« PreviousContinue »
religious homage in the publick.worship its appearance since, which has equal of Jehovah.
claims to our approbation. Particular St. Paul exhorts his converts to speak psalms may have been sometimes ren to themselves in psalms, and hymns, dered in a style of superiour excellence. and spiritual songs, singing and making As a whole, however, it remains unrimelody in their hearts to the Lord; and valled, and I should be extremely sorry Christians, however they may have to see it exchanged for any other extant, been unhappily divided on other points, It was formerly used by the congregaare united in their sense of the impor- tionalists as well as by Episcopalians in tant and beneficial influence of this this part of the country, but has been displeasing part of publick worship. It is carded by many societies of the former therefore of the greatest consequence, denomination, for various collections of that a proper attention should be given more modern date. Many of the psalms to the selection and arrangement of the in our version are rendered with admidivine songs, which are introduced into rable force and propriety, and I recolour worshipping assemblies. It is not lect scarcely any, which are liable to sufficient, that the sentiments they ex- any great objections in regard to style press should be just, and the doctrines nd harmony. If ever it should be they inculcate sound and catholick ; but thought expedient, by the general conit is also necessary that the style, though vention, to make a selection from these poetical, should be clear and simple. psalms, instead of retaining the whole It should indeed be so intelligible as to version, a measure, however, which be readily comprehended by the most should not be adopted without long and unlearned, and yet so elegant and chaste mature deliberation, I trust that none as not to offend the ears of the most will be rejected which are recommendrefined. It should be free from all ed by any considerable merit. But, affected and pompous diction, and that while I am happy that we are favoured ambitious phraseology, which, though with so valuable a translation of the at all times displeasing to a correct psalms in metre, I am sorry to add, that taste, is peculiarly so, in performances, our church is not equally well provided which are designed to bring into view with hymns, notwithstanding the “adthe greatness of God, and the weakness, ditional hymns set forth in general con dependence, and sinfulness of man. In vention, 1808.” It is not, however, of short, the style and character of our their small number, that we have, I hymns, allowing for the difference occa. think, so much reason to complain, as sioned by metrical arrangement, should of the quality of some of them. I do be modelled on that of our liturgy, not refer to the doctrines they incul. which unites, in a remarkable degree, cate, or the spirit they breathe. They the essential qualities which have been are not exceptionable in these respects. enumerated.
But several of them are chargeable with It is to be lamented that these obvi- low and inelegant phraseology ; some ous requisites of sacred poetry, have of them are partly expressed in the not always been sufficiently attended familiar and enthusiastick language too to, in the compilation of psalms and much employed in the methodist sociehymns for the use of Christian congre. ties; and with others, which are very gations. The Episcopal church indeed good, as they were originally written is in possession of a version of the by their authors, very unwarrantable psalms which was introduced towards liberties are taken, and injudicious altethe end of the seventeenth century, and rations made. Ind where any
alte. which in general is very happy. I ration is made in the composition of a know of no entire version that has made good writer, it seems to be generally for the worse. The harmony is some
I have observed that there are some times injured, or destroyed, by these hymns of great merit as they were
, changes, and the sense frequently ob- originally composed, but which appear scured. In one instance, a beautiful to have been injudiciously altered. The hymn of Addison,* of six verses, which first I shall speak of, is a morning hymn, is quite sufficient to sing at one time, is by the author of the manual for Winlengthened by the addition of another chester scholars. In the first verse there of Watts, on a different subject, of seven is but one word changed, but for what verses. As there is no apparent con- purpose does not appear. As taken nexion between the two hymns, as they from the original, in Nelson's devotions, are composed by different authors, and it reads thus : are both sufficiently long, it is difficult to conceive why one should be append
Awake, my soul, and with the sun ed to the other. To my apprehension,
Thy daily stage of duty run ;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise such an arrangement can hardly be vin
To pay thy morning sacrifice. dicated from the charge of absurdity. In another instance, a beautiful hymn In our hymn book, the word marked of Merrick, if I mistake not, the six- in italicks, joyful, is changed to early. teenth of the collection, the measure Why is the sense altered ? Those and sense of which require the verses who rise with the sun, of course rise to be of six lines each, as it was origi- early, and the idea need not be renally written, is lamentably marred and peated to the exclusion of another idea delaced by being thrown, without any very properly introduced. The second regard to its meaning, into verses of verse in the original runs thus : four lines each; for what purpose it is not easy to conjecture, unless to humour Thy mispent time that's past redeem; some favourite tune.
Each present day thy last esteem :
Improve thy talents with due care: I shall now proceed to exemplify the For the great day thyself prepare. remarks which have been made, by reference to the book of hyunns. As an In the hymn book the words are, instance of inelegant phraseology, the second verse of the thirtieth bymn may
Redeem thy mispent time that's past, be mentioned.
Live this day, as if 'twere thy last :
'Gainst the great day thyself prepare.
The sense is the same in the altered A thousand drops of richer blood.
verse, but what a difference exists in
respect to harmony and elegance of The first and last verses of the thirty. diction! The unseemly elisions which fifth hymn are too much in the manner are employed are as unnecessary, as of a certain class of religious enthu. they are awkward. But it is needless siasts.
to say more. If the impropriety of
the alterations in this verse does not O that my load of sin were gone! immediately strike the reader on como that I could at last submit,
parison, nothing that can be said At Jesus' feet to lay it down ! To lay my soul at Jesus' feet!
would be likely to convince him of it. Come, Lord, the drooping sinner cheer,
There are other alterations in this Nor let thy chariot wheels delay: hymn, which, to say the least, are unAppear, in my poor heart appear, necessary, although they are not so My God, my Saviour, come away.!
objectionable as those which have been * Thirteenth in the collection.
The next hymn, an evening hymn if half the strings of life should break, by the same writer, is also lamentably And cast our sins behind his back,
He injured by alterations. In the first
And they are found no more. verse, the barmony of the two last lines,
Keep me, o keep me, King of kings, The first verse of the thirty-first
Bencath thine own almighty wings, hymn presents a singular contrast, in is much diminished by substituting the the second, as will appear by reading word under for beneath. In the second
them together. verse, the word ill is improperly put in the plural. In the third verse, the
Our Lord is risen from the deady lines
Our Jesus is gone up on high,
The powers of hell are captive led, To die that this vile body may
Dragg'd to the portals of the sky. Rise glorious at the awful day,
There his triumphal chariot waits,
And angels chant the solemn lay, are thus changed :
Lift up your heads, ye heavenly gates!
Ye everlasting doors, give way!
Ways rhymes badly with grace in To attempt to show the inferiority the seventh verse of the thirty-second of the last, in point of harmony and ex.
hymn, nor does infuse chime much betpression, would be an insult to a man ter with use in the third verse of the of common understanding.
thirty-fourth. The expression “ sinIn the sixth verse, 66 divine love into
sick soul,” in the preceding verse, me instil," instead of “ his love angeli- savours too much perhaps of a technical cal instil,” does not certainly mend the phraseology. The fifth verse of the sense nor the musick. In the next verse, thirty-third may be thought somewhat the lines,
too familiar, though not deserving of
much censure. Thought to thought with my soul converse,
I have congratulated the church in Celestial joys to me rehearse,
having Tate and Brady's version of the
psalms included in the editions of the are but a poor substitute for the origi- common prayer book. It is however nal;
a subject of regret that even some of
them appear to have been altered. In May he celestial joy rehearse,
an Oxford edition of the bible and And thought to thought with me converse. book of common prayer, printed in
1784, now before me, the third verse Some less exceptionable alterations of Tate and Brady's translation of the occur in other hymns, which at pre ninety-fifth psalm at the end of the sent I shall pass over in silence. There volume is thus read. are also hymns to which objections may be made on other accounts, of which I have made no mention. It Is, with unrivall d glory, great;
For God the Lord enthroned in state, may be sufficient merely to refer to the A king superiour far to all, second verse of the seventeenth. The Whom by his title God, we call. fourth verse of the twenty-third, how. ever, may be quoted as an instance of The two last lines stand in our unfortunate phraseology.
A king superiour far to all
REVIEW. in the same Oxford edition, the first History of the Reformation, being an two lines of the fifth verse of the thirty
Abridgment of Burnet's History of sixth psalm are thus given.
the Reformation of the Church of
England, together with Sketches of But, Lord, thy mercy, my sure hope,
the Lives of Luther, Calvin, and ZuinThe highest orb of heaven transcends.
gle, the three celebrated Reformers
of the Continent. By the Rev. BenThis is sense. But what can we
JAMIN Allen, Rector of the Parish
of St. Andrews, Virginia Washingmake of the lines in our book.
ton city, 1820. 12mo. pp. 298. But Lord, thy mercy, my sure hope,
This little volume has long laid on Above the heavenly orb ascends.
our table, and has been unnoticed for
no other reason than that we have been What is meant by the heavenly orb? obliged to attend to other and more is there but one? I have seen how- pressing claims. Mr. Allen's object in ever, an older English edition of these publishing it, was to make the people psalms, in which the words are as in of this country somewhat acquainted our American edition. Which reading with the principles and practice of the is genuine? In an edition printed in English reformation; and to those who Boston in 1772, purporting to be a re- are interested in this great subject, and print, the lines are given as in the Ox- have but little leisure for study or readford edition. There may be other ing, it will doubtless be a useful and variations which I have not met with, agreeable compendium. We cannot but the detection of these, will suggest but think, however, that the author has the expediency of collating the whole used the pruning knife too frequently, version, if a revision should take place unless he meant to make his work an at any future period.
epitome for the use of schools. In It is but justice to add, after making 1682, bishop Burnet, himself published these remarks, which have only origi- an abridgment of the first two volumes nated in a wish to render our service, of his history. The third volume conin general so beautiful and edifying, taining a supplement to the two former, as free as possible from every blemish was not published till 1714, and as the or imperfection, that a considerable author died soon after, the task of part of the hymns are selected with abridging it devolved upon his son Giljudgment, and possess great merit. I bert Burnet. This abridgment was wish not to be understood as intending published in the year 1719, in one vol. to censure those who may have been 8vo. The whole work in this abridged appointed to make the compilation. I form having become scarce, a new ediknow not the circumstances under tion was published at the Oxford uniwhich it was made, nor the difficulties versity press, in 1818. The author in which may have prevented a more his preface, gave the following opinion happy selection ; neither do I know on the subject of abridgments : "I whether the compilers found the alter. know abridgments are generally burtations or made them. These free ob- ful : in them men receive such a slight servations are only intended to attract tincture of knowledge as only feeds vaattention to the subject, as it will per- nity, and furnishes discourse, but does haps undergo a discussion at the next not give so clear a view of things, nor general convention in 1823,
so solid an instruction as may be had I. B. in more copious writings." The abridg.
ment made by the bishop of the two her subjection to the see of Rome ? first volumes of his work is contained in We wish that Mr. Allen would continue four hundred closely printed octavo bis useful labours by making an abridgpages : what would be bave said of an ment of the history of the Christian abridgment which professes to give church from the day of Pentecost to the “the cream of those two alarming folios" period of the reformation, with a view in a duodecimo volume, which, if equal- to its being used in the upper classes of ly compressed, might have been con- our parochial schools. The work would
, tained in one hundred and fifty pages! certainly be much more arduous, be
We are of opinion then that every cause there is no good ecclesiastical person who is deterred by the size of history to be made the basis of his lathe original work from perusing it in bours. Mosheim's presbyterian parits form of three folio or six octavo vo- tialities, the absence of all pious refleclumes, will prefer the abridgment made tions upon passing events, the minute by the author and his son, to any other, and rather disgusting details of heretieven if they were equal in other re- cal opinions and practices, and the ar-. spects. But no one, we apprehend, tificial and scholastick arrangement of who is at all disposed to make himself the ork, render it unfit for this purfamiliar with the important events of pose. Miluer's history, with much the English reformation, will refuse to fairer claims, is not yet free from the read a single octavo volume of 578 imputation of undue partiality on fa. pages. Mr. Allen's work therefore will vourite points of doctrine. If the an. not be likely to find its way into the cient histories were taken as the basis select libraries of literary laymen. It of such a compendium, the modern bisis rather fitted as we have before ob. torians being compared, and the mind, served for the use of schools, and for by this general view, being guarded that class of our community who can. from the impressions of partý statenot be ranked among the readers. In ments, it would be a work of great serthis view, however, it must be consi- vice for the promotion of an enlightened dered as an important work, and de- attachment to our communion. serving of much commendation. No We have been led to digress from reason can be assigned why some know- our subject in the hope that these ob. ledge of ecclesiastical history should servations may meet the eye of Mr. not make a part of the religious educa. Allen, and that he may be induced to tion of children. Epitomes of civil and give his attention to an employment, political history have been found emi- for which, we think, from the specimen nently useful as preparatory to more before us, he would be well qualified. extended knowledge. And if abridg. The original work is divided into ments of Roman and Grecian history four books ; each comprising the events are introduced into our schools, why not in the reign of one of the four sovereigns, also abridgments of the history of the Henry vi. Edward, Mary, and ElizaChristian church? If our children are beth. The same order is observed by made acquainted at an early period with bishop Burnet in his own abridgment; the events which led to the indepen- but Mr. Allen bas thought proper to didence of our country, and the establish- vide the whole into fifteen chapters; to ment of our present happy and prosper- each of which, the last excepted, he ous civil institutions, why should they has prefixed some reflections of his own. not also learn something of those inte. Many of these are very interesting and resting facts which relate to the purifica. are well suited to make a good im. tion of our mother church from those cor- pression on the minds of youth, while ruptions which had been introduced by at the same time by breaking the con