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Only four stanzas are now generally used. The omitted one
His dying crimson like a robe
Spreads o'er His body on the tree;
And all the globe is dead to me. -is a flash of tragic imagination, showing the sanguine intensity of Christian vision in earlier time, when contemplating the Saviour's passion; but it is too realistic for the spirit and genius of song-worship. That the great hymn was designed by the writer for communion seasons, and was inspired by Gal. 6:14, explains the two last lines if not the whole of the highly colored verse.
One has a wide field of choice in seeking the best musical interpretation of this royal song of faith and self-effacement:
When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Save in the death of Christ my God;
I sacrifice them to His blood.
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of Nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Demands my soul, my life, my all. To match the height and depth of these words with fitting glory of sound might well have been an ambition of devout composers. Rev. G. C. Wells' tune in the Revivalist, with its emotional chorus, I. B. Woodbury's “Eucharist” in the Methodist Hymnal, Henry Smart's effective choral in Barnby's Hymnary (No. 170), and a score of others, have woven the feeling lines into melody with varying success. Worshippers in spiritual sympathy with the words may question if, after all, old “Hamburg," the best of Mason's loved Gregorians, does not, alone, in tone and elocution, rise to the level of the hymn.
old “Hamh the words orshippers in
"LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING.”
This evergreen song-wreath to the Crucified, was contributed by Charles Wesley, in 1746. It is found in his collection of 1756, Hymns for Those That Seek and Those That Have Redemption in the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Love Divine all loves excelling,
Joy of Heaven to earth come down,
* * * * * * Come Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive,
Suddenly return, and never,
Nevermore Thy temples leave.
Finish then Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Perfectly secured by Thee.
Till in Heaven we take our place,
Lost in wonder, love and praise! The hymn has been set to H. Isaac's ancient tune (1490), to Wyeth's “Nettleton" (1810), to Thos. H. Bailey's (1777-1839) “Isle of Beauty, fare thee well” (named from Thomas Moore's song), to Edward Hopkins' “St. Joseph," and to a multitude of others more or less familiar.
Most familiar of all perhaps, (as in the instance of “Far from mortal cares retreating,”) is its association with “Greenville," the production of that brilliant but erratic genius and freethinker, Jean Jacques Rousseau. It was originally a love serenade, (“Days of absence, sad and dreary") from the opera of Le Devin du Village, written about 1752. The song was commonly known years afterwards as “Rousseau's Dream.” But the unbelieving philosopher, musician, and misguided moralist builded better than he knew, and probably better than he meant when he wrote his immortal choral. Whatever he heard in his ""dream” (and one legend says it was a “song of
angels”) he created a harmony dear to the church he despised, and softened the hearts of the Christian world towards an evil teacher who was inspired, like Balaam, to utter one sacred strain.
Rousseau was born in Geneva, 1712, but he never knew his mother, and neither the affection or interest of his father or of his other relatives was of the quality to insure the best bringing up of a child.
He died July, 1778. But his song survives, while the world gladly forgets everything else he wrote. It is almost a pardonable exaggeration to say that every child in Christendom knows “Greenville."
"WHEN ALL THY MERCIES, O MY GOD.”
This charming hymn was written by Addison, the celebrated English poet and essayist, about 1701, in grateful commemoration of his delivery from shipwreck in a storm off the coast of Genoa, Italy. It originally contained thirteen stanzas, but no more than four or six are commonly sung. It has put the language of devotional gratitude into the mouths of thousands of humble disciples who could but feebly frame their own:
When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
In wonder, love and praise.
Thy tender care bestowed
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.
With heedless steps I ran,
And led me up to man.
How are Thy servants bless'd, O Lord, --was probably composed after the same return from a foreign voyage. It has been called his “Traveller's Hymn."
Joseph Addison, the best English writer of his time, was the son of Lancelot Addison, rector of Milston, Wiltshire, and afterwards Dean of Litchfield. The distinguished author was born in Milston Rectory, May 1, 1672, and was educated at Oxford. His excellence in poetry, both English and Latin, gave him early reputation, and a patriotic ode obtained for him the patronage of Lord Somers. A pension from King William III. assured him a comfortable income, which was increased by further honors, for in 1704 he was appointed Commissioner of Appeals, then secretary of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and in 1717 Secretary of State. He died in Holland House, Kensington, near London, June 17, 1719.
His hymns are not numerous, (said to beonly five), but they are remarkable for the simple beauty of their style, as well as for their Christian spirit. Of his fine metrical version of the 23rd Psalm,