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Where windows bathe the holy light
On priestly heads that falls, And stain the florid tracery
And banner-dighted walls !
And then, those Easter bells, in spring!
Those glorious Easter chimes ; How loyally they hail thee round,
Old queen of holy times !
Responsively they cry,
From vale to mountain high.
I love ye—chimes of Motherland,
With all this soul of mine,
Of good old English line!
That England's glory tells; For she is lovely to the Lord,
For you, ye Christian bells!
And heir of her ancestral fame,
And happy in my birth,
The joy of all the earth ;
And here—where God is king,
The Rev. Isaac Williams, of the University of Oxford, is the author of “ The Cathedral,” “ Thoughts in Past Years," and some of the “ Oxford Tracts.” He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Professorship of Poetry in the University upon the retirement of Mr. Keble. His poems have been reprinted in this country by Messrs. Appleton, and have been much less read than for their merit they deserve to be.
TRANSLATION OF THE ANCIENT HYMN,
Day of wrath !that awful day
* In the admirable work entitled “The Conservative Principle in our Literature," by the Rev. William R. Williams, D. D., of New York, this profoundly learned and eloquent author alludes to the statement that Dr. Johnson, stern and rugged as was his nature, could not repeat, without bursting into a flood of tears, this verse from the old monkish hymn of “ Dies Iræ, Dies Illa,"
“Quærens me sedisti lassus,
Tantus labor non sit cassus!" And in a note he gives the following curious and interesting account of this celebrated composition :
" It is to Mrs. Piozzi that we owe this anecdote of Johnson. • When he would try to repeat the celebrated Prosa Ecclesiastica pro Mortuis, as it is called, beginning Dies Ire, dies illa, he could never pass the stanza ending thus Tantus labor noa sit cassus, without bursting into a flood of tears : which sensibility I used to quote against him when he would inveigh against devotional poetry, and protest that all religious verses were cold and feeble, and unworthy the subject.'—Croker's Boswell, London, 1839, vol. ix., p. 73.
“ A small volume, not without interest, might be compiled from the literary bistory of the Dies Iræ, and the versions it has received into various European languages, and from examples of the powerful influence it has exercised upon the feelings and course of individuals. It can scarce be regarded as a waste of time to observe and analyze the power this hymn, from the awfulness of its theme, and its own quaint, antique, and massive grandeur of structure, has acquired over the hearts of men. Unlike the Stabat Mater, another hymn of the Romish service, with which by mere critics it is ordinarily classed, it is free from idolatry. A devout Protestant cannot unite in the Stabat Mater. It degrades the Redeemer by idol
When the trumpet's thrilling tone,
izing his earthly parent. But in the Dies Iræ, salvation is represented as being of Christ alone, and as being of mere grace: 'Qui salvandos salvas gratis.' Combining somewhat of the rhythm of classical Latin, with the rhymes of the Mediæval Latin, treating of a theme full of awful sublimity, and grouping together the most stariling imagery of scripture, as to the last judgment, and throwing this into yei stronger relief by the barbaric simplicity of the style in which it is set, and adding to all these its full and trumpet-like cadences, and uniting with the impassioned feelings of the South, whence it emanated, the gravity of the North, whose severer style it adopted, it is well fitted to arouse the hearer. It forms a part of the Romish service for the dead. Albert Knapp, one of the living sacred pocts of Protestant Germany, and the compiler of a large body of hymns, the Liederschatz, has inseried a German version of it in his voluminous collection. (Evang. Liederschatz, Stuttgart, 1837, vol. ii., p. 786, hymn 3475.) He compares the original to a blast from the trump of the resurrection, and while hiinself attempting a version of it, declares its original power inimitable in any translation. (Ibid. p. 870.) This is the judgment of a man not to be contemned as a critic or a translator, for Knapp himself is called by a recent German critic, who seems far removed from any sympathy with the religious school to which Knapp belongs, ' unquestionably the most distinguished religious poet of the day.' (Thimm's Literature of Germany, Lond., 1844 ; p. 260.) le refers to other versions of it made by the distinguished scholar, Aug. Wm. Schlegel, by Claus Harms, one of the most eminent of the living evangelical preachers of Germany, as well as by J. G. Fichte, by A. L. Follen, J. G. Von Meyer, and the Chevalier Bunsen. The translation of Bunsen, with some slight variations, is appended by Tholuck to his sermon on the Feast-slay of the Dead. (Tholuck, Predigten. Hamburg, 1838, vol. i., pp. 28–149.) Professors Edwards and Park, in their • Selections from German Literature,' (Andover, 1839,) quote the remark of Tholuck, as to the deep sensation produced by the singing of this hymn in the University church: . The impression, especially that which was made by the last words, as sung by the University choir alone, will be forgotten by no one.' They introduce also the words of an American clergyman, present on the occasion, who says, “It was impossible to refrain from tears, when at the seventh stanza, all the trumpets ceased, and the choir, accompanied by a softened tone of the organ, sung those touching lines, Quid sum miser tunc dicturus,' &c. Like Knapp, they unite in the judgment, that no translation has equalled, or can equal the original Latin. (German Selections, p. 185.) Dr. H. A. Daniel, another German scholar, in his · Bluethenstrauss alt-latein, Kirchenpoesie, Halle, 1810,' has inserted, besides the original Latin, and the German version of Bunsen, (pp. 78 and 116,) another version of his own, (p. 110.) Goethe has introduced snatches of the original Latin into the first part of his Faust.
* The admiration which Sir Walter Scott felt for it is well known. He has in
Then the Judge shall sit !-oh! then,
troduced an English version of a few of its opening stanzas into the · Lay of the Last Minstrel,' whence Bishop Heber adopted it into his . Hymns for the Church Service. They are too few to give any just idea of the original, and the measure of the old hymn is not as well retained as in the best German versions. Knapp, Daniel, and Bunsen, all preserve the double rhymes of the Latin original ; Scott and the earlier English translators have given but a single rhymed ending to their verses. In this respect the English version of the London Christian Observer, (vol. xxvi., p. 26,) copied by Edwards and Park, (German Selections, p. 15,) also comes short of its model, as does that of the Rev. Isaac Williams, one of the writers of the Oxford Tracts, and who contested unsuccessfully with the Rev. Mr. Garbett, the election to the Professorship of Poetry in Oxford, on the retirement of Keble. Williams' version may be found in his • Thoughts in Past Years,' (Am. ed., p. 308 ) A writer in the New York Evangelist (October, 1841) has judiciously retained the double rhyme, but the reader misses the antique simplicity and rugged strength of the original. Sir Walter Scott in his letter to a brother poet, Crabbe, remarks: "To my Gothic ear, the Stabat Mater, the Dies Ire, and some of the other hymns of the Catholic church, are more solemn and affecting than the fine classical poetry of Buchanan ; the one has the gloomy dignity of a Gothic church, and reminds us constantly of the worship to which it is dedicated; the other is more like a pagan temple recalling to our memory the classical and fabulous deities.' (Lockhart's Life of Scott, Philad., 1838, vol. i. p. 430.) In his last days of life and reason, he was overheard quoting it with fragments of the Bible, and the old Scotch Psalms. • We very often,' says his kinsman and biographer, .heard distinctly the cadence of the Dies Ire.' (Ib., vol. ii., p. 731.) Its lines haunted in like manner the dying hours of an earlier and inferior poet, the Earl of Roscommon. He was the au. thor of an English version of the hymn, and, as we learn from Johnson's • Lives of the Poets,' he uttered, in the moment when he expired, with great energy and devotion, two lines of his own translation of the · Dies Ira :'
My God, my Father, and my Friend,
Do not forsake me in my end.' Milman, another distinguished name in English poetry, has, in his . History of Christianity,' rated this hymn as superior to any of the poetry of the Christian church in the early ages. “As to the hymns, (setting aside the “ Te Deum,") paradoxical as it may sound, I cannot but think the latter and more barbarous the best. There is nothing, in my judgment, to be compared with the monkish “ Dies Iræ, dies illa,” or even the “Stabat Mater.” (Milman, Galignani's ed. ii., p. 336, note.) Roscommon's translation, already the subject of reference, is said by Warton to be largely indebted to the earlier version of Crashaw, a sacred poet of true genius, whose rendering of the · Dies Iræ' was, in the judgment of Pope, the best of his
compositions. (Willmott's Lives of Sacred Poets, Lond. 1839, vol. i., p. 317.) This work of Crashaw may be found in ' Anderson's British Poets,' (vol. iv., p. 745.) Crashaw was one of the clergymen of the English church, who during, or soon after the days of Laud, and probably from the influence of that school, whose leader and martyr Laud was, went over, as by a natural progression, into the Romish communion. Drummond of Hawthornden has also imitated the . Dies Iræ.' (Anderson, vol. iv., p. 682.) Evelyn, the author of the 'Sylva,' and the friend of Jeremy Taylor, seems also to have tested his strength upon the same task. In their correspondence, Taylor asks a copy of his friend's version. (Memoirs of Evelyn, vol. iv., p. 26.)
"Upon the . Dies Iræ,' Mozart has founded his celebrated · Requiem,' the latest, and not the least celebrated of his works. The excitement of his feelings whilst employed on this musical composition, is supposed to have hastened his end, which occurred, indeed, before he could fully complete the task.
* What has wrought so strongly on the graver temperament of the North, was not, although Gothic in its structure, likely to remain without any effect on the quicker feelings of the South. Ancina, at that time a Professor of Medicine in the University of Turin, was one day hearing mass, when the · Dies Iræ,' as chanted in the service for the dead, so strongly affected him, that he determined to abandon the world. He afterwards became Bishop of Saluzzo. (Biogr. Dict. of Soc. Diff. Usef. Kn., ' Ancina.')
" The authorship of the hymn is generally ascribed to one of the Franciscan order, or the Minorites as they are also called. Thomas de Celano, the friend and biographer of Francis of Assisi, the founder of this order, and who lived in the thirteenth century, is generally supposed to have written it about the year 1250. (Gieseler's Ch. Hist., Am. ed. II., 288; Knapp Liederschatz, II., 870; Tholuck and Daniel ut supra.) Celano, it may be observed by the way, is one of those on whose au. thority is made to rest the legend that Francis received the stigmata or miraculous impressions of Christ's wounds. (Alban Butler, Lives of Saints.) It has also been attributed to others of the same order. Matthew of Aquasparta, a general of the Minorites, who died with the rank of Cardinal, in 1302, and Frangipani, a Minorite, and a Cardinal, who died in 1294. (Knapp.) Churton, the author of the • Early English Church,' would give it, however, a much earlier origin, or he has fallen into a gross anachronism; for he places it in the lips of the dying Thurstan, the Archbishop of York, who ended his course in the year 1140, a full century before the time generally fixed for its composition by T. de Celano. (Churton, Am. ed.,
· Issuing, as it certainly did, from an age of great superstition and corruption, it is remarkable that it should be so little incrusted with the prevalent errors of the time. The lines, 'Quem patronum rogaturus Cum vir justus sit securus ?' seem almost