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In 1756 appeared the second edition of “Hymns on God's Everlasting Love;" and two years afterward, “Hymns of Intercession for all Mankind." In the former are found several of the poet's most admired productions; and from the latter also a few have been selected, which still retain a place in our standard volume.
Five years later, in 1761, Mr. John Wesley published a selection of hymns, with appropriate tunes, designed chiefly for his own followers. In his preface he says,
“I want the people called Methodists to sing true the tunes which are in common use among them. At the same time, I want them to have in one volume the best hymns which we have printed; and that in a small and portable volume, and one of an easy price. I have been endeavoring for more than twenty years to procure such a book as this, but in vain. Masters of music were above following any direction but their own. And I was determined, whoever compiled this, should follow my direction ; not mending our tunes, but setting them down neither better nor worse than they were. At length I have prevailed. The following collection contains all the tunes which are in common use among us.”
During the next year the most voluminous production of Charles Wesley's prolific muse made its appearance, being two volumes of hymns on select passages of Scripture. In the first edition they were two thousand one hundred and forty-five in number; but were reduced afterward, by the omission of about one hundred, probably at the suggestion of his brother John. Our author quotes, as a specimen of the work, the following lines, founded on 2 Chron vi, 36, “ There is no man which sinneth not:"
“No; every fallen child of man
Must sin in thought, and word, and deed;
When Jesus hath his pris'ners freed;
To these volumes our Hymn-book is largely indebted, among others for the hymns beginning,
“A charge to keep I have."
A collection of "Hymns for Children and Others of Riper Years”. was published in 1766, of which a fifth edition was issued from the Conference Office, London, in 1842. Our author calls this a delightful little volume, and says :
“The question has often been suggested to the mind of the writer, why is it that the Christian world has shown so much more favor to the Divine Songs' of Dr. Watts, than to the 'Hymns for Children of Charles Wesley? Why is it that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of editions of Dr. Watts's hymns have been issued in this country, and hundreds of them from our own Methodist press, while not a single edition of Wesley's hymns have been published ? Is it because the former work is so far superior to the latter? Such is by no means the case, as will fully appear upon an examination and comparison of the two works. The truth is, our own church has been shamefully unmindful of the merits and memory of her poet, perhaps because unconscious of the rich legacy bequeathed to her, and, it may be, her incompetency properly to appreciate the literary treasure. But the stigma should remain no longer. A brighter intellectual day is dawning upon the church, and her membership may now at least begin to appreciate the sublime productions of a sanctified genius, who anticipated by three quarters of a century the intellectual wants of the Christian world; and thereby furnished beforehand what is now acknowledged to be a desideratum in religious literature. Let the church, then, meet the emergency promptly by publishing forth with an edition of Charles Wesley's · Hymns for Children :' a more valuable boon could not be conferred upon the children, while others of riper years would also share in the precious patrimony."-Pp. 207, 208.
We commend these remarks to the attention of our Sunday, school editor, not being able ourselves to indorse the sentiment, as it has never been our good fortune to meet with a copy of the volume referred to. We will frankly aver, however, that we suspect our author, from his enthusiastic love of his favorite, overrates its value. If otherwise, it is indeed time to blot out “the stigma."
The next poetical production in the order of time is entitled “Hymns for the Use of Families, and on Various Occasions." A new edition was published in London so recently as 1825, and the reader may form some opinion of its contents from a few of the titles of the hymns. They are as follows:-For a Woman in Travail; Thanksgiving for her Safe Delivery; At the Baptism of a Child; At sending a Child to Boarding-school; Thanksgiving after a Recovery from the Small-pox; For a Persecuting Husband; For an Unconverted Wife; For a Family in Want, &c. Nineteen hymns from this volume are found in our collection, and a larger number in the Wesleyan Hymn-book.
Another volume, bearing the title “Hymns on the Trinity," was
issued by Mr. Charles Wesley in 1767. It contained one hundred and eighty hymns, arranged under the following heads :-On the Divinity of Christ; On the Divinty of the Holy Ghost; On the Plurality and Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; On the Trinity in Unity; and Hymns and Prayers to the Trinity.
“There lies before the writer a highly prized autograph copy of this precious little manual, in almost as perfect a state as when the beloved author, more than eighty years ago, perhaps at the earnest solicitation of some dear friend, traced with his own hand the few words which now add such additional interest to the volume, which is still more increased by the fact that it was published anonymously. The inscription is •C. Wesley, April, 14, 1767.' The volume has one hundred and thirtytwo pages, is without a preface, and contributes the following nine hymns to the contents of the Methodist Hymn Book :
“213. Holy, holy, holy Lord.
214. Hail, holy, holy, holy Lord.”—P. 212. Following this publication in rapid succession, the poet of Methodism issued a small volume, entitled “Preparation for Death, in Several Hymns;" "Hymns written in the Time of the Tumults, June, 1780;" a tract of forty-seven pages, entitled “Hymns for the Nation;" and one containing hymns for the special use of condemned malefactors. This, it is said, was the last poetical production he ever issued from the press, and in a manuscript note appended to one of these effusions Mr. Wesley says:—“These prayers were answered Thursday, April 28th, 1785, on nineteen malefactors, who all died penitent."
Five years previously, namely, in 1780, Mr. Wesley compiled his large Hymn-book, entitled-and the title is still retained in the volume now in use among the British Wesleyans-A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists, by the Rev. John Wesley, A. M., some time Fellow of Lincoln College, Ox ford. It was published by subscription, in a duodecimo volume of about five hundred pages, and has undergone very little alteration since his death. In 1830 a supplement was added containing 200 additional hymns, and the entire volume contains 770 hymns;-of which, according to our author, Charles Wesley wrote 627; Dr. Watts, 66; John Wesley, 32; Doddridge, 10; Samuel
Wesley, Junr., 6; Samuel Wesley, Senr., 1. The remaining 28 by various authors.
We have thus rapidly glanced at the poetical productions of these highly gifted men, in the consecutive order in which they were issued from the press. For many very valuable remarks and critical observations, we must refer the reader to the volume to which we have been indebted so largely.
In the third part of his book, which occupies the larger half of the whole, our author notices each hymn in our standard collection, with the name of the writer when ascertained, and remarks critical and explanatory. The hymns of which the authorship is still doubtful are the following :
“ 49. Lord Jesus, when, when shall it be." We agree with our author in doubting, from "internal evidence,”* whether Charles had any hand in the production of these lines, although it appears in the volume published by the brothers in 1748. “The poetry is of very humble pretensions.”—Meth. Quar. Rev., April, 1844. For the same reason, as before intimated, we doubt the authorship of
“86. How happy are they,” and see not why the doubt in the one case is not as well authorized as in the other.
“ 124. My hope, my all, my Saviour, thou,” is also by an unknown hand. We have met with it nowhere previous to the date of the hymns published by Bishops Coke and Asbury; and the same may be said of "139. In boundless mercy, gracious Lord,
appear.” The parody on the national anthem,
“ 248. Come, thou almighty King," was first published by Madan, and written perhaps by a correspondent whose name is, and will remain, unknown. It is not found in the English Hymn-book, but will probably remain in ours, says our author, “so long as we shall continue a church militant.” We have no recollection of ever having heard it sung.
“273. O thou God of my salvation,” is another, of which the authorship is unknown. The last two
This is our author's own language ; although, in his "list" on pp. 84, 91, the hymn is not referred to, leaving it to be understood that then he deemed it unquestionably Charles Wesley's.
stanzas are inferior to the others. It is found in the volume prepared by Coke and Asbury; as is also
* 391. Peace, troubled soul, thou need'st not fear," of the writer of which we are also ignorant.
“ 487. All hail! happy day," was written, we should say from internal evidence, by the author of 86. They are in the same metre, and several parallels might be pointed out. Thus compare verse 1 of 487,
“How can we refrain
For to join the glad strain," with verse 2 of 86,
“When my heart it believed,
The expletives are in each case equally necessary, and equally expressive.
So again, notice the fire of the poet in verse 6 of 86,
“My soul mounted higher
In a chariot of fire ;" and in verse 7 of 487,
“ He kindles the fire
The curious reader may trace other coincidences, and will perhaps concur with the sentiment of the critic, who declares that “fire will not melt out of him the opinion that Charles Wesley's muse had nothing to do with the doggerel.” The best hymn in the volume among those of which the authorship has not been ascertained is
“547. My span of life will soon be done."
We have met with it in no other collection, and our author has been equally unsuccessful. Bating the suspected Calvinism of the fourth stanza, it is, by many of our people, much admired. Hymn 587,
“Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing," is also of doubtful origin. Something similar may be found in Rippon's collection, from which possibly it may have been manufactured.