תמונות בעמוד

and Germany were instantly infatuated with a love of psalmfinging: which being admirably calculated to kindle and diffuse the flame of fanaticism, was peculiarly serviceable to the purposes of faction, and frequently served as the trumpet to rebellion. These energetic hymns of Geneva, under the condućt of the Calvinistic preachers, excited and supported a variety of popular insurrečtions; they filled the most flourishing cities of the Low-countries with sedition and tumult, and fomented the fury which defaced many of the most beautiful and venerable churches of Flanders. This infectious frenzy of sacred song soon reached England, at the very critical point of time, when it had just embraced the reformation : and the new psalmody was obtruded on the new English liturgy by some few officious zealots, who favoured the discipline of Geneva, and who wished to abolish, not only the choral mode of worship in general, but more particularly to suppress the Te DEUM, BeNED1ctus, MAGNIFICAT, JUBILATE, Nu Nc DIMITTIs, and the rest of the liturgic hymns, which were supposed to be contaminated by their long and antient connection with the Roman missal, or at least in their prosaic form, to be unsuitable to the new system of worship. Although Wyat and Surrey had before made translations of the Psalms into metre, Thomas Sternhold was the first whose metrical version of the Psalms was used in the church of England. Sternhold was a native of Hampshire, and probably educated at Winchester college. Having passed some time at Oxford, he became groom of the robes to king Henry the eighth. In this department, either his diligent services or his knack at rhyming so pleased the king, that his majesty bequeathed him a legacy of one hundred marks. He continued in the same office under Edward the fixth, and is said to have acquired some degree of reputation about the court for his poetry. Being of a serious diffosition, and an enthusiast to reformation, he was much of fended at the lascivious ballads which prevailed among the courtiers: and, with a laudable design to check these indecencies, un- dertook

dertook a metrical version of the Psalter, “thinking thereby, “ says Antony Wood, that the courtiers would fing them instead “ of their sonnets, but did not, only some few excepted “.” Here was the zeal, if not the success, of his fellow labourer Clement Marot. A fingular coincidence of circumstances is, notwithstanding, to be remarked on this occasion. Vernacular versions for general use of the Psalter were first published both in France and England, by laymen, by court-poets, and by servants of the court. Nor were the respective translations entirely completed by themselves: and yet they translated nearly an equal number of psalms, Marot having versified fifty, and Sternhold fifty-one. Sternhold died in the year 1549. His fifty-one psalms were printed the same year by Edward Whitchurch, under the following title. “All such Psalms of David as Thomas Stern“ holde late grome of the kinges Maiestyes robes did in his lyfe “ tyme drawe into Englysshe metre.” They are without the musical notes, as is the second edition in 1552. He probably lived to prepare the first edition for the press, as it is dedicated by himself to king Edward the fixth. Cotemporary with Sternhold, and his coadjutor, was John Hopkins: of whose life nothing more is known, than that he was a clergyman and a schoolmaster of Suffolk, and perhaps a graduate at Oxford about the year 1544. Of his abilities as a teacher of the classics, he has left a specimen in some Latin stanzas prefixed to Fox's MARTY Rology. He is rather a better English poet than Sternhold ; and translated fifty eight of the psalms, distinguished by the initials of his name. Of the rest of the contributors to this undertaking, the chief, at least in point of rank and learning, was William Whyttingham, promoted by Robert earl of Leicester to the deanery of Durham, yet not without a strong reluctance to comply with the use of the canonical habiliments. Among our religious exiles in the reign of Mary, he was Calvin's principal

- * Ath, Oxon. i. 76, Vol. III. Y favorite,

favorite, from whom he received ordination. So pure was his faith, that he was thought worthy to succeed to the congregation of Geneva, superintended by Knox, the Scotch reformer; who, from a detestation of idols, proceeded to demolish the churches in which they were contained. It was one of the natural consequences of Whyttingham's translation from Knox's pastorship at Geneva to an English deanery, that he destroyed or removed many beautiful and harmless monuments of antient art in his cathedral. To a man, who had so highly spiritualised his religious conceptions, as to be convinced that a field, a street, or a barn, were fully sufficient for all the operations of christian worship, the venerable structures raised by the magnificent piety of our ancestors could convey no ideas of solemnity, and had no other charms than their ample endowments. Beside the psalms he translated “, all which bear his initials, by way of innovating still further on our established formularly, he versified the Decalogue, the Nicene, Apostolic, and Athanafian Creeds, the Lord's Prayer, the Te Deum, the Song of the three Children, with other hymns which follow the book of psalmody. How the Ten Commandments and the Athanafian Creed, to say nothing of some of the rest, should become more edifying and better suited to common use, or how they could receive improvement in any respect or degree, by being reduced into rhyme, it is not easy to perceive. But the real defign was, to render that more tolerable which could not be entirely removed, to accommodate every part of the service to the psalmodic tone, and to clothe our whole liturgy in the garb of Geneva. All these, for he was a lover of music, were sung in Whyttingham's church of Durham under his own directions. Heylin says, that from vicinity of situation, he was enabled to lend considerable assistance to his friend Knox in the introdućtion of the presbyterian hierarchy into Scotland. I must indulge the reader with a stanza or two of this dignified fanatic's divine poetry

* Among them is the hundreth, and the hundred and nineteenth. from

from his Creeds and the Decalogue. From the Athanasian
Creed. s
The Father God is, God the Son,
God Holy Ghost asso,
Yet are there not three Gods in all
But one God and no mo.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Robert Wisdome, a protestant fugitive in the calamitous reign of queen Mary, afterwards archdeacon of Ely, and who had been nominated to an Irish bishoprick by king Edward the sixth, rendered the twenty-fifth psalm of this version'. But he is chiefly memorable for his metrical prayer, intended to be sung in the church, against the Pope and the Turk, of whom he seems to have conceived the most alarming apprehensions. It is probable, that he thought popery and mahometanism were equally dangerous to christianity, at least the most powerful and the sole enemies of our religion. This is the first stanza.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

* See Strype's Cranmer, p. 274. 276. 136, with T. C. It is not known to 277. Psal Ms 79, 104, 112, 122, 125, whom these initials belong. and 134, are marked with W. K. Psal M.


« הקודםהמשך »