« AnteriorContinuar »
Day to sing Hymns Chrifto quasi Deo, [to CHRIST . God;}” for this manifestly implies Canticles made since and particularly suited to, the Christian Æra. Indeed 'ri generally allow'd, that the Gloria Patri, the Gloria in excel Jis, and probably several more, were in Ufe even at tha Time.
If some Nations and Churches have again confined them felves somewhat strictly to the Psalms, no one must ima gine that this is done from a Supposition of the Unlawful ness of all newer Hymns whatsoever. For if the Lord' Prayer, tho' dictated by the blessed Founder of our ow: Religion, is granted on all hands not to have been give as the sole Form of Words on that Occasion, but as a Pat tern for many more such like; much less can Forms of fing ing drawn up under a different Dispensation of Religion and not so explicitly reaching our Cafe, be look'd upon a the only Melody we Christians ever can or dare use. Th removing of such a weak Reason, which indeed was no rhe Reason with those Churches in this their Regulatior leaves them the brighter Honour of their true one, viz. Solicitude to prevent the Luxuriancies and Abuses, so hard ly separable from a Species of Writing and of Devotior. which in icself was lawful enough.
There is no denying the Wildom of this Caution.
And I would make no farther Remark, than only to de monstrate from it, that if any Body of People should be de Girous, notwithstanding, to have a Hymn-book, and to ador into it a good number of Hymns in Use among other Fe low Christians, (in real, ecclesiastical, established and imme morial Use ;) they cannot avoid, tho'very thankful for wha is to be found here at home, going out of England for more. · The German Nation has always excell'd in the Article Hymns. Luther himself composed many, and encourage the bringing of Religion much into that Channel. Fror whence it has come to pass, that every District there has it public authorized Hymn-book ; serving, to a very grea Degree, the double Purpose, both of Liturgy and found In
struction in the Faith. For the more ancient Hymns espe cially, (which are always most regarded in such Books) are greatly helpful to maintain for ever the Christian Truths in the Minds of the common People, with the self-fame Sinnplicity and Force, which adorned those worthy and golden Times when they were endited.
The Brethren therefore had the general Taste and Practice of their Nation on their Side, when publishing lately their large German revised Hymn-book; consisting as well of Hymns out of preceding Church-Collections of their Neighbours
, as of others composed by themselves. Which Hymnbook of theirs, afforded both the Model, and most of the German Materials to this.
Concerning the High-Dutch Language, one Observation is necessary. It is indeed a living one, and spoken in a Country not very remote: This will disincline the Reader to believe, what I must nevertheless say of it, that it has a good deal of the old Oriental Genius. As to the Brethren in
particular, they have not damp'd, but rather pursued, these ingenuous Sparks they found in their Mother-Tongue. For which, no good Critic will blame them: but their Trannators, it must be own'd, are hereby put to some Difficulties, and render'd obnoxious to just Criticism sometimes. We don't doubt however, but it is in the Compass of the English Tongue, to afford one time or other the fully corresponding Phrases: And indeed the Cause of some less happy, too fat or obscure Translations hitherto, has been not only that intrinsic Obstacle now mention’d, but withal a Care to tranSate literally, carried to a needless Excess.
Some may think it also a needless Conformity to the Orizinal, that we make use of double Rhymes, or a Trochaic Ending of Lines; whereas English Poetry commonly contents itself with the lambic. It has prov'd difficult enough to procure such Rhymes in a Language not made for it, and i may have left some farther Stiffness upon the Performance: but when the Reader considers the Motive, it being donc for Mhe sake of the original Tunes; and has himself tasted the so
lemn and expressive Harmony of those Tunes, he will certainly excuse all.
After these Preliminaries, it may be time to take a View of the present Work, both in the whole, and in its Parts.
Considering it all together, it is a continued Series of godly • and Christian Sentiments, both doctrinal and praktical, ibro? all
the Ages of the Church; and consequently a Kind of Ecclesiastical History, with regard to the State of Piety and Devocion. For tho? Poetry otherwise has not that Character ; yet Hymns surely ought to be supposed a faithful, if not the faithfullest, Picture and Conveyance of the Heart.
The several Divisions, or Classes, are as follows.
The first are Anthems out of the Bible; sacred Words, that are and must be laid as the Foundation of all. There is nothing farther to be observ'd concerning these, but that we have follow'd the Translation of the English Bible; only a few times preferringthe marginal Reading; and in the Psalms, taking the liberty to choose between the new Bible-Translation and the old one in the Common-prayer Book.
These are follow'd by Scripture-Hymus; or Portions o Scripture put into Metre, either already by others, or now by us.
As the History of former divine Oeconomies, and the first Institution and facred Basis of the Christian, are contain'd in the preceding; now ensues a Taste of the Spirit and Devotions of the Christian Church, in her seyeral Periods of Superstructure upon that Basis.
That whole Space of Time, from the Apostles down, during which we usually give our Predecessors in the Ministry the venerable Appellation of Fathers, is comprehended under the Title of Primitive Church. The Hymns of this Class are not many, considering what an Interval they fill up; but they are weighty, and taken from all the chief Branches of the Church universal.
The first, fo far as appears, after the Appellation of Fathers ceased, that were more special and conspicuous DepoAtaries of the Christian Truth, were the ancient Bohemian and
• Moravian Brethren. (The Waldenses incorporated with them.)
The Reader will find their Hymns no rougher than he cf might have expected; and instead of thinking them so at all, he can call them, if he please, solid and masculine.
Next follow, according to Chronological Order, the Gersyner Hymns of the fixteenth Century, or those made abouc - the Time of the Reformation. The strong Impressions of -- Truth which reign'd in that remarkable Age, are known to ;erery one ; and so it will be needless to say any thing of the e Hymns, except in regard of the Translation. In that re
spect it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge the consider-,
able Use we have made (here and in some other Parts) of the at foregoing Labours of Mr. Jacobi, and the Rev. Mr. Wesley, in the fame Kind.
Then come and I mention it with a peculiar Pleasure) è fome excellent old Hymns of the English Church. The Aus, thors, beside the Common-prayer Book itself, are Robert Smith, 3- Herbert, Dr. Donne, Faithful Teate, Crashaw, Bishop Taylor,
Sir Mattbew Hale, Rees Pritchard the Welch Hymnologift, of Gr. Some of these, particularly Herbert, having wrote in * Stanza's adapted to noTune that we know of, a Liberty has
been taken sometimes so far as to make them singable, yet * with as little Alteration as possible of the Sense.
Hence we pass to the Hymns, first the German, then the English, of the seventeenth Century. The Authors of the lacter (for our Readers will not think themselves so immediatea ly interested in the literary History of the former) are Bishop Kenn, Mr. Norris, Rawlet, Mafon, &c.
Several more German Hymns of the same Century, are infented in the next Division; together with some Extracts of is Englih ones of the Eighteenth, or now current Century, which Eindeed has been the richest in that kind of writing that Eng. i land can ever remember. The Names here are very recent
and well known, as Dr. Watts, Stennet, Davis, Erskine, Welley, Cennick, &c.
After these Christian Breathings (indeed cotemporary with, or prior to some of the last) succeed in order of Time, the
Hymns of the Brethren in the Eighteenth Century, that is, of the present Brethren's Congregation. And since this whole Book was properly compiled for the Service of Persons in Union with that People; no one, it is hoped, will think it strange, that this Division is so much larger and fuller than any of the reft.
The Time from whence the present, or reviv'd Brethren's Congregation is to be dated, is the Year 1724, when sevetal of the Descendants of the above-mention'd ancient Brethren in Moravia, retired on account of Religion to a Place callid Herrnhutb in Upper Lusatia ; and, by the Divine Be nedition, and not only Bounty but Ministry of their territo. rial Lord there, became such a living Church, as hath obtained (I may say it with Modesty) in several respects an undeniable Signature and Glory in Christ.
As she has given a free Account of herself elsewhere to al true Lovers of our Saviour's Kingdom ; I shall enter no far: ther here, than the present Subject obliges me.
It was but narural for the Members of this Church, to ex: press their Ideas from time to time in Hymns. I have pur: posely avoided hitherco, the endeavouring to fix the peculia: or differencing Characters (amidft the noble Unity in Effen tials) of the several Classes of Hymns; that so every Reade: might have the Pleasure of making this Discovery and Com parison, and accordingly carrying on his Remarks as Church historian, for himself. But I am now cone to a Class, whic! I cannot help characterizing in few Words.
The Brethren's grand Topic in their Hymns, as every on may fee, is the Person and Propitiation of Jesus Christ : the collect, as in the Focus of a Burning glass, what has descend ed to them from paft Ages, or properly from the Bible itself upon this Head ; and that it may not be evaded under th Notion of dišta ardertia, they present it in a System, and ap ply that System to Practice. They affirm our free Accept ance with God as Sinners, and thro' pure Grace; and yet the Necesity of, and powerful Alistances for, a most rea Holiness of Life afterwards : with such a Warmth upon eac!