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HYMNS


under the royal sign manual, recommended its use in all churches of his dominions. In 1634 he enjoined the Privy Council of Scotland not to suffer any other psalms, “ of any edition whatever, " to be printed in or imported into that kingdom. In 1636 it was republished, and was attached to the famous Scottish service-book, with which the troubles began in 1637. It need hardly be added that the king did not succeed in bringing this Psalter into use in either kingdom.

When the Long Parliament undertook, in 1642, the task of altering the liturgy, its attention was at the same time directed to psalmody. It had to judge between two rival translations of the Psalms-one by Francis Rouse, a member of the House of Commons, afterwards one of Cromwell's councillors and finally provost of Eton; the other by William Barton, a clergyman of Leicester. The House of Lords favoured Barton, the House of Commons Rouse, who had made much use of the labours of Sir William Alexander. Both versions were printed by order of parliament, and were referred for consideration to the Westminster Assembly. They decided in favour of Rouse. His version, as finally amended, was published in 1645, under an order of the House of Commons dated 14th November 164 5. In the following year it was recommended by the parliament to the General Assembly at Edinburgh, who appointed a committee, with large powers, to prepare a revised Psalter, recommending to their consideration not only Rouse's book but that of 1564, and two other versions (by Zachary Boyd and Sir William Mure of Rowallan), then lately executed in Scotland. The result of the labours of this committee was the “ Paraphrase ” of the Psalms, which, in 1649-1650, by the concurrent authority of the General Assembly and the committee of estates, was ordered to be exclusively used throughout the church of Scotland. Some use was made in the preparation of this book of the versions to which the attention of the revisers had been directed, and also of Barton's; but its basis was that of Rouse. It was received in Scotland with great favour, which it has ever since retained; and it is fairly entitled to the praise of striking a tolerable medium between the rude homeliness of the “ Old, ” and the artificial modernism of the “ New ” English versions perhaps as great a success as was possible for such an undertaking. Sir Walter Scott is said to have dissuaded any attempt to alter it, and to have pronounced it, “with all its acknowledged occasional harshness, so beautiful, that any alterations must eventually prove only so many blemishes.” No further step towards any authorized hymnody was taken by the kirk of Scotland till the following century.

In England, two changes bearing on church hymnody were made upon the revision of the prayer-book after the Restoration, in 166I*1662. One was the addition, in the offices for consecrating bishops and ordaining priests, of the shorter version of “Veni Creator” (“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”), as an alternative form. The other, and more important, was the insertion of the rubric after the third collect, at morning and evening prayer: “ In quires and places where they sing, here followeth the anthem.” By this rubric synodical and parliamentary authority was given for the interruption, at that point, of the prescribed order of the service by singing an anthem, the choice of which was left to the discretion of the minister. Those actually used, under this authority, were for some time only unmetrical passages of scripture, set to music by Blow, Purcell and other composers, of the same kind with the anthems still generally sung in 'cathedral and collegiate churches. But the word “ anthem ” had no technical signification which could be an obstacle to the use under this rubric of metrical hymns.

The “ New, Version ” of the Psalms, by Dr Nicholas Brady and the poet-laureate Nahum Tate (both Irishmen), appeared in 1696, under the sanction of an order in council of William B, ., d, , III., “ allowing and permitting ”'its use “ in all such churches, chapels and congregations as should think fit to receive it.” Dr Compton, bishop of London, recommended it to his diocese. No hymns were then appended to it; but the authors added a “supplement ” in 1703, which received an Tate and

exactly similar sanction from an order in council of Queen Anne. In that supplement there were several new versions of the canticles, and of the “ Veni Creator ”; a variation of the old “ humble lamentation of a sinner ”; six hymns for Christmas, Easter and Holy Communion (all versions or paraphrases of scripture), which are still usually printed at the end of the prayer-books containing the new version; and a hymn “on the divine use of music ”—all accompanied by tunes. The authors also reprinted, with very good taste, the excellent version of the “ Benedicite ” which appeared in the book of 1562. Of the hymns in this “supplement, ” one (“ While shepherds watched their flocks by night ”) greatly exceeded the rest in merit. It has been ascribed to Tate, but it has a character of simplicity unlike the rest of his works. The relative merits of the “Old” and “New” versions have been very variously estimated. Competent judges have given the old the praise, which certainly cannot be Old d

accorded to the new, of fidelity to the Hebrew. In news” both, it must be admitted, that those parts which V¢fS1°US compared.

have poetical merit are few and far between; but a reverent taste is likely to be more offended by the frequent sacrifice, in the new, of depth of tone and accuracy of sense to a fluent commonplace correctness of versification and diction, than by any excessive homeliness in the old. In both, however, some psalms, or portions of psalms, are well enough rendered to entitle them to a permanent place in the hymn-books-#especially the 8th, and parts of the 18th Psalm, by Sternhold; the 57th, 84th and rooth, by Hopkins; the 23rd, 34th and 36th, and part of the 148th, by Tate and Brady.

The judgment which a fastidious critic might be disposed to pass upon both these books may perhaps be considerably mitigated by comparing them with the works of other labourers in the same field, of whom Holland, in his interesting volumes entitled Psalmists ofG1eatBrilain, enumerates above 150. Some of them have been real poets-the celebrated earl of Surrey, Sir Philip Sidney and his sister the countess of Pembroke, George Sandys, George Wither, John Milton and John Keble. In their versions, as might be expected, there are occasional gleams of power and beauty, exceeding anything to be found in Sternhold and Hopkins, or Tate and Brady; but even in the best these are rare, and chiefly occur where the strict idea of translation has been most widely departed from. In all of them, as a rule, the life and spirit, which in prose versions of the psalms are so wonderfully preserved, have disappeared. The conclusion practically suggested by so many failures is that the difficulties of metrical translation, always great, are in this case insuperable; and that, while the psalms like other parts of scripture are abundantly suggestive of motive and material for hymnographers, it is by assimilation and adaptation, and not by any attempt to transform their exact sense into modern poetry, that they may be best used for this purpose.

The order in council of IYO3 is the latest act of any public authority by which an express sanction has been given to the use of psalms or hymns in the Church of England. At the end, indeed, of many Prayer-books, till about the middle of the 19th century, there were commonly found, besides some of the hymns sanctioned by that order in council, or of those contained in the book of 1562, a sacramental and a Christmas hymn by Doddridge; a Christmas hymn (varied by Martin Madan) from Charles Wesley; an Easter hymn of the 18th centur, beginning “ Jesus Christ has risen to-day U; and abridgments oi, Bishop Ken's Morning and Evening Hymnsl These additions first began to be made in or about 1791, in London editions of the Prayer-bookand Psalter, at the' mere will and pleasure (so far as appears) of the printers. They had no sort of authority.

In the state of authority, opinion and practice disclosed by the preceding narrative may be found the true explanation of the fact that, in the country of Chaucer, Spenser, Bngnsh Shakespeare and Milton, and notwithstanding the mug, -e. example of Germany, no native congregational 281101141 hymnody worthy of the name arose till after the com- "'"""°dy°,

men cement of the 18th century. Yet there was no want of