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and others, finding the word but once in the New-Testament, and nowhere in the Latin or Greck authors, and unacquainted with its llebrew origin, supposed it to be immediately revealed from heaven as a peculiar gift to the New-Testament Church. “From Rev. 19. we know,” says Bona, “ that this canticum Hallelujah has descended from heaven into the new Church of Christ.” Isidore of Spain deemed it too sacred to he translated into any other language. It was not always however deemed too sacred for secular purposes. It was taught and sung as a lullaby to infants in the cradle, used as a watchword in the camp and a war cry on the field of battle, and employed by the Romans in their formula of their judicial oath : “ Truly as I hope to hear and to sing the Hallelujah.” More appropriate was the use of it made by the inhabitants of Bethlehem, according to Jerome's charming description. “In the village of Christ all is rural, (rusticitas.) Silence reigns throughout, ex. cept the singing of psalms. Wherever you turn, the ploughman at his work chants a Hallelujah. The sweating reaper alleviates his toil with psalms; and the keeper of the vineyard, pruning his vines, sings some of David's notes--aliquid Davidicum. These are the hymns—these are what are called the amatory songs used in this region.” Even the sailor introduced the sacred word into his boat song, and chanted Hallelujah while tugging at the oar.
Curvorum binc chorus hclciariorum,
The chorus hence of bending oarsmen,
Among the authorities consulted, we find no notice of any thing like a Psalm-book, or collection of Church poetry, earlier than the council of Laodicea, (An. 370,) at which the following Canon was enacted : “ The Canonical Cantors, or choristers alone, 'who stand on an elevated place in the Church, shall sing the psalms, from the parchments ly. ing before them."* The precise meaning and object of this Canon are not obvious; and it has accordingly been variously interpreted. Whether the Choristers, in their elevated desks, were required to perform the entire musical service of the Church to the exclusion of the congregation, to avoid the discord often heard in a promiscuous assembly, as is sometimes done by the choirs in modern days; or whether they were merely to select the tunes and lead the music, the congregation accompanying as well as they could, according to the general practice of our own times, seems undecided by the ambiguous expression of the Canon. The latter however is most probable, as the universal practice of the primitive Church made it the duty and the privilege of the whole Church, and not merely of a few select artists, to sing the praises of God their Savjour in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. The choristers were required to occupy a conspicuous station, and sing, dro Opdegas---from the parchments--then the common material of books. Hence the order was equivalent to erquiring them to sing the words from the book lying before them, and not from memory, as they would be liable to rerors and inaccuracies. But no description of the book or parchment however is furnished, and we are left to form our opinions from conjecture, or content ourselves without an opinion on the subject. An obscure expression of Socrates, an early historian of the Church, has been thought to refer to this subject. The Arians had made great efforts to ren
* Pertch's Kirchen Historie Cent. 4. Pt. 2. 102.
der their sentiments popular, by solemn processions, and singing Antiphonal, or responsive hymns, in which their plausible sentiments were garnished in all the charms of poetry and music, (όδας αντιφώνους προς την Αρειάνην δόξαν συντιθέντος.) Chrysostom, then Bishop of Constantinople, sought to counteract their influence, not by legislative enactments, and synodical decrees, but by investing the orthodox services with the same popular attractions. In this work he was assisted by a eunuch of the Imperial Court, ó ougxgotüy Tous cóse
ó iuvodous—" which words," says Augusti, “if they do not imply the composition of hymns, must be understood of the preparation of a collection." But this interpretation appears to us doubtful. Is not újvodous used by dialectic variation, or mistake in transcribing, instead of the more common ipvwdous ?* and if so, will not the more natural interpretation be—“ who organized the singers" into choirs or divisions for the more attractive performance of the sacred antiphonies ?
Of the Hymnology of the Latin Church nothing is known earlier than the days of Hilary, and Ambrose, of whose poetical pieces a few authentic specimens remain. “In the mean time,” says Hilary, “I have sent you the morning and evening Hymns, that you may always remember me. But if, on account of your age, you are unable to understand the hymns and the letter, ask your mother, who desires that you should be born to God, and renewed in your moral character, to explain them. That God, who created you, may guard and keep you, here and through eternity, is my prayer, beloved daughter.” Other pieces in the modern collections bear the name of this Father ; but none bear credentials of genuineness so satisfactory as the Morning Hymn, beginning, Lucis largitor splendide, &c., and the Hymnus
* Jones and Schneider omit υμνοδός entirely : υμνωδός Jones translates, “ hymn-singing, musical virgins :" Schneider, “ Lieder-sänger"---hymin-singer.
serotinus'; Ad cæli clara, &c. In the department of Church music, no ancient author has acquired so much celebrity as Ambrose ; more perhaps by his introduction of the Oriental responses and alternations, than by the composition of original hymns.' The occasion and circumstances of that introduction, are thus related by Augustine,* the personal friend of Ambrose.“ Justina, the mother of the Emperor Valentinian, was a zealous Arian, and for a time persecuted Ambrose and his pious flock at Milan, who guarded their holy sanctuary by night, prepared to yield their lives in its defence. To prevent weariness and languor during the long nights of watchfulness, psalms and hymns were sung according to the Oriental mode. (secunduin morem Orientalium partium.) It has since been retained; and now (one year after,) is imitated in many, yea, in almost all the Churches in other parts of the world.” Throughout the Western Churches, it retained the name of Cantus Ambrosianus, and Officium Ambrosianum. He was also distinguished as a composer, and his hymns became the model of all succeeding poets, and are still used in translations in the Lutheran, if not in other Protestant Churches. He wrote, according to bis own account, hymns in praise of the Holy Trinity, to defend the Catholic faith from the attacks of the Arians. His name was appended to many hymns composed in later ages, and some are still found in the Catholic Breviaries, thus unjustly ascribed to him. The genuineness of the grand Te Deum, which was said to have been composed on occasion of the baptism of Augustine, and from which an extract has already been given, has been questioned on the ground that it is not mentioned by Augustine, nor by Possidius, the biographer of Ambrose. A considerable number still extant are known to be his, though probably all have undergone more or less variation in the hands of successive revisers, Of the hymns of Prudentius, the Breviaries have adopted four
* Confessionum Liber IX. Cap. 7.
teen, several of which have been highly esteemed; especially a Funeral Hymn, which was long in common use among the Protestants in Germany, both in the original, and in a translation, beginning, “ Hört auf mit Trauren und Klagen." In the mass of Latin poetry, used in the Ecclesiastical services of modern times, there is much that is excellent both in matter and manner-multas veras et pias sententias, eleganti et erudita brevitate comprehensas* - but deeply imbued with superstition. Herder, overlooking all imperfections and errors, characterizes it in the following glowing language :t
“ An effusion of inspiration, lyrical fulness, and lofty jubilant strains pervade the whole in such a degree, that if we did not know the fact, we should strongly feel, that such a combination was not the work of an individual, but the collected treasure of nations and centuries in various climates and different situations. Christianity indeed has a higher object, than to create poets, and its first preachers were by no means endowed with the genius of poetry. Their hymns therefore made no pretensions to the elegance of classical expression, the charms of sensibility, nor indeed to any of the peculiar characteristics of the poetic art; for they were not composed for the diversion of idle hours. But who can deny that they possess power deeply to impress the heart? Those holy hymns, which have lived through centuries, and in every application are still new and entire in their influence-what benefactors have they been to afflicted human nature! They retired with the hermit to bis cell-with the oppressed in bis grief, in his want, to his grave. While singing them, he forgot his woes ; the languid sorrowful spi. rit caught an impulse that raised it into another world, to the joys of heaven. He returned to the earth invigorated, went forward, suffered, endured, exerted himself in silence
* Chemnitius-Exam. Concil. Trident. &c.
Briefen zur Beförderung Humanität.