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Mason or a Harriet Newell. It expresses, at least, the new-kindled evangelical spirit of the long-ago consecrations in American church life that first sent the Christian ambassadors to foreign lands, and followed them with benedictions.
Ye Christian heroes, wake to glory:
Hark, harkl what millions bid you rise!
Behold their tears, and hear their cries.
With darkling hosts, and flags unfurled,
To arms! To arms!
Christ's banner fling abroad!
To bring the world to God.
Once having felt thy glorious flame?
Or gold the Christian's spirit tame?
The word of God, salvation's plan,
To arms! to arms!
To victory or death.
“HAIL TO THE LORD'S ANOINTED.”
James Montgomery (says Dr. Breed) is “distinguished as the only layman besides Cowper among hymn-writers of the front rank in the English language.” How many millions have recited and sung his fine and exhaustively descriptive poem,
Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, -selections from almost any part of which are perfect definitions, and have been standard hyinns on prayer for three generations. English Hymnology would as unwillingly part with his missionary hymns,–
The king of glory we proclaim.
Hark, the song of jubilee! -and, noblest of all, the lyric of prophecy and praise which heads this paragraph.
Hail to the Lord's anointed,
King David's greater Son!
* * * * * *
To Him shall bow the knee,
me * * * * *
And gold and incense bring;
His praise all people sing. The hymn is really the seventy-second Psalm in metre, and as a version it suffers nothing by comparison with that of Watts. Montgomery wrote it as a Christmas ode. It was sung Dec. 25, 1821, at a Moravian Convocation, but in 1822 he recited it at a great missionary meeting in Liverpool, and Dr. Adam Clarke was so charmed with it that he inserted it in his famous Commentary. In no long time afterwards it found its way into general use.
The spirit of his missionary parents was Montgomery's Christian legacy, and in exalted poetical moments it stirred him as the divine afflatus kindled the old prophets.
The music editors in some hymnals have borrowed the favorite choral variously named “Webb" in honor of its author, and “The Morning Light is Breaking" from the first line of its hymn. Later hymnals have chosen Sebastian Wesley's "Aurelia” to fit the hymn, with a movement similar to that of “Webb”; also a German B flat melody "Ellacombe," undated, with livelier step and a ringing chime of parts. No one of these is inappropriate.
Samuel Sebastian Wesley, grandson of Charles Wesley the great hymnist, was born in London, 1810. Like his father, Samuel, he became a distinguished musician, and was organist at Exeter, Winchester and Gloucester Cathedrals. Oxford gave him the degree of Doctor of Music, He composed instrumental melodies besides many anthems, services, and other sacred pieces for choir and congregational singing. Died in Gloucester, April 19, 1876.
“FROM GREENLAND'S ICY MOUNTAINS.”
The familiar story of this hymn scarcely needs repeating; how one Saturday afternoon in the year 1819, young Reginald Heber, Rector of Hodnet, sitting with his father-in-law, Dean Shipley, and a few friends in the Wrexham Vicarage, was suddenly asked by the Dean to "write something to sing at the missionary meeting tomorrow," and retired to another part of the room while the rest went on talking; how, very soon after, he returned with three stanzas, which were hailed with delighted approval; how he then insisted upon adding another cctrain to the hymn and came back with,
Waft, waft, ye winds, His story,
And you, ye waters, roll;
—and how the great lyric was sung in Wrexham Church on Sunday morning for the first time in its life. The story is old but always fresh. Nothing could better have emphasized the good Dean's sermon that day in aid of “The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," than that unexpected and glorious lyric of his poet sonin-law.