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CHAPTER II.

ENGLISH VERSIONS OF GERHARDT'S HYMNS.

While the first influence of Gerhardt on English hymnody dates from the earlier part of the XVIIIth century it was not until the middle of the following century120120Cf. p. 27 and note. that his influence was most fully felt. For it was then that the whole subject of church music and congregational singing in England received renewed and special attention. The English hymn writers and compilers of hymn books naturally appropriated all embodiment of Christian experience and devotion that Germany, a country so nearly akin to their own, could offer. The translators of all German hymns were subjected to certain limitations the observance of which affected the character of the rendering. The accompanying versions of Gerhardt's poems are illustrations of this statement.

A parallel arrangement of these various versions reveals the following interesting facts. First, that literalness has been rarely attained for the reason that a certain measure of freedom has to be used in any metrical rendering. Some, as for example, Dr. J. Kelly, have striven to maintain fidelity to the sense of the original and thereby have often sacrificed euphony to fidelity. Secondly, there has been made necessary the frequent use of the double rhymes which are as common in the German language, on account of its peculiar structure, as monosyllabic rhymes are in English. The limited number of double rhymes in English has presented a serious obstacle in the way of rendering German hymns with their native force and simplicity without which qualities the hymns cannot become truly naturalized. In so many cases have the German hymns and tunes been considered as one and inseparable, that the translators have sought to preserve the original metres for the sake of the tunes which would not of course admit of any deviation without harm to their characteristic beauty.

In the following pages we shall discuss those of Gerhardt's hymns (84 in number) which have been translated into English, and cite in most cases the hymn books which have been among the first to recognize the excellence of the English versions.121121The hymns selected for discussion with their respective English versions are arranged according to the sequence in the Goedeke text (Gedichte von Paulus Gerhardt, Leipzig 1877). The ten most widely translated hymns (nos. 25, 49, 59, 60, 68, 122, 150, 185, 229, 239) and hymns showing adaptations are treated in a separate part of this chapter, pp. 82 ff. In some instances specimen stanzas selected from the English versions have been added for comparison or reference.

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