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Webster's Dictionary [1]

(1): ( n.) A knowledge of hymns; a treatise on hymns.

(2): ( n.) The hymns or sacred lyrics composed by authors of a particular country or period; as, the hymnology of the eighteenth century; also, the collective body of hymns used by any particular church or religious body; as, the Anglican hymnology.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

"Poetry and its twin sister music are the most sublime and spiritual arts, and are much more akin to the genius of Christianity, and minister far more copiously to the purposes of devotion and edification than architecture, painting, and sculpture. They employ word and tone, and can speak thereby more directly to the spirit than the plastic arts by stone and color, and give more adequate expression to the whole wealth of the world of thought and feeling. In the Old Testament, as is well known, they were essential parts of divine worship; and so they have been in all ages, and almost all branches of the Christian Church. Of the various species of religious poetry, the hymn is the earliest and most important. It has a rich history, in which the deepest experiences of Christian life are stored. But it attained full bloom (as we will notice below) in the evangelical Church of the German and English tongue, where it, like the Bible, became for the first time truly the possession of the people, instead of being restricted to priest or choir" (Schaff, Ch. History). "A hymn is a lyrical discourse to the feelings. It should either excite or express feeling. The recitation of historical facts, descriptions of scenery, narrations of events, meditations. may all tend to inspire feeling. Hymns are not to be excluded, therefore, because they are deficient in lyrical form or in feeling, if experience shows that they have power to excite pious emotions. Not many of. Newton's hymns can be called poetical, yet few hymns in the English language are more useful" (Beecher, Preface to the Plymouth Collection). The hymn, as such, is not intended to be didactic, and yet it is one of the surest means of conveying "sound doctrine," and of perpetuating it in the Church. The Greek and Latin fathers well understood this. Bardesanes (see below) "diffused his Gnostic errors in Syriac hymns; and till that language ceased to be the living organ of thought, the Syrian fathers adopted this mode of inculcating truth in metrical compositions.

The hymns of Arius were great favorites, and contributed to spread his peculiar doctrines. Chrysostom found the hymns of Arian worship so attractive that he took care to counteract the effect of them as much as possible by providing the Catholic Church with metrical compositions. Augustine also composed a hymn in order to check the errors of the Donatists, whom he represents as making great use of newly composed hymns for the propagation of their opinions. The writings of Ephraem Syrus, of the 4th century, contain hymns on various topics, relating chiefly to the religious questions of the day which agitated the Church." Yet a mere setting forth of Christian doctrine in verse does not constitute a hymn; the thoughts and the language of the Scriptures must be reproduced in a lyrical way in order to serve the needs of song. The most popular and lasting hymns are those which are most lyrical in form, and at the same time most deeply penetrated with Christian life and feeling. Nor can hymns, in the proper sense of the word, be other than popular. The Romish Church discourages congregational worship, and therefore she produces few hymns, notwithstanding the number of beautiful religious compositions, which are to be found in her offices, and the fine metrical productions of the Middle Ages, of which more in a later portion of this article. Hymns for Protestants, being "composed for congregational use, must express all the varieties of emotion common to the Christian. They must include in their wide range the trembling of the sinner, the hope and joy of the believer; they must sound the alarm to the impenitent, and cheer the afflicted; they must summon the Church to an earnest following of her Redeemer, go down with the dying to the vale of death, and make it vocal with the notes of triumph; they must attend the Christian in every step of his life as a heavenly melody. There can be nothing esoteric in the hymn. Besides' this, the hymn, skillfully linked with music, becomes the companion of a Christian's solitary hours. It is the property of a good lyric to exist in the mind as a spiritual presence; and thus, as a hidden soul of harmony,' it dwells, a soul in the soul, and rises, often unsought, into distinct consciousness. The worldly Gothe advised, as a means of making life less commonplace, that one should every day, at least, hear a little song or read a good poem.' Happier he who, from his abundant acquaintance with Christian lyrics, has the song within him; who can follow the purer counsel of Paul, and speak to himself in hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in his heart to the Lord' ( Ephesians 5:19)" (Methodist Quarterly, July, 1849). For the vocal execution of hymns as a part of Church service, (See Singing); and for their instrumental accompaniments, (See Music).

On the question of the use of hymns of human composition. in the Church, there were disputes at a very early period. The Council of Braga (Portugal), A.D. 563; forbade the use of any form of song except psalms and passages of Scripture (Canon 12). On this subject, Bingham remarks that it was in ancient times "no objection against the psalmody of the Church that she sometimes made use of psalms and hymns of human composition, besides those of the sacred and inspired writers. For though St. Austin reflects upon the Donatists for their psalms of human composition, yet it was not merely because they were human, but because they preferred them to the divine hymns of Scripture, and their indecent way of chanting them, to the grave and sober method of the Church. St. Austin himself made a psalm of many parts, in imitation of the 119th Psalm; and this he did for the use of his people, to preserve them from the errors of Donatus. It would be absurd to think that he who made a psalm himself for the people to sing should quarrel with other psalms merely because they were of human composition.

It has been demonstrated that there always were such psalms, and hymns, and doxologies composed by pious men, and used in the Church from the first foundation of it; nor did any but Paulus Samosatensis take exception to the use of them; and he did so not because they were of human composition, but because they contained a doctrine contrary to his own private opinions. St. Hilary and St. Ambrose made many such hymns, which, when some muttered against in the Spanish churches because they were of human composition, the fourth Council of Toledo made a decree to confirm the use of them. together with the doxologies Glory be to the Father,' etc., Glory be to God on high,' threatening excommunication to any that should reject them. The only thing of weight to be urged against all this is a canon of the Council of Laodicea, which forbids all Ἰδιωτικοὺς Ψαλμούς , all private psalms, and all uncanonical books to be read in the Church. For it might seem that by private psalms they mean all hymns of human composition. But it was intended rather to exclude apocryphal, hymns, such as went under the name of Solomon, as Balzamon and Zonaras understand it, or else such as were not approved by public authority in the Church. If it be extended further, it contradicts the current practice of the whole Church besides, and cannot, in reason, be construed as ally more than a private order for the churches of that province, made upon some particular reasons unknown to us at this day. Notwithstanding, therefore, any argument to be drawn from this canon, it is evident the ancients made no scruple of using psalms or hymns of human composition, provided they were pious and orthodox for the substance, and composed by men of eminence, and received by just authority, and not brought in clandestinely into the Church" (Orig. Eccles. bk. 14:ch. 1).

The Christian Church, in all periods, has been accustomed, as we have already stated, to use psalms and hymns in public worship. The psalms are portions of the Psalms of David; the hymns are human compositions. On the history of singing in worship generally, (See Psalmody), under which head will also be given an account of the standard hymnbooks in the several evangelical denominations.

I. Ancient Hymns. A few hymns have come down to us from very remote antiquity. "Basil cites an evening hymn from an unknown author, which he describes as in his time (4th century) very ancient, handed down from the fathers, and in use among the people. Dr. J. Pye Smith considers it the oldest hymn extant. The following is his translation of it: "Jesus Christ, Joyful light of the holy! Glory of the Eternal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father! Having now come to the setting of the sun, beholding the evening light, we praise the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God. Thou art worthy to be praised of sacred voices, at all seasons, ( Son of God, who givest life. Wherefore the universe glorifieth thee!" (Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 16: § 5). From the letter of the elder Pliny to Trajan we know that as early as the beginning of the 2nd century the Christians praised Christ as their God in songs; and from Eusebius (Eccles. Hist. 5, 28) we learn that there existed a whole multitude of such songs. But the oldest hymn to Christ, remaining to us complete from the period of persecution, is that of Clemens Alexandrinus (q.v.). It is given in full Greek and Latin, in Coleman (1. c.): see also Piper Cementis Hymnus is Salvatorem (G Ö tting. 1835), and Balt, Defensio fidei Nicceae, § 111, ch. 2, cited by Coleman. "Though regarded as a poetical production, it has little claim to consideration; it shows the strain of the devotion of the early Christians: we see in it the heart of primitive piety laboring to give utterance to its emotions of wonder, love, and gratitude, in view of the offices and character of the Redeemer. It is not found in the later offices of the Church, because, as is supposed, it was thought to resemble, in its measure and antiphonal structure, the songs used in pagan worship" (Coleman, Prim. Church, p. 370). The oldest Christian hymn-writers, however, were mostly Gnostics in their doctrines, and they seem to have used their songs as "a popular means of commending and propagating their errors." The first of these was Bardesanes, in the Syrian Church of the 2nd century, who wrote in imitation of the Psalms 150 hymns, with Gnostic additions. Valentinus of Alexandria belongs also to the oldest hymn- writers (comp. Muinter, Odae Gnosticae, Copenh. 1712). The Gloria in Excelsis (q.v.), which is still retained in use, is ascribed to the third century. (See Angelical Hymn).

1. Oriental And Greek. The Therapeutae in Egypt sang in their assemblies old hymns transmitted by tradition. When, under Constantine the Great, Christianity became the religion of the state, the hymns acquired the importance of regular liturgical Church songs. Ephraem Syrus (q.v.), in the 4th century, who may be considered as the representative of the whole Syrian hymnology, sought to bring the heretical hymns of the Gnostics into disuse. In the Eastern Church the hymns of Arius had, by their practical Christian spirit, acquired more popularity than the orthodox hymns, which consisted mostly of an assemblage of dogmatic formulas. To oppose this tendency, Gregory of Nazianzum and Synesius composed a number of new orthodox hymns but, not being adapted to the comprehension of the people generally, these did not become popular, and thus failed to answer the purpose of the writers. Sacred poetry in general began to decline among the Greeks; and as in the next century the strife concerning the adoration of Mary and the saints began, the orthodox hymns became mere songs of praise to these. Such are the hymns of Cosmas, bishop of Majumena (780); Andreas, bishop of Crete (660-732); Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople (634-734); John Damascenus in the 8th century, and Theophanes, metropolitan of Nicea, and Josephus, deacon of Constantinople, in the 9th.

In the history of hymnology, Schaff distinguishes three periods, both in the Greek and Latin Church poetry:

(1.) that of formation, while it was slowly throwing off classical meters and inventing its peculiar style, down to about 650;

(2.) that of perfection, down to 820;

(3.) that of decline and decay, to 1400, or to the fall of Constantinople. "The first period, beautiful as are some of the odes of Gregory Nazianzen and Sophronius of Jerusalem has impressed scarcely any traces on the Greek office books. The flourishing period of Greek poetry coincides with the period of the image controversies, and the most eminent poets were at the same time advocates of images; pre-eminent among them being John of Damascus, who has the double honor of being the greatest theologian and the greatest poet of the Greek Church. The flower of Greek poetry belongs, therefore, to a later division of our history. Yet, since we find at least the rise of it in the 5th century, we shall give here a brief description of its peculiar character. The earliest poets of the Greek Church, especially Gregory Nazianzen in the 4th, and Sophronius of Jerusalem in the 7th century, employed the classical meters, which are entirely unsuitable to Christian ideas and Church song, and therefore gradually fell out of use. Rhyme found-no entrance into the Greek Church. In its stead the metrical or harmonic prose was adopted from the Hebrew poetry and the earliest Christian hymns of Mary, Zacharias, Simeon, and the angelic host. Anatolius of Constantinople ( 458) was the first to renounce the tyranny of the classic meter and strike out a new path. The essential points in the peculiar system of the Greek versification are the following: The first stanza, which forms the model of the succeeding ones, is called in technical language Hirmos, because it draws the others after it. The succeeding stanzas are called Troparia (stanzas), and are divided, for chanting, by commas, without regard to the sense. A number of troparia, from three to twenty or more, form an Ode, and this corresponds to the Latin Sequence, which was introduced about the same time by the monk Notker in St. Gall. Each ode is founded on a hirmos, and ends with a troparion in praise of the holy Virgin. The odes are commonly arranged (probably after the example of such Psalms as the 25th, 112th, and 119th) in acrostic, sometimes in alphabetic order. Nine odes form a Canon. The older odes on the great events of the incarnation, the resurrection, and the ascension, are sometimes sublime; but the later long canons, in glorification of unknown martyrs, are extremely prosaic and tedious, and full of elements foreign to the Gospel. Even the best hymnological productions of the East lack the healthful simplicity, naturalness, fervor, and depth of the Latin and of the evangelical Protestant hymn.

"The Greek Church poetry is contained in the liturgical books, especially in the twelve volumes of the Menmea, which correspond to the Latin Breviary, and consist, for the most part, of poetic or half poetic odes in rhythmic prose. These treasures, on which nine centuries have wrought, have hitherto been almost exclusively confined to the Oriental Church, and, in fact, yield but few grains of gold for general use. Neale has latterly made a happy effort to reproduce and make accessible in modern English meters, with very considerable abridgments, the most valuable hymns of the Greek Church. We give a few specimens of Neale's translations of hymns of t. Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople, who attended the Council of Chalcedon (451). The first is a Christmas hymn, commencing in Greek: Μέγα Καὶ Παράδοξονθαῦμα .

A great and mighty wonder, The festal makes secure: The Virgin bears the Infant With Virgin-honor pure.

The Word is made incarnate, And yet remains on high: And cherubim sing anthems To shepherds from the sky.

And we with them triumphant Repeat the hymn again: "To GOD on high be glory, And peace on earth to men!"

While thus they sing your Monarch, Those bright angelic bands, Rejoice, ye vales and mountains Ye oceans, clap your hands! Since all He comes to ransom, By all be He adored, The Infant born in Bethlehem, The Savior and the LORD!

Now idol forms shall perish, All error shall decay And CHIRST shall wield His scepter, Our LORD and GOD for aye.'

Another specimen of a Christmas hymn by the same, commencing Ἐν Βηθλεέμ :

In Bethlehem is He born! Maker of all things, everlasting God! He opens Eden's gate, Monarch of ages! Thence the fiery sword Gives glorious passage; thence, The severing mid-wall overthrown, the powers Of earth and Heaven are one; Angels and men renew their ancient league, The pure rejoin the pure, In happy union! Now the Virgin-womb Like some cherubic throne Containeth Him, the Uncontainable: Bears Him, whom while they bear The seraphs tremble! bears Him, as He comes To shower upon the world The fullness of His everlasting love!'

One more on Christ calming the storm, Ζοφερᾶς Τρικμίας , as reproduced by Neale:

Fierce was the wild billow, Dark was the night; Oars labor'd heavily; Foam glimmer'd white; Mariners trembled; Peril was nigh; Then said the God of God, "Peace! It is."

Ridge of the mountain-wave, Lower thy crest! Wail of Euroclydon, Be thou at rest! Peril can none be Sorrow must fly Where saith the Light of light, "Peace! It is I.

Jesu, Deliverer! Come Thou to me: Soothe Thou my voyaging Over life's sea! Thou, when the storm of death Roars sweeping by, Whisper, O Truth of truth! "Peace! tis I."

2. Latin Church. Of far more importance to the Christian Church than the Greek are the Latin hymns produced in the earlier ages, or the period covering the 4th to the 16th centuries. Though smaller in compass, Latin hymnology far surpasses the Greek "in artless simplicity and truth, and in richness, vigor, and fullness of thought, and is much more akin to the Protestant spirit. With objective churchly character it combines deeper feeling and more subjective appropriation and experience of salvation, and hence more warmth and fervor than the Greek. It forms in these respects the transition to the evangelical hymn, which gives the most beautiful and profound expression to the personal enjoyment of the Savior and his redeeming grace. The best Latin hymns have come through the Roman Breviary into general use, and through translations and reproductions have become naturalized in Protestant churches. They treat, for the most part, of the great facts of salvation and the fundamental doctrines of Christianity" (Schaff, Ch. Hist. 2, 585).

But many of them, like the later productions of the Greek Church, are devoted to the praises of Mary and the martyrs, and are vitiated with all manner of superstitions. One of the oldest writers of Latin hymns is Hilary of Poitiers (Pictaviensis), who died in 368. Banished to Phrygia, he was incited by hearing the singing of Arian hymns to compose some for the Orthodox Church, and among these productions his Lucis largitor splendide is the most celebrated. There is no doubt that the authorship of a great many hymns is spurious, especially in the case of Ambrose (q.v.), bishop of Milan, who died in 397, and who is generally considered the proper father of Latin Church song. Among his genuine productions we find the grand hymns O lux beata trinitas; Veni redemptor omnium; Deus creator omnium, etc. The so-called Ambrosian song of praise, Te deum laudamus, "by far the most celebrated hymn," formerly ascribed to Ambrose, "which alone would have made his name immortal," and which, with the Gloria in excelsis, is " by far the most valuable legacy of the old Catholic Church poetry, and which will be prayed and sung with devotion in all parts of Christendom to the end of time," he is said to have composed for the baptism of Augustine. But it is now agreed by our best critics that this hymn was written at a later date (Schaff, Ch. Hist. ii, 592). Another distinguished hymn writer of the Middle Age was Augustine, the greatest theologian among the Church fathers ( 430), whose soul was filled with the genuine essence of poetry." He is said to have composed the resurrection hymn, Cum rex gloriae Christus; the hymn on the glory of Paradise, Ad perennis vitae fontem Mens sitivit arida, and others. Damascus, bishop of Rome ( 384), who is said to have been the author of the rhyme of which we spoke above, is perhaps not less celebrated than the preceding names. Very prominently rank also Prudentins, in Spain ( 405), whom Neale calls "the prince of primitive Christian poets," the author of Jam moesta quiesce querela, and others; Paulinus of Nola; Sedulius, who composed two Christmas hymns, A solis ortus cardine and Hostis Herodes impie; Enodius, bishop of Pavia ( 521); and Fortunatus, bishop of Poitiers (about 600), who wrote the passion hymns, Pange lingua gloriosi Praelium certaminis and Vexillca regis prodeunt. These hymns (the text and translations of most of which are given by Schaff, 1. c.) soon became popular, and though many of them, long in use in the Church, were not to be set aside, still the Council of Toledo (633) recommended the use only of such hymns as those of Hilary, Ambrose, etc., in public worship. Gregory the Great, who introduced a new system of singing into the Church (See Gregorian Chant), also composed hymns, among others the Rex Christefactor Omnium; Primo Dierum Omnium, generally regarded as his best, etc.

After him the most noteworthy hymn-writers are Isidorus, bishop of Sevilla; Eugenius, Ildefonsus, and Julianus, bishops of Toledo; and Beda Venerabilis. Charlemagne (8th century), who introduced the Gregorian chant into France and Germany, also attempted sacred poetry, and is said to be the author of the Pentecost hymn, Veni creator spiritus, though others ascribe it, and perhaps on better grounds, to Rhabanus Maurus. Alcuin and Paulus Diaconus also composed hymns. Although Christianity, during that century and the next, spread through France, Germany, and northwards, yet Latin hymns remained in exclusive use during the whole of the Middle Ages, as the clergy alone took an active part in divine worship. In the 9th century appeared some noteworthy hymn-writers. Theodulf, bishop of Orleans, whose Gloria laus et honor tibi was always sung on Palm Sunday; Rhabanus Maurus; Walafrid Strabo, the first German hymn- writer; Notker ( 912), who introduced the use of sequences and recitatives in the hymns, and composed the renowned alternate chant, Media vita in morfe sumus. During the 10th and 11th centuries sacred poetry was cultivated by the Benedictines of Constance, among whom Hermann of Veringen ( 1054) was especially distinguished. King Robert of France wrote the Pentecost hymn, Veni sancte ritus; Petrus Damiani wrote also penitential hymns. To the 11th century belongs the alternate hymn to Mary entitled Salve Reginae mater misericordiae. In the 12th century hymnwriting flourished, particularly in France, where we notice Marbord (1123); Hillebert of Tours; Petrus Venerabilis; Adam of St. Victor; Bernard- of Clairvaux, author of the Salve ad faciem Jesu, and the hymn beginning Salve caput cruentatum; Abelard, writer of the Annunciation hymn, Mttit ad virginem; and Bernard of Cluny, author of "The Celestial Country," about A.D. 1145. It was, moreover, a practice of conventual discipline to connect hymns with all the various offices of daily life: thus there were hymns to be sung before and after the meals, on the lighting of lamps for the night, on fasts, etc. In the 13th century the sentimentalism of the Franciscans became a rich source of poetry, and the Latin hymns perhaps attained their highest perfection under writers of that order. Francis of Assisi himself wrote sacred poetry. Among the Franciscan hymn writers are especially to be noticed Thomas of Celano (after 1255), author of the grand Judgment hymn, Dies irae dies illa (See Dies Irae); Bonaventura; Jacoponus, who wrote the Stabat Mater Dolorosa and Stabat Mater Speciosa. (See Stabat Mater).

Among the Dominicans, Thomas Aquinas distinguished himself by his Pange Lingua Gloriosi and Lauda Sion Salvatorem. After attaining this eminence Latin hymns retrograded again during the 14th and 15th centuries, and became mere rhymed pieces. The mystics Henry Suso (q.v.) and Thomas a Kempis (q.v.) alone deserve mention among the writers of good hymns.

On hymns of the Ancient and Middle Ages, see Bingham, Oriq. Eccles. bk. 13 chap. 5, and bk. 14 chap. 1; Daniel, Thesaurus Hymnologicus, sive hymnorum, etc., collectio amplissima (Leipz. 1841-56, 5 vols. 8vo); a good selection in K Ö nigsfeld, Lat. Hymnen und Gesdnge, in which the Latin- and German versions are printed face to face, with an Introd. and notes by A.W. von Schlegel (Bonn, 1847, 12mo, and second collection 1865, 12mo); Trench, Sacred Latin Poetry, chiefly Lyrical, with Notes, etc. (2nd ed. Lond. 1864, 18mo); Coleman, Apostolic and Primitive Church, ch. 12; Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 16; Walch, De Hymnis Eccles. Apostolicae (Jena, 1837); Rambach, Anthologie Christl. Gesange (Altona, 1817-33); Bjorn, Hymni Vet. Patrum Christ. Eccles. (Hafn. 1818); Kehrein, Lateinische Anthologie (Frankf. 1840); (Ultramontane) Mone, Lat. Hymnen des Mittelalters (Freib. 18i53.sq., 3 vols 8vo.); Moll, Hymnasarium (Halle, 1861, 18mo); Wackernagel, Das deutsche Kirchenleid (Lpz. 1864-65, 2 vols.), part of vol. 1, p. 9-362; Chandler, Hymns of the Primitive Church (Lond. 1837); Neale, Hymns' of the Eastern Church (3rd edit. London, 1866); Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences (3rd ed. London, 1867); The Voice of Christian Life in Song, or Hymns and Hymn writers of many Lands and Ages (N.Y. 1864, 12mo); Miller, Our Hymns, their Authors and Origin (Lond. 1866, 12mo); Koch, Gesch. d. Kirchenl. (2nd edit. Stuttgart, 1852 sq., 4 vols., especially, 1, 10- 30); Edilestand du Meril, Poesies populaires Latines anterieres tau douzieme siecle (Paris, 1843); Fortlage, Gesange Christl. Vorzeit (Berlin, 1844); Milman, Latin Christianity, 8:302 sq.; Hill, English Monasticism, p. 324-373 (on mediaeval books and hymns); Rheimvald, Kirchl. Archa Ö l. p. 262 sq.; Augusti, tiandb. der christl. Archa Ö l. 2, 106 sq.; Riddle, Christian Antiquities, p. 384 sq.; Martigny, Dict. des Antiquites, p. 475 sq.; Christ. Examiner, 28 art. 1; Christian Remembrancer, 44, art. 4; N. Amer. Rev. 1857, art. 4; and on the first six centuries a very excellent article, first published in the British and Foreign Ev. Rev. (Oct. 1866), in Schaff, Ch. Hist. 3:575 sq.

'''Ii.''' ''A Modern Hymnography.

1. German. The origin of German hymns, which are without question the richest of any in modern tongues, may be traced to the 9th century. But the history of German hymnology, strictly speaking, does not begin earlier than the Reformation. For "it was not until the people possessed the Word of God, and liberty to worship him in their own language, that such a body of songs could be created, though vernacular hymns and sacred lyrics had existed in Germany throughout the Middle Ages. It was then that a great outburst of national poetry and music took place, which reflected the spirit of those times; and on a somewhat smaller scale the same thing has happened both before and since that time. at every great crisis in the history of the German people." The most marked of these periods are, besides the Reformation, the 12th and 13th centuries, or the Crusading period, and- the latter part of the 17th, and 18th centuries. The earliest attempts at German hymns are traced to the 9th century. For some centuries preceding the Roman Church had abandoned congregational singing, and the hymns formed part of the liturgical service performed by the priests and the canonical singers. In some churches, however, the people still continued the old practice of uttering the response Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, at certain intervals during the singing of the Latin hymns and psalms, which finally degenerated into a confused clamor of voices. The first attempt to remedy this was made by adding, soon after Notker, who originated the Latin Sequence or Prose, a few German rhymes to the Kyrie Eleison, "from the last syllables of which these earliest German hymns were called Leisen." But as they were never used in Mass service, but were confined to popular festivals, pilgrimages, and the like, they did not come into general use, and it may be said that the real employment of Leisen (or Leiche, as they were also called) did not begin before the 12th century. At that time they had become the common property of the German people, and hymns in the vernacular were freely produced, among them the oldest German Easter hymn, Christus ist auferstanden, attributed to Sperrvogel, which has descended to our own day as a verse of one of Luther's best hymns:

Christ the Lord is risen

Out of death's dark prison;

Let us all rejoice today,

Christ shall be our hope and stay:

Kyrie eleison.

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Several of the great Latin hymns were also translated into German, and although their use in the Church was more or less restricted, and was always regarded with suspicion by the more papal of the clergy, yet they continued to be favored by the people, as is fully evinced by the quantity of sacred verse written from this time onwards. Thus Wackernagel, in his work on religious poetry, prior to the Reformation (Das deutsche Kirchenleid v. d. altest. Zeit bis zu Anfang d. 17 th Jahrhundert), exhibits nearly 1500 specimens, and the names of no less than 85 different poets, with many anonymous authors. Among the writers named we find not a few of the celebrated knightly mine-singers, as Hartmann von deer Aue, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Walther von der Vogelweide, and others. But the German sacred songs of this time, like the old Latin hymns, were confined to addressing the saints, and, above all, the Virgin Mary. "The former class is not very important, either as to number or to quality; but the Marien-Lielder and, in a minor degree, Annen-Lieder (hymns to Mary and to Anne), constitute a very large anti well-known class among the poems of the ante-Reformation times in Germany. ... They form a sort of spiritual counterpart to the minne-songs or love-songs addressed to his earthly lady by the knight. It was easy to transfer the turn of expression and tone of thought from the earthly object to the heavenly one, and the degree to which this is done is to us very often startling. The honors and titles belonging to our Lord Jesus Christ are attributed to his mother; God is said to have created the world by her, and to have rested in her on the seventh day; she is said to have risen from the grave on the third day, and ascended into heaven; she is addressed not only as a persuasive mediator with her Son, but as herself the chief source of mercy and help, especially in the hour of death and at the day of judgment. By degrees, her mother is invested with some of her own attributes; for it is said, if Christ would obey his own mother, ought not she much more to obey hers? So a set of hymns to Anne sprang up, in which she is entreated to afford aid in death, and obtain pardon for the sinners from Christ and Mary, who will refuse her nothing" (Winkworth, Christiana Singers of Germany, p. 96, 97). (See Hyperdulia). It is no wonder that in the face of such extravagances Wackernagel is constrained to say that the existence of so many godless hymns addressed to the Virgin and the saints, or teaching the whole doctrine of indulgences, is an indisputable testimony to the degeneracy into which the nation had fallen, rendering the Reformation necessary; and that the existence of so many breathing an unstained Christianity is at the same time a witness to the preservation of so much true religion as made the Reformation at all possible. The use of German hymns was taken up by the heretical sects that began to spring up under the persecuting influence of Rome. The German Flagellants, the Bohemians, the Waldenses, and the Mystics, who all encouraged the study of the Scriptures, of course favored the singing of German hymns; and they contributed not a few sacred songs themselves to those already existing. Thus the Mystic Tauler (q.v.) (to whom was long attributed the Theologia Germania. in all probability the work of Nicholas of Basle) wrote several hymns, which became widely known. His best, perhaps, are the following: '''What I Must Do'''

"From outward creatures I must flee,

And seek heart-oneness deep within

If I would draw my soul to Thee,

O God, and keep it pure from sin," etc.

Only Jesus

"O Jesu Christ, most good, most fair,

More fragrant than May's flowery air

Who Thee within his soul doth bear,

True cause for joy hath won!

But would one have Thee in his heart,

From all self-will he must depart;

God's bidding only where thou art

Must evermore be done.

Where Jesus thus doth truly dwell,

His presence doth all tumults quell,

And transient cares of earth dispel

Like mists before the sun," etc.

A marked improvement, however, took place in German hymnology during the 15th century, especially near its close. The chief hymn-writer of this period was Henry of Laufenberg, who was particularly active in transforming secular into religious songs, as was frequent at this time; he also translated for the Germans many of the old Latin hymns. One of the best specimens of a religious song transformed we cite here. The original was "Innsbruck, I must forsake thee."


O world, I must forsake thee,

And far away betake me,

To seek my native shore;

So long I've dwelt in sadness,

I wish not now for gladness,

Earth's joys for me are o'er.

Sore is my grief and lonely,

And I can tell it only

To Thee, my Friend most sure!

God, let Thy hand uphold me,

Thy pitying heart enfold me,

For else I am most poor.

My refuge where I hide me,

From Thee shall naught divide me,

No pain, no poverty:

Naught is too bad to fear it,

If Thou art there to share it;

My heart asks only Thee.

Many of these transformed hymns were preserved, like the one above cited, through the Reformation. Another very popular hymn, Den liebsten puelen den ich Fan der ist in des Himels Trone, was transformed from the song "Den liebsten puelen den ich han der liegt beim Wirt im Keller." Of the transformation of ballads by the minnesingers into hymns to Mary and Anne we have already spoken. We return, therefore, to Laufenberg, and cite one of his hymns, which well deserves to be called not only one of the best of his age, but one of the loveliest sacred songs that has ever been written. We copy the first stanza of it from Mrs. Winkworth (p. 93):

Cradle Song

Ah Jesu Christ, my Lord most dear,

As Thou wast once an infant here,

So give this little child, I pray,

Thy grace and blessings day by day:

Ah Jesu, Lord divine,

Guard me this babe of mine!

Laufenberg also wrote and widely introduced the use of many hymns in mixed Latin and German, a kind of verse which was the favorite amusement of the monks, and which had acquired considerable popularityat his time. The best known of these productions was a Christmas carol, dating from the 14th century, In dulci jubilo, Nu signet und seid fro. Peter Dresdensis was generally, but erroneously, regarded as the author of these perhaps properly termed "Mixed Hymns." His real work, however, lay in the strenuous efforts he made to introduce hymns in the vernacular more freely into public worship, especially into the service of the Mass," from which they had, as we have already had occasion to observe, been excluded. But these efforts met with violent opposition from the Church, and the use of hymns in the vernacular still continued to be almost exclusively confined to festivals and like occasions. Among these vernacular hymns are particularly celebrated "Ein Kindelein so lobelich," "Christ fure zu Himmel," "Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeist," "Wir danken dir lieber Herre," etc. After the invention of the art of printing, the followers of Huss, who had formed themselves into a separate and organized Church of their own in 1467 (Bohemian and Moravian Brethren), and who made it one of their distinctive peculiarities to use hymns in the vernacular, as their service was mainly conducted in their mother tongue, especially their prayers, gave new encouragement to the writing of German hymns. In 1504, Lucas, then chief of the Bohemians, collected 400 of the most popular of the German hymns and had them printed. This is "the first example of a hymn-book composed of original compositions in the vernacular to be found in any Western nation which had once owned the supremacy of Rome." Previous to this time, towards the close of the 15th century, there existed two or three collections of German versions of the Latin hymns and sequences, but they are of very inferior merit.

The Reformation in the 16th century marks the next era in the history of German hymnology. The introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy of the Church gave an impulse to the German language that was only eclipsed by Luther's translation of the Bible for the edification and education of the entire German people. But it was Luther's aim not only to furnish his followers the Book of books, but also to introduce everywhere the singing of such hymns as already existed in the vernacular, and by the creation of a taste among the people for German sacred song to promote its cultivation. Of this he set himself the best example. As in the cause of religion he knew how to enlist a large circle of eminent men and scholars to carry out his great designs, so also, with a true appreciation of sacred art, both in poetry and song, he soon gathered about him many friends, who became the compilers of several collections of hymns, that were issued from the press at remarkably short intervals. (See Psalmody).

Luther himself, besides translating anew many of the Latin hymns, "which he counted among the good things that God's power and wonderful working had kept alive amid so much corruption," and, besides transforming or reproducing some four of the early German hymns, composed some twenty-one in the vernacular, most of which are known in our own day by most of the Protestant nations of the globe, and some of which are particular favorites even with the English-speaking people. The special object of the composition of these hymns, into which Luther threw "all his own fervent faith and deep devotion;" was undoubtedly "to give the people a short, clear confession of faith, easy to be remembered. For the doctrines which Luther propagated were yet too new to be well understood by all as he desired them to be. He wished men to know what they professed. Protestantism meant the profession of a faith by choice, and not by compulsion; a belief that was cherished by the confessor, and not a blind following after the teacher. He required a comprehension of his great doctrines of justification by faith, of the one Mediator between God and man, which gave peace to the conscience by delivering it from the burden of the past sins, and a new spring of life to the soul by showing men that their dependence was not on anything in themselves, on no works of their own performance, but on the infinite love and mercy of God, which he had manifested to all mankind in his Son; of his doctrine of the universal priesthood of all believers, which put a new spirit into the Church, by vindicating for every member of it his right and duty to offer for himself the sacrifice of praise and prayer, and to study for himself God's word in the Scriptures" (comp. Winkworth, p. 105). One of Luther's hymns best known to us is that founded on the 46th Psalm, the famous "Marseillaise of the Reformation," as Heine called it. He is generally supposed to have written it on his way to the Diet of Worms. Some, however, think that it was composed at the close of the second Diet of Spire (1529). It has been again and again translated. Mrs. Winkworth gives us the following:

THE Stronghold

A sure stronghold our God is he,

A trusty shield and weapon;

Our help he'll be, and set us free,

Whatever ill may happen.

That old malicious foe Intends us deadly woe;

Armed with the strength of hell,

And deepest craft as well

On earth is not his fellow.

Through our own force we nothing can,

Straight were we lost forever,

But for us fights the proper Man

By God sent to deliver.

Ask ye who this may be?

Christ Jesus named is he,

Of Sabaoth the Lord,

Sole God to be adored;

Tis he must win the battle.

And were the world with devils filled,

All eager to devour us,

Our souls to fear should little yield;

They cannot overpower us.

Their dreaded prince no more

Can harm us as of yore;

Look grim as e'er he may,

Doomed is his ancient sway,

A word can overthrow him.

Still shall they leave that world its might,

And yet no thanks shall merit;

Still is he with us in the fight

By his good gifts and Spirit.

E'en should they take our life,

Goods, honor, children, wife,

Though all of these were gone,

Yet nothing have they won God's kingdom ours abideth!

Another hymn of Luther's which has gained a worldwide circulation is the one that was written by him on the burning of two martyrs for their faith at Brussels in 1523, and which was translated, or, rather, transformed by D'Aubigne in his History of the Reformation, beginning,

"Flung to the heedless winds,

Or on the waters cast,

Their ashes shall be watched,

And gathered at the last," etc.

As an example of the songs he transformed most successfully, we quote the old ditty,

"O thou naughty Judas!

What hast thou done,

To betray our Master,

God's only Son!

Therefore must thou suffer

Hell's agony Lucifer's companion

Must forever be. Kyrie, Eleison! "

This Luther changed to the following:

"Twas our great transgression

And our sore misdeed Made the Lord our Saviour

On the cross to bleed.

Not then on thee, poor Judas,

Nor on that Jewish crew,

Our vengeance dare we visit-

We are to blame, not you. Kyrie, Eleison!

"All hail to thee, Christ Jesus,

Who hungest on the tree,

And bor'st for our transgressions

Both shame and agony.

Now beside thy Father

Reignest thou on high;

Bless us all our lifetime,

Take us when we die! Kyrie, Eleison!"

(Christian Examiner, 1860, p. 239 sq.)

Of the friends whom Luther was successful in enlisting as writers for his new hymnbooks we have space here to mention only the most prominent names. One of them, Justus Jonas, was a colleague of Luther and Melancthon at the University of Wittenberg. His special service was the transformation of the Psalms into metrical German versions, " choosing, as one can well understand, those which speak of David's sufferings from his enemies, and his trust in God's deliverance." One of his best is on the 124th Psalm, beginning thus:

"If God were not upon our side,

When foes around us rage;

Were not Himself our Help and Guide,

When bitter war they wage

Were He not Israel's mighty Shield,

To whom their utmost crafts must yield,

We surely must have perished."

Another of Luther's co laborers was Paul Eber, whose hymns have "a tone of tenderness and pathos which is much less characteristic of this period than the grave, manly trustfulness of Luther and Jonas." But they became very extensively known, and during the trying period of the Thirty-years' War they were constantly heard both in public and around the family hearthstone. A special favorite at that time was the one, composed when the imperial armies were besieging Wittenberg (1547), beginning:

"When, in the hour of utmost need,

We know not where to look for aid,

When days and nights of anxious thought

Nor help nor comfort yet have brought,

Then this our comfort is alone,

That we may meet before Thy throne,

And cry, O faithful God, to Thee,

For rescue from our misery."

Two of Eber's hymns for the dying have been great favorites by the side of deathbeds and at funerals, not only among the German Protestants, but also among the Roman Catholics. The one is Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true man and God); the other is the following childlike expression of perfect trust, beautifully rendered by Mr. Winkworth (p. 12):

Death In The Lord

"I fall asleep in Jesu's arms,

Sin washed away, hushed all alarms,

For his dear blood, his righteousness,

My jewels are, my glorious dress,

Wherein before my God I stand

When I shall reach the heavenly land.

With peace and joy I now depart,

God's child I am with all my heart:

I thank thee, Death; thou leadest me

To that true life where I would be.

So cleansed by Christ I fear not Death,

Lord Jesu, strengthen thou my faith!"

But Luther and his associates were only the founders of the new German hymnology, which soon spread over a much more extended field. Hymn- writers became common all over the land, and their number is legion, so that it is almost impossible for us, in our limited space, to give more than a brief account of the most distinguished, and the names only of those of lesser note. Thus Nicholas Decius, a converted monk, produced a translation of the Gloria in Excelsis ("Allein Gott in der Hoh', sei Ehr.," All glory be to God on high), which, with its noble chorale, soon came into use all over Germany. Paul Speratus (von Spretten), the chaplain of the duke of Prussia, is perhaps the most noted of all the hymnologists of this period, and is best known as the author of the hymn on the doctrine of Justification by faith:

"Salvation hath come down to us

Of freest grace and love,

Works cannot stand before God's law,

A broken reed they prove;

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,

He must for all our sins atone,

He is our one Redeemer."

This, in Luther's day, was as popular among the Germans as one of his own hymns. Indeed, it is said that when Luther first heard it sung by a beggar on the roadside he gave him the last coin he had. Princes also became sacred poets, such as the margrave of Brandenburg and Hesse, known as the author of:

"Grant me, eternal God, such grace

That no distress

May cause me e'er to flee from Thee," etc.

The elector John of Saxony was also, at that time, courted among hymn- writers, but it now appears that he never wrote any hymns himself, although he was passionately fond of them. Hans Sachs (1494-1576), the celebrated and popular poet of this period, also wrote sacred verse, and figures not less prominently than the persons whose names we have already mentioned. The most famous of his hymns he wrote during the siege of Nuremberg, his native city, in 1561: "Why art thou thus cast down, my heart?" (Warum betr Ü bst du dich mein Herz?). He wrote also a very beautiful hymn on the explicit confidence in the saving merits of Christ, entitled "The Mediator," which is translated by Mrs. Winkworth (Christ. Sing. p. 134). Among the Bohemian Brethren, who. as is well known, were on intimate terms with the Lutherans, Michael Weiss is distinguished both as the translator of Bohemian hymns into German, and as the author of a number of beautiful German hymns. Two of them, "Once he came in blessing," and the well-known "Christ, the Lord, is risen again" (Christus ist erstanden von des Todes Banden), translated into English by Mrs. Winkworth, may be found in her Lyra Gernanica, 2, 62, and in Schaff, Christ in Song, p. 15, 259. Not less worthy of notice, though perhaps not quite so prominent in their day, are Johann Matthesius ( 1561) and Nicholas Hermann ( 1561). The former wrote, among others, the beautiful morning hymn, "My inmost heart now raises" (Aus meines Herzen's Grunde), which was a favorite with king Gustavus Adolphus Hermann's hymns are to be found in nearly all German hymn-books. Among his best hymns are' Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich, and Wenn mein St Ü ndlein vorhanden ist. Mrs. Winkworth gives Matthesius's "Miner's Song" (p. 144) and Hermann's "Hymn for the Dying."

In the latter half of the 16th, and even at the opening of the 17th century, a gradual decline is manifest in the quality of the hymns, though the quantity continued. They were now no longer the spontaneous production of men of all classes, moved to worship God in songs of praise, but the work of professional hymnologists. "Still this period, too, has some very good and fine hymns, but a marked change of tone is perceptible in most of them; they are no longer filled with the joyful welcome of a new day: they more often lament the wickedness of the age, and anticipate coming evil times, or the end of the world itself." Most prominent among the hymn-writers of this period are the following:

(1.) Ambrose Lobwasser, who translated the French Psalter of Marot and Beza; but the literary merit of the work was rather mediocre. "It does not rise above the level of a sort of rhymed prose, and it furnished an unfortunate model for a flood of very prosaic rhymed paraphrases of doctrinal statements or passages of Scripture, which became wonderfully numerous at this time." (2.) Bartholomaeus Ringwaldt (1530-98) is the author of the hymn, in England erroneously attributed to Luther, "Great God, what do I see and hear," which was written in imitation of the " Dies Irae, Dies Illa." He really deserves to be placed first among the hymnologists of this period. It is incorporated in the New Congregational Hymn-Book (London), No. 420. His hymns partake of the penitential style, by which, as above remarked, this period is characterized. One of his best on "Penitence" Mrs. Winkworth has clothed in English dress (p. 149).

(3.) Nicolaus Selnecker (1530-92), author of Gleich Wie Sein Haus Der Vogel baut, based on the 84th Psalm.

(4.) Louis Helmboldt, the poet laureate of the emperor Maximilian, who wrote "The true Christian's Vade-Mecum" (From God Shall Naught Divide Me, Mrs. Winkworth, p. 154), which is contained in all German hymn- books, "and has rooted itself among the people." To this period belong also Martin Schalling (15321608), among whose hymns Herzlich lieb hab' ich Dich o Herr ("O Lord, I love thee," in Schaff, Christ in Song, p. 609) is best known; Kaspar Melissander ("Herr, wie du willst, so schick's mit mir"), Mart. Moller, Mart. Behemb. Mart. Rutilius ("Ach; Herr u. Gott, wie gross u. schwer!"), Job. Pappus ("Ich hab mein Sach' Gott heimgestellt"), and more especially Philip Nicolai (1556-1608), who was the first to reintroduce, after the Reformation, the mystical union of Christ with the soul in his hymns, whence they have often been called the Hymns of the Love of Jesus." His two best hymns have gained a remarkable popularity, "and are indeed admirable for their fervor of emotion and mastery over difficult but musical rhythms." They are, Wachet auf; ruft uns die Stimme ("Wake, awake, for night is flying," in Schaff, Christ in Song, p. 382; in the New Congregational Hymn-book, No. 749), and Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern ("How lovely shines the Star," Christ in Song, p. 551), which latter especially "became so popular that its tunes were often chimed by city bells, lines and verses were printed from it by way of ornament on the common earthenware of the country, and it was invariably used at weddings and certain festivals." All German hymnbooks still contain it, though in a somewhat modified form.

The tempest of war which for thirty years swept over Germany, and caused a tale of disasters from which it would seem society could have never recovered, even promoted, or at least did not impede in any way, the literary and intellectual activity of the German mind; and this period is not only recognized as having been signalized by "a great outburst of religious song," but as having produced the most famous hymnologists of Germany. First among these stands the great Martin Opitz (1597-1639), of the Silesian school of German poets, who greatly improved all German poetry. He wrote many versions of some of the epistles, and of many of the Psalms, and of the Song of Solomon. But his original versions are by far the best; e.g. his morning hymn, "O Light, who out of Light wast born" (Winkworth, p. 173). Next to him we find Paul Fleming (q.v.) (1609-40), author of "In allen unseren Thaten." But most famous at this time were undoubtedly Johann von Rist (q.v.) (1607-67), Johann Heermann (q.v.) (1685-1647), and, a little later, Paul Gerhard (q.v.) (1606-76), who was the greatest of them all, "the prince of German hymnists." Rist wrote as many as 600 to 700 religious poems and hymns, "intended to supply every possible requirement of public worship or private experience." His best are perhaps "Werde munter mein Gemuthe," "Auf, auf ihr Reichsgenossen," and "Werde Licht, du Volk der Heiden" (translation in Schaff, Christ in Song, p. 118). Heermann's best hymns are "Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen" (Christ in Song, p. 171), "Jesu. deine tiefe Wunden," "Zion Klage mit Angst u. Schmerzen" (Winkworth,