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184
HYMNS


Anatolius. Some of his translations-particularly “The day is past and over, ” from Anatolius, and “ Christian, dost thou see them, ” from Andrew of Crete-have been adopted into hymnbooks used in many English churches; and the hymn “ Art thou weary, ” which is rather founded upon than translated from one by Stephen the Sabaite, has obtained still more general popularity.

4. W estcru Church H ymnody.-It was not till the 4th century that Greek hymnody was imitated in the West, where its introduction was due to two great lights of the Latin Church-St Hilary of Poitiers and St Ambrose of Milan.

Hilary was banished from his see of Poitiers in 3 56, and was absent from it for about four years, which he spent in Asia Minor, taking part during that time in one of the councils of the Eastern Church. He thus had full opportunity of becoming acquainted with the Greek church music of that day; and he wrote (as St ]erome, who was thirty years old when Hilary died, and who was well acquainted with his acts and writings, and spent some time in or near his diocese, informs us) a “ book of hymns, ” to one of which Jerome particularly refers, in the preface to the second book of his own commentary on the epistle to the Galatians. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, who presided over the fourth council of Toledo, in his book on the offices of the church, speaks of Hilary as the first Latin hymn writer; that council itself, in its 13th canon, and the prologue to the Mozarabic hymnary (which is little more than a versification of the canon), associate his name, in this respect, with that of Ambrose. A tradition, ancient and widely spread, ascribed to him the authorship of the remarkable “ Hymnum dicat turba fratrum, hymnum cantus personet” (“ Band of brethren, raise the hymn, let your song the hymn resound”), which is a succinct narrative, in hymnal form, of the whole gospel history; and is perhaps the earliest example of a strictly didactic hymn. Both Bede and Hincmar much admired this composition, though the former does not mention, in Connexion with it, the name of Hilary. The private use of hymns of such a character by Christians in the West may probably have preceded their ecclesiastical use; for Jerome says that in his day those who went into the fields might hear “ the ploughman at his hallelujahs, the mower at his hymns, and the vine-dresser singing David's psalms.” Besides this, seven shorter metrical hymns attributed to Hilary are still extant. Of the part taken by Ambrose, not long after Hilary's death, in bringing the use of hymns into the church of Milan, we have Ambmsm a contemporary account from his convert, StAugustine. Justrna, mother of the emperor Valentinian, favoured the Arians, and desired to remove Ambrose from his see. The “ devout people, ” of whom Augustine's mother, Monica, was one, combined to protect him, and kept guard in the church. “ Then, ” says Augustine, “ it was first appointed that, after the manner of the Eastern churches, hymns and psalms should be sung, lest the people should grow weary and faint through sorrow; which custom has ever since been retained, and has been followed by almost all congregations in other parts of the world.” He describes himself as moved to tears by the sweetness of these “hymns and canticles ”:-“ The voices fiowed into my ears; the truth distilled into my heart; I overflowed with devout affections, and was happy.” To this time, according to an uncertain but not improbable tradition which ascribed the composition of the “ Te Deum ” to Ambrose, and connected it with the conversion of Augustine, is to be referred the commencement of the use in the church of that sublime'unmetrical hymn.

It is not, however, to be assumed that the hymnody thus introduced by Ambrose was from the first used according to the precise order and method of the later Western ritual. To bring it into (substantially) that order and method appears to have been the work of St Benedict. Walafrid Strabo, the earliest ecclesiastical writer on this subject (who lived at the beginning of the oth century), says that Benedict, on the constitution of the religious order known by his name (about 530), appointed the Ambrosian hymns to be regularly sung in his offices for the canonical hours. Hence probably originated the practice of the Italian churches, and of others which followed their example, to sing certain hymns (Ambrosian, or by the early successors of the Ambrosian school) daily throughout the week, at “ Vespers, ” “ Lauds ” and “ Nocturns, " and on some days at “ Compline ” also-varying them with the different ecclesiastical seasons and festivals, commemorations of saints and martyrs and other special offices. Different dioceses and religious houses had their own peculiarities of ritual, including such hymns as were approved by their several bishops or ecclesiastical superiors, varying in detail, but all following the same general method. The national rituals, which were first reduced into a form substantially like that which has since prevailed, were probably those of Lombardy and of Spain, now known as the “ Ambrosian ” and the “ Mozarabic.” The age and origin of the Spanish ritual are uncertain, but it is mentioned in the 7th century by Isidore, bishop of Seville. It contained 'a'copious hymnary, the original form of which may be regarded as canonically approved by the fourth council of Toledo (633). By the r 3th canon of that council, an opinion (which even then found advocates) against the use in churches of any hymns not taken from the Scriptures-apparently the same opinion which had been held by Paul of Samosatawas censured; and it was ordered that such hymns should be used in the Spanish as well as in the Gallican churches, the penalty of excommunication being denounced against all who might presume to reject them.

The hymns of which the use was thus established and authorized were those which entered into the daily and other offices of the church, afterwards collected in the “ Breviaries ”; in which the hymns “ proper ” for “ the week, ” and for “the season, ” continued for many centuries, with very few exceptions, to be derived from the earliest epoch of Latin Church poetry reckoning that epoch as extending from Hilary and Ambrose to the end of the pontificate of Gregory the Great. The “Ambrosian” music, to which those hymns were generally sung down to the time of Gregory, was more popular and congregational than the “ Gregorian, ” which then came into use, and afterwards prevailed. In the service of the mass it was not the general practice, before the invention of sequences in the 9th century, to sing any hymns, except some from the Scriptures esteemed canonical, such as the “ Song of the Three Children” (“ Benedicite omnia opera ”). But to this rule there were, according to Walafrid Strabo, some occasional exceptions; particularly in the case of Paulinus, patriarch of Aquileia under Charlemagne, himself a hymn-writer, who frequently used hymns, composed by himself or others, in the Eucharistic office, especially in private masses. Some of the hymns called “Ambrosian” (nearly 100 in number) are beyond all question by Ambrose himself, and the rest probably belong to his time or to the following century. Four, those beginning “ Aeterne rerum conditor ” (“ Dread Framer of the earth and sky ”), “Deus Creator omnium” (“ Maker of all things, glorious God ”), “ Veni Re'demptor Gentium” (“ Redeemer of the nations, come ”) and “Jam surgit hora tertia ” (“ Christ at this hour was crucified ”), are quoted as works of Ambrose by Augustine. These, and others by the hand of the same master, have the qualities most valuable in hymns intended for congregational use. They are short and complete in themselves; easy, and at the same time elevated in their expression and rhythm; terse and masculine in thought and language; and (though sometimes criticized as deficient in theological precision) simple, pure and not technical in their. rendering of the great facts and doctrines of Christianity, which they present in an objective and not a subjective manner. They have exercised a powerful influence, direct or indirect, upon many of the best works of the same kind in all succeeding generations. With the Ambrosian hymns are properly classed those of Hilary, and the contemporary works of Pope Damasus I. (who wrote two hymns in commemoration of saints), and of Prudentius, from whose Caihemerina (“ Daily Devotions ”) and Peristephana (“ Crown-songs for Martyrs ”), all poems of

considerable, some of great length-about twenty-eight hymns,