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himself personally. He affected disgust, and asked indignantly—“to what purpose is this waste ? " “ This ointment might have been sold for 300 pence and given to the poor.” That 300 pence entwined itself like a serpent round his callous heart, made him a slave, and dragged him into selling his Master for less than £4. “Given to the poor!” said this specious money-keeper, to hide his own avarice, and parry suspicion. Nothing cared he for“ the poor;' " but he wanted the money. John had seen his pilfering propensities before, and perceiving now what was in the man's heart, calls him by his right name—“thief.” Jesus, however, ended the dispute, commending Mary by saying—“Why trouble ye the woman? She hath wrought a good work on Me;" " she did it for My burial,” and it shall be recorded for ever to her honour! Yes; the last scenes were opening, and now the Tragedy was ever in His eyes. But the cupidity of Judas was consuming his soul. The image of money was on his brain, inobliterable too, till his fingers had felt it. That Sabbath night he left the house, with the horrible money-loving passion burning within him; a passion unquenchable ; for before he slept, he had bargained away the life of Jesus. The man of avarice got money, and with it universal, never-ending contempt. It is the eve of the last Passover now. (Matt. xxvi. 6--15; Mark xiv. 3—11; Luke xxii. 1–6; John xii. 1–7.)
HYMN-WRITERS AND THEIR HYMNS.
By the Author of " Thornley Grange,” đc.
I. We have great cause to be thankful to a beneficent Creator for the gift which He hath bestowed upon some, who, having touched their harps, have sung us “songs of sadness and of mirth.” These holy lays have ever proved, next to the Bible, to be the richest source of Christian consolation and joy. How happily have the ends sought for in the compilation of our own denominational Hymn-book been met! Dr. Stacey, in the preface, says: “The compilers commend their work to the Church of Christ in general, but to the denomination which they have specially sought to serve in particular, in the hope that, in instances which no man can number, it may be a means of manifold spiritual profit, kindling the fire of devotion in hearts where little or no such fire existed before, and carrying up before the Lord, as incense ever grateful to Him, now the prayer of penitence, and again the voice of praise.”
Then how many a wanderer has been reminded of home, as he has heard some pilgrim band chant the strains so often sung in his childhood, around his parents' hearth! And how many an exile has been carried on the wings of fancy to roam once again through his fatherland, as some familiar song, peculiar to his own country, has been sung! Who shall recount the number of desponding ones whose spirits have been raised, of sick ones whose hearts have been comforted, of dying ones whose souls have been illumined, as some pious lay has been said or sung by a kind and sympathetic friend? Thank God for holy song! Oh, while we bind fast the rich treasury of Divine truth in our hearts, let us hold-and not in small esteem-its spiritual teaching, translated by choicest spirits into lovely song.
"Hymns,” says Gill, in his “Golden Chain of Praise," " are not meant to be theologicalstatements, expositions of doctrine, or enunciations of precepts; they are utterances of the soul in its manifold moods of hope and fear, joy and sorrow, love, wonder, and aspiration.” This explains why we find in our own hymn-books, both chapel and school, the productions of Lutherans, Moravians, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Calvinists, Methodists, and even Romanists. Singing Toplady's hymn,
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,” we forget his rigid predestination, but class all them together, and speak of them as
“ The poets, who, on earth, have made us beirs
Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays." In bringing the subject of “Hymn-Writers and their Hymns" before our readers of this magazine there needs no apology. We have all some love, however little, for the books from which we sing in our sanctuaries and Sunday-schools. We have now two capital collections of song, and we hope that love, which we already have for them, will be increased by our medi. tations and research. These collections are intended in each case, as the preface of the Chapel Hymn-book says, “ to furnish a book of devotion for the closet, as well as a selection of 'Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the sanctuary." Let not our hymn-books always be left at the chapel, for they are to be read as well as being used for song.
Come, then, dear reader, and let us linger over some of the beautiful utterances of hymnists past and present; behold the characteristics of those whose “grand choral harmonies” and “heroic stanzas” have so often refreshed and strengthened; and view the circumstances under which some of them wrote “ their experiences of patient faith in times of sad unrest, the plaintive 'songs in the night' of sorrow, as well as the alternations of ecstatic bursts of joy.” Then shall these meditations be to us “times of refreshing," “ brooks by the way."
The earliest known hymn is that said to have been written by Clement, Bishop of Alexandria, in Egypt, who suffered martyrdom, A.D. 217. It has been translated by the Rev. Prof. Plumptre, and is remarkable for its beauty and archaic simplicity. To give a quotation would occupy too much space. Saunders has remarked, “It is remarkable for its quaintly interwoven imagery under which our Saviour is impersonated.”
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, may be accounted as the first hymn-writer of any note. He has been called, and justly so, the inventor of Church music. Augustine, the celebrated Bishop of Hippo, in his writings-a
valuable legacy bequeathed to the Church-has given some account of the improvements of Ambrose in religious service. In a letter addressed to that dignitary, he says: “ The hymns and songs of thy Church moved my soul intensely; the truth was distilled by them into my heart; the flame of piety was kindled, and my tears flowed for joy."
Ambrose was born in France, A.D. 340. Like Augustine, and many another ornament of the Church, he had a pious mother. He was made bishop when only thirty-four years of age. Like Luther, he fell on troublesome times, when the tidal wave of Arianism was rolling over the Church, And, consequently, as in the hymns of the Monk of Erfurt, we find reflected in the poetry of Ambrose the strong and militant spirit, that which is aroused when the truth needs defending. He wrote hymn 83 (Chapel Hymn Book)
“ We praise, we worship Thee, O God.”
The “ Te Deum Landamus” (Chant 77), that grand anthem of praise, is said, by tradition, to have had its origin with Ambrose ; that while baptizing Augustine in the Cathedral at Milan it gushed from his lips as by sudden inspiration. Bishop Fisher repeated it as his farewell when standing beside the block. Columbus and his crew sang it on beholding the first grey outline of the New World. Robert Hall, the great Baptist minister, once unconsciously paid a high compliment to its literary merits. Having written a sermon from a supposed text, he took down his concordance to search for it, but it was not to be found in the Bible. The words were,
“ All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting." The late Dr. Neale, a warm supporter of the “ Anglo-Catholic” party in the Church of England, and himself an able hymnologist, has done the Christian Church great service by his many translations. Perhaps one of the grandest outbursts of song which he has rescued from the long-buried past is No. 295 (School Hymn Book) :
“Art thou weary, art thou languid,” a hymn now becoming very familiar in our Sunday-schools and special religious services. It was written by Stephen, of the monastery of St. Sabbas, a monk of the eighth century, who commenced his monastic life at the early age of ten. He is known to students of ecclesiastical history as the nephew of St. John Damascene, “well known as the restorer of images in Christian churches.”
Passing from the time of Stephen the Sabaite, over a period of three hundred years, we come to notice the Bernards—the one of Clairvaux, the other of Cluny. Bernard of Clairvaux was born in Burgundy, A.D. 1091. He was of a knightly family. His mother, Lady Aletta, gave him a pious training, a sound education. When young he left home for the monastery of Clairvaux, where he was quickly followed by his six brothers. Luther was a great admirer of Bernard, and no doubt caught much of his spirit. Writing of him he says, “He was the best monk that ever lived." The poet-monk sought out a quiet retreat in a valley near the monastery, which he made his oratory. Here he wrote and sang his “simple and heart-felt lays.” He died A.D. 1153, aged sixty-two. His last words were,
**For ever with the Lord.” The best known of his hymns will be the one translated by Ray Palmer, No. 210 (Church Hymn Book),
“Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts," and that equalled, but unsurpassed production, No. 220 (Church Hymn Book) :
“Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast." Bernard of Cluny was a contemporary of the former Bernard, and was born at Morlaix, in Bretagne, but of English parents. He was the author of a poem entitled De Contemptu Mundi, a bitter satire on the corruptions of
Its length is enormous, extending to three thousand lines. Although its title conveys the thought of disgust, yet the opening, which is a description of the peace and glory of heaven, is of such rare beauty as to stamp Ithe poem one of the sweetest of its character ever penned. We have several selections from it in our English hymnology :
“ Brief life is here our portion," is one part. Hymn No. 432 (School Hymn Book) is another. It commences,
“Jerusalem the golden." But we have only three verses given. In No. 478 (Church Hymn Book),
“To thee, O dear, dear country," which is from the same poem, we have eight. Dr. Neale, who no doubt has given us the best translation, describes the whole as one of the most lovely of medieval productions.
The Priory of Castleacre, Norfolk, which was founded in the eleventh century, was largely supported by Cluniac monks. They came and estab. lished many churches in the district. Who shall say that in those sacred edifices the songs of the Abbot of Cluny, as now sung, were not sung seven hundred years ago ?
Early in the thirteenth century“ a yet more stately and majestic chant” burst forth, in the “ Dies Iræ.” The voice that sang it was that of a Franciscan monk, Thomas of Celano. He takes his name from his native place, a Neapolitan village. So much has this composition been admired that it has passed into more than two hundred translations. Quite a number of English versions have been produced. One of the best is that which appears as No. 450 (Church Hymn Book):—
“Day of wrath! O day of mourning!” * This version springs from a State Church sapling out of a popular Dissenting stock-queer enough—but nature will have her freaks, ecclesiastical as well as vegetable nature."* Josiah Irons, D.D., Vicar of Brompton, son of the late Rev. Joseph Irons, Grove Chapel, Camberwell, is the translator. Another version of note is the one by Sir W. Scott, introduced in his “Lay of the Last Minstrel. How shocked might some be to know that it has found its way into our Chapel Hymn Book! But here it is, No. 440 :
“That day of wrath, that dreadful day."
• S. W. Christophers.
Scott writes of it, “To my Gothic ear this old hymn is more solemn and affecting than fine, classical poetry; it has the gloomy dignity of the Gothic Church.” We are told that, like Dr. Johnson, he could not recite it without tears, and in his last hours this celebrated novelist breathed forth its trumpet-like cadences. It may interest some musical friends to know that Mozart made “ Dies Iræ the basis of his “ Requiem," and became so intensely excited by the theme that it hastened his end.
But here we must forbear. These are but a few, selected here and there, from the singers of the early centuries. Our next notice will be the heroic stanzas of the lion-hearted Luther and his co-minstrels, which ushered in the day of light and liberty.
AN IMPORTANT DOCUMENT FROM 617
In the year 1865, when the annual meeting was held by the members of the “ Association for the Promotion of Science,” the following important document was drawn up and signed by 617 persons, many of them being men eminent in scientific attainments. The document is preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford :
“We, the undersigned students of the natural sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researches into scientific truth are perverted by some in our own times into occasions for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.
“We conceive that it is impossible for the word of God as written in the book of nature, and God's word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ.
" We are not forgetful that physical science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular. “We cannot but deplore that natural science should be looked upon
with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ.
“We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the written word, or rather to his own interpretation of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong; but rather leave the two side by side, till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled : and instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree."
Here follow the signatures of the 617 scientific men, filling about thirty pages.