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195
HYMNS


beauty (part of the last piece under the title “The believer's soliloquy ”), became afterwards, in the hands of John Berridge, the foundation of a very striking hymn (“ O happy saints, who walk in light ”),

After his secession, Ralph Erskine published two paraphrases of the “ Song of Solomon, ” and a number of other “ Scripture songs, ” paraphrased, in like manner, from the Old and New Testaments. In these the influence of Watts became very apparent, not only by a change in the writer's general style, but by the direct appropriation of no small quantity of matter from Dr Watts's hymns, with variations which were not always improvements. His paraphrases of r Cor. i. 24; Gal. vi. 14; Heb. vi. I7-IQ; Rev. v. II, 12, vii. I0~I7, and xii. 7-12 are little else than Watts transformed. One of these (Rev. vii. IO-17) 'is interesting as a variation and improvement, intermediate between the original and the form which it ultimately assumed as the 66th “ Paraphrase ” of the Church of Scotland, of Watts's “ What happy men or angels these, ” and “ These glorious minds, how bright they shine.” No one can compare it with its ultimate product, “ How bright these glorious spirits shine, ” without perceiving that William Cameron followed Erskine, and only added finish and grace to his work, -both excelling Watts, in this instance, in simplicity as well as in conciseness. Of the contributions to the authorized “ Paraphrases ” (with the settlement of which committees of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland were occupied from 1745, or iggfsh earlier, till 1781), the most noteworthy, besides the s two already mentioned, were those of John Morrison and those claimed for Michael Bruce. The obligations of these “ Paraphrases ” to English hymnody, already traced in some instances (to which may be added the adoption from Addison of three out of the five “ hymns ” appended to them), are perceptible in the vividness and force with which these writers, while adhering with a severe simplicity to the sense of the passages of Scripture which they undertook to render, fulfilled the conception of a good original hymn. Morrison's “ The race that long in darkness pined ” and “ Come, let us to the Lord our God, ” and Bruce's “ Where high the heavenly temple stands ” (if this was really his), are well entitled to that praise. The advocates of Bruce in the controversy, not yet closed, as to the poems said to have been entrusted by him to John Logan, and published by Logan in his own name, also claim for him the credit of having varied the paraphrase “ Behold, the mountain of the Lord, ” from its original form, as printed by the committee of the General Assembly in 1745, by some excellent touches.

Attention must now be directed to the hymns produced by the “ Methodist " movement, which began about 1738, Method, ” and which afterwards became divided, between those hym“ esteemed Arminian, under John Wesley, those who adhered to the Moravians, when the original alliance between that body and the founders of Methodism was dissolved, and the Calvinists, of whom Whitfield was the leader, and Selina, countess of Huntingdon, the patroness. Each of these sections had its own hymn-writers, some of whom did, and others did not, secede from the Church of England. The Wesleyans had Charles Wesley, Robert Seagrave and Thomas Olivers; the Moravians, John Cennick, with whom, perhaps, may be classed John Byrom, who imbibed the mystical ideas of some of the German schools; the Calvinists, Augustus Montague Toplady, John Berridge, William Williams, Martin Madan, Thomas Haweis, Rowland Hill, John Newton and William Cowper.

Among all these writers, the palm undoubtedly belongs. to Charles Wesley. In the first volume of hymns published by the Charles two brothers are several good translations from the Wes, ey German, believed to be by John Wesley, who, although he translated and adapted, is not supposed to have written any original hymns; and the influence of German hymnody, particularly of the works of Paul Gerhardt, Schefiier, Tersteegen and Zinzendorf, may be traced in a large proportion of Charles Wesley's works. He is more subjective and meditative than Watts and his school; there is a didactic turn, even in his most objective pieces, as, for example, in his Christmas and Easter hymns; most of his works are suppiicatory, and his faults are connected with the same habit of mindf He is apt to repeat the same thoughts, and to lose force by redundancy-he runs sometimes even to a tedious length; his hymns are not always symmetrically. constructed, or well balanced and finished off. But he has great truth, depth and variety of feeling; his diction is manly and always to the point; never florid, though sometimes passionate and not free . from exaggeration; often vivid and picturesque. Of his spirited style there are few better examples than “ O for a thousand tongues to sing, ” “ Blow ye the trumpet, blow, ” “ Rejoice, the Lord is King” and “ Come, let us join our friends above ”; of his more tender vein, “ Happy soul, thy days are ended ”; and of his fervid contemplative style (without going beyond hymns fit for general use), “ O Thou who camest from above, ” “ Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go ” and “ Eternal beam of light divine.” With those whose taste is for hymns in which warm religious feelings are warmly and demonstratively expressed, “ Jesus, lover of my soul, ” is as popular as any of these. Of the other Wesleyan hymn-writers, Olivers, originally a Welsh shoemaker and afterwards a~ preacher, is the most re# markable. He is the author of only two' works, both Omen odes, ina stately metre, and from their length unfit for ' " congregational singing, but one of them, “ The Godof Abraham praise, ” an ode of singular .power and beauty. The Moravian Methodists produced few hymns nowiavailable for general use. The best are Cennickis “ Children of the heavenly King ” and Hammond's “ Awake and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, ” the former of which (abridged), Szgfck and the latter as varied. by Madan, are found in many m°"d» hymn-books, and are .deservedly esteemed. John B'"°"" Byrom, whose name we have thought it convenient to connect with these, though he did not belong to' the Moravian community, was the author of a Christmas hymn (“ Christians awake, salute the happy morn ”) which enjoysl great popularity; and also of a short subjective hymn, 'very fine both in feeling and in expression, “ My spirit longeth for 'Thee within my troubled breast.” I

The contributions of the Calvinistic Methodists to English hymnody are of greater extent and value. Few writers of hymns had higher gifts than Toplady, author of “ Rock of Tophdy ages, ” by some esteemed the finest in the English ° language. He was a man of ardent temperament, enthusiastic zeal, strong convictions and great energy of' character. “ He had, ” says one of his biographers, “ the courage of a lion, but his frame was brittle as glass.” Between him and John Wesley there was a violent opposition of opinion, and much acrimonious controversy; but the same fervour and zeal which made him an intemperate theologian gave warmth, richness and spirituality to his hymns. In some of them, particularly those which, like “ Deathless principle, arise, ” are meditations after the German manner, and not without direct obligation to German originals, the setting is somewhat too artificial; but his art is never inconsistent with a genuine flow of real feeling. Others (e.g. “When languor and disease invade” and “Your harps, ye trembling saints ”) fail to sustain 'to the end' the beauty with which they began, and would have been better for abridgment. But in all these, and in most of his other works, there is great force and sweetness, both of thought and language, and an easy and harmonious versification.

Berridge, William Williams (1717-1791) and Rowland Hill, all men remarkable for eccentricity, activity and tl'|C'd€V0ti0l'1'1)f their lives to the special .work of missionary preaching, Be, ., ., dg, though not the authors of rnany good hymns, composed, Williams orvadapted from earlier compositions, some of great “Hd merit. One of Berridge, adapted from Erskine, has R' mu been already mentioned; another, adapted from Watts, is “ Jesus, cast a look on me.” Williams, a Welshman, who wrote “ Guide me, O Thou great ]ehovah, 'f was especially an apostle of Calvinistic Methodismin his own country, and his hymns are still 'much used in the principality. Rowland Hill -wrote the

popular hymn beginning “ Exalted high at God's right hand.”