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During the Victorian era, and more recently both in England and America, have appeared a remarkable number and variety of hymns. Several scores of these the hymn-book seems to have chosen permanently; many others have been chosen, of course, only tentatively. There are a few outstanding ones, like Kipling’s “Recessional” and Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” which leave little doubt of their permanence.

In all the huge movement and stir in the last fifty years, there has been much vigorous manifestation of the religious life. It is not surprising that the fifteen years following the publication of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” produced more ringing lyrics of religion than has any period of the same length in English history. There was tremendous agitation and conflict among religious forces. The zeal of the conservative faithful and the ardor of the progressive faithful showed itself in flashes of art as well as in the earnest, long-drawn, and bitter prosaic struggles.

Hymns rich, intense, and luminous sprang from Conservatives and Progressives alike. And it is 290 strong attestation of the truth and universality of the hymns that even radical Conservatives and radical Progressives were soon—however much or little they were aware of the fact—singing each other’s hymns, “teaching and admonishing one another” according to the Scripture in spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts unto the Lord. The Fundamentalists and the Liberals of to-day sing the hymns of Whittier and Holmes and Mrs. Adams, together with those of Bonar, Newman, and Bickersteth.

Among the major hymnists of the time is Horatio Bonar, the foremost of the Scottish hymn-writers. He was born in Edinburgh in 1808. Graduated from the University of Edinburgh, he entered the ministry of the Established Church of Scotland, from which he later seceded to become one of the founders, and for the rest of his life a leader, of the Scottish Free Church. He died in 1889. He published many hymns, some translations from the Greek and Latin, but mostly original hymns.

Among his best are “A Few More Years Shall Roll”; “Beyond the Smiling and the Weeping”; “Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord”; “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”; “Here, O My Lord, I Meet Thee Face to Face”; and “Go Labor On, Spend and Be Spent.”

Bonar’s hymns are sorrowful and plaintive, like autumn winds over Scottish hills. The sadness and transience of life is a recurrent theme.


A few more years shall roll,

A few more seasons come;

A few more storms shall beat

On this wild, rocky shore.

Beyond the frost-chain and the fever

I shall be soon;

Beyond the rock-waste and the river,

Beyond the ever and the never

I shall be soon.

Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice;

For toil comes rest, for exile, home;

Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,

The midnight peal, “Behold, I come.”

Make haste, O man, to live,

Thy time is almost o’er

O sleep not, dream not, but arise.

The Judge is at the door!

But the somber tone of his hymns is usually lightened by grave consolations and rock-founded hopes. His communion hymn, three stanzas of which are quoted here, is a wistful and heavenly minded song, intensely personal, yet broad enough, it would seem, for Christians of any and all opinions of that sacrament:


Here would I feed upon the bread of God,

Here drink with thee the royal wine of heaven;

Here would I lay aside each earthly load;

Here taste afresh the calm of sins forgiven.

This is the hour of banquet and of song;

This is the heavenly table spread for me;

Here let me feast, and feasting, still prolong

The brief, bright hour of fellowship with thee.

I have no help but thine, nor do I need

Another arm save thine to lean upon;

It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;

My strength is in thy might, thy might alone.

One of the best hymns of the nineteenth century is that of W. Walsham Howe (1823-97), Bishop of Wakefield, “For All Thy Saints Who from Their Labors Rest.” Others of his hymns are “We Give Thee But Thine Own”; “O Word of God Incarnate”; and “O Jesus, Thou Art Standing.”

The version of the twenty-third Psalm that the hymn-book has pronounced most nearly adequate is that of the Rev. Sir Henry Williams Baker, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” It is not so good poetry as the twenty-third Psalm in the Authorized version of the Bible. Take, for example:

He leadeth me beside the still waters,

He restoreth my soul.

Though the Psalm lines do not rime and are not measured, they express the thought as do no other grouping of words.


Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul he leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow,

With food celestial feedeth.

This is good verse, but it is not the unalloyed poetic gold of the “prose” line.

Baker’s style is simple and pleasing, and his hymns have a ring of honesty in them all. He contributed thirty-three hymns to “Hymns Ancient and Modern” and four hymn tunes. He edited two other books of hymns, and, as chairman of the original board of directors of that greatest of English hymn-books, he exerted a wide influence. He was born in 1821, and died in 1877. This foremost hymnologist of the period was, like John Mason Neale, a Cambridge University man. His famous paraphrase was published in 1868:

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am his,

And he is mine forever.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love he sought me,

And on his shoulders gently laid

And home rejoicing brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With thee, dear Lord, beside me,


Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

And so through all the length of days,

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise

Within thy house forever.

For the Beauty of the Earth” was written by John Pierpont, a Unitarian minister who lived in Troy, New York. He was a graduate of Yale. He wrote some fifteen hymns, which maintain a good level of excellence. His “Hymn of the Last Supper” has marked qualities of simplicity, harmony, and devotion. But one sees that it is not strictly a hymn; it is rather a narrative than an expression of praise or petition. It is quoted here as an example of a good poem written expressly as a hymn, yet not a hymn at all:

The winds are hushed, and a peaceful moon

Looks down on Zion’s hill;

The city sleeps, ’tis night’s calm noon,

And all the streets are still,

Save when along the shaded walks,

We hear the watchman’s call,

Or the guard’s footsteps as he stalks

In moonlight on the wall.

How soft, how holy is this light!

And hark, a mournful song,

As gentle as these dews of night

Floats on the air along.


Affection’s wish, devotion’s prayer,

Are in the holy strain;

’Tis resignation, nor despair,

’Tis triumph, though ’tis pain.

’Tis Jesus and his faithful few

That pour that hymn of love;

O God, may we that song renew

Around that board above.

The repetition of “’tis” and “that” in the last six lines are small defects of technique that would mar the hymn’s success even though it were otherwise good. But if this is not a good hymn, how is it that William B. Tappan’s somewhat similarly narrative and descriptive poem has been a favorite hymn for a hundred years since it was published?

’Tis midnight, and on Olive’s brow

The star is dimmed that lately shone;

’Tis midnight, in the garden now

The suffering Saviour prays alone.

’Tis midnight, and from all removed,

Emmanuel wrestles long with fears;

E’en that disciple whom he loved

Heeds not his master’s grief and tears.

’Tis midnight, and for others’ guilt

The Man of sorrows weeps in blood;

Yet he that hath in anguish knelt

Is not forsaken by his God.


’Tis midnight, and from ether-plains

Is borne the song that angels know;

Unheard by mortals are the strains

That sweetly soothe the Saviour’s woe.

This poem is so vivid and tense with feeling that it begins to sing itself. Both in mood and form it is more purely lyric than the other. It has no such abstract phrases as “affection’s wish” and “devotion’s prayer.” The second stanza of the first poem is vivid. But the stalk of the guard, and the moonlight on the wall, draw attention, inartistically, away from the center of the picture. There is no detail in the second poem which is not an undertone, and which does not set the central figure in higher light.

Francis Turner Palgrave (1824-97), of “The Golden Treasury” and also of “The Golden Treasury of Sacred Song,” was himself the author of a volume of hymns. Three of these are in common use: “Thou Sayest, Take Up Thy Cross”; “O Light of Life, O Saviour Dear”; and “O Thou Not Made with Hands.” He wrote another remarkable religious lyric, one which is almost a great hymn. The style of this song recalls Burne-Jones and the Rossettis. But allowing all the beauty and all the religious value of the poem, one still feels that it is too fragile for a popular hymn; the figure, moreover, is drawn out till it is tenuous; the eighth line, beautiful as it is, is too subtle; and the third stanza is too naïvely didactic.


Christ in his heavenly garden walks all day

And calls to souls upon the world’s highway;

Wearied with trifles, maimed and sick with sin,

Christ by the gate stands and invites them in.

“How long, unwise, will ye pursue your woe?

Here from the throne sweet waters ever go;

Here the white lilies shine like stars above;

Here in the red rose burns the face of Love.

“’Tis not from earthly paths I bid you flee,

But lighter in my ways your feet will be;

’Tis not to summon you from human mirth,

But add a depth and sweetness not of earth.

“Still by the gate I stand as on ye stray;

Turn your steps hither, am I not the Way?

The sun is falling fast, the night is nigh;

Why will ye wander, wherefore will ye die?”

John Ellerton, who was born in London in 1828, wrote a large number of hymns, several of which are widely sung. The most familiar and perhaps the best is “Saviour, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise.” Henry Twells, Canon of Peterborough Cathedral, wrote in 1868 the hymn beginning:

At even, ere the sun was set,

The sick, O Lord, around thee lay;

O in what divers pain they met,

O with what joy they went away!

John S. B. Monsell, a graduate of Dublin University and clergyman of the Church of England, was the 298 author of the militant hymn, “Fight the Good Fight.” Another militant song of religion is that of Sabine Baring-Gould, “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” published in 1865, and married to the splendid processional music of Sir Arthur Sullivan in 1871. The song makes a notable claim as to the power of hymnody:

Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise.

With these two hymns may be mentioned that of Henry Alford, Dean of Canterbury, “Forward Be Our Watchword.”

A hymn by A. C. Benson may be mentioned in connection with the foregoing. It rather discounts the type of war heroism and speaks of higher heroism, of “scorned delights” and “lavished lives”—lavished in service rather than in destruction, and it looks for

The far-off victories of love.

William E. Gladstone, Thomas Hughes, W. B. Trevelyan, and Charles Kingsley were all contributors to the hymn-book at this time. The hymn of Kingsley, “From Thee All Skill and Science Flow,” is by the verdict of the hymn-book the best of those written by this group.

Of the American hymnists of the middle of the century and later there was a notable group of Harvard men, most of whom were Unitarians. Among them were Holmes, Lowell, Henry and Samuel Longfellow, Samuel Johnson, and Theodore Parker.


One of Holmes’s best hymns, to which he gave the title “Trust,” may be quoted:

O love divine, that stooped to share

Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear!

On thee we cast each earth-born care;

We smile at pain while thou are near.

Though long the weary way we tread,

And sorrow crown each lingering year,

No path we shun, no darkness dread,

Our hearts are whispering, Thou art near!

When drooping pleasure turns to grief,

And trembling faith is changed to fear,

The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf,

Shall softly tell us, Thou art near!

On thee we fling our burdening woe,

O love divine, forever dear;

Content to suffer while we know

Living and dying thou art near!

William Cullen Bryant wrote the hymn of which the first two stanzas are:

O North with all thy vales of green,

O South with all thy palms,

From peopled towns and vales between,

Uplift the voice of psalms;

Raise, ancient East, the anthem high,

And let the youthful West reply.


Lo in the clouds of heaven appears

God’s well beloved Son;

He brings a train of brighter years,

His kingdom is begun.

He comes a guilty world to bless

With mercy, truth, and righteousness.

It may be that the first stanza of this poem was originally conceived as a plea for reconciliation between the North and South; it was published in 1869.

One of the best of all the American hymns is that of Samuel J. Stone, “The Church’s One Foundation,” published in 1868. This poem has the strength, the simplicity, the dignity, the vividness, and the religious fervor that characterize every great hymn. One other hymn by this author may be justly called great:

Weary of earth, and laden with my sin,

I look at heaven, and long to enter in;

But there no evil thing may find a home;

And yet I hear a voice that bids me, “Come.”

So vile am I, how dare I hope to stand

In the pure glory of the holy land?

Before the whiteness of the throne appear?

Yet there are hands stretched out to draw me near.

Christ to the Young Man Said, ‘Yet One Thing More,’” was written by Henry W. Longfellow as a hymn to be sung at the ordination of his brother, 301 Samuel Longfellow, to the Unitarian ministry. This is the only hymn, strictly speaking, that he wrote, though a number of his poems were included in the hymn-books of forty years ago.

Samuel Longfellow wrote many hymns. He is represented in the various books to-day by from two to seventeen hymns. “O Still in Accents Sweet and Strong” and “I Look to Thee in Every Need” are generally included. “O God, Thy Children Gathered Here” he wrote for the ordination of Edward Everett Hale to the Unitarian ministry. Samuel Longfellow, with Samuel Johnson of Boston, edited three successive hymn-books. The last and largest volume, “Hymns of the Spirit,” was published in 1864. Johnson’s hymn, which is in virtually all of the present-day books, “City of God, How Broad and Fair,” closes with this stalwart verse:

In vain the surge’s angry shock,

In vain the drifting sands;

Unharmed upon the eternal Rock,

The eternal city stands.

A younger member of this group, and as a hymnist one of the foremost, is still living, the Rev. Frederick L. Hosmer. He, with Dr. William C. Gannett, author of “Praise to God and Thanks We Bring,” is joint author of two volumes of religious lyrical poetry. The number of his hymns in various books ranges from three to thirty-five. “The English Hymnal” contains three. His “Father, to Thee We 302 Look in All Our Sorrow,” “Forward through the Ages,” and “O Beautiful My Country” are among his best.

One of the best American hymnists is the New England Quaker, Whittier. The hymns of Whittier are in general accord with the other hymns of the time, and are fairly typical of the hymnody of the latter half of the century. It was during the decade of 1850-60 and shortly following that he wrote his best religious lyrical verse. His hymns, like the other good ones of the time, show signs of the battle between Science and Religion, as the opposing sides termed themselves. Whittier enters the field from the camp of Religion, but not to fight Science. Unlike Newman and “Little Bethel,” or Huxley and Darwin, he did not accept one value and even pretend to close his eyes to the other. With plenty of human doubt and misgiving, he yet had a faith so deeply based that he had nothing but welcome for whatever truth Science or any other agency might bring forth.

The hymn of Whittier’s which the hymn-books seem to agree upon as the best is taken from his “Brewing of Soma.” Beginning with the description of a wild Vedic religious rite, this poem goes on:

The morning twilight of the race

Down sends their native psalms

And still with wondering eyes we trace

The simple prayers of Soma’s race

That Vedic verse embalms.


As in that child-world’s early year,

Each after year has striven

By music, incense, vigils drear,

And trance, to bring the stars more near,

Or lift men up to heaven.

Some fever of the blood and brain,

Some self-exalting spell,

The scourger’s keen delight of pain,

The dervish dance, the Orphic strain,

The wild-haired Bacchant’s yell,—

The desert’s half grown hermit, sunk

The saner brute below;

The naked Santon, Hashish-drunk,

The cloister-madness of the monk,

The fakir’s torture show!

And yet the past comes round again,

And new doth old fulfil;

In sensuous transports, wild as vain,

We brew in many a Christian fane

The heathen Soma still.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways;

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like those who heard,

Beside the Syrian sea,

The gracious calling of the Lord,


Let us like them without a word,

Rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest of Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee,

The silence of eternity,

Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all

Our words and works that drown

The tender whisper of thy call,

As noiseless let thy blessing fall

As fell thy manna down.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heat of our desire

Thy coolness and thy balm;

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,

O, still, small voice of calm!

This poem furnishes some illustration to the study of the nature of the Christian hymn. It is a religious poem part of which is quite unhymnal and part of which constitutes one of the supreme hymns of the language. And there is not a shadow of doubt as to the line where the poem ceases to be one kind, 305 and becomes clearly and entirely the other kind, of lyric. With the line,

The heathen Soma still,

a poetical thunder-storm suddenly ceases, and the poem passes into lyric sunshine:

Dear Lord and Father of mankind.

The hymnal part of the poem is treasured in the memory of myriads of people; the other part is nearly forgotten.

There is no reason to say that when Whittier wrote these particular stanzas he had any idea of their being set to music and put into hymn-books. “A good hymn,” he once said, “is the best use to which poetry can be devoted, and I do not claim that I have succeeded in composing one.”

The Friends were not given to hymn-singing. As he says in his poem, “Worship,”

To worship rightly is to love each other,

Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.

But he caught the hymn inspiration here, and though he was very likely not aware of it, the poem at a certain point catches step and marches in the noble company of the world’s great hymns.

He was afraid of narrowness and spite; not of any new revelation that science might give, nor of the old truth that religion might assert. He was severe toward scientific as well as religious bigotry. 306 In “The Quest” he says, “The riddle of the world is understood only by him who feels that God is good as only he can feel who makes his love the ladder of his faith.” In “Our Master,” written in 1863, is the following stanza typical of Whittier, and reflecting something of the times:

Not thine the bigot’s partial plea,

Nor thine the zealot’s ban;

Thou well canst spare a love of thee

That ends in hate of man.

From the stanzas of the poem the hymn-books have made two hymns, “Immortal Love Forever Full” and “We May Not Climb the Heavenly Steep.” His longer poem, “The Eternal Goodness,” 1863, furnishes several splendid hymns to various books. Stanzas from it are:

I walk with bare, hushed feet, the ground

Ye tread with boldness shod;

I dare not fix with mete and bound

The love and power of God.

Yet in the maddening maze of things,

And tossed by storm and flood;

To one fixed hope my spirit clings;

I know that God is good.

I know not where his islands lift

Their fronded palms in air,

I only know I cannot drift

Beyond his love and care.


Bishop Phillips Brooks wrote one of the most beautiful hymns in celebration of Christmas:

O little town of Bethlehem,

How still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by;

Yet in thy dark street shineth

The everlasting Light.

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee to-night.

One of the most spirited of all hymns, a lyric that has something of the militant zeal of the ancient song of Deborah, is Julia Ward Howe’s song of the Civil War:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.

His truth is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;

They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps;

I can read his righteous sentence in the dim and flaring lamps.

His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;

“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal.


Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,

Since God is marching on.”

For its fire of poetic inspiration, its triumphant faith in God and in the future of humanity, and for its vivid beauty, there are few hymns to match it. This hymn is not in the English hymn-books. One reason for the omission is that the original title, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” might imply it to be exclusively an American hymn. Yet some of the best American books omit it. It may be that its martial images seem to them too vivid to be interpreted as of spiritual warfare only.

Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round” was written by John W. Chadwick in 1864. He was a Unitarian minister of Brooklyn, New York:

Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round

Of circling planets singing on their way;

Guide of the nations from the night profound

Into the glory of the perfect day,

Rule in our hearts, that we may ever be

Guided and strengthened and upheld by thee.

We would be one in hatred of all wrong,

One in our love of all things sweet and fair,

One with the joy that breaketh into song,

One with the grief that trembles into prayer,

One in the power that makes thy children free

To follow truth and thus to follow thee.


These lines of peace and good will are especially significant as coming at a time so full of hate and slaughter.

Adelaide Proctor was the author of a number of good hymns; the best is probably the one beginning:

My God, I thank thee, who hast made

The earth so bright,

So full of splendor and of joy,

Beauty and light;

So many glorious things are here

Noble and right.

Adelaide Proctor was a Roman Catholic. She was a musician and poet, the daughter of Barry Cornwall.

A hymn by Elizabeth Clephane stands out clearly both for its devotion and its poetry. The stanza following illustrates the place of nature in hymnal poetry to express and to stir devotion:

Beneath the cross of Jesus

I fain would take my stand,

The shadow of a mighty rock

Within a weary land;

A home within the wilderness,

A rest upon the way,

From the burning of the noontide heat,

And the burden of the day.

A stanza from a hymn by John Ellerton suggests the hope of religion in helping to master the new complexities of life:


Thine is the loom, the forge, the mart,

The wealth of land and sea;

The world of science and of art,

Revealed and ruled by thee.

Mary Lathbury’s simple hymn of two stanzas, “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” is a masterpiece of hymnody. The familiar hymns of Frances R. Havergal and of Mary Ann Thompson are likely to live and do good for a long time.

One must not neglect to mention the Christmas hymn of J. G. Holland, “There’s a Song in the Air,” and the strong hymn of John Hay, “Defend Us, Lord, from Every Ill,” and that of Washington Gladden, “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee.”

Samuel Dryden Phelps (1816-95), a Baptist divine of New Haven, Connecticut, was the author of a hymn of great strength and tenderness, “Saviour, Thy Dying Love.”

Sidney Lanier’s exquisite “Ballad of Trees and the Master” has been included in several of the later hymn-books.

Fanny J. Van Alstyne Crosby (1820-1915) has exerted a tremendous sway through her hymns of sweet and kindly sentiment and of rapt devotion. The wide success of her scores of hymns is due in part to the sentimental appeal of their tunes as well as of their words; it is also in part due to their folk-song clearness and easy rhythmic swing. But it is due in a larger part to their humble piety, as naïve and full of wonders and self-searchings as that of some poetical saint of the early church.


“Work for the Night is Coming” was written by Anna Walker Coghill, who was born in England in 1836; “More Love to Thee, O Christ” was written by Elizabeth Prentiss of Portland, Maine; “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” by William Whiting (1825-78), master of the Winchester Choristers’ School; “I Love to Tell the Story” and “Tell Me the Old, Old Story” are by Katherine Hankey, who was born in 1846. The latter song is a cento from her “Life of Christ” in verse.

The hymns of the last two decades of the nineteenth century are not, so far, numerous in the hymn-book. The following stanzas of a hymn by Arthur C. Ainger seems to be typical of the better hymns of the last years of the century:

From utmost East to utmost West,

Where’er man’s foot has trod,

By the mouth of many messengers

Goes forth the word of God;

Give ear to me, ye continents,

Ye isles, give ear to me;

The earth shall be filled with the glory of God,

As the waters cover the sea.

March we forth in the strength of God,

With the banner of Christ unfurled,

That the light of the glorious gospel of truth

May shine throughout the world:

Fight we the fight with sorrow and sin

To set their captives free,

That the earth may be filled with the glory of God,

As the waters cover the sea.


There is in these lines a hopefulness for better days in the world generally. Their outlook is worldwide; they stress the call of Christianity for justice and harmony in international relations. The people who sing such songs as this are quite abandoned hypocrites if their votes do not begin to register some of the sentiments they sing so lustily. This hymn of Ainger’s is not a plea for narrow ecclesiastical advantage, but rather for a broad enlightenment, justice, and charity.

The hymn of Rudyard Kipling written for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 is representative of the new sort of hymnody. It has taken its place in most of the good hymnals. Such an early and general acceptance shows that it has caught the ear and struck the right chord, at least for the present generation. Whether it will hold a high place with “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” “Lead, Kindly Light,” of course no one can tell. It seems to answer the demands of good hymnody. It moves off in a grand sweeping first line that sounds like Milton, or, in a smaller field, like Watts at his best. Its phrases have a sounding smoothness that gratifies the ear, fills up the voice, and lingers in the memory. Its images are vivid, clear-cut, readily apparent. Its thought moves swiftly and directly forward. And it is alive with the spirit of religion.

Although the hymn is written in the language of modern life, it is full of biblical solemnities of diction and luxuriance of figure. This combination of 313 military and biblical tone is not artificial. The poet’s life, one remembers, is saturated with the spirit of the British army and navy; and, on the other hand, both of his grandfathers were Methodist preachers. For the biblical influence, notice for example the lines:

The tumult and the shouting dies,

The captains and the kings depart.

In Job 36:25 we find this phrase:

The thunder of the captains and the shouting.

It is interesting to notice the same idea and words in Lowell’s “Commemoration Ode”:

Great captains, with their guns and drums,

Disturb our judgment for an hour,

But at last silence comes;

Then all are gone.

The lines,

Beneath whose awful hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine,

as well as these from Emerson’s “Wood Notes,”

And grant to dwellers with the pine

Dominion o’er the palm and vine,

may be reminiscent of the sixth verse of the eighth Psalm:

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things under his feet.


Kipling’s “Recessional” may be based partly on the nineteenth Psalm. Watts’s hymn, a direct paraphrase, begins,

O God, our help in ages past;


God of our fathers, known of old;

the Psalm,

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

Let us compare further the two hymns with another part of the psalm carrying the same idea:

The shouting and the tumult dies,

The captains and the kings depart.

Far-called, our navies melt away;

On dune and headland sinks the fire:

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all her sons away;

They fly forgotten as a dream

Dies at the opening day.

Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep; in the morning they are like grass which groweth 315 up. In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

The hymn-book is of course based on the Bible. It would be an easy but endless task to show the direct and indirect dependence of the hymns upon Scripture texts. Watts’s and Kipling’s hymns are cited as typical.

This recessional hymn would seem to be a major song of the race by yet another test, that of almost universal applicability. It holds, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature—individually and internationally—so as to be startling to those who look intently at it.

Here is a later hymn, published by John Oxenham in 1915:

Lord, God of hosts, whose mighty hand

Dominion holds on sea and land,

In peace and war thy will we see

Shaping the larger liberty.

Nations may rise and nations fall,

Thy changeless purpose rules o’er all.

For those who weak and broken lie

In weariness and agony,

Great healer, in their beds of pain,

Come, touch and make them whole again.

O, hear a people’s prayer and bless

Thy servants in their hour of stress.

For those to whom the call shall come

We pray thy tender welcome home;


The toil, the bitterness all past,

We trust them to thy love at last,

O, hear a people’s prayer for all

Who nobly striving nobly fall!

For those who minister and heal

And spend themselves, their skill, their zeal;

Renew their hearts with Christ-like faith

And guard them from disease and death.

And in thine own good time, Lord, send

Thy peace on earth till time shall end.

This hymn evidently arose in the midst of war. We may place this hymn beside Kipling’s or one of Watts’s or Wesley’s and see a good hymn in comparison with great ones.

The following stanza is from a hymn, “Our Father, Thy Dear Name Doth Show”; it seems to have the modern spirit:

Bring in, we pray, the glorious day,

When battle-cries are stilled;

When bitter strife is swept away,

And hearts with love are filled.

O help us banish pride and wrong

Which, since the world began,

Have marred its peace; help us make strong

The brotherhood of man.

Perhaps the most widely accepted hymn written since the opening of this century is a hymn by the Rev. Frank Mason North. It is a hymnic cry out of the travail and misery of the modern city.


Where cross the crowded ways of life,

Where sound the cries of race and clan,

Above the noise of selfish strife,

We hear thy voice, O Son of man!

In haunts of wretchedness and need,

On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,

From paths where hide the lures of greed,

We catch the vision of thy tears.

From tender childhood’s helplessness,

From woman’s grief, man’s burdened toil,

From famished souls, from sorrow’s stress,

Thy heart has never known recoil.

The cup of water given for thee

Still holds the freshness of thy grace;

Yet long these multitudes to see

The sweet compassion of thy face.

O Master, from the mountain-side,

Make haste to heal these hearts of pain,

Among these restless throngs abide,

O tread the city’s streets again.

Till sons of men shall learn thy love

And follow where thy feet have trod;

Till glorious from thy heaven above

Shall come the city of our God.

There is a growing interest in hymn-singing and in the hymn itself as poetry. There are still tawdry hymns with silly music printed by the car-load and taught to children who will grow up rather 318 ashamed that they know them. But the good hymns of faith still go on. There are doubtless hymns of integrity and power being written now. Glancing through the indexes of authors in recent hymn-books, one finds such names as Canon Ainger, Felix Adler, the Duke of Argyll, Robert Bridges, G. K. Chesterton, Henry Sloane Coffin, Havelock Ellis, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Van Dyke, and Israel Zangwill. From the hymns written to-day, there may be gathered some lasting world-hymns.

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