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ous causes assigned (or presumed) in justification of the systematic alteration of hymns by editors.

We must premise that we are no blind worshipers of the past. Hymns written a century or even half a century ago, may of course contain some expressions now obsolete, or at least too quaint and rough for modern use. These should be amended with a cautious and reverent hand, and a mind imbued as deeply as possible with the spirit of the author, subject also to the jealous and watchful criticism of the Christian public. But what a different state of things do we see! In the preface to the “ Church Psalmody,” all hymns are boldly claimed as public property, which editors “ have a right to modify and use up according to their own judgment !” That they are in a sense public property must be admitted—and so are the paintings and statues in a public gallery—but it does not follow in either case that any private individual has a right to destroy or deface them ! We are not aware that this doctrine has been put forth quite so openly in any other quarter, but much license has in fact been practiced. The principal reasons for such changes appear to be these :

1. The most excusable (and sometimes allowable) mode of alteration is the omission of one or more verses for the sake of brevity. It must be admitted that many good hymns contain some stanzas which are not essential to their unity or lyrical effect. Many such were expressly designated by Dr. Watts, and some of these being now obsolete may properly be omitted, while others are still valuable for occasional use. The same remark applies to other hymns, but, on the whole, we think that not many verses can be entirely spared without serious loss. When, for instance, that noble hymn of Doddridge, given entire (15) in Worcester's selection, is cut down from six stanzas to three in the Church Psalmody (170), not only is its force diluted, and its beauty marred, but the sublime climax is entirely lost.

And when the touching ejaculatory prayer with which Mrs. Steele's well-known hymn (420 Select.) commences

“Dear Lord, and shall thy Spirit rest

In such a wretched heart as mine?
Unworthy dwelling! glorious Guest!

Favor astonishing_divine !"

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is amputated, and the hymn is made to commence with the third verse, is not the loss irreparable ?

2. The object of abbreviation, however, has occasionally been attained by far less excusable means, such as forming one or more new stanzas out of a larger number previously existing, portions of which are thus necessarily omitted, and the remainder dovetailed together in a manner which would often be ludicrous if it were not painful. A notable specimen of this sort of patchwork, by which one of our sweetest Christian lyrics has been half ruined, we now proceed to lay before our readers. We first give the hymn (as nearly as we are able) in its original form:

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure-
Cleanse me from its guilt and power!

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill thy law's demands :
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone-
Thou must save, and thou alone!

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling:
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace,
Vile, I to the fountain fly-
Wash me, Saviour, or 1 die !

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment-throne-
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee!

These stanzas are poetical and highly lyrical, their structure is admirable and their logical sequence perfect. Each verse is complete in itself, yet essential to the unity of the whole, and every line helps forward the progress to the final climax. In short, it is a model hymn, and to tamper with it is like tampering with the “Crucifixion" of Guido, which its solemn strains may well recall.

This touching and beautiful Christian poem has been cut down in the Church Psalmody, (followed partially, we grieve to say, by all the collections we have enumerated except the Plymouth,) after this fashion. We have italicized in the original the passages here omitted, and we now italicize those which have been altered or transposed.

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy side, a healing flood,
Be of fear and sin the cure ;
Save from wrath, and make me pure !

Should my tears forever flow,
Should my zeal no languor know,
This for sin could not atone ;
Thou must save, and thou alone :
In my hand no price I bring,

Simply to thy cross I cling.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown
And behold thee on thy throne,
Rock of ages! cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

A still more flagrant instance (if possible) of this species of manufacture, is found in the 188th hymn of the Church Psalmody, which is actually patched together out of fragments (more or less altered) of three of the finest of Dr. Watts's third book, (the 6th, 10th, and 12th.) We have no pleasure in dwelling on such proceedings, and must refer the curious reader to the books themselves.

Another mode of abbreviation is to turn Long Meters to Sevens, or to Common Meters, and Common to Short, by the omission of certain syllables. This process has, perhaps, occasionally been successful, but it is not a safe one in common hands.

3. It is argued in the preface to the Church Psalmody, that "each stanza and the whole hymn should be so constructed, that the importance of the sentiments, the force of expression, the emotion, and the general effect of the piece, shall be increasing through to the end." This is doubtless generally true, but not in the mere physical sense of making the loudest passages the last, and closing the hymn with a burst of sound suited to please choirs and organists. Yet this has been done in the Church Psalmody by transpositions of lines and stanzas, so extraordinary as to have called forth animadversion from the pulpit. Thus, in Dr. Watts's beautiful Second Common Meter version of the fifty-first Psalm

"O God of mercy, hear my call," the second stanza, which expresses a hope of reconciliation and future thanksgiving, is made the last, the first becoming the third, so that the last two are placed at the beginning! In this way the choir is enabled to pass with due regularity from piano to forte, and this penitential hymn concludes with a burst of praise! We trust that we need not here attempt to prove that such was not the intention of the poet, or the natural course of his train of thought and feeling. A similar motive doubtless led to the celebrated transposition of a verse of Cowper, in the 116th hymn of the same collection. We may remark in passing, that even secular musicians do not invariably wind up their pieces with a burst of sound, but often revert at the close to such soft and gentle strains as might well correspond to Cowper's lines :

“When this poor lisping, stammering tongue

Lies silent in the grave!" We presume the above explanation must also be given for the following curious specimen of transposition :


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Thy light and truth shall guide me still,
Thy word shall my best thoughts em-

And lead me to thy holy hill,

My God, my most exceeding joy.

O God, thou art my hope, my joy ;

Thy light and truth shall guide me still, Thy word shall my best thoughts em

plog, And lead me to thine heavenly hill.

Another peculiar mode of obtaining a climax, and eking ont a hymn which has been inconveniently cut down, is found in repeating the first stanza at the close of the hymn, (suggested no doubt by the Da Capo in music.) This is frequently resorted to in the Church Psalmody, and sometimes, we think, rather unscrupulously. For instance, the 45th Psalm, 2d part, is composed of two only, out of the five original stanzas of Watts, (the 3d and 4th,) the first of these being repeated at thie end, to make out a hymn of three stanzas ! We think it will generally be found that where the poet himself has not made snch a repetition, it is not safe for others to make it.

4. " The accented parts of the stanza should correspond with the accented notes of the tune. The want of this is a defect of more frequent occurrence in hymns than any other.” So says

. the preface to the Church Psalmody, and accordingly the alterations necessary to remedy this defect, form a very prominent feature in that compilation. Practically these alterations fall almost exclusively upon iambic lines, probably because trochaic and anapestic verses, being less common, are usually more carefully composed. The structure of iambic verse, both in English and German, is extremely elastic, and the introduction of trochees is incessant, even in the best writers. The lines

"Brought sin into the world, and all our wo;"

Gorgons and hydras, and chimeras dire ;"
“ To be or not to be! That is the question,” &c;

" Father of all, in every age,” &c., and thousands more, familiar to every reader of poetry, will at once illustrate this fact. But as tunes are generally composed and used, not for one hymn, but many, it is obvious that their structure must be as nearly iambic as possible, so that a trochee in the hymn will rarely find a corresponding trochee in the tune. Now it is a question of fundamental importance, whether the hymn must be sung as it was written, or altered to correspond with the alleged demands of musical rhythm. Of these two alternatives, we have no hesitation in preferring the former, not only on the general principle already laid down, that we have no right to tamper with the productions of genius, but because the object to be attained by no means warrants the sacrifice.

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