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"RISE, CROWNED WITH LIGHT.”
Alexander Pope, a Roman Catholic poet, born in London 1688, died at Twickenham 1744, was not a hymnist, but passages in his most serious and exalted flights deserve a tuneful accompaniment. His translations of Homer made him famous, but his ethical poems, especially his “Essay on Man,” are inexhaustible mines of quotation, many of the lines and couplets being common as proverbs. His "Messiah," written about 1711, is a religious anthem in which the prophecies of Holy Writ kindle all the splendor of his verse.
THE TUNE. The closing strain, indicated by the above line, has been divided into stanzas of four lines suitable to a church hymn-tune. The melody selected by the compilers of the Plymouth Hymnal, and of the Unitarian Hymn and Tune Book is “Savannah," an American sounding name for what is really one of Pleyel's chorals. The music is worthy of Pope's triumphal song.
The scas shall waste, the skies to smoke decay,
"OH, WHY SHOULD THE SPIRIT Jos
This is a sombre poem, but its virile strength and its literary merit have given it currency, and commended it to the taste of many people, both weak and strong, who have the pensive temperament, Abraham Lincoln loved it and committed it to memory in his boyhood. Philip Phillips set it to music, and sang it-or a part of it—one day during the Civil war at the anniversary of the Christian Sanitary Commission, when President Lincoln, who was present, called for its repetition.* It was written by William Knox, born 1789, son of a Scottish farmer.
The poem has fourteen stanzas, the following being the first and two last
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?
* * * * * *
Philip Phillips was born in Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., N. Y., Aug. II, 1834, and died in Del
*This account so nearly resembles the story of Mrs. Gates' “Your Mission," sung to a similar audience, on a similar occasion, by the same man, that a posable confusion by the narrators of the incident has been suggested. But that Mr. Phillips sang twice before the President during the war does not appear to be contradicted. To what air be sang the above verses is uncertaia.
ipak, 0, June 25, 1895 He wrote no hymns and was not an educated musician, but the airs of popalar bymna-Isi case to him and were harmonized for him by ochers, most frequently by his friends, S. J. Val and Hubert P. Main. He compiled and pabEshed thirty-one collections for Sunday-schools and gospel meetings, besides the Methodist Hymn and Tune Book, issued in 1866.
He was a pioneer gospel singer, and his tuneful journeys through America, England and Australia gave him the name of the “Singing Pilgrim,” the title of his song collection (1867).
"WHEN ISRAEL OF THE LORD BELOVED."
The “Song of Rebecca the Jewess,” in “Ivanhoe,” was written by Sir Walter Scott, author of the Waverly Novels, “Marmion,” etc., bom in Edinburgh, 1771, and died at Abbotsford, 1832. The lines purport to be the Hebrew hymn with which Rebecca closed her daily devotions while in prison under sentence of death.
When Israel of the Lord beloved
Out of the land of bondage came
* * * * * *
And trump and timbrel answered keen, And Zion's daughters poured their lays. With priest's and warrior's voice between.
* * * * * *
By day along th' astonished lands
The cloudy Pillar glided slow,
* * * * * *
In shade and storm the frequent night
A burning and a shining Light! The “Hymn of Rebecca” has been set to music though never in common use as a hymn. Old “Truro”, by Dr. Charles Burney (1726–1814) is a grand Scotch psalm harmony for the words, though one of the Unitarian hymnals borrows Zeuner's sonorous choral, the “Missionary Chant.” Both sound the lyric of the Jewess in good Christian music.
"WE SAT DOWN AND WEPT BY THE WATERS.”
The 137th Psalm has been for centuries a favorite with poets and poetical translators, and its pathos appealed to Lord Byron when engaged in writing his Hebrew Melodies.
Byron was born in London, 1788, and died at Missolonghi, Western Greece, 1824.
We sat down and wept by the waters
Of Babel, and thought of the day
Made Salem's high places his prey,
Were scattered all weeping away.
- Written April, 1814. It was the fashion then for musical societies to call on the popular poets for contributions, and tunes were composed for them, though these have practically passed into oblivion. Byron's ringing ballad (from II Kings 19:35)
Th’ Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold, -has been so much a favorite for recitation and declamation that the loss of its tune is never thought of.
Another poetic rendering of the “Captivity Psalm" is worthy of notice among the lay hymns not unworthy to supplement clerical sermons. It was written by the Hon. Joel Barlow in 1799, and published in a pioneer psalm-book at Northampton, Mass. It is neither a translation nor properly a hymn but a poem built upon the words of the Jewish lament, and really reproducing something of its plaintive beauty. Two stanzas of it are as follows:
Along the banks where Babel's current flows
Our captive bands in deep despondence strayed,
Her friends, her children mingled with the dead.
When praise employed, or minth inspired the lay,
And growing grief prolonged the tedious day. Like Pope, this American poet loved onomatope and imitative verse, and the last line is a word