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the publication must prove, we should think, particularly acceptable.
The first part of the collection contains two sets of hymns for the morning and evening of every day in the week. These, with two exceptions, are versions from the Latin hymns; but they are not of a character to give us a very exalted idea of the devotional poetry to be derived from that fountain. A similar remark is applicable to the hymns for “ Our Lord's Holydays," and those for “ Saints' Days," which constitute another division of the volume.
The following stanzas are a version of part of a morning hymn of Prudentius, beginning, “ Ales Diei Nuntius," and found in the Catholic books.
“The bird, the harbinger of light,
Has sung his morning strain ;
And call to life again?
Nor slothful, slumbering, lie!
For I, behold, am nigh.'
prayer and praise, and minds sedate,
On God with holy vows.
Burst thou the chains of night;
And shine with new-form'd light." - p. 6. We know not but this, which certainly possesses very moderate merit, may be taken as a fair specimen of the hymns purporting to be ancient. Better stanzas occasionally occur, but it is rare that we find among them a whole hymn, which approves itself to our judgment and taste.
Bishop Mant's.own hymns, which are chiefly, to use his own phrase, “ Hymns of Commemoration and Thanksgiving for Christ's holy Ordinances,” though certainly very pious and churchman-like effusions, exhibit few marks of poetic inspiration. The following, which is a hymn of thanksgiving for the Church's Liturgy, is self-complacent enough, we had almost said Pharisaic, and will do to go with the Oxford Tracts. We give it as among the signs of the times :
"O Lord, with ever-varying phrase
We kneel not at thy throne;
In language tried and known.
Thy chosen people brought;
The incarnate Saviour taught.
The growing church instill’d;
And with thy spirit filld.
In her reviving day,
Thy worship’s ancient way:
In language still the same,
Most worthy of thy name.
To Thee, O Spirit blest ;
By all thy church addrest!” — p. 103. This is followed by a “Hymn of Thanksgiving for the Church's Primitive Character.” Another is a “Hynin of Thanksgiving for the Church's Creeds ;” another for the “ Church's Moderation. We will give the first stanza of the latter :
“ We deem and own it, Lord, a proof
Of thy peculiar grace,
With calm, considerate pace,
Unsway'd by fancies new,
A fruitful branch and true.”
The following is of a different order, and among the best in the collection.
HYMN COMMENDATORY OF FAITH AND GOOD WORKS.
“In God's own garden stands a tree,
Fast fix'd in earth its root,
And charged with goodly fruit.
So pleasant and so good ;
Affords no wholesome food.
" But should that tree unfruitful wax
Of Good, like thorn or brier,
And feed the vengeful fire.
Faith is that goodly tree;
Of Christian charity.
Which thou hast fenced around,
With such good fruit abound.
Save of thy Spirit bred ;
By thee is counted dead.”. We have dwelt longer on these publications than we intended. In what remains of the present article, we propose to say a few words on the singing and hymns of the ancient churches. Frequent notices of singing, as forming part of the worship of the early Christians, occur in the writings of the Fathers, but the manner of conducting it, and the character of the hymns used, are mostly matters of conjecture and infer
The first regular choir of Christian singers, of which we have any account, was established at Antioch, in the time of Flavian and Diodorus, - two priests, who had the government of the
church in that place, during Meletius's exile; and the latter of whom became Bishop of Tarsus, A. D. 375, and the former, of the church of Antioch, A. D. 380. To them is ascribed the introduction into the church of Antioch, of the Antiphonal singing, or singing alternately, or by response, by different divisions of the choir. For this we have the authority of the historian Theodoret,* though Theodore of Mopsuestia, who was a disciple of Diodorus, says that they only translated into Greek a service, which had hitherto been performed in Syriac. The latter appears the better authority of the two.t
It has been asserted, I that the ancient mode of singing among Christians was by symphony, or concert, the whole assembly, men, women, and children, uniting as with one voice. This mode was undoubtedly practised, and being less artificial than the other, was probably the mode most in use among the early Christians. That the other mode did not originate with Flavian and Diodorus, however, is evident from the fact that it was in use among the Jews. From them it passed into the Christian church, through the Jewish converts, and was probably never wholly laid aside. In fact, the expression employed by Pliny, in his letter to Trajan, at the beginning of the second century, shows that the hymns, to which he refers, were sung by alternate voices. It was the changes and improvements introduced by Flavian and Diodorus, who possessed a regular choir, which they had trained to the use of this mode, however, which brought it into notice, and contributed to give it currency in the church. Having begun at Antioch,” says Theodoret, “it spread everywhere, and extended to the bounds of the earth.
Ambrose, who became Bishop of Milan, A. D. 374, introduced it into the West. He had it, as Augustine, his friend and admirer, assures us, $ from the East, that is, from Antioch. “ He adopted it,” says the same writer, “ for the relief and refreshment it would afford the people, who might thus be prevented from languishing, and consuming away in a tedious
The Ambrosian chant owed its origin to him.
* L. II. c. 24.
+ The story of Socrates, that old Ignatius borrowed the idea of the alternate singing from a vision of angels, which was accorded him, and thence introduced it into his church, will hardly, we suppose, be thought to require refutation. See Socr. L. VI. c. 8.
See Bingham's Christian Antiquities, L. XIV. Ć. 1.
We shall relate, before we close, a musical feat of Chrysostom, who has the reputation of introducing the antiphonal singing at Constantinople, though, in fact, he was anticipated by the Arians. We now pass on to Gregory.
What improvements, if any, were introduced after the time of Ambrose, and before the period of Gregory the Great, or how the singing in the churches was conducted in the interval, history does not inform us. At least, we have been able to glean nothing worth relating on the subject.* Gregory the Great, the first pope of the name, was consecrated to the office of Supreme Pontiff
, A. D. 590, after having in vain attempted to shun the honor, to effect which, he had caused himself to be conveyed out of the city in a basket, and had concealed himself in a cave. After his elevation, however, though, as it appears, of an infirm constitution, he devoted himself to the duties of his office with great assiduity. Among other enterprises, he undertook to reform the music of his church. Ecclesiastical writers, observes Dr. Burney, are unanimous in asserting, that "he collected the musical fragments of such ancient hymns and psalms, as the fathers of the church had approved and recommended to the primitive Christians, and that he selected, methodized, and arranged them in the order which was long continued at Rome, and soon adopted by the chief part of the Western Church.” + We suppose he took whatever had been in use
* The manner of conducting the singing appears to have varied in different churches, and was sometimes made occasion of controversy. Basil, Bishop of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, the latter part of the fourth century, was accused of innovating, by causing the prayers of the church to be sung. He said, in reply, that he only adhered to the ancient custom of the church, which prevailed in Egypt, Libya, Phenicia, Palestine, and Syria. In regard to the prayers, it would not seem from his own account, that he had the whole sung: but he mixed up the responsive singing with the prayers, in a manner not accordant with the simplicity of the primitive worship.
It may be observed here, that by “Liturgy of Hymns," a phrase which occurs in some old writers, was meant the singing of hymns, the performance of the service, and not the forms prescribed to be sung. The term, “Liturgy," was used in a similar sense, when applied to prayers and the reading of the Scriptures, a circumstance, inattention to which has led to some mistakes." Cantus," ainong the Latins, was sometimes used to designate the whole service, praying as well as singing. See Clarkson's Discourse on Liturgies, pp. 155, et seq.
History of Music, Vol. II. p. 15. See also Maimbourg's account, quoted by Sir John Hawkins ; History of Music, B. III. c. 8, and Bayle, art. Gregory. VOL. XXVIII. 30 s. VOL. X. NO. I.