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Psalm or Prayer taken out of the Bible, at any due time, not letting or omitting thereby the service or any part thereof, mentioned in the Book of Prayer;" and support their conjecture by an appeal to the title of these Psalms, "set forth and allowed to be sung in all Churches before and after morning and evening Prayer, and also before and after Sermons," With the correctness or incorrectness of this opinion, the present question is not connected: for it is evident that whatever sanction this clause gives to a metrical version of the Psalms, it gives to a metrical version of "any prayer taken from the Bible;" and that it authorizes both, without the requirement of any Special Grant: but that this opinion is incorrect, is evident from the two following considerations: First, That the Clause in question does not relate to singing at all: and Secondly, That, if it does, the clause was not law when this version was introduced; Queen Elizabeth having revived only that part of Edward's act, repealed by Mary, which related to the Book of Common Prayer. This version never "received Parliamentary sanction. But though destitute of Legislative sanction, is it not accompanied with some Royal Grant? By none whatever. "It never received the Royal Approbation."* Was it not introduced clandestinely? The title prefixed to it militates against this supposition. "Set forth and allowed." It was, therefore, not introduced till full" tent years after metrical Psalmody had been adopted; and therefore Sternhold or his Printer might fairly enough assert that his version was allowed to be sung in Churches." Those who adopt this version cannot consistently object to the adoption of hymns, for want of authority. The historical fact appears to be, that the use of metrical compositions, whether Psalms or Hymns, was permitted in the church. The conduct of the Reformers
Wharton, quoted in Mason's Essays.
+ At that time metrical versions of Scripture were not uncommon. Marot published a version of the Psalms in France. There was also published a versification of the Genealogy of Christ. Dr. Tye, Musical Preceptor to King Edward, versified fourteen chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Sternhold was made a groom of the Privy Chamber for versifying fifty of the Psalms. (Mason's Essays.) Hopkinson and others were employed in a similar way. (Shepherd on the Common Prayer, page 48, introduction.)
Nichols's progress of Queen Elizabeth, vol. 1, p. 54.
furnishes a satisfactory illustration of the nature of the permission. They introduced a metrical version of the Psalms among their congregations. "The custom was begun 1560, in one church in London, and did quickly spread itself not only through the City, but in the neighbouring places; sometimes at Paul's Cross there would be six thousand singing together."* All this, it is important to bear in mind, was done without any Legislative or Royal Sanction, authorizing only a particular form of words; and at least two years before the version of Psalms was annexed to the Prayer Book. The following injunction of Queen Elizabeth (1559) would give direct countenance to their proceedings. "It may be permitted, that in the beginning or in the end of Common Prayer, either at morning or evening, there may be sung a hymn or such like song, to the praise of Almighty God." (Sparrow's Collect. 1684.) Though this was originally a special permission to collegiate churches and some parish churches, in which there was a provision for the maintenance of a body of singers, yet the spirit of the church is here sufficiently discoverable in leaving the selection of the "Hymn or Song" to the discretion of those who used it; and it is obvious that as singing was confined, when the injunction was issued, to those churches that had choirs of singers, the special permission would become general, as soon as singing was adopted, as it afterwards was, by the congregations of other churches.-To the Psalms is appended a collection of Hymns, bearing strong internal marks of having been introduced with the old version of Psalms. The poetry is evidently of the same stamp; and to one of the hymns the same initials (W. W.) are prefixed as to many of the Psalms. If this be the fact, hymns have been annexed to the Prayerbook from the time of the reformation. At all events, whenever that collection was introduced into the Church, it was introduced without any specific authoritative permission. It had no higher Legislative or Royal Sanction than any selection of hymns in the present day; and has not only been constantly,used, but has of late years been increased, without any higher sanction; and (what may further satisfy churchmen on the subject); increased in
* Burnet's History of the Reformation, third part, p. 290.
the Prayer-books circulated by the Society for promoting Christian knowledge. And he will be possessed of no ordinary share of effrontery, who can stand forth in the face of all the Bishops, and inferior Clergy, and Laymen, who compose that Society, to prefer against it the charge of Innovation and Irregularity.-Anthems are permitted by the Rubric. An Anthem implies in its popular meaning, any holy song; in its strict etymological meaning, a song, sung alternately, or in parts. Anthems are arranged sometimes in verse, and sometimes in prose, taken from Scripture or from human compositions. As no words are provided in the Liturgy, a discretionary power is necessarily implied as to selection. This Rubric received the Royal approbation nearly at the time when the injunction, already quoted, was issued; and as both refer to singing, it may fairly be inferred, that a "hynın or such like song," was intentionally comprehended in the term Anthem at least, the Rubric and Injunction are not to be explained in opposition to each other.
With respect to the frivolous objection, sometimes urged, that the singing of hymns militates against the Spirit of the Church of England, because Dissenters encourage the singing of them, it scarcely deserves notice; or can meet with no better reproof than the example of the Venerable Society, above mentioned, who, in the selection circulated by them, have inserted two hymns written by Dissenters.†
In 1696, Tate and Brady obtained permission, by an Order in Council, to have the New Version of Psalms adopted in "such Churches as thought fit to receive it." Whatever was their motive for the application, the initiation in the terms of the grant sufficiently shews, that it was not the least in contemplation to make the use of that Version exclusive and obligatory. Indeed a mere Order in Council was not sufficient to make it so. As far, however, as appeal is made to this authority, which is not superior to that of Queen Elizabeth's injunction, there exists
* An Anthem in metre was composed by Henry VIII., and performed most probably when the Church became Protestant, and Henry had quarrelled with the See of Rome. Mason in derision calls it very Royal Poetry! (Essays.)
+ Doddridge and Wesley.
equally high sanction for the use of hymns without any special grant, as for the use of this version with one.
The Church of England, in thus allowing the use of hymns, is sanctioned by the practice of the Churches of old. "Neither was it any objection against the Psalmody of the Church, that she sometimes made use of Psalms and Hymns of human composition." There were always such Psalms and Hymns and Doxologies composed by pious men, and used in the Church from the first Founda tion of it. Philo, Eusebius,§ and Tertullian|| testify that it was the practice of Christians to compose hymns. Ignatius, Hilary, Ambrose, Austin, Athanasius, Hippolytus Nepos, Claudianus Mamercus, Athenogenes, Ephrem Syrus, and many others, all composed hymns for public use, and some of them whole books of hymns, in the various metres of Greece and Rome. As to the decree of the council of Loadicea, which interdicted them, little credit is to be attached to it. The council was summoned in degenerate timcs; was composed of few¶¶ individuals; and its decision "contradicts the current practice of the whole Church besides." When objections against private hymns afterwards prevailed, the council of Toledo made a counter decree to confirm the use of them.
It is further alleged against the use of hymns, that the language and matter which they contain are frequently objectionable. Unhappily there has existed too much ground for this complaint. Familiarity in addresses to God, vulgarity of expression, and coarseness of allusion, have excited great and reasonable disgust, even in the minds of religious people, many of whom have, in consequence, carried their prejudices to the unauthorized extent of proscribing hymns altogether. One of the most useful and elegant¶¶¶ writers of the present day, observes, "there is no piety in bad taste." This observation applies to hymns, equally with every other species of religious compositions. That piety and good
"A selection is used at the University Church (of Oxford) from a version of the Psalms, to which no legal sanction has ever been given; and for which the royal sanction was solicited and refused." (Biddulph's letter to the Bishop of Bristol,)
+Bing B. 14, C. 1, Sec. 17.
Lib. 2, C. 17
De vit, contemp.
¶¶¶ Mrs. H. More
Bing. B. 13, C. 5, B. 14, C. 2. ¶¶ Baxter's history of councils.
taste have not usually been combined in productions of this nature, it neither requires depth of penetration to perceive, nor necessarily betrays any want of charity to affirm. The poetic fire, which has been raised on the altar of the sanctuary, has not, commonly, burnt with that purity which its hallowed situation required; and many have turned aside with disgust, who might probably have been attracted by a brighter flame. To obviate prejudice, without sacrifice of principle, forms no ordinary portion of Christian duty and Christian wisdom. Under the influence of these impressions, the editor was induced, several years ago, to make a selection of Psalms and Hymns, freed, as much as he could render it, from the alleged objections, for the use of his own congregation: and it is under the influence of the same impressions, that he ventures to offer it, with the addition of an appendix, for more extensive diffusion. He has met with much more difficulty than he anticipated, from the impossibility which he found of making a selection for general purposes, consistently with the chief object which he had in view, without considerable alterations in most of the hymns which he has adopted. This impossibility must be his apology (to those who think an apology necessary) for interfering with the works of others. He is fully aware that he is here treading on tender ground; that he shall have to contend with early associations, and deeply rooted partialities; that by many, such an undertaking will be considered unnecessary, and by some perhaps presumptuous. He has himself no doubt of the propriety of it; his only fear is, that it should now fail through unskilful management; for he freely confesses that the execution of it has fallen much below the standard which he had proposed to himself. He can only hope that it may, in some small measure, correct the evil of which such frequent and just complaint is made; and though it may not altogether remove, may at least lessen, the only objection which he thinks can be made to the use of hymns.
He is not unconscious, that the most judicious statement of scriptural doctrine, through whatever medium it is held forth, will not be acceptable to all; for then would the offence of the cross have ceased. Many, it is to be feared, attempt to conceal their real hatred of religious truth under the cloak of superior judgment. Though delineated with the pen of an angel, he believes that it would