« AnteriorContinuar »
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given!
The blessings of His heaven.
But in this world of sin,
The dear Christ enters in. Phillips Brooks, late bishop of the diocese of Massachusetts, was born in Boston, Dec. 13, 1835; died Jan. 23, 1893. He was graduated at Harvard in 1855, and at the Episcopal Divinity School of Alexandria, Va., 1859. The first ten years of his ministry were spent in Pennsylvania, after which he became rector of Trinity Church, Boston, and was elected bishop in 1891. He was an inspiring teacher and preacher, an eloquent pulpit orator, and a man of deep and rich religious life.
The hymn was written in 1868, and it was, no doubt, the ripened thought of his never-forgotten visit to the “little town of Bethlehem” two years before.
“Bethlehem” is the appropriate name of a tune written by J. Barnby, and adapted to the words, but it is the hymn's first melody (named “St. Louis” by the compiler who first printed it in the Church Porch from original leaflets) that has the credit of carrying it to popularity.
The composer was Mr. Redner, organist of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, of which
Rector Brooks was then in charge. Lewis Henry Redner, born 1831, was not only near the age of his friend and pastor but as much devoted to the interests of the Sunday-school, for whose use the hymn was written, and he had promised to write a score to which it could be sung on the coming Sabbath. Waking in the middle of the night, after a busy Saturday that sent him to bed with his brain “in a whirl,” he heard “an angel strain," and immediately rose and pricked the notes of the melody. The tune had come to him just in time to be sung. A much admired tune has also been written to this hymn by Hubert P. Main.
FAURE'S “PALM BRANCHES.”
Sur nos chemins les rameaux et les fleurs
Join all and sing. Jean Baptiste Faure, author of the words and music, was born at Moulins, France, Jan. 15, 1830. As a boy he was gifted with a beautiful voice, and crowds used to gather wherever he sang in the streets of Paris. Little is known of his parentage, and apparently the sweet voice of the wandering lad was his only fortune. He found wealthy friends who sent him to the Conservatoire, but when his voice matured it ceased to serve him as a singer. He went on with his study of instrumental music, but mourned for his lost vocal triumphs, and his longing became a subject of prayer. He promised God that if his power to sing were given back to him he would use it for charity and the good of mankind. By degrees he recovered his voice, and became known as a great baritone. As professional singer and composer at the Paris Grand Opera, he had been employed largely in dramatic work, but his “Ode to Charity” is one of his enduring and celebrated pieces, and his songs written for benevolent and religious services have found their way into all Christian lands.
His “Palm-Branches” has come to be a sine qua non on its calendar Sunday wherever church worship is planned with any regard to the Feasts of the Christian year.
Perhaps the most notable feature in the early hymnology of the Oriental Church was its Resur
rection songs. Being hymns of joy, they called 'forth all the ceremony and spectacle of ecclesias
tical pomp. Among them-and the most ancient one of those preserved—is the hymn of John of Damascus, quoted in the second chapter (p. 54). This was the proclamation-song in the watchassemblies, when exactly on the midnight moment at the shout of “Christos egerthe!” (Xplotós úrépon.) “Christ is risen!” thousands of torches were lit, bells and trumpets realed, and in the later centuries) salvos of cannon shook the air.
Another favorite hymn of the Eastern Church was the “Salve, Beate Mane,” “Welcome, Happy Morning,” of Fortunatus. (Chap. 10, p. 357.) This poem furnished cantos for Easter hymns of the Middle Ages. Jerome of Prague sang stanzas of it on his way to the stake.
An anonymous hymn, “Poneluctum, Magdelena," in medieval Latin rhyme, is addressed to Mary Magdelene weeping at the empty sepulchre. The following are the 3d and 4th stanzas, with a translation by Prof.C.S.Harrington of Weslyan University:
Gaude, plaude, Magdalena!
Tumba Christus exiit!
Victor mortis rediit;
Quinque plagas inspice;
Omamenta novæ vitæ.
Magdalena, shout for gladness!
Death destroyed, He comes to save;
Lo! thy Lord befcre thee stands;
Mark His feet, His side, His hands;
Hallelujah! The hymnaries of the Christian Church for seventeen hundred years are so rich in Easter hallelujahs and hosannas that to introduce them all would swell a chapter to the size of an encyclopedia—and even to make a selection is a responsible task. Simple mention must suffice of Luther's
In the bonds of death He lay; -of Watts —
He dies, the Friend of sinners dies; -of John Wesley's,
Our Lord has gone up on high; -of C. F. Gellert's
Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
He hath burst His bonds in twain;