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moods, and the passionate, almost erotic phraseology of her Contemplations, Madame Guyon has held the world's admiration for her martyr spirit, and even her love-flights of devotion in poetry and prose do not conceal the angel that walked in the flame.
Today, when religious persecution is unknown, we can but dimly understand the perfect triumph of her superior soul under suffering and the transports of her utter absorption in God that could make the stones of her dungeon “look like jewels.” When we emulate a faith like hers—with all the weight of absolute certainty in it—we can sing her hymn:
My Lord, how full of sweet content
On any shore, since God is there. And could a dearer vade mecum enrich a Chris. tian's outfit than these lines treasured in memory?
While place we seek or place we shun,
'Tis equal joy to go or stay. Cowper, and also Dr. Thomas Upham, translated (from the French) the religious poems of Madame Guyon. This hymn is Cowper's translation.
A gentle and sympathetic melody entitled “Alsace” well represents the temper of the words— and in name links the nationalities of writer and composer. It is a choral arranged from a sonata of the great Ludwig von Beethoven, born in Bonn, Germany, 1770, and died in Vienna, Mar. 1827. Like the author of the hymn he felt the hand of affliction, becoming totally deaf soon after his fortieth year. But, in spite of the privation, he kept on writing sublime and exquisite strains that only his soul could hear. His fame rests upon his oratorio, “The Mount of Olives,” the opera of “Fidelio” and his nine wonderful “Sympho nies.”
"NO CHANGE IN TIME SHALL EVER SHOCK.”.
Altered to common metre from the awkward long metre of Tate and Brady, the three or four stanzas found in earlier hymnals are part of their version (probably Tate's) of the 31st Psalmand it is worth calling to mind here that there is no hymn treasury so rich in tuneful faith and reliance upon God in trouble as the Book of Psalms. This feeling of the Hebrew poet was never better expressed (we might say, translated) in English than by the writer of this single verse
No change of time shall ever shock
My trust, O Lord, in Thee,
For Thou hast always been my Rock,
A sure defense to me.
The sweet, tranquil choral long ago wedded to this hymn is lost from the church collections, and its very name forgotten. In fact the hymn itself is now seldom seen. If it ever comes back, old “Dundee" (Guillaume Franc 1500-1570) will sing for it, or some new composer may rise up to put the spirit of the psalm into inspired notes.
“WHY DO WE MOURN DEPARTED FRIENDS ?”
This hymn of holy comfort, by Dr. Watts, was long associated with a remarkable tune in C minor, "a queer medley of melody" as Lowell Mason called it, still familiar to many old people as “China.” It was composed by Timothy Swan when he was about twenty-six years of age (1784) and published in 1801 in the New England Harmony. It may have sounded consolatory to mature mourners, singers and hearers in the days when religious emotion habitually took a sad key, but its wild and thrilling chords made children weep. The tune is long out of use—though, strange to say, one of the most recent hymnals prints the hymn with a new minor tune.
Why do we mourn departed friends,
Or shake at death's alarms?
Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call them to His arms.
Are we not tending upward too
As fast as time can move ?
To keep us from our Love.
The graves of all His saints He blessed
And softened every bed:
But with their dying Head ?
Timothy Swan was born in Worcester, Mass., July 23, 1758, and died in Suffield, Ct., July 23, 1842. He was a self-taught musician, his only "course of study" lasting three weeks,-in a country singing school at Groton. When sixteen years old he went to Northfield, Mass., and learned the hatter's trade, and while at work began to practice making psalm-tunes. “Montague,” in two parts, was his first achievement. From that time for thirty years, mostly spent in Suffield, Ct., he wrote and taught music while supporting himself by his trade. Many of his tunes were published by himself, and had a wide currency a century ago.
Swan was a genius in his way, and it was a true comment on his work that “his tunes were remarkable for their originality as well as singularity
-unlike any other melodies.” “China,” his masterpiece, will be long kept track of as a curio, and preserved in replicates of old psalmody to illustrate self-culture in the art of song. But the major mode will replace the minor when tender voices on burial days sing
Why do we mourn departed friends i
Another hymn of Watts,
God is the refuge of His saints
When storms of sharp distress invade, -sung to Lowell Mason's liquid tune of “Ward," and the priceless stanza,
Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are, doubly prove the claim of the Southampton bard to a foremost place with the song-preachers of Christian trust.
The psalm (Amsterdam version), “God is the refuge,” etc., is said to have been sung by John Howland in the shallop of the Mayflower when an attempt was made to effect a landing in spite of tempestuous weather. A tradition of this had doubtless reached Mrs. Hemans when she wrote
Amid the storm they sang, etc.
"FATHER, WHATE’ER OF EARTHLY BLISS.”
This hymn had originally ten stanzas, of which the three usually sung are the three last. The above line is the first of the eighth stanza, altered from
And O, whate'er of earthly bliss.