"COME HITHER ALL YE WEARY SOULS,"
Sung to "Federal St.," is one of the older soul-winning calls from the great hymn-treasury of Dr. Watts; and another note of the same sacred bard, --
Life is the time to serve the Lord,
-- is always coupled with the venerable tune of "Wells." Aged Christians are still remembered who were wont to repeat or sing with quavering voices the second stanza, --
The living know that they must die,
And likewise from the fourth stanza, --
There are no acts of pardon passed
[Footnote 44: One of Israel Holroyd's tunes. He was born in England, about 1690, and was both a composer and publisher of psalmody. His chief collection is dated 1746.]
"AND WILL THE JUDGE DESCEND?"
Is one of Doddridge's monitory hymns, once sung to J.C. Woodman's tune of "State St." with the voice of both the Old and New Testaments in the last verse:
Ye sinners, seek His grace
Jonathan Call Woodman was born in Newburyport, Mass., July 12, 1813, and was a teacher, composer, and compiler. Was organist of St. George's Chapel, in Flushing, L.I., and in 1858 published The Musical Casket. Died January, 1894. He wrote "State St." for William B. Bradbury, in August, 1844.
"HASTEN SINNER, TO BE WISE"
Is one of the few unforgotten hymns of Thomas Scott, every second line repeating the solemn caution, --
Stay not for tomorrow's sun,
-- and every line enforcing its exhortation with a new word, "To be wise," "to implore," "to return," and "to be blest" were natural cumulatives that summoned and wooed the sinner careless and astray. It is a finished piece of work, but it owes its longevity less to its structural form than to its spirit. For generations it has been sung to "Pleyel's Hymn."
The Rev. Thomas Scott (not Rev. Thomas Scott the Commentator) was born in Norwich, Eng., in 1705, and died at Hupton, in Norfolk, 1776. He was a Dissenting minister, pastor for twenty-one years -- until disabled by feeble health -- at Lowestoft in Suffolk. He was the author of --
Angels roll the rock away.
"MUST JESUS BEAR THE CROSS ALONE?"
This emotional and appealing hymn still holds its own in the hearts of millions, though probably two hundred years old. It was written by a clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. Thomas Shepherd, Vicar of Tilbrook, born in 1665. Joining the Nonconformists in 1694, he settled first in Castle Hill, Nottingham, and afterward in Bocking, Essex, where he remained until his death, January, 1739. He published a selection of his sermons, and Penitential Cries, a book of sacred lyrics, some of which still appear in collections.
The startling question in the above line is answered with emphasis in the third of the stanza, --
No! There's a cross for every one,
-- and this is followed by the song of resolve and triumph, --
The consecrated cross I'll bear,
* * * * *
O precious cross! O glorious crown!
The hymn is a personal New Testament. No one who analyzes it and feels its Christian vitality will wonder why it has lived so long.
For half a century George N. Allen, composer of "Maitland," the music inseparable from the hymn, was credited with the authorship of the words also, but his vocal aid to the heart-stirring poem earned him sufficient praise. The tune did not meet the hymn till the latter was so old that the real author was mostly forgotten, for Allen wrote the music in 1849; but if the fine stanzas needed any renewing it was his tune that made them new. Since it was published nobody has wanted another.
George Nelson Allen was born in Mansfield, Mass., Sept.7, 1812, and lived at Oberlin, O. It was there that he composed "Maitland," and compiled the Social and Sabbath Hymn-book -- besides songs for the Western Bell, published by Oliver Ditson and Co. He died in Cincinnati, Dec.9, 1877.
"AWAKE MY SOUL, STRETCH EVERY NERVE!"
This most popular of Dr. Doddridge's hymns is also the richest one of all in lyrical and spiritual life. It is a stadium song that sounds the starting-note for every young Christian at the outset of his career, and the slogan for every faint Christian on the way.
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
Like the "Coronation" hymn, it transports the devout singer till he feels only the momentum of the words and forgets whether it is common or hallelujah metre that carries him along.
A cloud of witnesses around
'Tis God's all-animating voice
In all persuasive hymnology there is no more kindling lyric that this. As a field-hymn it is indispensable.
Whenever and by whomsoever the brave processional known as "Christmas" was picked from among the great Handel's Songs and mated with Doddridge's lines, the act gave both hymn and tune new reason to endure, and all posterity rejoices in the blend. Old "Christmas" was originally one of the melodies in the great Composer's Opera of "Ciroe" (Cyrus) 1738. It was written to Latin words (Non vi piacque) and afterwards adapted to an English versification of Job 29:15, "I was eyes to the blind."
Handel himself became blind at the age of sixty eight (1753).
"THERE IS A GREEN HILL FAR AWAY."
Written in 1848 by Miss Cecil Frances Humphreys, an Irish lady, daughter of Major John Humphreys of Dublin. She was born in that city in 1823. Her best known name is Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander, her husband being the Rt. Rev. William Alexander, Bishop of Derry. Among her works are Hymns for Little Children, Narrative Hymns, Hymns Descriptive and Devotional, and Moral Songs. Died 1895.
"There is a green hill" is poetic license, but the hymn is sweet and sympathetic, and almost childlike in its simplicity.
There is a green hill far away
We may not know, we cannot tell
[Illustration: George Frederick Handel]
There is no room here to describe them all. Airs and chorals by Berthold Tours, Pinsuti, John Henry Cornell, Richard Storrs Willis, George C. Stebbins and Hubert P. Main have been adapted to the words -- one or two evidently composed for them. It is a hymn that attracts tune-makers -- literally so commonplace and yet so quiet and tender, with such a theme and such natural melody of line -- but most of the scores indicated are choir music rather than congregational. Mr. Stebbins' composition comes nearest to being the favorite, if one judges by the extent and frequency of its use. It can be either partly or wholly choral; and the third stanza makes the refrain --
O dearly, dearly has He loved
"REJOICE AND BE GLAD!"
This musical shout of joy, written by Dr. Horatius Bonar, scarcely needs a new song helper, as did Bishop Heber's famous hymn -- not because it is better than Heber's but because It was wedded at once to a tune worthy of it.
Rejoice and be glad! for our King is on high;
The hymn was composed in 1874.
The author of the "English Melody" (as ascribed in Gospel Hymns) is said to have been John Jenkins Husband, born in Plymouth, Eng., about 1760. He was clerk at Surrey Chapel and composed several anthems. Came to the United States In 1809. Settled in Philadelphia, where he taught music and was clerk of St. Paul's P.E. Church. Died there in 1825.
His tune, exactly suited to the hymn, is a true Christian paean. It has few equals as a rouser to a sluggish prayer-meeting -- whether sung to Bonar's words or those of Rev. William Paton Mackay (1866) --
We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy love,
-- with the refrain of similar spirit in both hymns --
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen,
-- or, --
Sound His praises! tell the story of Him who was slain! Sound His praises! tell with gladness, "He liveth again."
Husband's tune is supposed to have been written very early in the last century. Another tune composed by him near the same date to the words --
"We are on our journey home
-- is equally musical and animating, and with a vocal range that brings out the full strength of choir and congregation.
"COME, SINNER, COME."
A singular case of the same tune originating in the brain of both author and composer is presented in the history of this hymn of Rev. William Ellsworth Witter, D.D., born in La Grange, N.Y., Dec.9, 1854. He wrote the hymn in the autumn of 1878, while teaching a district school near his home. The first line --
While Jesus whispers to you,
-- came to him during a brief turn of outdoor work by the roadside and presently grew to twenty-four lines. Soon after, Prof. Horatio Palmer, knowing Witter to be a verse writer, invited him to contribute a hymn to a book he had in preparation, and this hymn was sent. Dr. Palmer set it to music, it soon entered into several collections, and Mr. Sankey sang it in England at the Moody meetings.
Dr. Witter gives this curious testimony,
"While I cannot sing myself, though very fond of music, the hymn sang itself to me by the roadside in almost the exact tune given to it by Professor Palmer." Which proves that Professor Palmer had the feeling of the hymn -- and that the maker of a true hymn has at least a sub-consciousness of its right tune, though he may be neither a musician nor a poet.
While Jesus whispers to you,
"ONE MORE DAY'S WORK FOR JESUS."
The writer of this hymn was Miss Anna Warner, one of the well-known "Wetherell Sisters," joint authors of The Wide World, Queechy, and a numerous succession of healthful romances very popular in the middle and later years of the last century. Her own pen name is "Amy Lothrop," under which she has published many religious poems, hymns and other varieties of literary work. She was born in 1820, at Martlaer, West Point, N.Y., where she still resides.
One more day's work for Jesus,
The hymn has five stanzas all expressing the gentle fervor of an active piety loving service:
was composed by the Rev. Robert Lowry, and first published in Bright Jewels.
THE GOSPEL HYMNS.
These popular religious songs have been criticised as "degenerate psalmody" but those who so style them do not seem to consider the need that made them.
The great majority of mankind can only be reached by missionary methods, and in these art and culture do not play a conspicuous part. The multitude could be supplied with technical preaching and technical music for their religious wants, but they would not rise to the bait, whereas nothing so soon kindles their better emotions or so surely appeals to their better nature as even the humblest sympathetic hymn sung to a simple and stirring tune. If the music is unclassical and the hymn crude there is no critical audience to be offended.
The artless, almost colloquial, words "of a happily rhymed camp-meeting lyric and the wood-notes wild" of a new melody meet a situation. Moral and spiritual lapse makes it necessary at times for religion to put on again her primitive raiment, and be "a voice crying in the wilderness."
Between the slums and the boulevards live the masses that shape the generations, and make the state. They are wage-earners who never hear the great composers nor have time to form fine musical and literary tastes. The spiritual influences that really reach them are of a very direct and simple kind; and for the good of the church -- and the nation -- it is important that at least this elementary education in the school of Christ should be supplied them.
It is the popular hymn tunes that speed a reformation. So say history and experience. Once in two hundred years a great revival movement may produce a Charles Wesley, but the humbler singers carry the divine fire that quickens religious life in the years between.
All this is not saying that the gospel hymns, as a whole, are or ever professed to be suitable for the stated service of the sanctuary. Their very style and movement show exactly what they were made for -- to win the hearing of the multitude, and put the music of God's praise and Jesus' love into the mouths and hearts of thousands who had been strangers to both. They are the modern lay songs that go with the modern lay sermons. They give voice to the spirit and sentiment of the conference, prayer and inquiry meetings, the Epworth League and Christian Endeavor meetings, the temperance and other reform meetings, and of the mass-meetings in the cities or the seaside camps.
During their evangelistic mission in England and Scotland in 1873, Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey used the hymnbook of Philip Phillips, a compilation entitled Hallowed Songs, some of them his own. To these Mr. Sankey added others of his own composing from time to time which were so enthusiastically received that he published them in a pamphlet. This, with the simultaneous publication in America of the revival melodies of Philip P. Bliss, was the beginning of that series of popular hymn-and-tune books, which finally numbered six volumes. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos combined with Bliss's Gospel Songs were the foundation of the Gospel Hymns.
Subjectively their utterances are indicative of ardent piety and unquestioning faith, and on the other hand their direct and intimate appeal and dramatic address are calculated to affect a throng as if each individual in it was the person meant by the words. The refrain or chorus feature is notable in nearly all.
A selection of between thirty and forty of the most characteristic is here given.
"HALLELUJAH! 'TIS DONE."
This is named from its chorus. The song is one of the spontaneous thanksgivings in revival meetings that break out at the announcement of a new conversion.
'Tis the promise of God full salvation to give
Though the pathway be lonely and dangerous too,
The words and music are both by P.P. Bliss.
THE NINETY AND NINE.
The hymn was written by Mrs. Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane at Melrose, Scotland, early in 1868. She was born in Edinburgh, June 10, 1830, and died of consumption, Feb.19, 1869. The little poem was seen by Mr. Sankey in the Christian Age, and thinking it might be useful, he cut it out. At an impressive moment in one of the great meetings in Edinburgh, Mr. Moody said to him in a quiet aside, "Sing something." Precisely what was wanted for the hour and theme, and for the thought in the general mind, was in Mr. Sankey's vest pocket. But how could it be sung without a tune? With a silent prayer for help, the musician took out the slip containing Mrs. Clephane's poem, laid it on the little reed-organ and began playing, and singing. He had to read the unfamiliar words and at the same time make up the music. The tune came -- and grew as he went along till he finished the first verse. He remembered it well enough to repeat it with the second, and after that it was easy to finish the hymn. A new melody was born -- in the presence of more than a thousand pairs of eyes and ears. It was a feat of invention, of memory, of concentration -- and such was the elocution of the trained soloist that not a word was lost. He had a tearful audience at the close to reward him; but we can easily credit his testimony,
"It was the most intense moment of my life."
In a touching interview afterwards, a sister of Mrs. Clephane told Mr. Sankey the authoress had not lived to see her hymn in print and to know of its blessed mission.
The first six lines give the situation of the lost sheep in the parable of that name --
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
And, after describing the Shepherd's arduous search, the joy at his return is sketched and spiritualized in the concluding stanza --
But all through the mountains, thunder-riven,
"HOLD THE FORT!"
This is named also from its chorus. The historic foundation of the hymn was the flag-signal waved to Gen. G.M. Corse by Gen. Sherman's order from Kenesaw Mountain to Altoona during the "March through Georgia," in October, 1863. The flag is still in the possession of A.D. Frankenberry, one of the Federal Signal-Corps whose message to the besieged General said, "Hold the fort! We are coming!" A visit to the scene of the incident inspired P.P. Bliss to write both the words and the music.
Ho! my comrades, see the signal
The popularity of the song (it has been translated into several languages), made it the author's chief memento in many localities. On his monument in Rome, Pennsylvania, is inscribed "P.P. Bliss -- author of 'Hold the Fort.'"
"RESCUE THE PERISHING."
Few hymns, ancient or modern, have been more useful, or more variously used, than this little sermon in song from Luke 14:23, by the blind poet, Fanny J. Crosby, (Mrs. Van Alstyne). It is sung not only in the church prayer-meetings with its spiritual meaning and application, but in Salvation Army camps and marches, in mission-school devotions, in social settlement services, in King's Daughters and Sons of Temperance Meetings, and in the rallies of every reform organization that seeks the lost and fallen.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
* * * * *
Down in the human heart crushed by the Tempter,
The tune is by W.H. Doane, Mus.D., composed in 1870.
"WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS."
The author was a pious gentleman of Dublin, Ireland, who came to Canada when he was twenty-five. His name was Joseph Scriven, born in Dublin, 1820, and graduated at Trinity College. The accidental death by drowning of his intended bride on the eve of their wedding day, led him to consecrate his life and fortune to the service of Christ. He died in Canada, Oct.10, 1886, (Sankey's Story of the Gospel Hymns, pp.245-6.)
The music was composed by Charles Crozat Converse, LL.D., musician, lawyer, and writer. He was born in Warren, Mass., 1832; a descendant of Edward Converse, the friend of Gov. Winthrop and founder of Woburn, Mass. He pursued musical and other studies in Leipsic and Berlin. His compositions are numerous including concert overtures, symphonies and many sacred and secular pieces. Residence at Highwood, Bergen Co., N.J.
The hymn is one of the most helpful of the Gospel Collections, and the words and music have strengthened many a weak and failing soul to "try again."
Have we trials and temptations?
"I HEAR THE SAVIOUR SAY."
This is classed with the Gospel Hymns, but it was a much-used and much-loved revival hymn -- especially in the Methodist churches -- several years before Mr. Moody's great evangelical movement. It was written by Mrs. Elvina M. Hall (since Mrs. Myers) who was born in Alexandria, Va., in 1818. She composed it in the spring of 1865, while sitting in the choir of the M.E. Church, Baltimore, and the first draft was pencilled on a fly-leaf of a singing book, The New Lute of Zion.
I hear the Saviour say,
The music of the chorus helped to fix its words in the common mind, and some idea of the Atonement acceptable, apparently, to both Arminians and Calvinists; for Sunday-school children in the families of both, hummed the tune or sang the refrain when alone --
Jesus paid it all,
John Thomas Grape, who wrote the music, was born in Baltimore, Md., May 6, 1833. His modest estimate of his work appears in his remark that he "dabbled" in music for his own amusement. Few composers have amused themselves with better results.
"TELL ME THE OLD, OLD STORY."
Miss Kate Hankey, born about 1846, the daughter of an English banker, is the author of this very devout and tender Christian poem, written apparently in the eighteen-sixties. At least it is said that her little volume, Heart to Heart, was published in 1865 or 1866, and this volume contains "Tell me the Old, Old Story," and its answer.
We have been told that Miss Hankey was recovering from a serious illness, and employed her days of convalescence in composing this song of devotion, beginning it in January and finishing it in the following November.
The poem is very long -- a thesaurus of evangelical thoughts, attitudes, and moods of faith -- and also a magazine of hymns. Four quatrains of it, or two eight-line stanzas, are the usual length of a hymnal selection, and editors can pick and choose anywhere among its expressive verses.
Tell me the old, old story
Tell me the story simply
* * * * *
Tell me the story simply
Dr. W.H. Doane was present at the International Conference of the Y.M.C.A. at Montreal in 1867, and heard the poem read -- with tears and in a broken voice -- by the veteran Major-General Russell. It impressed him so much that he borrowed and copied it, and subsequently set it to music during a vacation in the White Mountains.
The poem of fifty stanzas was entitled "The Story Wanted;" the sequel or answer to it, by Miss Hankey, was named "The Story Told." This second hymn, of the same metre but different accent, was supplied with a tune by William Gustavus Fischer.
I love to tell the story
* * * * *
I love to tell the story
William Gustavus Fischer was born in Baltimore, Md., Oct.14, 1835. He was a piano-dealer in the firm (formerly) of Gould and Fischer. His melody to the above hymn was written in 1869, and was harmonized the next year by Hubert P. Main.
THE PRODIGAL CHILD.
This is not only an impressive hymn as sung in sympathetic music, but a touching poem.
Come home! come home!
Come home! Come home!
The author is Mrs. Ellen M.H. Gates, known to the English speaking world by her famous poem, "Your Mission."
To "The Prodigal Child" was composed by Dr. Doane in 1869 and no hymn ever had a fitter singing ally. All a mother's yearning is in the refrain and cadence.
Come home! Oh, come home!
"LET THE LOWER LIGHTS BE BURNING!"
An illustration, recited in Mr. Moody's graphic fashion in one of his discourses, suggested this hymn to P.P. Bliss.
"A stormy night on Lake Erie, and the sky pitch dark."
'Pilot, are you sure this is Cleveland? There's only one light.'
'Quite sure, Cap'n.'
'Where are the lower lights?'
'Gone out, sir.'
'Can you run in?'
'We've got to, Cap'n -- or die.'
"The brave old pilot did his best, but, alas, he missed the channel. The boat was wrecked, with a loss of many lives. The lower lights had gone out.
"Brethren, the Master will take care of the great Lighthouse. It is our work to keep the lower lights burning!"
Brightly beams our Father's mercy
Both words and music -- composed in 1871 -- are by Mr. Bliss. There are wakening chords in the tune -- and especially the chorus -- when the counterpoint is well vocalized; and the effect is more pronounced the greater the symphony of voices. Congregations find a zest in every note. "Hold the Fort" can be sung in the street. "Let the Lower Lights be Burning" is at home between echoing walls.
The use of the song in "Bethel" meetings classes it with sailors' hymns.
"SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER."
Included with the Gospel Hymns, but of older date. Rev. William W. Walford, a blind English minister, was the author, and it was probably written about the year 1842. It was recited to Rev. Thomas Salmon, Congregational pastor at Coleshill, Eng., who took it down and brought it to New York, where it was published in the New York Observer.
Little is known of Mr. Walford save that in his blindness, besides preaching occasionally, he employed his mechanical skill in making small useful articles of bone and ivory.
The tune was composed by W.B. Bradbury in 1859, and first appeared with the hymn in Cottage Melodies.
Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
"O BLISS OF THE PURIFIED! BLISS OF THE FREE!"
Rev. Francis Bottome, D.D., born in Belper, Derbyshire, Eng., May 26, 1823, removed to the United States in 1850, and entered the Methodist ministry. A man of sterling character and exemplary piety. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. Was assistant compiler of several singing books, and wrote original hymns. The above, entitled "O sing of His mighty love" was composed by him in 1869. The last stanza reads, --
O Jesus the Crucified! Thee will I sing,
Dr. Bottome returned to England, and died at Tavistock June 29, 1894.
Bradbury's "Songs of the Beautiful" (in Fresh Laurels). The hymn was set to this chorus in 1871.
"WHAT SHALL THE HARVEST BE?"
Very popular in England. Mr. Sankey in his Story of the Gospel Hymns relates at length the experience of Rev. W.O. Lattimore, pastor of a large church in Evanston, Ill., who was saved to Christian manhood and usefulness by this hymn. It has suffered some alterations, but its original composition was Mrs. Emily Oakey's work. The Parables of the Sower and of the Tares may have been in her mind when she wrote the lines in 1850, but more probably it was the text in Gal.6:7 --
Sowing the seed by the daylight fair,
Lattimore, the man whose history was so strangely linked with this hymn, entered the army in 1861, a youth of eighteen with no vices, but when promoted to first lieutenant he learned to drink in the officers' mess. The habit so contracted grew upon him till when the war was over, though he married and tried to lead a sober life, he fell a victim to his appetite, and became a physical wreck. One day in the winter of 1876 he found himself in a half-drunken condition, in the gallery of Moody's Tabernacle, Chicago. Discovering presently that he had made a mistake, he rose to go out, but Mr. Sankey's voice chained him. He sat down and heard the whole of the thrilling hymn from beginning to end. Then he stumbled out with the words ringing in his ears.
Sowing the seed of a lingering pain,
In the saloon, where he went to drown the awakenings of remorse, those words stood in blazing letters on every bottle and glass. The voice of God in that terrible song of conviction forced him back to the Tabernacle, with his drink untasted. He went into the inquiry meeting where he found friends, and was led to Christ. His wife and child, from whom he had long been exiled, were sent for and work was found for him to do. A natural eloquence made him an attractive and efficient helper in the meetings, and he was finally persuaded to study for the ministry. His faithful pastorate of twenty years in Evanston ended with his death in 1899.
Mrs. Emily Sullivan Oakey was an author and linguist by profession, and though in her life of nearly fifty-four years she "never enjoyed a day of good health," she earned a grateful memory. Born in Albany, N.Y., Oct.8, 1829, she was educated at the Albany Female Academy, and fitted herself for the position of teacher of languages and English literature in the same school, which she honored by her service while she lived. Her contributions to the daily press and to magazine literature were numerous, but she is best known by her remarkable hymn. Her death occurred on the 11th of May, 1883.
By P.P. Bliss, is one of that composer's tonal successes. The march of the verses with their recurrent words is so automatic that it would inevitably suggest to him the solo and its organ-chords; and the chorus with its sustained soprano note dominating the running concert adds the last emphasis to the solemn repetition. The song with its warning cry owes no little of its power to this choral appendix --
Gathered in time or eternity,
"O THINK OF THE HOME OVER THERE."
A hymn of Rev. D.W.C. Huntington, suggested by Ps.55:6. It was a favorite from the first.
Rev. DeWitt Clinton Huntington was born at Townshend, Vt., Apr.27, 1830. He graduated at the Syracuse University, and received the degrees of D.D. and LL.D. from Genesee College. Preacher, instructor and author -- Removed to Lincoln, Nebraska.
O think of the home over there,
O think of the friends over there,
The melody was composed by Tullius Clinton O'Kane, born in Delaware, O., March 10, 1830, a hymnist and musician. It is a flowing tune, with sweet chords, and something of the fugue feature in the chorus as an accessory. The voices of a multitude in full concord make a building tremble with it.
"WHEN JESUS COMES."
Down life's dark vale we wander
Both words and music are by Mr. Bliss. A relative of his family, J.S. Ellsworth, says the song was written in Peoria, Illinois, in 1872, and was suggested by a conversation on the second coming of Christ, a subject very near his heart. The thought lingered in his mind, and as he came down from his room, soon after, the verses and notes came to him simultaneously on the stairs. Singing them over, he seized pencil and paper, and in a few minutes fixed hymn and tune in the familiar harmony so well known.
No more heart-pangs nor sadness
The choral abounds in repetition, and is half refrain, but among all Gospel Hymns remarkable for their tone-delivery this is unsurpassed in the swing of its rhythm.
All joy his loved ones bringing
"TO THE WORK, TO THE WORK."
One of Fanny Crosby's most animating hymns -- with Dr. W.H. Doane's full part harmony to re-enforce its musical accent. Mr. Sankey says, "I sang it for the first time in the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Cornell at Long Branch. The servants gathered from all parts of the house while I was singing, and looked into the parlor where I was seated. When I was through one of them said, 'That is the finest hymn I have heard for a long time,' I felt that this was a test case, and if the hymn had such power over those servants it would be useful in reaching other people as well; so I published it in the Gospel Hymns in 1875, where it became one of the best work-songs for our meetings that we had." (Story of the Gospel Hymns.)
The hymn, written in 1870, was first published in 1871 in "Pure Gold" -- a book that had a sale of one million two hundred thousand copies.
To the work! to the work! there is labor for all,
"O WHERE ARE THE REAPERS?"
Matt.13:30 is the text of this lyric from the pen of Eben E. Rexford.
Go out in the by-ways, and search them all,
Hymn and tune are alike. The melody and harmony by Dr. George F. Root have all the eager trip and tread of so many of the gospel hymns, and of so much of his music, and the lines respond at every step. Any other composer could not have escaped the compulsion of the final spondees, and much less the author of "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp," and all the best martial song-tunes of the great war. In this case neither words nor notes can say to the other, "We have piped unto you and ye have not danced," but a little caution will guard too enthusiastic singing against falling into the drum-rhythm, and travestying a sacred piece.
Eben Eugene Rexford was born in Johnsburg, N.Y., July 16, 1841, and has been a writer since he was fourteen years old. He is the author of several popular songs, as "Silver Threads Among the Gold," "Only a Pansy Blossom" etc., and many essays and treatises on flowers, of which he is passionately fond.
"IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL."
Horatio Gates Spafford, the writer of this hymn, was a lawyer, a native of New York state, born Oct.30, 1828. While connected with an institution in Chicago, as professor of medical jurisprudence, he lost a great part of his fortune by the great fire in that city. This disaster was followed by the loss of his children on the steamer, Ville de Havre, Nov.22, 1873. He seems to have been a devout Christian, for he wrote his hymn of submissive faith towards the end of the same year --
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
A friend of Spafford who knew his history read this hymn while repining under an inferior affliction of his own. "If he can feel like that after suffering what he has suffered," he said, "I will cease my complaints."
It may not have been the weight of Mr. Spafford's sorrows wearing him down, but one would infer some mental disturbance in the man seven or eight years later. "In 1881" [writes Mr. Hubert P. Main] "he went to Jerusalem under the hallucination that he was a second Messiah -- and died there on the seventh anniversary of his landing in Palestine, Sept.5, 1888." The aberrations of an over-wrought mind are beckonings to God's compassion. When reason wanders He takes the soul of His helpless child into his own keeping -- and "it is well."
The tune to Spafford's hymn is by P.P. Bliss; a gentle, gliding melody that suits the mood of the words.
"WAITING AND WATCHING FOR ME."
Written by Mrs. Marianne Farningham Hearn, born in Kent, Eng., Dec.17, 1834. The hymn was first published in the fall of 1864 in the London Church World. Its unrhythmical first line --
When mysterious whispers are floating about,
-- was replaced by the one now familiar --
When my final farewell to the world I have said,
Mrs. Hearn -- a member of the Baptist denomination -- has long been the editor of the (English) Sunday School Times, but her literary work has been more largely in connection with the Christian World newspaper of which she has been a staff-member since its foundation.
The long lines, not easily manageable for congregational singing, are wisely set by Mr. Bliss to duet music. There is a weighty thought in the hymn for every Christian, and experience has shown that a pair of good singers can make it very affecting, but the only use of the repeat, by way of a chorus, seems to be to give the miscellaneous voices a brief chance to sing.
"HE WILL HIDE ME."
Miss Mary Elizabeth Servoss, the author of this trustful hymn, was born in Schenectady, N.Y., Aug.22, 1849. When a very young girl her admiration of Fanny Crosby's writings, and the great and good service they were doing in the world, inspired her with a longing to resemble her. Though her burden was as real, it was not like the other's, and her opportunities for religious meditation and literary work were fewer than those of the elder lady, but the limited number of hymns she has written have much of the spirit and beauty of their model.
Providence decreed for her a life of domestic care and patient waiting. For eighteen years she was the constant attendant of a disabled grandmother, and long afterwards love and duty made her the home nurse during her mother's protracted illness and the last sickness of her father, until both parents passed away.
From her present home in Edeson, Ill., some utterances of her chastened spirit have found their way to the public, and been a gospel of blessing. Besides "He Will Hide Me" other hymns of Miss Servoss are "Portals of Light," "He Careth," "Patiently Enduring," and "Gates of Praise," the last being the best known.
When the storms of life are raging.
* * * * *
So while here the cross I'm bearing,
An animating choral in nine-eight tempo, with a swinging movement and fugue chorus, is rather florid for the hymn, but undeniably musical. Mr. James McGranahan was the composer. He was born in Adamsville, Pa., July 4, 1840. His education was acquired mostly at the public schools, and both in general knowledge and in musical accomplishments it may be said of him that he is "self-made."
Music was born in him, and at the age of nineteen, with some valuable help from men like Bassini, Webb, Root and Zerrahn, he had studied to so good purpose that he taught music classes himself. This talent, joined to the gift of a very sweet tenor voice, made him the natural successor of the lamented Bliss, and, with Major D.W. Whittle, he entered on a career of gospel work, making between 1881 and 1885 two successful tours of England, Scotland and Ireland, and through the chief American cities.
Among his publications are the Male Chorus Book, Songs of the Gospel and the Gospel Male Choir.
Resides at Kinsman, O.
"REVIVE THY WORK, O LORD."
The supposed date of the hymn is 1860; the author, Albert Midlane. He was born at Newport on the Isle of Wight, Jan.23, 1825 a business man, but, being a Sunday-school teacher, he was prompted to write verses for children. The habit grew upon him till he became a frequent and acceptable hymn-writer, both for juvenile and for general use. English collections have at least three hundred credited to him.
Revive Thy work, O Lord,
Music and words together make a song-litany alive with all the old psalm-tune unction and the new vigor; and both were upon Mr. McGranahan when he wrote the choral. It is one of his successes.
Revive thy work, O Lord,
"WHERE IS MY WANDERING BOY TO-NIGHT?"
This remarkable composition -- words and music by Rev. Robert Lowry -- has a record among sacred songs like that of "The Prodigal Son" among parables.
A widowed lady of culture, about forty years of age, who was an accomplished vocalist, had ceased to sing, though her sweet voice was still in its prime. The cause was her sorrow for her runaway boy. She had not heard from him for five years. While spending a week with friends in a city distant from home, her hidden talent was betrayed by the friends to the pastor of their church, where a revival was in progress, and persuasion that seemed to put a duty upon her finally procured her consent to sing a solo.
The church was crowded. With a force and feeling that can easily be guessed she sang "Where Is My Boy Tonight?" and finished the first stanza. She began the second, --
Once he was pure as morning dew,
-- and as the congregation caught up the refrain, --
O where is my boy tonight?
-- a young man who had been sitting in a back seat made his way up the aisle and sobbed, "Mother, I'm here!" The embrace of that mother and her long-lost boy turned the service into a general hallelujah. At the inquiry meeting that night there were many souls at the Mercy Seat who never knelt there before -- and the young wanderer was one.
[Illustration: Philip Doddridge, D.D.]
Mr. Sankey, when in California with Mr. Moody, sang this hymn in one of the meetings and told the story of a mother in the far east who had commissioned him to search for her missing son. By a happy providence the son was in the house -- and the story and the song sent him home repentant.
At another time Mr. Sankey sang the same hymn from the steps of a snow-bound train, and a man between whose father and himself had been trouble and a separation, was touched, and returned to be reconciled after an absence of twenty years.
At one evening service in Stanberry, Mo., the singing of the hymn by the leader of the choir led to the conversion of one boy who was present, and whose parents were that night praying for him in an eastern state, and inspired such earnest prayer in the hearts of two other runaway boys' parents that the same answer followed.
There would not be room in a dozen pages to record all the similar saving incidents connected with the singing of "Where Is My Wandering Boy?" The rhetoric of love is strong in every note and syllable of the solo, and the tender chorus of voices swells the song to heaven like an antiphonal prayer.
Strange to say, Dr. Lowry set lightly by his hymns and tunes, and deprecated much mention of them though he could not deny their success. An active Christian since seventeen years of age, through his early pulpit service, his six years' professorship, and the long pastorate in Plainfield, N.J., closed by his death, he considered preaching to be his supreme function as it certainly was his first love. Music was to him "a side-issue," an "efflorescence," and writing a hymn ranked far below making and delivering a sermon. "I felt a sort of meanness when I began to be known as a composer," he said. And yet he was the author of a hymn and tune which "has done more to bring back wandering boys than any other" ever written.
[Footnote 45: "Where Is My Boy Tonight" was composed for a book of temperance hymns, The Fountain of Song, 1877.]
This is the title and refrain of both Mrs. Ellen M.H. Gates' impressive poem and its tune.
O the clanging bells of Time!
Skill was needed to vocalize this great word, but the ear of Mr. Bliss for musical prosody did not fail to make it effective. After the beautiful harmony through the seven lines, the choral reverently softens under the rallentando of the closing bars, and dwelling on the awe-inspiring syllables, solemnly dies away.
TRIUMPH BY AND BY.
This rally-song of the Christian arena is wonderfully stirring, especially in great meetings, for it sings best in full choral volume.
The prize is set before us,
We'll follow where He leadeth,
CHORUS -- By and by, etc.
Dr. Christopher Ruby Blackall, the author of the hymn, was born in Albany, N.Y., Sept.18, 1830. He was a surgeon in the Civil War, and in medical practice fifteen years, but afterwards became connected with the American Baptist Publication Society as manager of one of its branches. He has written several Sunday-school songs set to music by W.H. Doane.
By Horatio R. Palmer is exactly what the hymn demands. The range scarcely exceeds an octave, but with the words "From on high," the stroke of the soprano on upper D carries the feeling to unseen summits, and verifies the title of the song. From that note, through melody and chorus the "Triumph by and by" rings clear.
"NOT HALF HAS EVER BEEN TOLD"
This is emotional, but every word and note is uplifting, and creates the mood for religious impressions. The writer, Rev. John Bush Atchison, was born at Wilson, N.Y., Feb.18, 1840, and died July 15, 1882.
I have read of a beautiful city
The chorus (twice sung) --
Not half has been told,
-- concludes with repeat of the two last lines of this first stanza.
Mr. Atchison was a Methodist clergyman who composed several good hymns. "Behold the Stone is Rolled Away," "O Crown of Rejoicing," and "Fully Persuaded," indicate samples of his work more or less well-known. "Not Half Has Ever Been Told" was written in 1875.
Dr. Otis F. Presbry, the composer, was a young farmer of York, Livingston Co., N.Y., born there the 20th of December, 1820. Choice of a professional life led him to Berkshire Medical College, where he graduated in 1847. In after years his natural love of musical studies induced him to give his time to compiling and publishing religious tunes, with hymns more especially for Sunday-schools.
He became a composer and wrote the melody to Atchison's words in 1877, which was arranged by a blind musician of Washington, D.C., J.W. Bischoff by name, with whom he had formed a partnership. The solo is long -- would better, perhaps, have been four-line instead of eight -- but well sung, it is a flight of melody that holds an assembly, and touches hearts.
Dr. Presbry's best known book was Gospel Bells (1883), the joint production of himself, Bischoff, and Rev. J.E. Rankin. He died Aug.20, 1901.
One of the most characteristic (both words and music) of the Gospel Hymns -- "Mrs. James Gibson Johnson" is the name attached to it as its author, though we have been unable to trace and verify her claim.
O, word of words the sweetest,
Composed by James McGranahan, delivers the whole stanza in soprano or tenor solo, when the alto, joining the treble, leads off the refrain in duet, the male voices striking alternate notes until the full harmony in the last three bars. The style and movement of the chorus are somewhat suggestive of a popular glee, but the music of the duet is flexible and sweet, and the bass and tenor progress with it not in the ride-and-tie-fashion but marking time with the title-syllable.
The contrast between the spiritual and the intellectual effect of the hymn and its wakeful tune is illustrated by a case in Baltimore. While Moody and Sankey were doing their gospel work in that city, a man, who, it seems, had brought a copy of the Gospel Hymns, walked out of one of the meetings after hearing this hymn-tune, and on reaching home, tore out the leaves that contained the song and threw them into the fire, saying he had "never heard such twaddle" in all his life.
The sequel showed that he had been too hasty. The hymn would not leave him. After hearing it night and day in his mind till he began to realize what it meant, he went to Mr. Moody and told him he was "a vile sinner" and wanted to know how he could "come" to Christ. The divine invitation was explained, and the convicted man underwent a vital change. His converted opinion of the hymn was quite as remarkably different. He declared it was "the sweetest one in the book." (Story of the Gospel Hymns.)
The Rev. Mr. Brundage tells the origin of this hymn. In a sermon preached by him many years ago, the closing words were:
"He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, but to be almost saved is to be entirely lost." Mr. Bliss, being in the audience, was impressed with the thought, and immediately set about the composition of what proved one of his most popular songs, deriving his inspiration from the sermon of his friend, Mr. Brundage. Memoir of Bliss.
Almost persuaded now to believe,
* * * * *
Almost persuaded -- the harvest is past!
Both hymn and tune are by Mr. Bliss -- and the omission of a chorus is in proper taste. This revival piece brings the eloquence of sense and sound to bear upon the conscience in one monitory pleading. Incidents in this country and in England related in Mr. Sankey's book, illustrate its power. It has a convicting and converting history.
"MY AIN COUNTREE."
This hymn was written by Miss Mary Augusta Lee one Sabbath day in 1860 at Bowmount, Croton Falls, N.Y., and first published in the New York Observer, Dec, 1861. The authoress had been reading the story of John Macduff who, with his wife, left Scotland for the United States, and accumulated property by toil and thrift in the great West. In her leisure after the necessity for hard work was past, the Scotch woman grew homesick and pined for her "ain countree." Her husband, at her request, came east and settled with her in sight of the Atlantic where she could see the waters that washed the Scotland shore. But she still pined, and finally to save her life, John Macduff took her back to the heather hills of the mother-land, where she soon recovered her health and spirits.
I am far from my hame an' I'm weary aften whiles
The airt' is flecked wi' flowers mony-tinted, frish an' gay, The birdies warble blithely, for my Father made them sae, But these sights an' these soun's will naething be to me When I hear the angels singin' in my ain countree.
Miss Lee was born in Croton Falls in 1838, and was of Scotch descent, and cared for by her grandfather and a Scotch nurse, her mother dying in her infancy. In 1870 she became the wife of a Mr. Demarest, and her married life was spent in Passaic, N.J., until their removal to Pasadena, Cal., in hope of restoring her failing health. She died at Los Angeles, Jan.8, 1888.
Is an air written in 1864 in the Scottish style by Mrs. Ione T. Hanna, wife of a banker in Denver, Colo., and harmonized for choral use by Hubert P. Main in 1873. Its plaintive sweetness suits the words which probably inspired it. The tone and metre of the hymn were natural to the young author's inheritance; a memory of her grandfather's home-land melodies, with which he once crooned "little Mary" to sleep.
Sung as a closing hymn, "My ain countree" sends the worshipper away with a tender, unworldly thought that lingers.
Mrs. Demarest wrote an additional stanza in 1881 at the request of Mr. Main.
Some really good gospel hymns and tunes among those omitted in this chapter will cry out against the choice that passed them by. Others are of the more ephemeral sort, the phenomena (and the demand) of a generation. Carols of pious joy with inordinate repetition, choruses that surprise old lyrics with modern thrills, ballads of ringing sound and slender verse, are the spray of tuneful emotion that sparkles on every revival high-tide, but rarely leaves floodmarks that time will not erase. Religious songs of the demonstrative, not to say sensational, kind spring impromptu from the conditions of their time -- and give place to others equally spontaneous when the next spiritual wave sweeps by. Their value lingers in the impulse their novelty gave to the life of sanctuary worship, and in the Christian characters their emotional power helped into being.