he was still a young man, and was 
only preparing for his life-work. It expresses his 
premonition and foreboding of a coming crisis. 

He had visited the Continent, and was turning his 
face homeward, full of fierce thoughts and plans. But 
I had better quote his own account, given in his 
Apologia : 

^' I began to think I had a mission. When we took 
leave of Monsignore Wiseman, he had courteously 
expressed a wish that we might make a second visit 
to Rome. I said, with great gravity, * We have a 
work to do in England.' I went down at once 
to Sicily, and the presentiment grew stronger. I 
struck into the middle of the island, and fell ill of a 
fever. My servant thought that I was d3ang, and 
begged for my last directions. I gave them as he 
wished, but I said, ' I shall not die.' I repeated, * I 
shall not die, for I have not sinned against the light.' 
I never have been able to make out what I meant. 
^ " I set sail for Palermo. Before starting I sat down 
on my bed, and began to sob bitterly. My servant, 
who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I 
could only answer, ' I have a work to do in England.* 

" I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel 
I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to 
visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, 
though I did not attend any services. I knew nothing 
of the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament there. At 
last I got off in an orange boat bound for Marseilles. 
We were becalmed a whole week in the Straits of 


Bonifacio. Then it was that I wrote the lines, ' Lead, 
kindly Light,' which have since become well known. I 
was writing verses the whole time of my passage." 

The original title of this hymn was " The Pillar of 
Cloud," bearing the motto, *' Unto the godly there 
ariseth up light in the darkness." It is the mirror of 
the man, — clear, intense, full of pure trust and open- 
eyed earnestness, as graceful in expression as it is 
lofty in conception. 

He has since been asked to explain the last two 
lines : 

"And with the morn those angel faces smile, 
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile." 

He has replied that it is no part of a poet's duty to 
be interpreter of the feelings of years ago. 

A fourth verse has been added by Bishop Bicker- 
steth in the Hymnal Companion : 

" Meantime, along the narrow rugged way 
Thyself hast trod, 
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith, 

Home to my God, 
To rest for ever after earthly strife, 
In the calm light of everlasting life." 

This addition is not justified by any vital lack in the 
hymn as Newman wrote it. 

2. Faber. 

Frederick W. Faber belonged to Huguenot stock, 
one of his forefathers having fled from France on the 


revocation of the Edict of Nantes. At Calverley, in 
Yorkshire, in his grandfather's vicarage, the future 
hymn-writer was born in 1814. 

At school at Harrow his mind was deeply influ- 
enced by Dr. Butler, and still more powerfully by 
Dr. Longley. He was still young when sorrow after 
sorrow fell upon him. Within four years he lost first 
his mother and then his father. He was taken in 
charge, however, by an elder brother. 

From an early period he had displayed the poetic 
temperament, and while at Balliol College, Oxford, 
he wrote the University Prize Poem, on a congenial 
theme, " The Knights of St. John." Here he became 
a Fellow at the age of twenty-two, and formed some 
deep friendships. Among these was his intimacy with 
Sir Roundell Palmer (Lord Selborne), who in after 
years was to edit the Book of Praise. 

The one great force at Oxford at the time was John 
Henry Newman, who was preaching at St. Mary's, 
and, with his comrades, issuing the Tracts for the 
Times. Faber's nature was one peculiarly liable to 
fall under such an influence. He became an ardent 
admirer, '' an acolyth " of him, to use his own phrase, 
and threw himself enthusiastically into the Tractarian 

Then after taking Orders, he spent four years in 
a tour through Europe along with a pupil. Under the 
influence of the old cathedrals and churches, and 
of the Roman Catholic Fathers, whose works he 
studied, he drifted nearer and nearer to Rome. 


After officiating for some time at Ambleside, where 
he made the acquaintance of Wordsworth, he returned 
to the Continent,* and twice he put on his hat to go 
to Collegio Inglese to abjure the Protestant faith. On 
each occasion he was prevented by some accident ; 
and this he attributed to his *' guardian angel," whom 
he fervently and constantly invoked. His anxiety on 
the subject was the cause of physical infirmities from 
which he suffered for the rest of his life. 

Receiving from his College the living at Elton, he 
devoted himself with intense earnestness to the 
reformation of his parish. He found the people 
intemperate and wicked, and by his personal influence 
and preaching he led them into habits of thrift and 

Here he carried on highly Ritualistic practices. 
Numbers came to him to confession ; others did 

One Sunday evening in 1845, he announced to his 
congregation that he must leave them, and next day 
he was received into the Roman Catholic Communion, 
being re-baptized under the name of St. Wilfrid, f 

He was led to take this step, he tells us, thus : 
" He was called to administer the Sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper to a sick parishioner, when it occurred 
to him, and the conviction was irresistible, that he 
was not a priest, and that the Holy Sacrament was 

* Bowden's Life and Letters, 
\ Early Life, by his brother. 


nothing in his hands." * But beyond this we know 
little of his mental history at this period. 

A band of eight young men, who had received 
instruction from him at Elton, followed him to Birming- 
ham, where he founded a community. 

In four years he removed to London to take charge 
of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri at Brompton, where 
he remained until his death in 1849. 

Cardinal Wiseman wrote to him when on his death- 
bed, referring to his eminent services to the Church, 
when he said : '' This is very kind ; but no one knows 
better than I do that I have no merits of my own, 
and that my only hope and trust is in the sacrifice 
of my Saviour." 

He was the author of numerous writings, but all 
are eclipsed by the hymns he left. The latest 
collection contained one hundred and fifty, corre- 
sponding to the number of the Psalms. 

He tells us that they were written because there 
was no collection of hymns suitable for use in Roman 
Catholic churches and houses. They were meant 
to take that place among Romanists which the 
hymns of Cowper, Newton, and Wesley took among 
Protestants. They were not written mainly to be 
sung, but, as he tells us in the preface, for private 
spiritual reading. The majority of them are not 
suitable for public praise. They are poetic meditations, 
reflections; or they apostrophize saints and angels. 

* Early Life. 


Curious that Faber had no musical faculty, and yet 
wrote hymns such as : 

" Hark, hark, my soul, angelic songs are swelling," 

which is full of music. 

His hymns are divided into different sections, 
according to the subject treated. They cover the 
whole round of religious thought, dealing with God 
and His adorable character, the Trinity, the human 
life of our Lord at its different stages, the soul's life, 
and the Sacraments ; and many more are devoted 
to the Virgin Mother, to St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. 
Raphael, etc., and to the Angels. 

The majority, though not all, of his pieces introduce 
some Romanist idea. It is rare that any hymn of his 
can be adopted, in Protestant worship, entire and as 
it stands. 

Some seven or eight of Faber's hymns are to be 
found in most collections, such as 

" My God, how wonderful Thou art ; " 
" O come and mourn with me awhile ; " 


" O Paradise ! O Paradise ! " 

Instead of 

" Dear Jesus, ever at Thy side," 

Faber wrote " Dear Angel," addressing it to his 
guardian angel. His also is 

" Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go." 
Faber's hymns are highly imaginative and emotional 


They are not sober expressions of worship, but 
rapturous flights — as in " Angels, sing on, your faithful 
watches keeping." 

In many instances his sentiments are too amorous, 
too sensuous, too gross, as in a realistic verse of 
" O come and mourn with me awhile : " 

" Come, take thy stand beneath the Cross, 
And let the Blood from out that Side 
Fall gently on thee drop by drop ; 
Jesus, our Love, is crucified." 

Much that he says is neither sober sense nor scrip- 
tural truth. Yet his hymns help to expand the soul 
and fire imagination. We need all kinds, and his 
with the rest. 

3. Keble. 

John Keble did for the Tractarian movement, fifty 
years ago, what Charles Wesley did for the Evangelical 
Revival last century — sang it into the hearts of the 

He had taken his degree at Oxford, had shown 
himself a brilliant scholar, and had received the honour 
of being appointed Examiner for three years; and at 
a later period became Professor of Poetry at his own 
University, and, after holding several curacies, became 
Rector of Hursley, near Winchester. Here he re- 
mained until his death in 1866. 

He took a large share in originating the Anglo- 
Catholic, or Tractarian, movement. He had known 


the leaders of the Liberal Church movement, Arnold, 
Whately, and others ; but their influence over him had 
been slight. 

Hurrell Froude, brother of James A. Froude, intro- 
duced him to Newman. These three were joined by 
Pusey. Froude was gifted, brilliant, dashing, but still 
immature ; he died while still a young man. Keble 
was a man of beautiful character, yet unconsciously 
narrow, not only devoted to the Church of England, 
but unable to see that there was any other Church. 
He had always been a High Anglo-Catholic. 

He did much to encourage Newman. The first 
Sunday after Newman's return from the Mediterranean, 
so "full of fierce thoughts and plans," Keble preached the 
famous ''Assize Sermon" on National Apostasy ^ which 
has been regarded by all as the first decided step 
in the movement. It was the fan applied to the 
smouldering fire in Newman and the rest. Soon they 
issued the Tracts for the Times, of which Keble wrote 

In course of a few years Keble and Newman parted ; 
the latter to join the Church of Rome, the former 
to remain in the Anglican Church and follow the 
via media, the " middle path " of Anglo-Catholic 

But apart from his famous ''Assize Sermon," which 
flung down the gauntlet, and apart also from the 
influence he exerted on his comrades, his great con- 
tribution to the movement was his Christian Year. 

The Christian Year contains sacred lyrics for each 


Sunday and Holy Day in the year. It appeared in 
1827, and the author gave consent to its pubHcation 
only after great pressure from friends. Arnold said 
of them : " Nothing equal to them exists in our 
language." Coleridge and Whately also urged their 
publication. When they did appear they bore no 
author's name. They are the result of long labour, 
and as much polishing and revision as Gray put upon 
the Elegy. They are classical in their style, and form 
a household volume in every English-speaking country 
to-day. The ninetieth edition was revised by the 
author. In twenty-five years one hundred and eight 
thousand copies were issued. In 1873, when the copy- 
right expired — forty-six years after its appearance — 
three hundred and five thousand five hundred copies 
had been sold. And since then the circulation of cheap 
issues has been enormous. 

'* It is a book," says Bishop Barry, " which leads 
the soul up to God, not through one but through all 
of the various faculties which He has implanted 
in it." 


I. Dean Stanley. 

T^ROM Dean Stanley's biography of Dr. Arnold 
J- every one knows how as a boy at Rugby he 
came under the spell of its model head-master. 

After a brilliant career at Oxford (Balliol) he became 
in succession a Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, 
Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford, and 
finally Dean of Westminster. 

There is a small MS. volume, says his successor, 
Dean Bradley, written in a boyish but, strange as it 
may appear to those who knew him later, a singularly 
clear hand. On the title-page are inscribed the words : 
Poetical Works of A. P. Stanley, Vol. II. " Under- 
neath is a drawing, his own handiwork, of Neptune 
in his chariot with Amphitrite, and the sea-nymphs 
sporting around." Some of his subjects are curious : 
Owls, Humming Birds, Superstition, Forgiveness, 

He was only ten or eleven years of age when he 
wrote the contents of this "Vol. II." They reveal 



greater originality than his Rugby pieces. His little 
study was soon named " The Poet's Corner." 

He made the acquaintance of many lands and many 
men, travelled in Sinai and Palestine, and accompanied 
the Prince of Wales in his visit to Egypt and the 
Holy Land. 

His broad sympathies, his scholarly tastes, his gentle 
and lovable character, won the homage of sceptic and 
believer alike. 

" He is gone — a cloud of light 
Has received Him from our sight " — 

which, as written, ran 

" He is gone beyond the skies " — 

a noble Ascension Hymn, was composed by Dean 
Stanley for the use of a private family, and first 
appeared in Macmillan! s Magazine, where several of 
his hymns saw the light. 

2. Dean Milman. 

Milman's best known hymns appeared in Bishop 
Heber's hymn-book. They are : the majestic Palm 
Sunday hymn, 

" Ride on, ride on in majesty ; " 

the hymn written for the lesson on the Widow of 
Nain — and hence the reference to ''Jesus, Son of 
Mary "— - 

" When our heads are bowed with woe ; " 


" O help us, Lord, each hour of need." 


It was when Professor of Poetry at Oxford that he 
wrote his best hymns, and that he composed his great 
poem, The Fall of Jerusalem. 

As a Broad Churchman, as the historian of the Jews, 
etc., as Dean of St. Paul's, but chiefly as a hymn- 
writer, his name will long remain honoured. 

3. Dean Alford. 

Dean Alford is known to scholars by his Greek 
Testament, but to the Christian Church at large as the 
writer of the jubilant and stirring Harvest Hymn : 

" Come, ye thankful people, come. 
Raise the song of Harvest-home ; " 

of the Christian battle-song : 

" ' Forward ' be our watchword, 
Steps and voices joined," 

the words and music of which were composed specially 
for a '' Festival " of parochial choirs in the diocese of 
His also is 

" Ten thousand times ten thousand, 
In sparkling raiment bright," 

which was sung at the churchyard at tlie Dean's 
funeral. The inscription carved on his tomb ran : 

" Deversorium viatoris proficientis 


'* The inn of a pilgrim travelling to Jerusalem.'' 
Many of his hymns were composed in the course of 


his solitary walks around Canterbury. The tunes 
were generally selected, and some indeed composed, at 
the weekly meeting on Sunday evenings between him- 
self and his coadjutor, Rev. R. Hake. His first object 
was to initiate and develop Congregational singing in 
his (Canterbury) Cathedral. 

In his Year of Praise, a collection of hymns suited 
to the Church Year, he included several of his own. 

4. Dean Plumptre. 

The Dean of Wells wrote his fine Hospital Hymn, 

" Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old, 
Was strong to heal and save," 

for the chapel of King's College Hospital, London. 
Even finer is his 

" O Light Whose beams illumine all 

From twilight dawn to perfect day." 

The author of The Spirits in Prison is a Broad 
Churchman, a liberal-minded expositor, as well as a 
reputable poet. 



I. Bishop Bickersteth. 

DR. E. H. BICKERSTETH, for many years 
the Incumbent of Christ Church, Hampstead, 
became Bishop of Exeter in 1885. 

His hymns he collected and published under the 
title From Year to Year. His most ambitious poetical 
effort is his Yesterday, To-day, and Forever. 

As compiler of the Hymnal Companion, he had the 
opportunity — and unfortunately he seized it — of adding 
a fourth verse to Newman's " Lead, kindly Light." 
It was both a needless and a presumptuous addition, 
paralleled only by the Rev. A. T. Russell's addition of 
an Evangelical verse to " Nearer, my God, to Thee." 

Several of Bickersteth's hymns are of the first 

order, strong, yet refined in tone and taste ; for 

example : 

" O God, the Rock of Ages, 
Who evermore hast been," 

founded on the Psalm of Moses (xc.) ; and 

•' Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin ? " 


In their callected form, his hymns have been 
assigned to their proper Sundays in the Church Year. 
Two other hymn-writers followed the same method, 
Bishop Wordsworth and Dean Alford. 

2. Bishop Wordsworth. 

A nephew of the great Lake Poet, Dr. C. Words- 
worth, late Bishop of Lincoln (not of St. Andrews), 
inherited some of his uncle's poetical gifts. Some of 
our richest hymns are from his hand, such as : 

" O Lord of heaven, and earth, and sea, 
To Thee all praise and glory be ; 
How shall we show our love to Thee, 
Who givest all ? " 

which was written as an Offertory Hymn. 

This is one of a hundred and twenty-seven hymns 
which he published under the title of The Holy 
Year, being sacred songs suitable for the Sundays 
and Holy Days of the Church Year. Under the 
text : " This is the day which the Lord hath made : 
we will rejoice and be glad in it," appeared the 

" O Day of rest and gladness ! 
O Day of joy and light ! " 

In a more stirring strain he sings 

" See the Conqueror mounts in triumph, 
See the King in royal state." 

Once Head-master at Harrow, finally Bishop of 


Lincoln, he will be longest remembered by his Com- 
mentary on the Old Testament and by his hymns. 

3. Bishop Walsham How. 

The Bishop who won golden opinions in his 
diocese in the East End of London, now the Bishop 
of Wakefield, has also endeared himself to the 
Christian Church by such hymns as 

" For all the saints who from their labours rest, 
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed ; " 


" We give Thee but Thine own, 
Whate'er the gift may be." 

^'One day he is preaching in a theatre to the 
working classes : another day he is preaching before 
the British Association. And such is the fulness of 
his mind, the richness of his culture, and the wide 
range of his sympathies that he never fails to put 
himself in accord with his hearers ! " 




AN Irishman by birth, the Rev. Dr. J. S. B. 
Monsell spent most of his ministry as Vicar 
of Egham, and again of Guildford in Surrey. 

" Many a time," says Edwin Hodder, '* have I 
Hstened to the words of hfe from his Hps. Standing 
there in the pulpit, with a small Bible in his hand, 
unencumbered with notes or sermon book, the 
preacher has held his audience spellbound, while in 
plain, simple language, yet full of tender poetic 
thought, he has told them the sweet story of eternal 


His hymns are finding their way in larger numbers 
into the later hymnals. His best are : 

"Worship the Lord in the beauty of hoHness ; " 

" Lord of the living harvest, 

That whitens o'er the plain ; " 


" Rest of the weary, Joy of the sad.'" 

It may be interesting to readers to meet with a 


piece, not adapted for public praise, but well adapted 
for nourishing the heart's life : 

" I asked for grace to lift me high 

Above the world's depressing cares. 
God sent me sorrows. With a sigh 
I said, ' He has not heard my prayers.' 

•' I asked for light that I might see 
My path along life's thorny road ; 
But clouds and darkness shadowed me 
When I expected light from God. 

'* I asked for peace that I might rest, 
And think my sacred duties o'er ; 
When lo ! such horrors filled my breast 
As I had never felt before. 

" * And oh ! ' I cried, ' can this be prayer, 

Whose plaints the steadfast mountains move ; 
Can this be heaven's prevailing care ? 
And oh ! my God, is this Thy love ? ' 

" But soon I found that sorrow, worn 
As duty's garment, strength supplies ; 
And out of darkness, meekly borne. 
Unto the righteous light. doth rise. 

** And soon I found that fears, which stirr'd 
My startled soul God's will to do. 
On me more real peace conferr'd 
Than in life's calm I ever knew." 

2. Ellerton. 

The two best of the hymns of the Rev. John 
Ellerton, M.A., are evening meditations : 

" Saviour, again to Thy dear name we raise 
With one accord our parting hymn of praise ; " 



" The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended ; 
The darkness falls at Thy behest." 

Several others have eventide themes : 
" When the day of toil is done ; " 
" Now the labourer's task is o'er ; " 
" Our day of praise is done." 

While a curate at Brighton, he had written some 
children's hymns for the use of his own Sunday 
schools and classes. 

He became domestic chaplain to Lord Crewe, 
and took an active interest in the intellectual and 
social welfare of the artizans at Crewe. For some 
years he was Vice-president of the Mechanics' Insti- 
tute, and himself taught several classes. 

He succeeded in organizing one of the first 
choral associations in the Midlands, which has for 
many years met for its annual rehearsal at Nantwich. 

" Saviour, again to Thy dear name we raise," 
is one of several hymns that were specially written 
for the Annual Festival of the Crewe Parish Choir. 
He is now Rector of White Roothing, Essex. 

3. Stone. 

The name of the author of two of our most 
precious hymns, 

" The Church's one foundation 
Is Jesus Christ her Lord ; " 



"Weary of earth and laden with my sin, 
I look at heaven and long to enter in," 

will always be associated with Christian work in 
one of London's East End parishes. 

When the father of the Rev. S. J. Stone, M.A., 
went to Haggerston, there was neither church, school, 
nor vicarage. Where now stands the hymn-writer's 
church was the receptacle of the rubbish of the 
neighbourhood. The total endowment of the parish 
brought in thirteen pounds per annum. But work of 
strong faith and unflagging self-devotion by father 
and son has made St. Paul's, Haggerston, a large 
and rich harvest-field. 

The author of the above hymns laboured for 
eight years at Windsor before undertaking the 
burden of his father's East End parish. 

His hymns were written, a series of twelve, on 
the topics of the Apostles' Creed. "/ believe in the 
Holy Catholic ChiircW^ gave Mr. Stone the theme of 
" The Church's one foundation ; " 

'' / believe in the Forgiveness of Sins " inspired 
the lines, so full of humiHty mastered by faith in 
the Divine Pity : 

" Weary of earth and laden with my sin." 

The former was sung in connection with a Pan- 
Anglican Synod, by the whole procession of 
dignitaries and clergy as they entered /ast Table ; 
Cathedral for worship. 


Another hymn by the same author, 

" O Jesus Christ, the righteous ! " 

was selected by Her Majesty the Queen, out of a 
large number of hymns specially written, to be sung 
at the Public Thanksgiving for the recovery of the 
Prince of Wales. 

He may be classed as a High Churchman, but he 
is first of all, and in all his hymns, evangelical to 
the core. 



I. Oliver Wendell Holmes. 

IT is curious — unfortunately a surprise— to find the 
humorist of the Breakfast Table books also the 
author of hymns used in the solemn worship of God. 
The man who wrote The Wonderful One Hoss Shay 
also wrote these two deeply-devout hymns : 

" Lord of all being, throned afar, 
Thy glory flames from sun and star ; 
Centre and soul of every sphere, 
Yet to each loving heart how near ! 

" Our midnight is Thy smile withdrawn, 
Our noontide is Thy gracious dawn ; 
Our rainbow arch Thy mercy's sign ; 
All, save the clouds of sin, are Thine. 

" Grant us Thy truth to make us free, 
And kindly hearts that burn for Thee, 
Till all Thy living altars claim 
One holy light, one heavenly flame," 

which appeared in the Professor at the Breakfast Table ; 


" O Love Divine, that stooped to share 
Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear, 
On Thee we cast each earthborn care ; 
We smile at pain when Thou art near." 

Both are exquisite both as songs of sacred praise and 
as works of art. 

His versatihty is remarkable : professor of anatomy, 
noveUst, essayist, poet, wit, humorist, and the best of 
talkers. His swift and half-serious, half-humorous 
analysis of character, his wise wit, his bristling, spark- 
ling points, all captivate the reader. In the pages of 
his greatest contributions to literature. The Autocrat, 
The Poet, and The Professor, at the Breakfast Table, 
we are familiar with the figures of the '^ Young Man 
called John," Little Boston, the Schoolmistress, Iris, 
etc. These characters live, and amuse and instruct us. 

His Elsie Venner is a study, in novel form, of the 
law of heredity — too full of points and side reflections 
to be popular in small lending Hbraries, but a mine to 
the thoughtful. 

His books are rich in autobiography, in reminiscences 
of his early years — for example, of "his fears and 
fancies and superstitions ; his first defeat in the moral 
battle of Hfe ; his first love ; his first experience of 
death ; the hush at sundown on Saturday evenings, 
when the crickets and the frogs alone broke the still- 
ness of the Puritan Sabbath." 

After the usual curriculum he left Harvard, 

" Armed with his dainty, ribbon-tied degree, 
Pleased and yet pensive, Exite and A.B." 


He studied law, but only for a short time. The medical 
profession became his choice, and he perfected his 
studies in Paris, where, he thanks God, he '* assisted at 
no scientific cruelties ; " where he saw the little girl in 
her cot in the hospital, the story of whose cruel accident 
and thrushlike voice thrill the reader with emotion 
still, as the poor sufferer thrilled the young doctor 

Dr. Holmes had experience of Puritanic training, such 
as has made him give many a '' cut " at Calvinistic self- 
complacency. He has tolerance for most people, but 
not for the ''moral bully," who with 

"... his acrid words, 
Turns the sweet milk of kindness into curds." 

But he is penetrated by a deep religious feeling, dis- 
played in his hymns. He can still sing his Hymn of 
Trust in spite of Science, of which he is a master. He 
'' believes more than some and less than others," and 
likes *' those who believe more, better than those who 
believe less." 

2. Whittier. 

The Quaker Poet of America, J. G. Whittier, received 
his earliest inspirations from the songs of Burns, recited 
to him by a wandering Scotchman. This Scotch pack- 
man, says Whittier, " brought with him pins, needles, 
tape and cotton-thread for my mother ; jack-knives, 
razors, and soap for my father ; and verses of his own 
composing, coarsely printed and illustrated with rude 


woodcuts, for the delectation of the young branches of 
the family." 

With his rich voice he threw young Whittier into 
raptures by his singing of " Bonnie Doon," '' Highland 
Mary," and ''Auld Lang Syne." His schoolmaster lent 
him his Burns. '' This was about the first poetry I had 
ever read (with the exception of that of the Bible, of 
which I had been a close student), and they had a lasting 
influence upon me. I began to make rhymes myself, 
and to imagine stories and adventures." 

After a time he sent a piece to a neighbouring paper, 
the Free Press, of which William Lloyd Garrison was 
the editor. 

He was at work in the fields of his father's farm when 
he learned the fate of his first MS. He was assisting 
in repairing fences, when ^'the news-carrier stopped his 
horses, and, opening his bag, drew^ out a paper and 
threw it across to the lad, who, eagerly opening it, 
saw to his delight his own production in print in 
the '' Poet's Corner." 

" Some time after, in the summer, a visitor arrived in 
a carriage, and inquired for Whittier. He was hoeing 
in his father's cornfield, and immediately leaving his 
work he hurried in by the back door, and hastily 
making himself presentable by putting on shoes, waist- 
coat and coat, he appeared before Mr. Garrison. The 
young editor had come over to speak a few generous 
words to the young poet, and to advise him as to his 

His father was next interviewed, and pressed 


earnestly to provide education for a boy with such gifts. 
It seemed to the farmer that the editor was ''putting 
notions " into the lad's head. But Garrison's words 
woke ambition in both father and son, and ere long it 
was decided that the young poet should go to school. 

But there was no spare money for education. The 
way opened, however. ''A friendly labourer on his 
father's farm, who used to spend his winter time in 
making ladies' shoes, offered to teach the youth his 
craft, which offer was eagerly accepted, and the follow- 
ing season Whittier earned money enough at the shoe- 
making to pay for a suit of clothes and his board and 
tuition for six months." So began his training for a 
literary life. 

His home and surroundings were Puritan. Uncle 
Tonis Cabin appeared in the Era, an anti-slavery 
journal, to which he also became a frequent contributor. 
Here were published many of his ringing appeals on 
behalf of emancipation. Every one knows, or ought to 
know, his ode of triumph, his "Laus Deo," on hearing 
the bells ring out upon the abolition of slavery : 

** It is done ! 
Clang of bell and roar of gun 

Send the tidings up and down. 
How the belfries rock and reel ! 
How the great guns, peal on peal, 

Fling the joy from town to town." 

On reaching threescore years and ten, in 1877, a 
banquet of America's greatest citizens was given to him 
by the publishers of the Atlantic Monthly. Emerson, 



Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, were present, 
and Mark Twain, Mrs. Stowe, and others joined in the 

His hymns deserve a place in every hymnal, and 
some are admitted into the more recent collections. 
These are specimen verses : 

" Immortal Love, for ever full, 
For ever flowing free, 
For ever shared, for ever whole, 
A never ebbing sea. 

" Our Friend, our Brother and our Lord, 
What may Thy service be ? 
Nor name, nor form, nor ritual word, 
But simply following Thee." 

" Dear Lord and Father of mankind. 

Forgive our feverish ways ! 
Reclothe us in our rightful mind : 
In purer lives Thy service find. 

In deeper reverence, praise." 

The language is not drawn from the usual vocabulary 
of hymns, but do not our hymns need to be re-clothed 
in fresh phraseology ? 

3. Bryant. 

William Cullen Bryant, one of America's greatest 
poets, is the author also of some of America's most 
pure and finished hymns. A few of these have happily 
been included in our more recent Hymnals. One is — 
all are — worth quoting in full, and specially apposite 


to the great problems of social life now facing tne 
Christian churches : 

" Look from Thy sphere of endless day, 
O God of mercy and of might ; 
In pity look on those who stray 
Benighted in this land of light." 

He is probably more extensively known by Thana- 
topsis than by any other of his numerous poems ; and 
it was written when he was in his eighteenth or 
nineteenth year, although not published till he was 
twenty-one years of age. Strange that one so young 
should take Death as his theme : 

" All that tread 
The globe are but a handful to the tribes 
That slumber in its bosom," 

Bryant has been in succession editor, journalist, and 
poet. For many years he conducted the New York 
Evening Post, an organ of the Democrats. Among his 
literary associates were Dana, Bancroft, and Willis. 

The story of his baptism when over sixty has a 
simple beauty which reflects the man. 

He had gone to Italy to spend the winter of 1858, 
and had settled down near Naples. There he met an 
old acquaintance, the Rev. R. C. Waterston, of Boston. 
In their rambles round Naples they were frequently 

One day, says Curtis, his biographer, "after a 
long walk with his friend on the Bay of Naples, he 
spoke with softened heart of the new beauty that he 


felt in the old truth, and proposed to his friend to 
baptize him. 

" With prayer, and hymn, and spiritual meditation, 
a Httle company of seven in a large upper room, as in 
the Christian story, partook of the Communion, and 
with his good, grey head bowed, William Cullen Bryant 
was baptized." 

This was only a deepening of the religious life in 
him. He had always been devout, a Bible student 
and a strict moralist. But at this point the truth of 
Christianity was '' born again " to him. 

For eighteen years he was a worshipper in a Presby- 
terian Church near his home at Roslyn. It was at the 
request of his minister, Dr. Ely, that he wrote many of 
his hymns. 

The ode sung at the Centennial International Exposi- 
tion at Philadelphia was written by him. 

At the close of the address delivered by Dr. Bellows 
on the occasion of his funeral, the company of mourners 
sang his own hymn : 

" Oh deem not they are blest alone 
Whose days a peaceful tenor keep ; 
The Power Who pities man hath shown 
A blessing for the eyes th at weep." 



I. Adelaide Anne Procter. 

FOR our most perfect songs, as well as for hymns, 
we are indebted to Adelaide Anne Procter, 
daughter of Barry Cornwall. In every drawing-room 
throughout the English-speaking world, mind and ear 
alike have been charmed by The Lost Chord and 
Cleansing Fires, while many have heard Sims Reeves 
sing The Requital. 

Charles Dickens tells how she first entered upon 

"In the spring of the year 1853 I observed, as 
conductor of Household Words^ a short poem among 
the proffered contributions, very different, as I thought, 
from the shoals of verses perpetually setting through 
the office of such a periodical. 

" She was one Miss Mary Berwick, whom I had 
never heard of; and she was to be addressed by letter, 
if addressed at all, at a circulating library in the 
western district of London. Through this channel 
Miss Berwick was informed that her poem was 


accepted, and was invited to send another. She 
complied and became a regular and frequent con- 
tributor. Many letters passed between the journal 
and Miss Berwick, but Miss Berwick herself was 
never seen. . . . 

" We settled somehow, to our complete satisfaction, 
that she was a governess in a family ; that she went to 
Italy in that capacity and returned. We really knew 
nothing whatever of her, except that she was remark- 
ably business-like, punctual, self-reliant, and reliable : 
so I suppose we insensibly invented the rest. . . . 

"This went on until December 1854, when the 
Christmas number entitled The Seven Poor Travellers 
was sent to press. Happening to be going to dine 
that day with an old and dear friend, distinguished in 
literature as Barry Cornwall, I took with me an 
early proof of that number, and remarked, as I laid it 
on the drawing-room table, that it contained a very 
pretty poem written by a certain Miss Berwick. 

" Next day brought me the disclosure that I had so 
spoken of the poem to the mother of its writer in its 
writer's presence ; that the name had been assumed by 
Barry Cornwall's eldest daughter. Miss Adelaide Anne 

Dickens and Barry Cornwall had been friends of 
long standing, and she made the brave resolution : 
" If I send him, in my own name, verses that he 
does not honestly like, either it will be very painful 
to him to return them, or he will print them for papa's 
sake and not for their own. So I have made up my 


mind to take my chance fairly with the unknown 

While still a child, living in her home in Bedford 
Square, London, she was proving her passion for 

" I have before me a tiny album, made of small 
note-paper, into which her favourite passages were 
copied for her by her mother's hand before she herself 
could write. It looks as if she carried it about as 
another little girl might have carried a doll." 

At twenty-six her religious fervour led her into the 
fold of the Roman Catholics. But her Christianity 
was not sectarian nor exclusive : her hymns display 
no denominational colour, and belong to the Church 
Universal. Unlike Faber's, it would be difficult to tell 
from Miss Procter's hymns to what communion she 
belonged. She spent herself now in visiting the sick, 
now in sheltering the homeless, and teaching the 
ignorant ; and again, in rescuing those of her own 
sex who had strayed from virtue. 

"Swift to sympathize and eager to relieve, she 
wrought at such designs with a flushed earnestness 
that disregarded season, weather, time of day or night, 
food, rest." 

The strain soon told upon her constitution. "She 
lay upon her bed through fifteen months. In all that 
time her old cheerfulness never quitted her. She died 

* Miss Procter's Legends a7id Lyrics : Introduction by Charles 
Dickens (2nd series), 


in the arms of the mother who had copied her chosen 
verses, and passed away in peace saying : " It has 
come at last." / 

2. Jean Ingelow 

is a story-teller now in prose and now in verse. A 
native of Ipswich (1828), her first production, published 
when she was twenty-two years of age, was A Rhym- 
ing Chronicle. She early came under the spell of 
Tennyson and Mrs. Browning. She is best in her 
narrative pieces, which have lyric form and moral 
aim. She is introspective and religious in tone, is a 
minute student of man's inner life and of nature's 
changing beauties. 

Among her most successful novels is Off the Skelligs. 
One of her hymns has become part of our most recent 
public praise. 

" And didst Thou leave the race that loved not Thee ? " 

3. Harriet Auber. 
The story of the origin of Harriet Auber's 

" Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed 
His tender, last farewell," 

is told by a writer who assumes the name " Eusebius " : 
'' I happened to pay a visit some nine years since to 
old Daniel Sedgwick's out-of-the-way shop of hymn- 
literature, and while there met the late Rev. Dawson 
Campbell of Ware, Herts, an ardent lover of hymns, 
who, like myself, had gone to the little shop in Sun 


Street in search of hymn-books. In the course of an 
interesting conversation he told me that he had for 
some time occupied the house at Hoddesdon, Herts, 
in which Harriet Auber had formerly lived. She 
had written her beautiful hymn, 

" * Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed 
His tender, last farewell,' 

on a pane of glass in one of the windows with a 
diamond ; and when Mr. Campbell came into posses- 
sion the pane of glass was still intact. Anxious to 
have it as a curiosity specially interesting to him, he 
asked permission of the landlord to remove the pane 
and put another in its place ; but the landlord declined. 
And so, up to that time — seventeen years after the 
author's death — the valuable MS. of this sweet hymn 
remained in its old place. 

" Mr. Campbell died, I believe, only a short while 
afterwards, and I have often wondered what became of 
that pane of glass — whether it still remains unbroken, 
or whether some child's elbow, or some street boy's 
ill-habit of stone-throwing, has made an end of it. 
Among all the curious forms in which hymn-writers 
have written their compositions, I fancy this is the 
only case on record of a hymn written by its author on 
a window-pane. 

This hymn is one of a number that she wrote for her 
Spirit of the Psalms ; or a Compressed Version of the 
Psalms — a collection of sacred pieces by various 



I. T. T. Lynch. 

LIKE Spurgeon, T. T. Lynch was at one time an 
usher in a school. He was only twenty-three 
when he began to preach, gathering poor people 
together in small companies, but without abandoning 
his tutorial duties. After taking a short course of 
study at Highbury College, he undertook the pastorate 
of a dwindling Independent Church at Highgate. 
" There are here [Highgate] nightingales and cuckoos 
as many as one could wish ; but Christians and 
Dissenters are by no means so plentiful." Resigning 
his dying charge, he ministered to a company of 
"scattered " and inquiring spirits, first in a small hired 
room in Mortimer Street, and afterwards in Grafton 
Street. Mornington Church, an iron building, now no 
longer a church, in Hampstead, was erected for him 
by his select admirers, and there he preached for nine 

He was one of those men described by Henry Ward 
Beecher : " sharp, glittering swords that cut through 


the scabbards of the poor flesh holding them." He 
had strength for only one sermon on Sunday, although 
for years he wrote a second, which was read to the 
congregation in the evening by some friend. These 
sermons were published, after his death, under the 
half-playful title Sermons for my Curates. His congre- 
gation consisted mainly of scattered units, gathered 
from all quarters, — minds generally solitary or per- 
plexed, unable to accept popular theology, and yet 
earnest and inquiring. 

His spirit was singularly pure and devout, his mind 
independent, and yet intolerant of mere truth-hunting. 
So pecuHar was he in personal appearance that when 
for the first time he rose at College to address his 
fellow-students, they greeted him with laughter. But 
in a few minutes he had them under the spell of his 
intense thought. 

His hymns are gradually finding their way into 
books of praise. One is well known : 

" Gracious Spirit, dwell with me ; 
I myself would gracious be." 

His hymns are connected with a theological contro- 
versy which, although almost forgotten now, thirty 
years ago kept the churches in a " down-grade " 

They are all taken from The Rivulet: Hymns for 
Heart and Voice. Scarcely had they appeared when 
the Morning Advertiser — organ of the Evangelicals and 
the brewers ! — fulminated its anathemas on the book. 


" Nearly the whole of the hymns might have been 
written by a Deist, and a very large portion might be 
sung by a congregation of Freethinkers." Dr. Camp- 
bell, editor of the British Banner, took up the heresy hunt, 
banned the Rivulet as " Christless," as " deliberately 
contradicting the Word of God." It *' might have been 
written by a man who had never seen a Bible," — and 
so on ad nauseam. 

A band of fifteen ministers published a protest 
against the fierce attack made on this delicate and 
unique spirit. Among his defenders were Thomas 
Binney, Baldwin Brown, and Newman Hall. 

The attack drew from him Songs Controversial and 
The Ethics of Quotation^ by Silent Long, containing 
poetical replies. The title-page of the latter bore the 
scathing sarcasm, so unlike his hymns : 

" Quote him to death ! Quote him to death ! 
Hit him and hear not a word that he saith ; 
Shout and cry out, for this is the man 
Out of whose spirit the * Rivulet ' ran. 
What is his soul but a cauldron that brims 
Over and over with poisonous hymns ? " 

The controversy undermined his ever-feeble health, and 
laid him aside for a whole year ; and no doubt hastened 
his death. 

Twelve years after the first issue of the Rivulet he 
added sixty-seven new hymns to the book. ''There 
came upon me about March, and stayed with me for some 
time, a spirit of hymn-writing, or rather making, for I 


seldom compose verse in hand and paper before me." 
" I am issuing a new edition of the Rivulet [1868]. 
Though the Thames has not yet been set on fire, this 
lesser stream [_Rivtdef\ once blazed famously. It will 
not prove combustible now, I think ; and nobody need 
either fear or loathe to drink of the river, unless he is 
very 'Egyptian' — that is, very Evangelical — indeed." 

He died with these words, so expressive of the 
yearning of his soul, on his lips : " Now I am going 
to begin to live." 

2. Adams. 

Sarah Adams, although a Unitarian, has written one 
of our favourite hymns : 

** Nearer, my God, to Thee." 

It has been severely criticized because it leaves out 
all reference to Christ. This criticism is, however, a 
gun that kicks ; for it applies equally to the Book 
of Esther, which contains no mention of God. But 
surely the latter reveals the finger of God, and the 
former the spirit of Christ. Not so thought the editors 
of the Baptist Hymn Book, for whom the Rev. A. J. 
Russell wrote a concluding verse : 

" Christ alone beareth me 
Where Thou dost shine ; 
Joint-heir He maketh me 

Of the Divine. 
In Christ my soul shall be 
Nearest, my God, to Thee, 
Nearest to Thee." 


Mr. Russell should also be engaged to compose a closing 
stanza for each of the Psalms ; for the name of Christ 
is not mentioned in them. This addition of Mr. Russell's 
ranks with the stanza affixed by Bickersteth to 
Newman's "Lead, kindly Light." 

Sarah Flower — afterwards Mrs. Adams — was one of 
two sisters of great literary and musical capacity. For 
the hymns of the one, the other sister, whose taste 
was musical, composed tunes. Thirteen of her Hymns 
were embodied in the Hymns and Anthems^ compiled 
by her minister, who was also the founder of the 
Westminster Review. 

Her husband was a London civil engineer of repute, 
who also possessed considerable literary skill. At her 
funeral at Harlow, Essex, in 1849, ^"^^ ^^ her own 
hymns — said to be 

" He giveth sun, He giveth shower " — 
was sung by the company of mourners. 

3. Palgrave. 

F. T. Palgrave, now Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 
succession to Professor Shairp, is a literary and art critic 
as much as a poet. For a time he acted as secretary to 
Earl Granville, but his tastes and genius are altogether 
literary. He has written Essays on Art^ has made two 
selections of poetical gems — The Golden Treasury and 
The Children's Treasuty. 

His volumes of verse have all the classical grace 
of Greek poetry. They are characterized by symmetry 


and refinement, and an absence of fervent passion. 
His Lyrical Dreams and his Idyl/s and Songs are 
works of pure art. 

His volume of Hymns reveals the same quaHties of 
finish and form. We would name one hymn as almost 
perfect : 

" O Light of life, O Saviour dear, 
Before we sleep bow down Thine ear ; 
Through dark and day, o'er land and sea, 
We have no other hope but Thee," etc. 

One piece, named The City of Gody contains two 
stanzas of beautiful Christian reflection : 

'* Where'er the gentle heart 
Finds courage from above ; 
Where'er the heart forsook 

Warms with the breath of love ; 
Where faith bids fear depart, 
City of God, thou art. 

'• Where in life's common ways 
With cheerful feet we go ; 
When in His steps we tread 
Who trod the way of woe ; 
Where He is in the heart, 
City of God, thou art. 



THE Romance of the' Hymnal is but half told. 
Very regretfully do we leave untouched the 
history of the early classic sacred poetry, pictured so 
exquisitely by George Macdonald in his England^s 
Antiphon ; the story of Hymns Ancient and Modern 
and Sir Henry Baker, Chairman of the famous " Forty " 
who compiled that most successful of all Hymnals; 
*'//. L. L.," Hymns from the Land of Luther, trans- 
lated from the German by the two sisters Mrs. 
Findlater and Miss J. Borthwick ; the Fatherless 
Hymns; and the various versions of the Psalms 
and Paraphrases. Other names remain : our old 
friends Josiah Conder, Anne Steele, Olivers, Perronet, 
Kelly, Robinson ; the " saintly " McCheyne, Monod, 
and Burns ; two knights. Sir John Bowring, a 
Unitarian, and Sir R. Grant. 

These, too, have been ministers of grace to our 
spirits ; and we place them in the Legion of Honour 
of the Christian Church. 



Author of " United Praise. 


The fineness ivhich a hymn or psahn affords 
Is when the soul unto the lines accords^ 

George Herbert. 


1. Dr. H. J. Gauntlett. 

2. Henry Smart. 

3. Dr. E. J. Hopkins. 

4. Rev. J. B. Dykes, Mus. Doc. 

5. Dr. W. H. Monk. 

6. Sir John Stainer. 

7. Sir Arthur Sullivan. 

8. Mr. Joseph Barnby. 

" The Father spake ! In grand rcverberaiions 

Through space rolled on the mighty music tide ; 
While to its low, majestic modulations, 
The clouds of chaos slowly stvept aside. 

" And lu/ieresocvcr, in His rich creation, 

Szveet music breathes — in wave, or bird, or soul — 
'Tis but the faint and far reverberation 

Of the! great tune to ivhich the planets roll !" 

Frances S. Osgood. 


1806— 1876. 

HE period of time intervening between the above 
dates is one of great interest in the history of 
English psalmody. In the early part of the century 
hymn singing, especially in the Established Church, 
was chiefly confined to metrical versions of the Psalms^ 
sung to tunes crowded with twists, turns, and passing 
notes, and having repeats which often occasioned more 
humour than devotion. Readers of George Eliot's 
Scenes of Clerical Life, and Washington Irving's Sketch 
Book, will remember how vividly these delightful 
authors describe the performances of village choirs in 
days gone by. The following extract from Fraser^s 
Magazine, September i860, is very droll and highly 
descriptive : 

"The particular choir in our own church we recollect well 
to this day, and some of their most striking tunes. We used 
to listen with mingled awe and admiration to the performance 
of the 1 8th Psalm in particular. Take two lines as an illus- 
tration of their style : 

' And snatched me from the furious rage 
Of threatening waves that proudly swelled.' 

The words, 'and snatched me from,' were repeated severally 
by the trebles, the altos, the tenors, and the bass voices; then 


all together sang the words two or three times over ; in like 
manner did they toss and tumble over ' the furious rage,' 
apparently enjoying the whirligig scurrying of their fugues, 
like so many kittens chasing their own tails, till at length, 
after they had torn and worried that single line, even to the 
exhaustion of the most powerful lungs — after a very red- 
faced bass, who kept the village inn, had become perceptibly 
apoplectic about the eyes, and the bassoon was evidently 
blown, and a tall, thin man, with a long nose, which was his 
principal vocal organ, and who sang tenor, was getting out 
of wind — they all, clarionet, bassoon, violoncello, the red-faced 
man, the tall tenor, and the rest, rushed pell-mell into ' the 
waves that proudly swelled.' We have not forgotten the 
importance with which they used to walk up the church path 
in a body with their instruments after this effort ; and our 
childish fancy revelled in the impression that, after the 
clergyman, and the Duke of Wellington, who had won the 
battle of Waterloo a few years before, these singers were 
the most notable public characters in being." 

In town churches the singing, what little there was 

of it, was mostly confined to the caterwaulings of a 

few charity children seated around the organ. Charles 

Dickens, who certainly kept his eyes and ears open, 

refers to psalmody as if it were only a concern of the 

charity children. In his Sketches by Boz (published 

in 1836), Captain Purday 

" finds fault with the sermon every Sunday ; says that the 
organist ought to be ashamed of himself; offers to back 
himself for any amount to sing the psalms better than all the 
children put together, male or female." 

No wonder that loud cries of reform came from both 
pulpit and pew ; and, although the Oxford Tractarian 
Movement is generally credited with being the force 
which impelled the necessary changes, yet other earnest 


workers had already begun to sow the seeds of reform, 
foremost amongst them being the subject of our 

Henry John Gauntlett, the son of a clergyman, was 
born at Wellington, Shropshire, in 1806. His father 
shortly afterwards became vicar of Olney, Buckingham- 
shire, and four of his sons were successively organists 
of his church — Henry taking the duties at the early 
age of nine. When he was sixteen, young Gauntlett 
conducted a performance of the Messiah, for which 
he had copied all the parts with his own hand, and 
rehearsed all the performers. His father elected to 
bring him up to the law, and in his twentieth year he 
was articled to a London solicitor. He practised till 
1844, when he relinquished the law and adopted music 
as his profession. 

He studied the organ under "Old Sam" Wesley, 
but soon became so proficient that Wesley passed the 
lesson hour in playing to his pupil instead of listening 
to him. He was organist of St. Olave's, Southwark 
(1827); Christ Church, Newgate Street; Union Chapel, 
Islington (1852-61); and St. Bartholomew-the-Less, 
Smithfield. The high reputation which Dr. Allon's 
chapel deservedly enjoys for congregational singing 
is largely due to Dr. Gauntlett's exertions during the 
thirteen years he directed the musical portion of the 
services there. 

In 1842 he was nominated organist to the King of 
Hanover; and in the same year received the degree 
of Doctor of Music from the Archbishop of Canterbury. 


The degree had not been conferred by the Archbishop 
for two hundred years, and Gauntlett was the second 
recipient of it, the first being Dr. John Blow. 

Dr. Gauntlett was a remarkable man in many 
respects. Mendelssohn said of him, " His literary 
attainments, his knowledge of the history of music, 
his acquaintance with acoustical laws, his marvellous 
memory, his philosophical turn of mind, as well as his 
practical experience, rendered him one of the most 
remarkable professors of the age." He was very 
intimate with Mendelssohn, who specially selected him 
to play the organ at the production of Elijah at Bir- 
mingham in 1846, an honour which many an organist 
might covet. Mendelssohn at that time had written 
no organ part, so Gauntlett had the anxious task of 
playing from a full score. In one place he introduced 
the organ where Mendelssohn had not so intended. 

'' When you began to play in ," said Mendelssohn 

to him afterwards, " I ran cold all down my back ! I 
did not intend to have any organ there, but the effect 
is so fine I shall put it in." 

Dr. Gauntlett's life-work may be divided into three 
portions : his literary work ; his introduction of the C 
or German compass to English organs ; and that which 
was the crowning ambition of his life, the improvement 
of congregational singing in the churches and chapels 
of the land. 

His literary powers were of no mean order. He had 
a strong, vigorous style, and expressed his opinions 
fearlessly. He was full of learning, common-sense, 


vehemence, and dogmatism. But in pressing his 
strong opinions he sometimes, no doubt unconsciously, 
offended delicate susceptibiHties, and thus made 
enemies. He was one of the earliest champions of 
Beethoven in this country. He was a warm admirer 
of Bach, whose intense Protestant feeling was doubt- 
less one of the attractions which early led Gauntlett 
to a study of that master, the fibre of whose choral 
songs he worked up in his own psalmody. 

Dr. Gauntlett was, in his day, an organist of high 
attainments. He was probably the first advocate in 
this country for the German system of organ-building, 
in which the compass of the instrument was altered 
and extended from G to C, so as to correspond with 
the orchestral bass. Like most reformers, he en- 
countered the strongest opposition, but finding a valu- 
able auxiliary in William Hill, the organ-builder, he 
attained his aim, and through his exertions the C 
organ was firmly established in England. He superin- 
tended the construction and re-construction (on his 
plans) of the organs in Christ Church, Newgate Street ; 
St. Peter's, Cornhill ; St. Olave's, Southwark ; Dr. 
Raffles's church, in Liverpool ; and the Birmingham 
Town Hall. It was in reference to the organs of St. 
Peter's and Christ Church that Mendelssohn made his 
well-known observation, that " but for him " [Gaunt- 
lett] " I should have had no organ to play upon. He 
ought to have a statue." In 1851 he took out a patent 
for applying electric or magnetic action to the organ ; 
and proposed a scheme whereby three or four large 


organs should be erected in different parts of the 
Crystal Palace, and all be played at the same time 
from one keyboard by means of electricity ; but the 
proposal was never carried out, owing to its great 

Few musicians have done more for church music in 
England than Dr. Gauntlett, so far as regards hymn- 
tunes. For the last forty years of his life he was 
engaged in composing, editing, and publishing psalm- 
tunes, chants, and anthems ; and there is hardly an 
important collection of church music published within 
that time, in the preparation of which he was not 
concerned either as editor or contributor. It is not 
too much to say that his wide experience, his finished 
taste, his unceasing and unwearied industry, have 
assisted in raising English metrical music for public 
worship to a high rank in Christian song. 

Amongst the more important of his works may be 
named The Church Hymn and Tune-book (edited in con- 
junction with the Rev. W. J. Blew), a model afterwards 
copied by the compilers of Tlymns Ancient and Moderny 
and subsequent hymnals ; the Comprehensive Tune- 
hook) the Hallelujah (with the Rev. J. J. Waite) ; The 
Congregational Psalmist (with the Rev. Dr. Allon) ; 
Hymns for Little Children, etc. He also edited the 
Church Musician (a periodical) ; the Prayer-book Noted; 
a Gregorian, a Cathedral, and a Bible Psalter. A 
comparison of the above tune-books with those which 
preceded them will show how much church music is 
indebted to Dr. Gauntlett for the present style of four- 



part harmonies, and the exchange of noble simplicity 
for the shakes, graces, and turns of the old tunes. 

It is as a composer of hymn-tunes that Dr. Gauntlett 
will be best remembered hereafter. He was a most 
prolific composer. He once said that he thought he 
must have written *' thousands of tunes." He would 
write a tune while sitting at the table with the same 
ease as that with which most people pen a letter. 
Some of his tunes w^ere not written to the words 
commonly associated with them. For instance, " St. 
Alphege," sung to hymns of such opposite sentiments 
as " Brief life is here our portion," and '' The voice 
that breathed o'er Eden," was written for a hymn 
beginning, " The hymn of glory sing we." This tune 
(" St. Alphege ") he wrote at the dinner-table while 
a messenger was waiting, as the proper tune for the 
hymn had been mislaid or was wanting. Pushing 
his plate on one side, he said, '' Give me some paper," 
and in a minute or two the well-known tune was 
written. Another tune, " St. Albinus," was likewise 
not composed for the words '^ Jesus lives ; no longer 
now," etc., usually sung to it. "Angels to our jubilee " 
was the first line of the hymn for which the tune was 
written; and in its original form the tune has the fifth 
note dotted instead of the third, as in some hymnals. 
His charming tune " Irby," to ''Once in royal David's 
city," a great favourite with children, was originally 
written as a melody with accompaniment, and not in 
four parts. 

On February 21st, 1876, Dr. Gauntlett, at his house 


at Kensington, closed his useful and laborious life. 
On the morning of his death he wrote seven hymn- 
tunes before breakfast. On returning from his after- 
noon walk he sat down in his study, and passed awa}^ 
quietly and very suddenly. The reform of the music 
of the sanctuary was his unceasing work till the very 
hour that the Master called him. 

1813— 1879. 

THE name of Henry Smart is well known wher- 
ever English hymns are sung. Though his tunes 
are fewer in number, they almost, if not quite, equal 
in popularity those by Sullivan and Dykes, and they 
may be fitly classed as favourites in our " service of 

Henry Smart, the son of a musician, was born in 
London, October 26th, 18 13. His uncle was Sir 
George Smart, a celebrated musician and conductor in 
his day (also composer to the Chapel Royal), who gave 
lessons in singing until he was past eighty years of age. 
As a boy, Henry was passionately fond of engineering, 
and would spend his half-holidays in rambling through 
the workshops of organ builders, and of Maudsley's, the 
well-known engineers. His mechanical drawings at the 
age of twelve were remarkable, and had means been 
forthcoming, there is little doubt that our composer 
would have become an eminent engineer instead of 
a distinguished musician. Upon declining a commission 
in the Indian army, he was articled to a solicitor, sorely 


against his will. After having served four years of his 
time he learnt enough of law to discover that his articles 
were informal, not having been properly witnessed, 
and, greatly to his mother's dismay, he said, " I took 
up law to please my relations^ and now I'll leave it to 
please my self ^ He had extraordinary natural faculties 
for music, and was to a great extent self-taught. 
Organ-playing soon became his constant passion, and 
no scheme of life found favour with him which did not 
include this fascinating pursuit. His first organ appoint- 
ment, at the parish church of Blackburn, Lancashire, 
he obtained at the age of eighteen, by which time he 
had already become an organist above the average. 
Pupils soon came to him, but he felt that he himself 
had much to learn. Late on winter nights he would 
remain shut up in the church, mastering the difficulties 
of his instrument, while doubtless the poor blower often 
wished him in bed. He took a fancy to learning the 
vioHn, but the self-inflicted tortures of the scales were 
too much for him, and in a fit of anguish he threw the 
unlucky fiddle on the ground and stamped it to pieces. 
His musical services were often in request for Churches 
of all communions. Once he conducted Beethoven's 
Mass in C for the Roman Catholics entirely from 
memory, without a copy, as the score was unaccount- 
ably missing. For a missionary meeting of Noncon- 
formists he wrote his beautiful hymn-tune "Lancashire." 
He trained his own choir to sing entirely from memory, 
as he considered the singers were much more reliable 
when unencumbered with printed parts. 


In 1836 (aged twenty-three), Smart left Blackburn 
for London. He was organist first of St. Philip's, 
Regent Street (1836-44), then of St. Luke's, Old 
Street, City (1844-64), after competition, the judges 
being Messrs. Turle, Goss, and Toplifif. In 1864 he 
became organist of St. Pancras Church, which appoint- 
ment he held till his death. 

Smart's was a busy life, but, as he kept no diary, and 
as little of his correspondence has been preserved, the 
materials for detailed incidents are of the scantiest 
description. His time was almost entirely occupied 
with composing and his church duties. He was a 
great connoisseur of organs, for which his musical 
instincts and engineering proclivities specially qualified 
him. He was often consulted about, and had much to 
do with, the planning and erection of organs. To a 
large extent he drew up the specifications of the large 
organs in Leeds Town Hall, the City Hall and St. 
Andrew's Hall in Glasgow. He personally superin- 
tended the erection of the last named instrument in 
every detail, although he was quite blind at the time. 
He was very severe in his criticism, and fearlessly out- 
spoken in his opinions. Some of the congregation of 
a chapel in Leeds repeatedly pressed Smart to go and 
try their (as they thought) " beautiful instrument," and 
after some persuasion he went. He did not seem to like 
the flue work, but when he got to the reeds, he uttered 
a very significant " Bah ! " One of the company said, 
" Now, Mr. Smart, those are fine reeds, I think," where- 
upon Smart replied, " Fine, indeed ! are they ? The 


only sort of sounds I can liken them to is what I have 
heard in cottages when they're /ry/;/^ sausages /" 

At an early age our composer suffered from defective 
eyesight, which became worse until he ultimately lost it 
altogether. He was therefore obliged to dictate all his 
compositions to an amanuensis, and it may be readily 
imagined how severely trying this mode of expressing 
his thoughts must have been to a sensitive and highly- 
strung temperament. But his good daughter, Clara, 
cheered and encouraged him. She devoted herself 
heart and soul to his interests and work, and spared 
no pains in writing down every detail of his composi- 
tions from his dictation. With ordinary songs, etc., 
his plan was to have the words read over to him two or 
three times — they were then firmly fixed in his memory; 
he would then go to his '' den," as he termed his little 
study, light his pipe, pace up and down the room, or go 
into the garden, and return to play the piece over on 
the piano. Calling for his daughter to get out music- 
paper, pen, and ink, he would proceed at once to dictate 
the thoughts which were in his mind. The process 
was very plain and intelligible, though painfully slow. 
For instance, he would proceed thus : — 

" Symphony to a song, key G with one sharp ; treble 
and bass clefs, | time ; treble, crotchet chord, tail up, 
D and B below the lines ; two quavers, tails up, bound 
together ; G second line, B above ; bar. Crotchet, A 
second space, E below, C below. Two quavers, tails 
up, bound together ; E first line, A second line," and so 
on, and the result would be 




iizgj: zjig; 

All this trouble just for two bars in the treble only, 
without bass ; but when, instead of a song or organ 
piece, it came to be an oratorio, written in full score 
for a large orchestra, solos, chorus, and organ, the 
wonder is increased, and the labour appears to be 
altogether herculean. 

Smart's vocal music is characterised by freshness of 
melody and purity of part writing, and is invariably 
interesting. Although he wrote cantatas and a large 
number of songs, etc., he is chiefly known by his 
church and organ music, in which he happily combines 
the ancient, or strict style, with modern harmonies and 
modes of musical expression. There is probably no 
Te Deum more popular than " Smart in F " ; and when 
we consider its grandeur, pathos, and depth of ex- 
pression, it is no wonder that singers and hearers are 
thrilled at the soul-stirring strains of this noble setting 
of the grand Ambrosian hymn. Among many tunes 
that Smart contributed to various hymnals the follow- 
ing may be considered favourites in " quires and places 
where they sing": '' Heathlands," "Lancashire," 
"Northumberland," " Regent Square," "St. Leonard," 
and " Pilgrims " ; the last-named is not only the best 
known, but is a fine specimen of the modern hymn 
tune with simple harmonies. It is set to Faber's 
" Hark, hark my soul, angelic songs are swelling," 
and no other tune suits the words nearly so well. 



Space will not admit of detailed reference to Smart's 
organ music. Suffice it to say that it is the delight of 
every organist worthy of the name, and that it in- 
variably gives pleasure to those who can appreciate 
tuneful yet good music when they hear it. 

Before closing this brief notice of Smart's life, some 
reference should be made to his opinions and practices 
in connection with church music and congregational 
singing. Smart preferred the old word "Psalmody" 
to the more modern term " Hymnody," and the stately, 
dignified, "measured beat and slow" movement of the 
old psalm tunes was more to his taste than were the 
more effeminate productions of modern times. Nothing 
puerile or childish ever met with his approval. "The 
tunes," he used to say, " which find the most favour 
nowadays are those which best please the ladies ; and 
the ladies, I hold, are not the best judges of what is 
sound and good in psalmody." 

He had no sympathy with Ritualism, and detested 
Gregorians in any shape or form. On one occasion he 
met a young high-church curate at dinner v/ho was an 
enthusiastic admirer of the Gregorian tones. The 
curate dogmatised too much on the subject to please 
Smart, who lost his temper entirely. Raising his fine, 
stalwart figure to its full height, Smart said, " Now, 
look here ! this won't do ; who asked your opinion, sir, 
upon musical questions of which you evidently know 
absolutely nothing? You may rely upon it that some 
day, when you and your friends are shouting those ugly 
Gregorian chants. Heaven will punish you, and rain 


down bags of crotchets upon your heads, and prevent you 
from ever singing them again ! " 

Smart was an advocate of unison singing in con- 
gregational praise, and his views were admirably put 
into practice at St. Pancras, where he was so long 
organist. He had no choir ; only about twenty boys 
frorn the National School, who practised with him once 
a week. His accompaniments to the broad voice of 
the congregational song were masterly. He would fre- 
quently alter the harmony to give appropriate colouring 
to the words. He had a strong aversion to playing 
the tunes quickly, and said, *' I won't play them fast, 
and I tell you why. First, because it is vulgar ; 
second, because it is musically wrong (for all music 
has its proper time) ; and third, there is no authority 
for fast playing. Sometimes I am told that the con- 
gregation would like to sing more quickly, but I answer 
that I am the best judge of their inclinations, and I 
have a good deal of trouble to keep them up to their 
present speed." He rightly acknowledged, however, 
that the St. Pancras service would not do everywhere. 
There are very few organists who are gifted with the 
freshness, fertility, knowledge of the various harmonies 
of which a given melody is susceptible, and mastery of 
the keyboard, as was Henry Smart. 

With his love of congregational singing, and his 
profound knowledge of harmony, it is not surprising 
that he was appointed musical editor of The Presbyterian 
Hymnal (used by the United Presbyterian Church of 
Scotland), which was first issued in 1877. 


The following personal reminiscence of Smart is 
taken from Mr. J. Spencer Curwen's interesting Studies 
in Worship Music (ist Series). Mr. Curwen says : — 
" On one occasion he invited me to sit with him on 
a Sunday evening in the roomy organ pew at St. 
Pancras Church. Mr. Smart was so companionable 
and chatty that he liked to have friends with him at 
his organ, and indeed I believe he was seldom alone. 
As the service opened he beckoned me to come 
and sit on the stool beside him. At the * Cantate 
Domine' the people began to make themselves heard. 
' Do you hear that ? ' he said, as the sound rose 
from nave and gallery ; ' that, to my mind, is finer 
than any choir ! ' And he played away, revelling in 
the massive unison which he was accompanying. 
He managed to give expression to the hymn in this 
way [it should be remembered that he was then quite 
blind] : The youth who was his amanuensis and com- 
panion would read the words to him, while he listened 
with head bent, drinking in, as it were, the spirit of 
the poet. Then, when the time came for singing, he 
was ready. But now and then in the progress of the 
hymn he would forget, and ask, ' What's the next 
verse about ? ' changing the character of his accom- 
paniment to suit the words. * Hark at that,' he said 
to me, as he played an old tune which he admired, 
'there's a fine line. Regular German that. Could 
you take that faster ? ' " 

The following amusing anecdote relating to Henry 
Smart may prove of interest. It was formerly the 


custom for the organist to play a few chords by way of 
interlude between each verse of the hymn. In Smart's 
early organist days there were some grumblers (the 
race is still in existence) who adversely criticised his 
playing in the service. Smart said nothing, but waited 
his opportunity. It came when ''Miles' Lane," to ''AH 
hail the power of Jesu's Name," was to be sung. He 
started it in the usual key, B flat. All went well at 
the first verse. In the interlude between verses one 
and two he modulated, almost imperceptibly and very 
cleverly, into B, a semitone higher ; between verses 
two and three he modulated into C, when it was found 
that the high notes on " Crown Him " did not come 
so easily ; between verses three and four a semitone 
higher still, and so on, until the high notes of the 
remaining verses must have silently followed those of 
the " Lost Chord," and it may be that only in heaven 
we shall hear those lost high notes. Needless to 
say that the young organist effectually silenced (in 
two ways) his critics by this masterly display of skill. 
The moral of this incident is that organists, be they 
young or old, are only human beings, and cannot 
please everybody at the same time. 

Smart died after a short illness, literally in harness, 
at his house near Primrose Hill, London, on July 6th, 
1879, at the age of sixty-seven. On his deathbed he 
received the news that, upon the recommendation of Lord 
Beaconsfield, the Queen had been graciously pleased to 
grant him a pension of ;^iOO per annum from the Civil 
List. He never lived to enjoy this reward, but was 


much gratified at this Royal acknowledgment of the 
services he had so faithfully rendered to musical art. 
He was buried in the picturesque cemetery of Hamp- 
stead, in the same '' parcel of ground " where three 
other of Music's gifted sons — Joseph Maas, Walter 
Bache, and George Alexander Macfarren — sleep ''the 
sweet sleep of death." 



T T is Easter Sunday. EoUowing the example of 
^ Dr. Johnson, '' let us take a walk down Fleet Street." 
Proceeding eastward we soon arrive at the narrow 
entrance to Inner Temple Lane. Entering the half- 
open gateway we find ourselves in the region of law 
and lawyers. All is calm and still, but should the 

strains of 

" Brief life is here our portion" 

Strike our ears, we should appreciate its appropriate- 
ness. A few steps and we reach the portal of the 
celebrated Temple Church. 

The history and monuments of this church are 
very interesting. It is a beautiful Gothic stone 
building, and was founded by the Templars in the 
reign of Henry II., who built it in imitation of the 
Temple of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It prac- 
tically consists of two churches in one. The circular 
portion (one of the four round churches in England) 
is Transition and Early English, and was consecrated 
1 1 85; the choir (or "square" portion) is pure Early 
English, and was consecrated in 1240. Some of the 


Crusaders are buried here, and Oliver Goldsmith's 
remains rest in the churchyard. 

Lawyers and musicians have, perhaps, not much 
in common, unless it is in their mutual acquaintance 
of the bar. Yet the music at the Temple Church 
has long been famous. The organ is of historical 
interest. About 1683 ^^e Benchers were desirous of 
having a first-class organ. Bernard Schmidt (a 
German who afterwards swelled the roll of the 
English Smiths, but with the prefix "Father") 
competed with John and Renatus Harris for the 
honour of supplying the instrument. Each builder 
erected an organ in the church. Smith's was in 
a gallery at the west end of the square portion, and 
Harris's on the south . side of the communion table. 
The two instruments were used on alternate Sundays. 
Drs. Blow and Purcell performed upon Smith's organ, 
while Harris employed Draghi, organist to Queen 
Catherine, to play upon his. Ultimately, both organs 
were played at the same services, and after repeated 
trials the Benchers, at the end of 1687, or the beginning 
of 1688, decided to accept Father Smith's organ on 
the ground of its greater strength and depth of tone. 
The original specification included three full sets of 
keys and quarter notes (" great, choir, and Ecchos "), 
four hundred and one pipes, and twenty-three stops, 
among which were some German stops hitherto 
unknown in England. The organ has been frequently 
added to, and entirely reconstructed. It now con- 
tains four manuals and a pedale, 3,643 pipes, and 

DR. E. J. HOPKINS. 297 

seventy stops. Here, seated at the key-boards of 
this fine instrument, we find the subject of this 
sketch very much " at home." 

Edward John Hopkins was born at Westminster, 
June 30th, 1 818. He is one of a musical family. 
His brother, John Hopkins, is at the present time 
organist of Rochester Cathedral, and his cousin, 
John Larkin Hopkins, was organist of Trinity College, 
and also to the University of Cambridge. Like 
Sir Arthur Sullivan, he was a chorister of the Chapel 
Royal, St. James's. In 1834, Master Hopkins, then 
" a youth of sixteen, in a light blue jacket-suit of 
clothes with gilt buttons," aspired to the vacant 
organist's seat at Mitcham Church. Turle (then 
organist of Westminster Abbey) knew of this, and 
one day contrived that Hopkins should play a service 
at Westminster Abbey in the hearing of an influential 
Mitcham amateur. The competition took place, and 
No. 7 (Hopkins) was chosen ; but his sixteen years, 
to say nothing of his ''jacket-suit," were against him, 
and the committee hesitated. Then spoke up the 
influential amateur, who quoted Turle : " Tell them " 
(the committee), "with my compliments, that if they 
fear to trust Hopkins to accompany chants and 
hymns at Mitcham Church, Mr. Turle does not 
hesitate to trust him to play services and anthems 
at Westminster Abbey." That, of course, settled 
the question, and Hopkins was duly appointed. After 
Mitcham he was organist successively of St Peter's, 
Islington, and St. Luke's, Berwick Street. 


On Sunday, May 7th, 1843, Mr. Hopkins, at the 
request of the Benchers, played his first service at 
the Temple Church. There were a great many 
candidates for the post, but the contest ultimately lay 
between him and the late George Cooper. In the 
following October, Mr. Hopkins, then twenty-five, 
was duly elected organist, and shortly afterwards 
choirmaster as well. At that time there were but 
three surpliced choirs in London — St. Paul's Cathedral, 
Westminster Abbey, and St. James's, Chapel Royal. 
When the beautifully restored Temple Church was 
reopened in 1842, the Benchers decided to estabhsh 
a choral service in their celebrated fane. In the old 
days, the organ filled the arch between the round 
and the square churches (it is now in a specially 
constructed chamber at the north side), and the only 
music was that of a mixed quartet, who sat in front 
of the organ and revealed themselves by withdrawing 
a curtain as the time for each psalm-tune came round. 
The rest of the service was said, not sung. 

Mr. Hopkins soon revolutionised the musical service, 
which he has raised to a very high standard of 
excellence. The singing of the boys is faultless, and 
causes envy in the breast of many a choirmaster. 
Every afternoon he spends an hour and a half with 
his little men, practising with the piano only, and on 
Saturdays there is a full rehearsal with organ in the 
church. Mr. Curwen truly says, "At the Sunday 
service, the ear of the listener is arrested by the 
smoothness and blending of the general effect. It is 

DR. E. J. HOPKINS. 299 

the purest art. Mr. Hopkins knows the power of 
soft music over the emotions, how the spirit of the 
worshipper yields to the still, small voice when 
thunder and declamation fail to touch. With a choir 
of twelve boys and six men he realises his ideal of 
* quality, not quantity. ' " 

Dr. Hopkins, who received his degree from the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, is no less famous as an 
accompanist than as a choirmaster. " In accompan}-- 
ing," he says, "the organ should be the background ; 
and the remedy for indecision and flattening in choirs 
is not more organ, but better choir-training." In 
this respect he practises what he preaches. It is a 
lesson to any organist to listen to the exquisite taste 
of the Temple organist's accompaniments : — varied, 
refined, illustrative, delicate, and always in perfect 
sympathy with the words. The chanting alone is worth 
going many miles to hear — no gabbling, every syllable 
clearly enunciated, punctuation duly observed, em- 
phasis natural, intonation true, and the accompaniment 
a model to be imitated. 

As a composer Dr. Hopkins is favourably known. 
His anthems, services, hymn -tunes, and organ pieces 
are much sung and played, and have a high reputation. 
In his compositions for the church he favours the 
warmth and emotional freedom of the modern style, 
without altogether disregarding the traditions of the 
English school of church music. His great desire is to 
draw music and words into closer sympathy, and not 
allow the words to be a mere peg on which to hang 


the music. '' Music," he says, " should so reflect the 
words that a foreigner, ignorant of our language, and 
coming into the church, should be able to tell the 
character of the words from the character of the 


** In his hymn-tunes " (again quoting from Mr. 
Curwen) '' Dr. Hopkins has fed his taste upon the old 
psalmody, though his tunes are many of them modern 
in character, and his popular tune to * Saviour, again 
to Thy dear Name we raise,' shows that he is abreast 
of the movement of the times." (This tune should 
always be sung in unison, with varying organ har- 
monies, as originally written by the composer.) " It 
is interesting in another respect. Dr. Hopkins has 
formed the design of reviving the old church modes in 
the construction of hymn-tunes. 'Saviour again/ but 
for one inflected note at the end of the second line, is 
in the Mixo-Lydian mode — the mode of the fifth of the 
scale — that in which ' Scots, wha hae ' is composed. 
It was designedly written in this mode by Dr. Hopkins, 
and the melody derives much of its freshness and charm 
from this novel construction." 

Dr. Hopkins rightly objects to adaptations from the 
great masters for hymn-tunes. '' The tune," he says, 
" should be the offspring of particular words, and 
should be consecrated to them." In this way he him- 
self composes, taking care to write for the hymn as a 
whole, and not for the first verse alone. One great 
charm of his tunes is the purity and singableness of 
the inner parts, as well as the melody. In many of 

DR. E. J. HOPKINS. 301 

them the alto or tenor part runs the soprano very close 
in point of tunefulness. Happy are the altos and 
tenors when they have to sing a tune by Hopkins ! 

Dr. Hopkins enjoys a high reputation as musical 
editor of modern hymnals. In addition to his own 
Temple Service Book, he has edited The Wesleyan 
Hymn-book^ Free Church of Scotland Hymnal, Hymnal 
of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, Church Praise 
(Presbyterian Church of England), and the Congrega- 
tional Hymnal. So that various denominations, in 
different parts of the world, reap the benefit of his 
experience and refined taste. Mention must also be 
made of a literar}^ work of great value, which is a 
standard book of reference on the great subject of 
which it treats : The Organ : its History and Construc- 
tion, by Drs. E. F. Rimbault and E. J. Hopkins. 
Speaking of this valuable work, the late Sir G. A. 
Macfarren said, " Dr. Hopkins has made known what 
might be called the physiology of the instrument." 

Dr. Hopkins has now been organist of the Temple 
Church for forty-six years, and, speaking in 1884, he 
said, " During forty-one years I can hardly call to 
mind more than twenty occasions of absence." Al- 
though past '^threescore years and ten," he is still 
active, and delights in his congenial work. His many 
friends will heartily wish that he may live to celebrate 
the jubilee of his organistship of the Temple Church. 

REV. J. B. DYKES, M.A., Mus. Doc. 
1823 — 1876. 

IT has been said that the tunes best suited for 
congregational use are those composed by amateurs, 
and not by professional musicians ; and, judging from 
those so largely contributed by Dr. Dykes, there appears 
to be some truth in the assertion. That ''the shoe- 
maker should stick to his last " is unquestionably sound 
advice ; and, as a rule, ministers are better sermon 
makers than hymn-tune manufacturers. But whereas 
some musicians (not many, perhaps) might write and 
deliver an excellent sermon, a clergyman might be so 
gifted as to compose hymn-tunes which, by their 
devotional fervour and fitness for worship, would excel 
those produced by the sons of Jubal. Such a clergy- 
man-composer there has been, and he forms the subject 
of this sketch. 

John Bacchus Dykes (strange second name) was 
born at Hull on March lOth, 1823. He was the 
son of Mr. W. H. Dykes, and grandson of Rev. 
Thomas Dykes, LL.B., for many years incumbent of 
St. John's Church, Hull. His grandfather was a 
strict Evangelical of the old school, whose views in 
matters theological contrasted strongly with those 

REV, J. B. DYKES. 303 

subsequently held by his musical grandson. Both 
grandfather and grandson have found a place in that 
literary Walhalla, Mr. Leslie Stephen's Dictionary of 
National Biography. 

As a child John Dykes showed a remarkable talent 
for music, which seemed to come to him by instinct. 
He really needed little instruction, and could catch any 
air or play from ear long before he was able to play 
from note. At the early age of ten he was accustomed 
to play the organ in his grandfather's church at Hull ; 
and it is stated that one of the greatest punishments 
which could be inflicted upon him was to debar him for 
a time from his favourite pastime of organ-playing. 
This was always in after 3'ears one of his greatest 
delights, and those who heard him extemporise on 
the instrument, or accompany the service in his own 
peculiar, delicate way, will scarcely forget the charm 
which he seldom failed to throw over them. 

In October 1843, ^^ the age of twenty, he matricu- 
lated at St. Catherine's Hall, Cambridge, and a few 
weeks after was elected Yorkshire scholar of his 
college. Previous to his arrival at Cambridge, a small 
musical society had been formed at Peterhouse, and this 
was shortly afterwards merged into a larger one, called 
the Cambridge University Musical Society, of which 
Mr. Dykes and Sir William Thompson, F.R.S., were the 
leading members. Mr. Dykes was unanimously chosen 
conductor of the society, and under his able manage- 
ment it very greatly prospered. The founders of the 
society had probably little idea what an important place 


it would assume amongst English musical institutions, 
or foresee the good work it would do for high-class 
music in this country. An account of the first concert 
of the society, on May ist, 1844, is interesting and 
amusing. Haydn's " Surprise " symphony was per- 
formed. " Then Mr. Dykes, who also presided during 
the evening at the piano, sang a pretty little ballad, 
which, we believe, was his own composition. Most 
deservedly was he encored, when he threw the whole 
room into fits of laughter by an imitation of John Parry 
in two of his humorous songs. The whole style of 
this gentleman's performances stamps him at once as a 
thorough musician." 

For the undergraduate singer of comic songs to 
develop into the learned theologian and composer of 
devotional hymn-tunes is a species of evolution some- 
what strange, but nevertheless true. His musical 
attainments caused him to be much sought after by 
both Town and Gown, though, to his credit be it said, 
he did not neglect his studies. The amount of steady 
reading he accomplished was extraordinary. Though 
he had to prepare his college lectures, as well as his 
work for his private tutor, he always found time daily 
for a certain amount of exegetical and devotional study 
of the New Testament and the Psalms. And even so 
early in life, he was very fond of striving to unravel 
the mysterious prophecies contained in the books of 
Daniel and the Revelation. Newton on the Prophecies 
he looked upon as a sort of relaxation from harder 
study, just as in after life the composition of hymn- 

REV. /. B. DYKES. 305 

tunes and other sacred music was felt by him as a 
great rehef from his parochial and other arduous 
duties. The delight he found in meditating on these 
books of Holy Scripture has been fully shown by some 
of the learned papers he wrote in the Ecclesiastic, from 
the year 1852 until he undertook the charge of the 
parish of St. Oswald, Durham. 

In January 1847 John Dykes took his B.A. degree 
in Honours, being classed among the Senior Optimes. 
He was ordained deacon by the Archbishop of York 
in the same year, and licensed to the curacy of Malton. 
In 1848 he took priest's orders. In July 1849 he 
was appointed by the Dean and Chapter of Durham 
to be Minor Canon and Precentor. This was due 
to his musical skill and his success as conductor at 
Cambridge. He found matters at Durham in a 
neglected state. A collection of chants was in use 
which paid no regard to the character of the Psalms, and 
which led to the singing of jubilant words to plaintive 
music, and vice versa. He took the greatest interest 
in his new office. Its duties were not heavy, and 
he had leisure to devote himself to composition. He 
began his more important musical works by contri- 
buting an anthem, " These are they which came out 
of great tribulation " (for All Saints' Day), to the 
late Sir Frederick Ouseley's collection of anthems for 
special occasions. And for use in the cathedral he 
wrote a burial service and. other music. This was also 
a most productive period in regard to hymn tunes. 

In 1850 Mr. Dykes married. Of his family of six 



children, one of his sons, Mr. John A. Dykes, has 
studied music under Madame Schumann, and has made 
a successful appearance in public as a pianist and 

In 1 86 1 the University of Durham conferred upon 
Mr. Dykes the degree of Mus. Doc. in recognition 
of his musical talent. In 1862 he was presented by 
the Dean and Chapter to the Vicarage of St. Oswald's, 
a parish church in Durham. Here for fourteen years 
he discharged his duties with an earnestness and 
love that won for him the affection of many and the 
respect of all who came into contact with him. A 
local obituary notice records, "The parish has lost one 
of the most kind, generous, and hard-working pastors 
that has ever presided over a flock. He was a model 
parish minister." 

Life was not all smooth and peaceful, however. 
As already stated. Dr. Dykes belonged by descent 
to the Evangelical party in the Church of England ; 
but during his University career the Oxford move- 
ment was in progress, and it had penetrated the 
sister University. The sermons of Dr. Mill and 
the lectures of Professor Blunt on the duties of a 
parish priest made a deep impression upon the 
scholarlike and theological mind of the young student, 
and he adopted the views of the new school. Through 
life he maintained them with, if possible, increasing 
fervour, and valued highly the advanced ceremonial 
so characteristic of High Church services. Dr. Dykes' 
ritualism provoked the displeasure of his Bishop, who 

REV. /. B. DYKES. 307 

prosecuted him in the Ecclesiastical Courts. The 
Bishop further refused to Hcense him a curate, so he 
strove single-handed to supply to his people all the 
ministrations to which they had been previously 
accustomed when he had the assistance of a curate 
to share his work. Under the weight of this labour 
and the deep anxiety which it entailed, he completely 
broke down. He went to St. Leonards to recover, 
but died there on January 20th, 1876. 

At his death a " Memorial Fund " for the benefit 
of his family was started, and in response over 
^10,000 was contributed, a proof of the extent to 
which his beautiful tunes had touched the hearts 
of the nation. The Rev. Dr. Allon, a well-known 
Nonconformist minister, who could hardly be expected 
to sympathise with Dr. Dykes' ritual, wrote, '' I shall 
deem it a great privilege to contribute, as an expres- 
sion of common gratitude for his rich and precious 
contributions to the worship-song of almost all English- 
speaking congregations." 

Dr. Dykes' character was very sweet and attrac- 
tive. His daughter says, " His nature was bright, 
sunny, and jo}ous, and he had a power of making 
friends, inspiring ardent friendships. He was a most 
amusing and delightful companion, and one whom 
all loved and courted. His great charm was, however, 
his deep and most sincere religion. This seemed to 
be the hidden spring of all his outer life." 

Dr. Dykes wrote upwards of two hundred and fifty 
hymn-tunes and carols, which have appeared in 


various hymnals. Many of his best tunes seem to 
have come to the words to which they were composed 
as inspirations, and for this reason he always preferred 
keeping them to these. He used to write them quite 
independently of the piano, sometimes during a 
solitary walk, or in a railway train. The tune to 
''Hark, hark, my soul" was composed as he was 
ascending Skiddaw. His children often used to sing 
over some of his new tunes on Sunday evening, and not 
unfrequcntly their critical suggestions were adopted. 
He used to say that he always made a practice of 
offering some short prayer before writing anything. 

Dr. Dykes may well be called the Apostle of the modern 
hymn-tune. The old tunes, such as " Melcombe," 
''London New," etc., have a rigidity about them which 
is in strong contrast to the warmth and deep feeling 
of, for instance, Dr. Dykes' " Hark, my soul, it is 
Lord," or "The King of Love my Shepherd is." 

"Dr. Dykes' tunes," wrote his friend Sir Henry 
Baker, " are just like himself; he was so full of 
feeling, so gentle, so unselfish." They are so well 
known and universally loved that it is not necessary 
to enlarge upon their beauties. They are for the most 
part very congregational. In fact, the present writer's 
experience in congregational singing at three large 
churches in London is that they are more heartily 
and feelingly sung than those of any other composer. 
Dr. Dykes was a great advocate of congregational 
singing, and often urged it in his sermons. 

Many of our most popular tunes are by him. " Hark, 

REV. J. B, DYKES. 30 

my soul, it is the Lord "—notice how happily the 
dotted notes accent important words; "Jesu, Lover 
of my soul" — how tenderly it breathes the spirit of 
Wesley's hymn ; " Fierce raged the tempest " — with 
its change from the surging C minor opening to the 
"calm and still" close in E flat; ''The day is past 
and over" — how soothing and restful the feeling it 
produces; and many others are equally beautiful and 
full of tenderness. 

Mention must be made of a most beautiful setting 
of Ellerton's funeral hymn, " Now the labourer's task 
is done," which is touchingly pathetic, and when sung 
for the first time by a large congregation in London 
was known to bring tears to the eyes of many of the 
worshippers. Another favourite tune must also be 
referred to, " Eternal Father, strong to save," one 
of the most popular of all, in which the hymn " for 
those at sea " has a perfect setting. In the last line 
but one of each verse the inflected note (F sharp) 
gives to the word " cry " a piercing and plaintive 
emphasis, and yet its introduction seems so natural 
and unrestrained. 

Dr. Dykes wrote a fine setting of the Te Deiim in 
the key of F, which is not only admirably suited 
for congregational singing, but, like all his church 
music, is worthy of the great hymn J?o which it is set. 

Let all lovers of church music be thankful for the 
labours of one who has provided so much that is 
beautiful, melodious, and inspiring in the service of 
song- in the house of the Lord. 



1823— 1889. 
YMNS Ancient and Modern is known wherever 

the English language is spoken. Upwards of 
twenty-seven million copies have been sold since its 
first issue in the year 1861. What has been the cause 
of such extraordinary popularity ? Surely not its 
doctrinal points, for we find the t^'^k in nearly every 
home among Nonconformists, who would have little 
sympathy with its theological tenets. May it not lie in 
the excellence of its music rather than in the merits or 
demerits of its theology ? Although of making many 
hymnals there seems to be no end, yet Hymns Ancient 
and Modern remains unapproachable from the musical 
point of view, whether considered practically or aestheti- 
cally. The responsibilities of the musical editor of this 
hymnal must have been very great. To learn what 
kind of man he was, let us take a brief glimpse into his 
life and work. 

William Henry Monk was born at Brompton, London, 
in 1823. His first musical impressions were derived 
from the concerts of the Sacred Harmonic Society, at 
which for many years he was a constant attendant. 

DR. IV, H. MONK. 311 

He studied music under Thomas Adams {the organist 
of his day), J. A. Hamilton (of dictionary fame), and 
G. A. Griesbach. He was organist successively of 
Eaton Chapel, Pimlico ; St. George's Chapel, Albe- 
marle Street ; and Portman Chapel, IMarylebone. All 
these are chapels-of-ease belonging to the Church of 
England. In 1847 he was appointed director of the 
choir of King's College, London; in 1849 organist; and 
in 1874, upon the resignation of John Hullah, professor 
of vocal music in the college. Monk apparently had 
no objection to pluralities. In 1852 he became organist 
and choirmaster of St. Matthias, Stoke Newington, and 
he held this appointment concurrently with that at 
King's College till his death. He was therefore " chiet 
musician " in these two churches for the long periods 
of forty-two and thirty- seven years respectively. 

Dr. W. H. Monk (the degree of Doctor of Music 
was conferred by the University of Durham) would 
possibly have remained a comparatively unknown 
musician but for one important circumstance. About 
the year 1850, the influence of the Tractarian move- 
ment was rapidly making itself felt in the services of 
the Church of England. Many of the clergy became 
dissatisfied with the existing hymnals, and steps were 
taken to produce a hymn-book which should be accept- 
able to the large and growing section of the high church 
party. In 1 858, the late Sir Henry Baker enhsted the 
help of some twenty clergymen, including several who 
had published or projected similar works, and laid the 
foundations of that important hymnal Hymns Ancient 


and Modern. A working committee of hymnologists 
was formed, with Sir Henry Baker as chairman, and 
in i860 the first edition (words only) came out. Dr. 
Monk was appointed musical editor. He had the sole 
musical initiative and veto on the original edition, and 
no other musical counsel was called in until the position 
of the book had been made, and an enlarged edition 
was called for ; indeed. Hymns Ancient and Modern in 
its early days was often called " Monk's book." The 
first music edition came out in 1 861. 

The success of the book has been extraordinary and 
unprecedented, and, in spite of the inevitable competi- 
tion of these times, and the prejudice in some quarters 
against its doctrinal basis, it still holds the field. An 
average sale of one million copies per year since its 
introduction is a practical proof of its popularity and 
fitness for congregational singing. 

Dr. Monk's musical editorship was not, however, 
confined to the book which made his name. He com- 
piled a series of tune and anthem books for the Church 
of Scotland, and supervised the new edition of Dr. 
AUon's Congregational Psalmist. Moreover, he con- 
tributed tunes to several other hymnals, so that various 
sections of the Church have benefited by his sound 
judgment and artistic taste. Dr. Monk, in addition to 
being a high churchman, was a strong purist in Church 
music, and could not tolerate anything which savoured 
of irreverence or secular influences. He had a pre- 
ference for Gregorian music, believing it to be not only 
ecclesiastically correct, but better suited for congre- 

DR. W. H. MONK. 313 

gational purposes, on account of its simplicity and of 
being sung in unison. At St. Matthias he had ample 
opportunity for carrying out his views. He did his 
utmost to bring the musical part of the Church service 
within the range of the worshipper, and refused to be 
led away by the modern tendency to confine the music 
to the choir. This ideal he strictly carried out in every 
bar he wrote. Simple, devotional, and pure are stamped 
on all his compositions; and as he only wrote one song 
to secular words, his life and works were thus devoted 
to the cause of congregational worship-music. * 

Dr. Monk was a singularly modest and reserved 
man, and led a retired life. His home ties were 
strong and particularly sweet. He was fond of his 
garden, and loved to watch the growth of plants and 
flowers. He had a strong deep love for nature, 
and was an enthusiastic pedestrian. His hymn-tunes, 
of which he must have written nearly a hundred, are 
a reflex of his home life ; some of them, such as 
"Abide with me" and "Sweet Saviour, bless us ere 
we go," are sung by Christians of many denominations 
everywhere, and are not likely to be superseded. 
How delightful it is to think that music soars above all 
.sectarian differences ! In his hymn-tunes he possessed 
such power in fitting appropriate music to words 
that it would in many cases be almost a sacrilege to 
dissociate them. He would sometimes get out of 
his bed to write down a tune. The tune to " O 
perfect life of love " was composed in this manner, 
and that to " Thou art coming, O my Saviour," 


was written in a railway train. His best known 
tune, ^' Eventide," to " Abide with me," was composed 
under peculiar circumstances. He told a friend that 
when he (Dr. Monk) and the late Sir Henry Baker 
were once going out, they suddenly remembered 
that there was no tune for hymn 27, "Abide with 
me," and that he sat down, and, undisturbed by the 
noise of a piano lesson which was then going on, 
wrote that excellent and popular tune in ten minutes. 

Dr. Monk held very strong opinions on the sacred- 
ftess of the church musician's office. He maintained 
the principle of gravity, solemnity, and reverence in 
church music. He insisted on a high conception 
of the great object of worship. Rowland Hill used 
to say that it was a pity the devil should have all 
the good tunes, and therefore did not disapprove of 
adaptations from secular as well as sacred works. 
This doctrine Dr. Monk could not tolerate ; yet it 
was a strange irony of fate that when his house was 
full of manuscripts, offered by correspondents for in- 
sertion in Hymns Ancient and Modern^ the tune of 
which he received the greatest number of copies was 
an adaptation of the opening chorus in Weber's 
Oberon, sung by fairies as they trip about the stage, 
which is known in many hymn-books by the name 
of ^' Weber" (7s, in key F). 

As an organist Dr. Monk held a high place. He 
once said he did not feel quite comfortable on the 
question of organ recitals in churches. He held 
that the organ should only be touched as an adjunct 

DR. W. H. MONK. 315 

to worship ; if used as a solo instrument its utterances 
must be so solemn as to minister to true religious 
thought. He not only preached this doctrine but 
practised it. ** He was," says the Church Timcs^ 
"a church musician literally to his fingers' ends, for 
there was no part of his work which so thoroughly 
manifested his real ability and devotion as his organ 
accompaniments. Solemnity without dreariness, feeling 
without the eccentricity which so often passes for 
that quality, — these were the elements that will always 
be remembered as his chief characteristics. The 
organ was to him an instrument, not for the display 
of skill, but for touching the souls of men ; and 
probably some of the most powerful sermons preached 
in St. Matthias have come from the organ chamber." 
His vicar, in his memorial sermon, said, " He had 
wonderful power in playing our devotional hymns. 
He could make a single word speak with a deep 
pathos. At times he appeared under a kind of 
inspiration, the infection of which touched the hearts 
of all. He taught many to praise God who had 
never praised Him before ; he taught others to praise 
Him more worthily than hitherto." 

Dr. Monk was a truly just and good man, and died 
literally in harness on March ist, 1889, deeply loved 
and much lamented. 

The following advice which he once wrote to a near 
and dear friend is full of wisdom, and may fitly close 
this brief record of his career : — " Two things I would 
wish to say to you : i. Be honest in your convictions 


and act up to them. 2. Believe others who may differ 
in opinion or in action to be the same. As far as I know 
' the world/ the great sin towards others is the con- 
trary of (2), and the imputation of motives. There are 
times when you hardly know what to do yourselves, 
and are anxious for and pray for guidance. Believe 
that others do the like ; and, above all, have ' fervent 
charity among yourselves.' " 


1 840 — 

'""T^HE little chorister who became organist of his 
•A. cathedral, and was afterwards made a knight/' 
would be an appropriate sub-title for one of those 
"very nice" little books written for the purpose of 
inculcating lessons of perseverance into the youthful 
mind. Yet this is the true life-story of the eminent 
musician whose name appears above. Such a pleasing 
outline suggests pleasanter " fillings in," full of interest 
to lovers of sacred music. We have stretched the 
canvas, and the figuration now proceeds. 

John Stainer, son of a schoolmaster, was born in 
London, June 6th, 1840. He became a chorister 
in St. Paul's Cathedral when only seven years old : 
at that age, however, he could already play Bach's 
fugue in E major, and the overture to Aci's and 
Galatea, besides being no mean performer on the 
organ. He sang solos at St. Paul's till after he was 
sixteen, with the result that when he entered manhood 
he had ''no more voice than a crow." At the age of 
fourteen he was appointed organist and choirmaster 
of St. Benedict and St. Peter's, Paul's Wharf. Through 


the liberality of Miss Hackett, the choristers' friend, he 
received a course of lessons on the organ from George 
Cooper at St. Sepulchre's. At the same time, he 
learned harmony from Mr. Bayley, master of St. Paul's 
boys, and counterpoint from Dr. Steggall, who delights 
in telling the following incident in connection with his 
gifted pupil. In 1852 Dr. (then Mr.) Steggall took 
his degree at Cambridge, and it is the custom for the 
musical exercise for the Doctor's degree to be performed 
before the University. Dr. Steggall asked Mr. Bayley 
(of St. Paul's) to send him one of his boys to sing the 
solo part at Cambridge. He sent a bright-faced, curl}'- 
headed little fellow, who charmed his hearers by taking 
a top C as clear as a bell. '' That boy," says Dr. 
Steggall; with a radiant smile, "was John Stainer." 

Young Stainer at this time, though still a chorister, 
used often to take the organ at St. Paul's. One day 
both Goss and Cooper, the organist and deputy, were 
absent, and Chorister Stainer was officiating at the 
organ. "It was a fortunate thing for me," he says, 
" that these great lights were extinguished for the 
day. The late Sir Frederick Ouseley had come to ask 
whether either of them could recommend a young 
organist for his recently founded college at Tenbury, 
and he came up into the organ-loft, where he found me 
getting on very comfortably, and so, in the evening of 
that day, he wrote me a very kind letter, asking if I 
would play his organ." The invitation was accepted, and 
his work at Tenbury, where the late Sir F. Ouseley 
possessed the finest musical library in the world, was 


not only very congenial but most valuable to the 
young musician. 

His boy friend, Arthur Sullivan, a chorister at the 
Chapel Royal, paid a visit to Tenbury at the time Sir 
F. Ouseley was putting up a large and fine organ in 
his church and experimenting in pipes, pneumatic 
apparatus, etc. Stainer and Sullivan got the idea 
that guttapercha would make a cheap and resonant 
substance for organ pipes ! Guttapercha was scarce, 
and their financial resources limited, but they got 
together a few old guttapercha shoes, and set to 
work with ardent enthusiasm. To their great regret 
they were stopped in their experiments, because the 
horrible smell which they made poisoned the whole 
building, and Sir Frederick arrested them in the initiative 
stage. But they could not help thinking that there was 
a bit of jealousy in his prohibition of their inventive 
faculties ! 

His promotion in the profession was very rapid. 
He remained at Tenbury only three years, and in 1859, 
at the age of nineteen, became organist of Magdalen 
College, Oxford, after six months' trial. In the same 
year he had matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, and 
taken the degree of Mus. Bac. He then entered at 
Edmund Hall as a resident undergraduate, and, while 
discharging his duties at Magdalen, worked for his 
B.A. degree, which he took in Trinity term 1863. 

Meantime he had been appointed organist to the 
University, and was conductor of a flourishing College 
Musical Society and of another association at Exeter 


College. But nothing interfered with his duties a 
Magdalen, where he raised the choir to a very high 
state of efficiency. In 1865 he proceeded to his 
Mus. Doc. degree, and in the following year to M.A. 

Dr. Stainer's name will long be remembered in 
Oxford as the founder of the Philharmonic Society, 
and as the reviver of the Choral Society, both of 
which still exist and remain in a flourishing con- 

It is with expressions of gratitude that he speaks of* 
the kindness he received from everybody in Oxford, 
not only from fellow-musicians, but also from the 
college dons. It must have been particularly gratifying 
to him to know that his efforts for the better cultivation 
of music were thoroughly appreciated. A substantial 
recognition of his zeal, taking the form of a magnificent 
suite of Sevres ornaments, now adorns his drawing- 
room mantelpiece ; and to this testimonial the whole 
college, from dons to undergraduates, subscribed. 

Dr. Stainer's next step in life — at the age of thirty- 
two — was of no ordinary kind, being his unsolicited 
appointment as organist of St. Paul's Cathedral, the 
largest church of the largest city in the world. It is 
possible that his selection may have been partly due 
to his old association with St. Paul's as a chorister ; 
but undoubtedly it mainly arose from the fact that an 
active administrator as well as a musician — one, too, 
who was versed in modern music — was sorely needed. 
Under his predecessor, Sir John Goss, the general 
choral music had arrived at a crippled, if not moribund 


condition, owing chiefly to the lack of interest shown 
in the music by the Cathedral authorities. Goss made 
frequent attempts to improve the services, but he was 
too tender-hearted, and not sufficiently tenacious of his 
purpose. Two stories will illustrate his difficulties. 
Sydney Smith, the wit, when Canon at the cathedral, 
caused some difficulty by saying one day, " Mr. Goss, 
about that chant this morning." " The minor one, do 
you mean, sir ? " said Goss. " Yes. Have no more 
minor chants, and no more minor music, while I am 
in residence, if you please." Whereupon Goss ex- 
plained the importance of the minor key, and that 
much of the best music was written in that way. But 
Sydney Smith was inexorable, and no more minor 
music was given. After a time the order was with- 
drawn, but only reluctantly. Goss received the follow- 
ing letter : " Mr. Goss, — Since you make it a point of 
conscience to have music in the minor key, I give 
way. — Sydney Smith." Another story told of him in 
connection with the same Canon was respecting the 
organ. Goss pointed out that the organ was getting 
very antiquated, and needed improvements in stops, 
etc., as it certainly did in those days. Sydney Smith 
only said, ** You have a bull stop and a torn-tit stop, 
and what on earth more do you want ? " 

Dr. Stainer came as a reformer. He received strong 
support from the Dean and Chapter in the work of re- 
organisation. Moreover, he possessed a large reserve 
of tact, an essential qualification in the management of 
a choir; and very soon St. Paul's became as con- 



spicuous for the high character and attractiveness of 
its musical services as it had formerly been for their 
dulness and slovenliness. The music at St. Paul's 
has been part of a great revival in things pertaining 
to worship music, and it has exerted an influence that 
has been felt throughout the kingdom. Dr. Stainer, 
like every organist who is well supported by his choir, 
has been much indebted to his excellent singers, though 
he says, " Often at the close of a very beautiful anthem or 
creed, I have been more inclined to say, ' Thank God,' 
than ' Thank you, gentlemen of the choir.' " The thanks 
of all lovers of sacred music are due to Dr. Stainer 
for introducing into St. Paul's oratorios with the 
accompaniment of a full orchestra. Those who have 
heard Bach's Passion or Mendelssohn's St. Paul, 
sung to vast congregations filling the great cathedral, 
will not easily forget the effect of such sublime music 
so beautifully rendered amidst such appropriate sur- 

After sixteen years' splendid service in the Metro- 
politan Cathedral, Dr. Stainer resigned his appointment 
in 1888, owing to impaired eyesight. Nothing but 
universal satisfaction was expressed when the Queen 
conferred upon him the honour of knighthood at 
Windsor, on July lOth, 1888. 

Sir John Stainer's constant engagements for many 
years have left him little time for composition. How- 
ever, he has already written sufficient to make his 
name memorable as a composer ; and now that he is 
enjoying comparative leisure at his home at Oxford, 


he will not have just cause or impediment for neglect- 
ing his awakening muse. 

Sir John's compositions have been almost entirely 
sacred. His anthems— ^.^., "Lead, kindly Light," an ex- 
quisite setting of Cardinal Newman's words ; the bright 
Christmas anthem, "The morning stars sang together," 
written in his nineteenth year; and the well-known 
and effective " What are these ? " — are all imbued 
with deep devotional fervour and skilful musicianship. 
His services — in E flat and A — are performed to 
enraptured congregations wherever choral services are 
known, whether in England, in the Colonies, or in 
America. His cantata, " The daughter of Jairus," is 
full of pathos and beauty, and is the delight of choral 
singers everywhere ; and a subsequent work, " St. 
Mary Magdalen," is strikingly descriptive. Mention 
must be made of the " Crucifixion," a setting of the 
Passion-music within the capabilities of church choirs, 
and with organ accompaniment only. The writer will 
not easily forget the solemn effect of this beautiful 
music at its first performance in Marylebone Church, 
when it was conducted by the composer. 

Sir John Stainer is a good Hebrew scholar : so it is 
singularly appropriate that he should write The Music 
of the Bible (Cassell & Co.), a book which is full of 
interest to all students of sacred music. His hymn- 
tunes, though not very numerous, are very good. His 
setting of Keble's " Hail, gladdening light," " Holy 
Father, cheer our way," "There is a blessed home," 
etc., breathe the spirit of devotion, and are thoroughly 


congregational. Sir John, although accustomed to a 
cathedral service all his life, is much interested in 
hymn-tunes. He thinks that all our hymn-singing is 
much too fast, and, in large churches especially, that 
slowness should be cultivated. He thinks the clergy are 
much to blame in this matter for not permitting their 
organists, as is frequently the case, to use their own 
judgments in determining the proper rate of speed. He 
says that each tune has its own particular tempo, 
depending upon its date and its special characteristics, 
and that it would be just as absurd to insist on singing 
all Schumann's songs at one and the same speed as to 
do so with all hymn-tunes. Speaking at the Musical 
Association on the subject of modern hymn-tunes, he 
said : "The fact of the matter is, that a very large number 
of them are very weak and sentimental ; but on behalf 
of composers— and being one of the humble scribblers of 
tunes myself occasionally — I must say that tune-writers 
are very much at the mercy of the writers of words. If 
you give a man a stupid, sentimental subject, it is 
impossible that he can sit down and rise to the occa- 
sion, and turn out a tune of strength and dignity. It 
is a very difficult thing to write a good hymn-tune. I 
have had many thousands pass through my hands 
when I worked with Dr. Monk and the late Dr. Dykes 
in the revision of Hymns Ancient and Modern. We 
vorked very hard, and it gave me a great insight into 
hymn-tunes. I think very few editors can tell, sitting 
in their room, or even playing it on the pianoforte, 
what will be the success of a tune. I have long given 

S//^ JOHN STAfNER. 325 

up hopes of being able to decide it. It is like the old 
Latin proverb, solvitur ambulando. You must put it 
into the mouth of the people, and see if it answers 
when it is used ; there is no other test. ... As re- 
gards passing notes, I think, although I am a great 
Radical in some things, I am very conservative in 
others, and I zfm often very sorry to find the old notes 
and twists that my dear mother used to sing to me 
are turned out of such tunes as ' Rockingham ' and 
' Wareham.' When we have them in St. Paul's, I 
hear a number of the congregation putting them in 
just as they used to do in old days." 

Although Sir John Stainer's name is chiefly asso- 
ciated with his good work at St. Paul's, he has held 
important public offices. He was principal of the 
National Training College for Music, and organist to 
the Albert Hall (now Royal) Choral Society. He has 
been decorated with the French Legion dUionneur^ and 
is Her Majesty's Inspector of Music in the Education 
Department. In July 1889, he was appointed Professor 
of Music in the University of Oxford (in succession 
to the late Sir Frederick Ouseley) ; a well-deserved 
honour, which practically places him at the head of his 
profession in this country. 

As an organ accompanist Sir John is unrivalled. It 
is a source of regret with his brother organists in 
London that his retirement from St. Paul's deprives 
them of the pleasure and privilege of listening to his 
masterly treatment of the organ in accompanying the 
Cathedral services. As a man he is beloved and 


esteemed by all who know him. " He is the most 
perfect gentleman that comes into this place," once 
remarked a music-seller's assistant to the writer. "A 
thoroughly good-hearted, genial, splendid fellow," is 
the verdict of all who come in contact with him, and 
right well he deserves it. Long may he be spared to 
further enrich our store of sacred music. 

We conclude with a story. At the recent (1889) 
annual gathering of the College of Organists, the 
President, a distinguished organist and musician, 
addressing his fellow-organists, said : "I was one 
Sunday walking at some seaside place, and on 
turning a corner I heard a number of Sunday School 
children singing a hymn I had composed. I thought 
to myself, ' I want no higher reward than this for 
all my work.' I can only tell you that I would not 
exchange it for the very finest monument in West- 
minster Abbey." The man who can give utterance 
to such sentiments as these is a great man, and 
draws out our esteem, our respect, our love. The 
speaker was none other than Sir John Stainer. 

1842 — 

musician, was born in London, May 13th, 1842. 
At the age of eleven he became one of the children of the 
Chapel Royal, St. James's. ''His voice was very sweet," 
says the Rev. Thomas Helmore, master of the children, 
*' and his style of singing far more sympathetic than 
that of most boys." During his choristership he wrote 
several anthems, one of which was sung at an ordinary 
service, and so pleased the Dean (also Bishop of London) 
that he sent for the youthful composer to come into the 
vestry after the service, and rewarded him by patting 
his black curly head to the accompaniment of half-a- 
sovereign. One of the friends of his boyhood was John 
(now Sir John) Stainer, at that time a chorister at St. 
Paul's Cathedral. The two lads when oft' duty were wont 
to delight in trips together on the penny steamboats on 
the Thames, their enjoyment of which was considerably 
enhanced by a copious consumption of nuts and oranges. 
In 1856, the Mendelssohn Scholarship (in memory of 
the illustrious musician of that name) was brought into 


active existence, mainly through the exertions of that 
estimable artist and lady the late Madame Jenny Lind 
Goldschmidt. In July of that year Sullivan, in com- 
petition with nineteen others, carried off this important 
musical prize. Without leaving the Chapel Royal, he 
began to study at the Royal Academy of Music, under 
John Goss for harmony, and Sterndale Bennett for 
piano. In the autumn of 1858, under the terms of the 
Scholarship, he entered the Conservatorium at Leipzig, 
amongst his teachers being Moscheles, who thirty- 
four years previously had given pianoforte lessons to 
Mendelssohn. On his return to London, Sullivan 
brought with him his music to Shakespeare's Tempest 
(his exit opus from the Conservatorium), which was per- 
formed at the Crystal Palace on April 5 th, 1862, to the 
contentment of Charles Dickens, and repeated the fol- 
lowing week. This beautiful composition made a great 
sensation in musical circles, and our composer at once 
made his mark. At his first concert in St. James's Hall 
Jenny Lind came from her retirement on purpose to 
sing for him. Never was a composer more auspiciously 
launched into London musical and fashionable society. 
During the early part of his career Mr. Sullivan was 
organist and choirmaster of St. Michael's, Chester 
Square, and of St. Peter's, Onslow Gardens; but in 
1 87 1 he entirely relinquished his Sunday engage- 

It is beyond the province of this notice to 
trace his career step by step. Suffice it to say that 
success has accompanied his progress in an extra- 


ordinary manner. Nearly all the productions of his 
pen — symphony, overtures, oratorios {The Prodigal 
Son, The Light of the World), Festival Te Deum (on the 
recovery of the Prince of Wales from his illness in 
1872) ; cantatas (The Martyr of Antioch, The Golden 
Legend) ; operas, songs, part-songs, anthems, hymn 
tunes, etc., have fared alike, in having sustained an 
almost unbroken record of brilliant achievement. Of 
late years Sir Arthur has struck upon a new vein of 
musical works, the comic operas which are inseparably 
associated with his name, and which have met with 
unprecedented success. His songs and part-songs are, 
perhaps, as widely known as his other works. They 
are generally of a tender or sentimental cast, and 
some of them stand in a very high rank. Many have 
attained a wonderful degree of popularity, and have 
hit the public taste in a remarkable manner. Such, 
for instance, as "Will he come ? " '' The Lost Chord," 
"The Distant Shore," and " O, hush thee, my babie." 

From our composer's early training in the Chapel 
Royal, and his subsequent organ appointments, it is 
not to be wondered at that his church music attains a 
high standard of excellence. His anthems and hymn- 
tunes are as popular and tuneful as his secular compo- 
sitions. If congregations were asked to vote upon 
their favourite tune, Sullivan's " St. Gertrude," to 
" Onward, Christian soldiers," would head the list 
with a very large majority. (It will be noticed that 
the tenor of the first four bars of this tune becomes the 
melody of the next four bars, and vice versa.) Most 


of his tunes were written between 1867 ^^^ 1^74* 
and were principally contributed to The Hymnary 
and Church Hymns. Of the latter he was musical 
editor, and contributed to it twenty-one original tunes, 
most of which have found their way into other col- 
lections, and are sung with enjoyment by various 
sections of the Christian community. 

Mr. Sullivan was Principal of the National Training 
School for Music from 1876 to 188 1. He received the 
honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the University 
of Cambridge in 1876, and Oxford in 1879. In 1878 he 
was decorated at Paris with the Legion dhonneur, and 
he bears the Order of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 
1883, in company with the late Professor G. A. 
Macfarren, he received the honour of Knighthood at 
the hands of the Queen. 

Sir Arthur Sullivan's music — vocal and instrumental 
alike — is characterised by melodiousness and exquisite 
refinement. He possesses the rare gift of being able to 
satisfy the critical instincts of the trained musician and 
the natural longings of the musically uncultured at the 
same time. In his compositions he never fails to be 
interesting ; he is always tuneful and never dull. 
Everything that he puts his hand to is sure to meet 
with success, whether it be a child's simple hymn-tune 
— e.g.y ''Brightly gleams our banner" — or an elaborate 
chorus with brilliant orchestral colouring. The sound 
schooling in the traditions of the EngHsh Church com- 
posers which he received at the Chapel Royal is 
manifested in many of his works ; indeed, it is no 


uncommon thing to find specimens of this strict eccle- 
siastical style in several of his compositions that can 
hardly be classed as serious. To the excellent vocal 
training imparted to him during his choristership may 
be traced that easy flow of the voice parts in his part 
music that makes it so delightful and pleasant to sing. 
Judging from his latest works, the stream of melody 
seems to be almost perennial ; there is no sign of its 
becoming in the least degree parched, for it flows on as 
freshly, as copiously, and as joyously as ever. 

Unlike most of his craft, Sir Arthur has had little 
experience of the joys and sorrows of teaching. He 
says: "When I began the study of music I was deter- 
mined to live by my pen, if it were possible, and I 
resolved not to teach if I could help it; and I was for 
several years a church organist living on ^80 a year, 
that I might devote all the time I could to composition." 

Sir Arthur resides on A flat {a natural abode for a 
musician) in Victoria Street, Westminster, where he 
hospitably entertains his numerous friends, among 
whom is no less a personage than the Heir Apparent. 
He is naturally a prominent figure in London Society, 
and his vivacious manner and cheerful temperament 
make him an exceptionally pleasant companion. He 
composes at a time when most other people are com- 
posed in slumber, viz., in the small hours of the 
morning — to use his own words, " When postmen cease 
from troubling, and omnibuses are at rest." 


YORKSHIRE is the ''county of many acres" and 
of many singers. One Yorkshire voice is equal 
to about tv/o and a half London voices, and the perfec- 
tion of choral singing may be heard in our largest 
county. It seems quite natural, therefore, that one 
of our best choirmasters and most skilful conductors 
should hail from this very musical region. 

Joseph Barnby was born at York, August 12th, 
1838. He was the youngest of seven brothers, all 
of whom have displayed musical talent. At the age 
of seven this " Benjamin " (albeit named Joseph) of the 
family became a chorister in York Minster. Music 
came to him instinctively, and he cannot remember 
ever having learned the alphabet of his art — it was 
in his blood. He became an organist at the age of 
twelve. Four years later he came to London, and, 
entering the Royal Academy of Music, became a 
fellow-student of Sir Arthur Sullivan. When the 
Mendelssohn Scholarship was instituted in 1856, the 
two friends had a neck-and-neck race for the first 
scholarship. There was a dead heat, and at the final 
trial Barnby became a very good second. 


He was organist successively of St. Michael's, 
Queenhithe; St. James-the-Less, Westminster; and 
St. Andrew's, Wells Street. It was during the 
palmy days of the St. Andrew's choir, which was 
then engaged in developing the modern style of 
cathedral music, that Mr. Barnby succeeded in 
advancing its efficiency till it was second to none 
in London. 

His engagements became so pressing, that in 1871 
he was compelled to resign this post, where week-day 
as well as Sunday duties occupied him, for the less 
arduous duties of St. Anne's, Soho. There he intro- 
duced, for the first time in England, Bach's smaller 
Passion of St. John, which was and is still performed 
every Friday during Lent, and it has been charac- 
terised as scarcely less impressive than the Ober- 
Ammergau Passion Play. 

Since 1875 Mr. Barnby has been precentor and 
director of musical instruction at Eton College — a 
position he still worthily holds. The advantage of 
having a musician of his experience and attainments 
to develop the musical taste in this historic school is 
obvious ; and, as the study of music in all the lower 
forms is now compulsory, the influence which he 
wields amongst the scions of the aristocracy should 
leave its effect on the art of music in the highest circles 
in the land. 

From 1 86 1 to 1876 Mr. Barnby held the responsible 
post of musical adviser to the great firm of Novello, 
Ewer, & Co. But perhaps his chief claim to the niche ot 


fame is his skill as conductor of large bodies of singers 
and players. Owing to his success with his church 
choir, and backed up by Messrs. Novello, he raised 
a larger one to sing at St. James's Hall, which soon 
became known as " Barnby's Choir." Its performance 
constituted his first great success as a conductor, and 
that, too, in the face of considerable misgivings on 
the part of the profession, who thought it would be 
impossible to get an amateur choir to sing without 
professional leaders. But Mr. Barnby persevered. 
As he observes, with considerable feeling, " I had 
myself trained my choir, I believed in its capabiHties, 
and I was not disappointed. On the opening night, as 
I raised my baton, the choir burst forth into song like 
one voice. I have never obtained a finer start." So 
delighted and astonished were Benedict and Sims 
Reeves, that at the conclusion they hurried up to 
congratulate him. It is worthy of remark that Mr. 
Barnby has gained all his choral successes, from that 
time to the present, by means of amateur singers, 
without any admixture of the professional element. 
The secret of his triumphs must be ascribed to the 
possession of an indomitable will, a frank good-nature, 
and a power of keeping the minds of his singers con- 
centrated on their work. Another secret of his success is 
his insisting upon having the words clearly enunciated, 
so that anyone can understand what is being sung 
without having the words before him. The writer 
well remembers the attention paid to this important 
feature at the earHest rehearsals of the choir in a small 


hall near Oxford Street, and recalls with gratitude the 
many lessons he received on a point so frequently 
overlooked by choirmasters. 

Mr. Barnby revived several neglected but fine works 
of the old masters, notably Handel's Jephthah, till then 
never heard in England since Handel's time ; and 
Bach's greater Passion of St. Matthew for double 
orchestra and double choir. The latter proved a 
brilliant success. Macfarren asserted that it was so 
perfect that he would gladly rest his memory for ever 
on that one performance ; while Dean Stanley was so 
impressed by its grandeur, sublimity, and beauty that 
he sanctioned its introduction at Westminster Abbey, 
and no words can adequately describe the un- 
precedented effect of this marvellous music rendered 
by a surpliced choir of three hundred and fifty voices 
within the walls of the grand old Abbey. Those who 
were present assert that no more impressive musical 
performance has ever been heard. 

In 1 87 1 Mr. Barnby succeeded Gounod as conductor 
of the Royal Albert Hall Choral Society, now the 
Royal Choral Society, with what success it is hardly 
necessary to say. 

As a composer Mr. Barnby has been very suc- 
cessful. Every admirer of Church music is familiar 
with his service in E, the favourite service of 
Charles Kingsley, who, whilst Canon of Chester, 
always had it performed for the benefit of any dis- 
tinguished visitors who might happen to be attending. 
A friendship and a reciprocated admiration existed 


between the Canon and the composer, fostered by their 
mutual love of music. Mr. Barnby gives an interest- 
ing account of his first sight of Kingsley on his own 
hearthrug at Eversley. He was dressed in a quaint 
unclerical ''get-up" of knickerbockers, high-lows, 
velveteen shooting coat, and a wisp of black ribbon 
around a shirt-collar much opened at the throat. 
Mr. Barnby also relates how agreeably he spent his 
first evening under the Canon's roof, swinging in a 
hammock, while Kingsley, seated close by, read 
Shelley aloud as only he could do. 

One of his most popular compositions is the part- 
song " Sweet and Low " to Tennyson's words. This 
lay buried for some time under a heap of manuscripts 
at a music publisher's, when Mr. Barnby one day called 
upon the firm and unearthed his music, and would have 
taken it away ; but when the publishers heard him play 
it over they eagerly accepted it. His cantatas, Rchckah 
and The Lord is King, with the motett *' King all 
glorious," are favourably known ; while of anthems, who 
does not know his setting of '' O Lord, how manifold " ? 
Of his secular songs, '' When the tide comes in " may 
be instanced as a composition of singular beauty. 

Mr. Barnby has largely contributed to our ever- 
increasing stock of hymn-tunes. He edited the 
Hymnary, and enriched it with many choice tunes. 
His setting of the "Endless Alleluia," ''When 
morning gilds the skies," and " Jesu, my Lord," are 
widely known and always admired. A unison tune to 
"Jesu, Lover of my soul" (composed in 1866) is full 


of pathos, and illustrates the depth and expression of 
Charles Wesley's words with remarkable beauty and 
appropriateness. Indeed, his compositions possess a 
flow of beautiful melody, and there is also evident a 
richness and originality in the harmony which has 
rarely been surpassed by English writers. 

Mr. Barnby is a strong Radical in Church music, and 
especially in regard to hymn-tunes. He has no sym- 
pathy with those who plead for the " severe but pleasing 
simplicity of Tallis and other old writers." Nor does he 
approve of confining his writings to any one style or 
period, but believes in composing tunes in a style that 
will be the natural expression of his feelings. But we 
will let him speak for himself, in the preface to his 
collection of Hymns and Tunes (ist series, 1869) : — 

" The terms effeminate and maudlin, with others, are freely 
used nowadays to stigmatise such new tunes as are not direct 
imitations of old ones. And yet it has always appeared 
strange to me that musicians should be found who, whilst 
admitting that seventeenth century tunes were very properly 
written in what we may call the natural idiom of that period, 
will not allow nineteenth century ones to be written in the 
idiom of that day. You may imitate and plagiarise the old 
tunes to any extent, and in all probability you will be spoken 
of as one who is ' thoroughly imbued with the truly devo- 
tional spirit of the old ecclesiastical writers,' but you are not 
permitted on any account to give your natural feelings fair 
play, or, in short, to write spontaneously. The strangest part 
of the argument, however, is that whilst you are urged to 
imitate the old works, you are warned in the same breath 
that to succeed is altogether without the bounds of possibility. 
The question then naturally arises, Would it not be better, 
though at the risk of doing feebler things, to follow your own 
natural style, which at least would possess the merit of truth, 



and to leave the task of endeavouring to achieve an impossi- 
bility to those who prefer it ? For my part, I have elected to 
imitate the old writers in their independent method of working 
rather than their works." 

We shake hands with our composer over this "con- 
fession of faith," and bid our readers " Farewell." 




iii., iv 


Ivii. . 



. 31 

Ix. . 





. . 38 



Ixx. . 





5, 6, 67 




• 79 




. 86 







xc. . 

. 5.7 







ci. . 

. 38 

xl. . 


cii. . 

. 86 

xlii., xliii 

5, 6, 86 

cvi. . 







• 79 





• 79 


• 99 

li. . 

. 47 



Iv. . 

. 5S 


38, 99 

Ivi. . 

10, 31 

cxxxvii. . 

. 86 





A safe stronghold our God is still 
Abide with me ! fast falls the eventide 
All glory, laud, and honour . 
All praise to Thee, my God, this night 
All things bright and beautiful 
And didst Thou leave the race 
Angels and supernal powers 
Art thou weary, art thou languid 
Awake, my soul, and with the sun 
Awake, my soul, to meet the day 

Before Jehovah's awful throne 

Begone, unbelief 

Behold the glories of the Lamb . 

Brief life is here our portion 

Brightest and best of the sons of the mornin 

By cool Siloam's shady rill . 

Children of the Heavenly King . 
Christ, Whose glory fills the skies 
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire , 
Come, let us join our cheerful songs . 
Come, Thou Holy Spirit, come . 
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched . 
Come, ye thankful people, come , 
Creator Spirit, by Whose aid 










Day of wrath, O day of mourning 
Days and moments quickly flying 
Dear Christian people, now rejoice 
Dear Jesus, ever at Thy side 
Dear Lord and Father of mankind 
Do no sinful action 





Eternal Beam of Light Divine 


Far from the world, O Lord, I flee 

Father, I know that all my life 

Fear not, O little flock, the foe 

For all the saints who from their labours 

For ever with the Lord 

For thee, O dear, dear country 

" Forward " be our watchword 

From Greenland's icy mountains 

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild 
God moves in a mysterious way 
Golden harps are sounding . 
Gracious Spirit, dwell with me 









Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory 

Hail to the Lord's Anointed 

Hark, hark, my soul, angelic songs 

Hark how the adoring host above 

Hark the glad sound ! the Saviour comes 

He giveth sun. He giveth shower 

He is gone — a cloud of light 

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty 

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts 

How are Thy servants blest, O Lord . 

How doth the little busy bee 





I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus . 

I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be 

I think when I read that sweet story of old 

Immortal Love, for ever full 




Jerusalem the golden . 
Jesus, I my cross have taken 
Jesus, I will trust Thee 
Jesus, Lover of my soul 
Jesus, Master, Whom I serve 
Jesus, Master, Whose I am 
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun 
Jesus, the very thought of Thee . 
Jesus, Thou art the Rose 
Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts . 
Jesus, where'er Thy people meet 
Just as I am, without one plea 




Lead, kindly Light, amid the encirclin 
Let dogs delight to bark and bite 
Let us with a gladsome mind 
Lo ! on a narrow neck of land 
Look from Thy sphere of endless day 
Lord Jesus, think on me 
Lord of all being, throned afar 
Lord of the living harvest . 




Much in sorrow, oft in woe . 
My faith looks up to Thee . 
My God and Father, while I stray 
My God, how wonderful Thou art 
My heart is resting, O my God . 
My very thoughts are selfish 





Nearer, my God, to Thee 
Now thank we all our God . 
Now the labourer's task is o'er 





O come and mourn with me awhile 

O conscience ! conscience ! when I look 

O day of rest and gladness ! 

O deem not they are blest alone 

O for a closer walk with God 

O for a thousand tongues to sing 

O God of Bethel, by Whose hand 

O God, the Rock of Ages 

O happy band of pilgrims . 

O happy day that fixed my choice 

O help us, Lord, each hour of need 

O Jesus Christ, the righteous ! 

O Light of life, O Saviour dear . 

O Light Whose beams illumine all 

O Lord of heaven, and earth, and sea . 

O Love Divine, that stooped to share . 

O Paradise ! O Paradise ! . 

O sacred Head once wounded 

O spirit of the living God 

Object of my first desire 

Of the Father's love begotten 

Once in Royal David's city . 

Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed 

Our day of praise is done . 

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world 
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow 
Prayer is the soul's sincere desire 





Rest of the weary, Joy of the sad 




Ride on, ride on in majesty 
Rock of Ages, cleft for me . 

Safe home, safe home in port 

Saviour, again to Thy dear Name we raise 

Saviour, visit Thy plantation 

See, the Conqueror mounts in triumph 

Shepherd of tender youth 

Sometimes a light surprises 

Sow in the morn thy seed . 

Sweet Saviour, bless us e'er we go 

Take me, O my Father, take me . 

Take my life, and let it be . 

Tell it out among the heathen 

Ten thousand times ten thousand 

The Church's one foundation 

The day is past and over 

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended 

The King of Glory we proclaim . 

The Lord delights in them that speak 

The spacious firmament on high , 

The Sundays of man's life . 

The sun is sinking fast 

There is a dreadful hell 

There is a green hill far away 

There is a land of pure delight . 

Thine arm, O Lord, in days of old 

Throughout the deep Thy footsteps shine 

Thy life was given for me . 

Yield not to temptation 

Your harps, ye trembling saints . 

Wake, awake, the night is flying 



We are but little children weak . 

We give Thee but Thine own 

Weary of earth and laden with my sin 

W^hat if His dreadful anger burn 

When all Thy mercies, O my God 

When Israel of the Lord beloved 

When I survey the wondrous cross 

When morning gilds the skies 

When our heads are bowed with woe 

When the day of toil is done 

Where'er the gentle heart . 

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness 















Adams .... 


Ellerton . 



Addison .... 


Elliott, Charlotte . 


Adolphus, Gustavus 


Ephraim the Syrian 


Alexander, Dr. J. W. 


Alexander, Mrs. 





Alford .... 


Ambrose .... 







Gregory the Great . 



Auber, Harriet 


H. L. L. . 




Hart, Joseph . 



Bernard (Clairvaux) 


Havergal . 



Bernard (Cluny) 


Heber . 



Berridge, John 


Herbert, George 


Bickersteth . . 233 


Holmes, O. W. 



Bonar .... 


How, Walsham 


Bovvring .... 


Bryant, W. C. . . 


Ingelow, Jean . 



Cennick, John 


Keble . 



Clement of Alexandria . 





Covvper .... 


Luke, Mrs. 




Luther. . 



Dryden .... 









. 163 

St. John Damascene 


St. Joseph of the Studium 


Milman . 

. 242 

St. Stephen the Sabaite . 


Milton . 

. 158 

Scott, Sir Walter . 


Moiisell . 

. 248 

Stanley .... 


Montgomery . 

. 210 

Steele, Anne . 


Stone .... 



116, 146 

Synesius of Cyrene 


Newman . 

. 228 

Newton . 

. 200 

Tate, Faithful . 


Nicolai . 

• 153 

Taylor, Ann . 


Taylor, Jane . 


Olivers . 

. 114 



Toplady .... 


Palgrave . 

. 270 

Waring, A. L. 


Palmer, Ray . 

. 220 

Watts . . .118 



• 244 

Wesley . . .121 


Procter, A. A. 

126, 261 

White, Kirke . 



• 136 

Whittier .... 


Rinckart . 

. 154 

Wither, George . 123 


Robert II. of France 

• 147 

f C? *-' 


Wordsworth, Bishop 


St. Cosma 

. 140 

Xavier .... 


350 INDEX. 




Barnby, J 332 

Dykes, J. B. ... 302 

Gauntlett, H. J 277 

Hopkins, E. J 295 

Monk, W. H. . . ■ . 310 

Smart, H 285 

Stainer, J 3^7 

Sullivan, A. S 3^7 





Aber (" O perfect life of love ") . 

Benediction (" Saviour, again ") . 
Beverley (" Thou art coming ") . 

Dominus regit me (" The King of Love ") 

Endless Alleluia 

Epenetus ...... 

Eventide ("Abide with me ") 


Hermas ...... 

Hollingside (" Jesus, Lover of my soul") 


Lancashire ...... 

Laudes Domini (" When morning gilds the 
London, New 

Melcombe ...... 

Melita (" Eternal Father, strong to save") 
Miles' Lane 


• 313 

. 300 

• 313 

. 308 

• 336 
122, 225 

313, 314 

. 289 

. 122 

• 309 

• 283 

. 289 

• 336 
. 308 






Nun danket ..... 
Nymphos ..... 

Olivet (" My faith looks up to Thee ") 

Patmos .... 

Pilgrims (Smart) .... 

Regent Square .... 
Requiescat (" Now the labourer's task 
Rockingham .... 

is done ") 
') • 

St. Aelred (" Fierce raged the tempest 

,, Albinus 

„ Alphege 

,, Anatolius ("The day is past and over") 

„ Bees (" Hark, my soul '')... 

,, Chrysostom (" Jesus, my Lord ") . 

,, Fabian (" Jesus, Lover of my soul ") 

,, Gertrude ....... 

,, Leonard 

,, Matthias (" Sweet Saviour, bless us ") . 

,, Theresa (" Brightly gleams our banner ") 
Sebaste ("Hail, gladdening Light ") . 

The blessed home 

Vesper (*' Holy Father, cheer our way ") 
Vox angelica (" Hark, hark, my soul ") 






This book is 

under no circumstances to be 
en from the Building 

f..Mn IIM 

:/i J injc/