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of all ranks and walks of society, we must have à collection as distinctive in its teaching and varied in its subjects of thought as the formularies of the Church, to which it is designed to minister as a handmaid, are diversified in instruction and orthodox in their language; and which, moreover, in point of extent, shall not exceed the ordinary compass of men's memories.
Such are the principles and objects which, in the compilation of these hymns, have been mainly kept in view. The compiler will consider his pains not thrown away, if he has afforded but a few hints, in addition to the general testimony on the subject, towards the formation of the earnestly-desired and long-prayed-for “ Authorized Church Hymn-Book ;” or if his humble effort shall have effected any thing, either in his own congregation or in any other that may be induced to receive this collection, towards encouraging in the members of the Church a love and desire for the true Ecclesiastical hymn.
Another point which may not unreasonably call for a few observations, since, as we have before intimated, there is much misconception on the subject, is the question of the necessity of any hymn-book whatever under the existing circumstances of the Church of England. There lie, indeed, in the minds of a large proportion of the members of the Church of England, some objections against the use of hymn-books, which it might be well to show are little based on any tenable principles.
To some who, though desirous of seeing the Church possessed of her Authorized Hymn-Book, are shocked that any private person shoul allow to introduce unauthorized compositions into the Church service, it may be sufficient to say, that it is hardly possible to conceive how otherwise their desire should be accomplished. Indeed, the fallacy would appear to consist here in supposing that the Hymns of the Church would be of immediate growth-that they should be composed in a synod, or that a decree should issue from it for their immediate composition; and that the operation of time, and experience, and general consent would not be needed to enable such a body to determine what was fitting for temple worship, and what was not. Now it is not to be denied that the Holy Spirit's influence might be so extended to a solemn assembly met for such an object, as to bring its counsels to a desirable issue ; yet it is certain that the history of the Church would furnish no precedent for the step, and that the growth of hymnology within the Church of God has been left more to private and individual efforts. For example, to go back to the times of direct inspiration, the songs of Zion begin, as far as we have any knowledge, with Moses and Miriam, but seem scarcely to be confirmed to the Church till the times of David and Solomon. In the Christian Church, also, the growth of a body of hymns suitable to her necessities was evidently a progressive work. We possess many intimations, besides those of S. Paul, in the early writers of Christianity?, of the use of hymns in the assemblies of the faithful ; but it is plain that the final recognition of them, like many other important points both of doctrine and discipline, was not effected without a struggle ? ; certain asserting that they ought to be admitted into the Divine offices, and others the contrary. Hence, in 560, the twelfth canon of one of the councils held at Braga forbids the singing of any hymns in the Church, save the Psalms and passages from the Scriptures; but the Council of Toledo, in 633, condemns
1 Pliny's description of the early Christians “ assembling before dawn and singing a hymn to Christ as God,” is well known. Eusebius produces from a certain ancient author, in a book against the heresy of Artemon, the following important passage: "Psalms and the songs of the brethren, written from the beginning by the faithful, glorified Christ the Word of God by attributing Divinity to Him."Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. v. cap. xxviii.
2 According to Bingham, Paul of Samosata was the first to find fault with the use of hymns in churches. They witnessed, in fact, to the truth, in opposition to his novel and heretical doctrines.-Bk. xiv. c. i. s. 17.
the opinion of those who deemed it wrong to sing hymns composed by men in honour of the Apostles and martyrs, on account of their not being taken out of Holy Scripture, nor authorized by tradition. It is stated that some objected even to the singing of the Gloria Patri on this account, to such an excess did a strong prejudice carry very many. The agitation of the question finally issued in a decree which permitted in Divine worship the use of hymns, which were not taken out of Holy Scripture, on condition only that such should be used as were composed by good authors. It appears that the Latin hymns were of gradual collection from very early times, and were, as late as 1623, subjected to a general revision. In the Gallican Church, even these did not escape a further revision
Such has been the gradual growth of hymnology in the Christian Church. Were it indeed otherwise, perhaps the Church of England could not be exempted from blame, for having neglected to apply herself to this duty of composing for the use of her members a proper book of hymns. Whereas, she seems to have deemed it quite sufficient to mark her view of the kind of hymnic compositions which should be used in the sanctuary, and to leave, as all Churches in a formative or in a reforming condition are obliged to do, the settlement of the things which are wanting to the operation of time, and to the labours of those who come after. At the Reformation it was rather to be desired than expected, that poets should be found fitted to undertake the work of translating the ancient Church Hymns 5. The reformers, therefore, contented themselves with laying down the germ of future proceedings in this excellent work, which, as God might bless His Church with poetical gifts, would be hereafter developed. She vindicated accordingly her claim, not only to the use of the Psalter and the Scripture hymns, but to such sacred compositions as the Gloria in Excelsis and the Te Deum, derived immediately from Holy Writ; and also to those less directly taken from scriptural sources, namely, to metrical hymns, by adopting one of them in her Ordination Offices, the Veni Creator Spiritus. As this, too, was taken from the ancient service-books, a sanction was thus afforded. to the use of such of the remainder of them as might be found of pure doctrine.
3 See Bingham; and Landon's Councils. 4 Dict. des Cultes. 5 “Archbishop Cranmer did himself attempt it, at least the 'Salve Festa Lies,' as he mentions in a letter to the king, expressing a desire, that as his English verses wanted the grace and faculty which he could wish they had, his majesty would cause some other to do them in more pleasant English and phrase."-Collier's Eccles. Hist. vol. ii. p. 206. Preface to Williams's Hymns.
To those, however, who object to hymn-books on the ground that the metrical version of the Psalms, attached to but forming no part of our Prayer Book, is in general use throughout the country, and that it can be made to supply the place of hymns in our services, it may be answered :— 1st, that bishops have recommended or sanctioned the use of hymn-books in their dioceses, and that they are now almost as extensively used as the metrical Psalms; and thus it is no longer possible to fall back upon this basis of uniformity; and, 2ndly, that the metrical Psalms can by no means be brought to effect that amount of good which is the design and end of the Christian hymn.
There is, indeed, an essential difference between psalms and hymns, a due consideration of which fact is sufficient to show the very anomalous position which the metrical version of Psalms occupies in our Church services. S. Jerome 6, in distinguishing between psalms and hymns, assigns to the former an ethical province; while the latter are more immediately directed to celebrate the praises of
6 Hymni sunt qui Dei fortitudinem et majestatem prædicant, et ejusdem semper vel beneficia vel facta mirantur; quod omnes Psalmi continent, quibus Halleluia vel propositum vel subjectum est, Psalmi autem propriè ad ethicum locum pertinent.
God's might and majesty. And, agreeably with this distinction, we find that similar compositions to the Psalms of David were known and in use in the assemblies of the early Christians. Thus S. Augustine is stated by Bingham to have composed a psalm in imitation of the 119th Psalm, and to have employed it as a vehicle of teaching against the errors of the Donatists in the public services of the Church. Here, then, is one very observable difference, and one which was most probably in the mind of the Spirit, when dictating to S. Paul (Eph. v. 19. Col. iii. 16) the distinction of the songs to be used in the Christian Church into psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. But perhaps, also, we may claim this passage with as much truth, as constructed no less to embrace the ecclesiastical distinction which has commonly obtained, and understand by “psalms” those Divine songs specially which are known as the Psalms of David, and, by “hymns," the compositions of Christian authors. indeed, to be little doubt that the words were often, in the earliest days of Christianity, used without distinction; and hence, on the one hand, we have our Saviour, while the Jewish dispensation was not as yet quite passed away, represented as singing a hymn', when perhaps a psalm or psalms of David was in reality used by Him : and again, on the other, we have S. Paul complaining of the Corinthians that when they came together every one had a psalm, whereas, most likely, a Christian hymn is the thing
7 "Lastly, a fourth cup of wine, called the cup of the hallel: over it they completed, either by singing or recitation, the great hallel or hymn of praise, consisting of Psalms cxv. to cxviii. inclusive, with a prayer, and so concluded."-Lightfoot's Temple Service, cxiii. (Works, vol. i. pp. 959-967.) “In like manner our Lord and his disciples, when they had sung a hymn, departed to the Mount of Olives.”-Horne on the Scriptures, vol. iii. pt. iii. ch. iv. 1828. “The Book of Psalms is entitled, in Hebrew, the Book of Hymns or of Praises, because the principal part has for its subject the praises of God. The Greeks called them Psalms, because, in using them, they accompanied the voice with the sound of musical instruments." - Dict. des Cultes.