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ously rejected and abhorred. Man, universal man, is yet to come into full, deep, warm sympathy with God, in his estimate of the glory of our nature, made in his own image, and, therefore, of the high responsibility of him who undertakes to lead it forth, upon the pathway of its true development.
The earnest use of positive religious influence, in the work of education, is neglected by many, on theory or by blind impulse, who yet profess to acknowledge its amazing value; by some, from a foolish fear of being regarded as hyper-denominational ; by others, from a blind sense of the fact, that, in the economy of modern society the office of religious instruction is assigned, in its general division of labor, to the ministry as their special work; and by others still, from the feeling, that the art of right religious stimulation and guidance is one in which they hardly know where to step or where to stand. It is, indeed, one of the greatest of all arts, as also of all modes of usefulness, to know how to bring completely one's whole personality into bright and burning contact, at all points, with the natures and wants of others. The right use of religious power over them is not, however, to be of a formal and fixed character, or occasional in its seasons; but spontaneous, perpetual, and ever-varied, according to the everchanging aspects of nature, and of life, and of each soul, that gives or receives the blessing of communicated love.
The teacher, if possessed of intellectual and genial personal qualities alike, and fully devoted to the cause of God, can do a work which, if neglected, the ministry, with whatever weaponry of truth and love, may ever afterwards attempt in vain. The recipients of his influence are exceedingly impressible, and as never again in subsequent years. He not only teaches, but trains them, if faithful, to walk in the paths of uprightness. And, yet, his is the calling, so noble and divine, which is commonly so lightly esteemed, and whose honor, most, who undertake its vindication, would determine by some of its higher positions so called, instead of by its own great intrinsic merit, as a vocation; as high in itself, as any mortal can presume to enter uncalled, or feel that he has received a commission from above to undertake.
ARTICLE II.—THE NEW ANDOVER HYMN BOOK.
The Sabbath Hymn Book ; for the Service of Song in the
House of the Lord. New York: Mason Brothers. Boston: J. E. Tilton & Co. 1858.
Less than fifty years ago, the Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Watts, in their original form and arrangement, reigned supreme in the Orthodox Congregational churches of New England, as they doubtless still do in many a church and chapel of the mother country. In 1815, Dr. Samuel Worcester published his “ Christian Psalmody,” comprising an abridged edition of Watts, with a sinall but valuable supplement, selected with much poetical taste and Christian feeling. The abridgment of Watts was soon followed and ultimately superseded by “ Watts entire," which, with the supplement, has been extensively used, and is still retained in various churches. In both these editions of Watts, the singular modification was adopted of substituting everywhere the relative that for which, and (when referring to persons) who for that, “because it is better for musical sound !” In 1834, after the death of Dr. Worcester, the supplement of “Select Hymns” was enlarged, but so carelessly as to include among the additions at least two hymns (one of Watts and one of Doddridge) which were already in the old book.
In 1831 appeared the “ Church Psalmody," which speedily came into extensive use, and has only of late begun to be displaced. It was ushered in by an elaborate preface, containing an admirable exposition of the theory of hymnology, and winding up with the following somewhat peculiar conclusion : “With these remarks and explanations, this work, on which the compilers have bestowed much time and labor, and in which they have found much pleasure, is now given to the churches for their use !”
Unfortunately the theory of this preface was very indifferently carried out in execution. This is not the place for a
detailed review of a work which may now be said to have had its day; but the injurious influence (as we regard it) which it has exercised during more than a quarter of a century, cannot be left altogether without notice and censure. We are far from denying to this compilation a very considerable degree of merit. As the first systematic and successful attempt to collect and harmonize to some extent the existing materials of sacred poetry, and to supply the churches with a copious selection of sound Christian hymns, suitable to be read or sung without omission or alteration, as well as acceptable to choirs and singers, it is entitled to favorable consideration and lenient criticism. The fact that for so many years its sway has been so extensive and unquestioned, proves that it supplied a real deficiency; but its very excellencies and advantages have of course enhanced its power for evil. Its great and fatal defect appears to be the entire subordination of the poetical element to considerations of (supposed) logical and musical structure and effect. This led not only to a useless accumulation of prosaic and common-place hymns, but to a systematic alteration of existing hymns, (probably the most extensive ever practiced,) by which nearly all were injured, and many so transformed and defaced as to be hardly recognizable.
In 1845, appeared the “Psalms and Hymns for Christian use and worship, prepared and set forth by the General Association of Connecticut.” This collection, although some alterations were made in standard hymns, must be admitted to be, as a whole, far preferable to the Church Psalınody.
In all these compilations the Psalms of David had formed a separate division-partly, we suppose, from custom, and partly from respect to a divinely inspired model of sacred psalmody. Various causes, however, have been gradually obliterating this distinction, and we have now at least three recent collections in which it has not been observed. We have not examined the
Congregational Hymn Book,” published at Boston, and the “ Plymouth Collection ” has already been noticed in the pages of the New Englander. Both profess to restore the hymns to their original form.
Having thus briefly noticed the principal predecessors of
the “Sabbath Hymn Book,” we propose, before proceeding to examine its claims, briefly to set forth and illustrate, as we understand them, the principles by which such a work should be judged.
The first and most essential requisite for a good hymn book, is evidently a sufficiency of good hymns. But what constitutes a good hymn? “Praise to God,” say some. But what, then, becomes of the fifty-first and other penitential psalms ? “ A direct address to the Deity," say others. But how, then, shall we class the twenty-third, thirty-fourth, and a multitude of similar psalms? Others, again, will admit anything, narrative, doctrinal, or didactic, which may serve to enforce the argument of their discourses. “Every one of them hath a psalm, hath a doctrine;" and all they require of the psalm is, that it duly teach the doctrine. Such should remember the annexed warning, “Let all things be done unto edifying.” Finally, some (and surely their position is the most indefensible of all) look on a psalm or hymn as the mere canvass on which the elegant creations of choir-music are to be wrought!
It is the primary object and aim of all poetry to excite emotion. Lyrical poetry attains this object by expressing emotion. Religious emotion may be abundantly excited by a touching anecdote or a pathetic narrative; but these would not necessarily be hymns, or even suitable materials for hymns. When we say a hymn is essentially lyrical, the etymology of the word shows us that it is meant to be sung. Song is the natural expression of emotion, and a hymn which does not express emotion is, therefore, no hymn at all. The expression may not always be direct; but whatever may be the outward form, the pervading spirit—the atmosphere, so to speak—will be not that of dry intellect, but of the feelings and affections. A single verse in each style may suffice to illustrate our meaning
“Can sinners hope for heaven,
Who love this world so well-
While on the road to hell ?”
“And canst thou, sinner, slight
The call of love divine ?
And gain no thought of thine " But even this is not all. The utterance of emotion, however genuine, from a dull, prosaic, illogical mind, will never kindlo the flame of sacred love in others. There must be that higher power, bestowed upon so few—that " inspiration of the Almigh
, ty which giveth understanding”—whether we call it genius, imagination, or the gift of poetry—which alone can command the sympathy and sway the feelings of men. A really good hymn, therefore, is a work of art, as truly as a beautiful poem, or painting, or statue—and though few productions in any of these departments attain the highest excellence, the mark of genius is as evident in this class as in any other.
A good hymn, then, is the expression of religions emotion in a lyrical form, and with that power of imagination which belongs only to true poetry. Its external forms and immediate topics may be varied almost to infinity :
“Quidquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas—" Almost every religious thought, conception, description, doctrine, argument, aspiration, may, by a true poet, be made the subject of such a production. The Psalms of David present us with numerous models of this kind; and some of the noblest effusions of our Christian poets have been elicited by the most unpromising subjects. How large a part of the varied range of human experience, elevated and sanctified by religious emotion, is already thus enshrined in sacred song!
If these views are correct, it will at once be apparent, how unjustifiable must be the course of those who, not being poets themselves, undertake systematically to alter or remodel the hymns of poets. No amount of learning, musical knowledge, or rhetorical skill, can qualify an editor for such a task; and, accordingly, where it has been attempted, it is usually but too evident that “the gold has been made dim, and the fine gold changed.”
As this subject is of peculiar interest and importance at the present moment, we shall present as briefly as possible the vari