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prived of its rapid poetical movement and changed into the strange line, “ and earth with all her thousand tongues.” The phrase “ ten thonsand” is indefinite, meaning a great multitude, or innamerable, but “ all her thousand” means a definite number.
For the sake of the music the plural form of Watts is often changed to the singular to the injury of the sentiment; as “ honors" to “ honor” in Ps. 95th; and as in 98th Ps. “No more let sins and sorrows grow,” changed to “ sin and sorrow,” whereas the plural is required in order to correspond with the plural thorns in the next line. Sin and sorrow are not each a single plant or tree, but a wilderness of weeds, or a forest. Moreover, enphony requires the plural, to prevent the meeting of the same sounds, sorrow grow.
Ps. 191h, “the soul” is changed to "my soul,” and “sweet surprise" to "glad surprise ;" but as flesh and soul are contrasted, the phrase "the soul ” is to be preferred to “my soul ;” and the other change seems no improvement of Watts' admirable stanza. Ps. 119, 8th part, Watts' line, “ 'Tis a broad land, -of wealth unknown,” is changed to "'Tis like a land," and despoiled of its beauty, reducing the metaphor to a simile, for the sake of the musical accent on like.
Similar injurious changes are made in Watts' Hymns for the sake of musical effect. Bk. I. H. 3. the Rhyme, “appears, bears,'' is destroyed by the words, “appears, near.” The beautiful verse in H. 97,
“Thus shall our better thoughts approve
The methods of thy chastening love,” is changed to
“Then shall our grateful voice declare
How free thy tender mercies are!” And this to the injury of the sense and the poetic diction, obviously for the sake of avoiding the slender sounds of better, methods of. In H. 102 the sentiment is injured by substitoting "faithfal" for "sufferers," and by changing the noble line, “Glory and joy are their reward,” to “ Eternal life is their reward,” all for the sake of the music. In H. 108 a beautiful stanza, ending with “ And heaven begins below,” is destroyed for the sake of the music. In H. 140 "our fancies, -airy flights,” is changed, by misapprehension of the meaning, to “fancy's airy flights."
In Book II. H. 3, erroneously ascribed to Doddridge, Watts had said, “Up to the Lord our flesh shall fly," relating to the resurrection of the body. This is altered to saints. II. 4. the rhymes, made by the words, “my dying God,—the
droppings of thy blood,” are destroyed by the substituted phrases,“ my gracious Lord ,—with atoning blood ;” for although “God and blood” may be tolerated as rhymes, yet “Lord and blood" cannot be.
Sometimes there is a bad transposition of Watts' stanzas, as in H. 10. By omissions in H. 15 two stanzas are brought together, whose last two lines have the same rhyme, “above, love." In H. 23, for the sake of the music the word sit is changed to echo, and angels are made to sing and echo. In H. 64. “ his throne,” the throne of God, is changed to “thy throne," the throne of the church. In H. 66 “ the whole race” is changed to “all the race,” for the sake of the good sounding word, “all,” which in many other places is introduced solely for the sake of its sound. As in H. 104, “ Let the wide earth,” changed to, “ Let all the earth.” in H. 129, "faith supplies a heavenly ray” is changed to inspires, much to the disaster of the sense, for we cannot conceive of inspiring a ray. In B. III. H. 13, beginning with, “How sweet and awful,” Watts has these lines,
“While all our hearts and all our songs,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues.” The last line is changed to
“Each of us cries with thankful tongue;" this may seem better logic, as each man has only a tongue ; yet the rhyme and the poetry are gone.
These specimens of the changes made in Watts will show the principles, on which the changes are made in the “Church Psalmody.” The design is to render the Psalms and Hymns more easy to be sung ; the effect is often to obscure the vigor and sublimity of the sense and to deface the beauty of the poetry.
It is impossible, that a book of genuine poetry can be written, all the stanzas of which shall be broken down to the dull uniformity of musical accent.
Rev. Wm. Mason, precentor of York, England, skilled both in poetry and music, in his Treatise on "Parochial Psalmody,” remarks, that no musical “Strain, Air, or Melody can anite itself so well with the succeeding stanzas” of the poetry as it did with the first, for which it was composed. In reference to music, he says, "as the accent or rhythm of the verse varies, so also should the rhythma and accent of the music.” He then adds what is of great weight, “But it is not to be expected, that a poet of any Rhythmical ear, even though a mere versifier of the Psalms, could bear the monatony, which would result in recitation from arranging his lines to a perfectly similar How
or cadence, in order to adapt them to those of the first four or six lines, to which the music perfectly saits.”
There is a just medium to be sought. There must be metre, rhythm, a general regular flow of poetical accent ; yet every line is not to be placed on the bed of the tyrant. Mr. Bartrum has well observed, that it is not right to sacrifice “ the music of an idea to an intonation of voice.” He insists, very properly, that the music must bend to “the just license of lambic verse,—the intervention of a dactyle, and commencing with a trochee,-a license, which ought not to be abandoned, if it could, bat wbich cannot be abandoned.”
It ought to be remembered, that one excellence, one essential beauty in an ode, is a little variety of accent and cadence, especially when there is a change in the sentiment. Let any ope read the two last stanzas of Watts' 100th Ps. 2d part, and oliserve the poetic beauty arising from this change.
We'll crowd thy gates with thankful songs;
High as the hea v’ns our voices raise,
Shall fill thy courts with sounding praise. The first and fourth lines have a uniform accent. In the second and third lines there is a beautiful change of accent, and in the third a change of pause, adapted to rapid, vehement evotion. Yet this beauty is destroyed in the Church Psalmody by the line, " And earth with all her thousand tongues.” To complete the work, the second line should have been altered thus,
“As high as heaven our voices raise;" then there would have been one uniform fall of the accent from the beginning to the end.
It may be further remarked, that the “Church Psalmody" bas no version of 17 whole Psalms ; and omits also stanzas of Watts, which have poetical excellence and with the owission of which one can hardly be content ; and that besides the multitnde of intolerable, uncorrected rhymes, which it retains, it has also more than two hundred Psalms and Hymns, which are only half rhymed, the first and third lines being left without any attempt at rhyme.
After this survey of the editions of Watts, with which the author is acquainted, he may be permitted to say, that he deems a new Psalm and Hymn book necessary, in the present
improved state of the public taste, for the
purposes gational worship. He has endeavored to meet the claims of the public taste and the wants of the churches.
In regard to rhyme, which is the lowest, yet an essential quality of an English ode, he has proposed not to insert a single piece, which is not entirely rhymed. And in this respect his book, so far as his knowledge extends, is the first English Psalm and Hymn Book of this character, which has ever been published. And as to the rhymes in the 600 pieces of his own composition, he flatters himself, that they will all be found allowable if not unexceptionable. He must confess, however, that from a reluctance to alter the lines of Watts, which are recorded in the hearts of Christians, he has retained many of his questionable but more tolerable rhymes,—such, as would hardly be allowable in a modern writer. He has in fact, from this cause, abandoned many alterations, which he had made in Watts, and preserved his lines, as far as possible, unaltered.
For the changes made he deems no apology necessary. Dr. Watts Hymns were published in 1707. The next year, in preparing a second edition, he requested a friend to point out to him those lines, which are offensive to the weak and pious, shocking and disgustful to the polite, or obscure to the vulgar capacity.” He accordingly added a hundred and fifty new Hymns, and altered nearly “half a hundred lines.” He says, “Some, that were less offensive, were let pass ; for the bookseller desired I would not change too much.” About this time he sold his copy right ; and this circumstance, though he lived 40 years afterwards, deprived him of the power of amending and improving his own Hymns. He said in his old age to Mr. Grove, who suggested a particular change, “that he should be glad to do it, but it was out of his power ; for be had parted with the copy-right and the bookseller would not suffer any such alteration."
It must be a strange prejudice, which Dr. Watts would have condemned, that, after the lapse of 128 years, deems his Hymns too perfect or too sacred to be altered.
A deceased friend has said, that in Dr. Watts' book “are hundreds of verses, which he would readily part with ;” notwithstanding this, he would retain the whole, unabridged, unaltered,_all, that is repugnant to the sense of propriety and the refined taste of the present age,-all, that is barbarous in poetry and unfit to be sung,-because he could not trust any person “to cross and blot for him.” If, however, the memory of Watts and the clains of devotion require the thing to be
come one must do it ; and he, who should do the work
'!c skill, may be regarded as having done a public
service. Nor does such a work seem to require “a greater lyric poet than Watts himself.”
The principles, by which the author has endeavored to be governed, are the following:
1. As a Hymn or a religious Ode was originally designed to be an address to God, commemorative of his mercies and attribates, most of the pieces for public worship should contain such an address.
2. Yet as the religious Ode may be confined to the object of awakening in the heart benevolent and pious emotions,
some pieces may be merely hortatory, or addressed only to Christians, or sinners ; as Heber's missionary Hymn, No. 384.
3. Religious Odes for public worship should be general or congregational ; yet the first person singular may often be properly used, the piece being supposed to be sung by cach
4. The religious Ode must be founded in true, important sentiment ; yet the design is not so much to teach, as to excite, or to awaken and express holy emotions of soul.
6. There should be, for the most part, a single important sentiment, and the ode, having a beginning, middle, and end, should close with emphasis, or with the sublimest thought and expression.
6. The religious Ode must be distinguished from prose, by something besides rhyme and metre, which, although indispensable accompaniments, do not constitute poetry. A perfect measare, an uniform succession of accented syllables, and perfect mellifluousness of sound may present only the form of poetry, while its spirit is wanting. Two things are essential ; first, ibe thought or conception must be sublime or new, interesting, and affecting ; and, next, the language must be select, pure, and beautiful. Often, too, illustrative imagery will be required. The best theology, with a poverty of imagination and vulgarity of language, though in good rhyme, can hardly be called poetry. There should be combined, as far as possible, new and lofty thought, deep feeling, beautiful images, beautiful language, with good metre, and good rhyme.
If the author bas studied the laws of poetical melody, and paid all proper respect also to musical accent-even writing many of his pieces with the music before him, to which they are adapted,
he has at the same time been anxious not to sufser the stady of grace ever to break down the strength of the sentiment. In his version of the Psalms he uniformly studied the Psalıo and endeavored to catch its spirit, without any reference to other versions. Nor does he recollect that, except in