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It is somewhat singular that the teachers of Protestant theology who have had probably the widest influence have been not professors of divinity, not preachers, not persons of any standing as theological instructors, but unofficial men and women, often laymen and always self-appointed. For I suppose it is unquestionable that poetry and especially hymns have spread theology more widely than have treatises of divinity. Calvinism was stamped upon English-speaking peoples not so much directly by the Institutes as by Milton's Paradise Lost; and even more efficient in establishing the system which came to be known as Evangelicalism were the hymns of the eighteenth century; secondarily those of Newton and the Wesleys but primarily those of Isaac Watts. The formative influence of Watts, especially upon the religious life of New England, has been profound.

Hymn-singing is to us so much a matter of course that few persons probably are aware how recent a feature in public worship it is, and how great a strife was involved before it became established. Singing, it is true, formed part of the church service from primitive times; but the hymns of the Oriental and Latin Churches were generally sung by priest and choir, not by the people but for them,

and, throughout the Middle Ages, not in the mother tongue. After the Reformation the necessity was felt for songs in the vernacular in which all the people could join; and Luther's hymns sent the Reformed doctrines flying through Germany, while the Psalms in Clement Marot's version were sung by French courtiers and peasants and fell from the lips of Huguenots as their heads fell at Amboise. In England the same need gave rise to the metrical version of the Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins, which was adopted by the Church of England in 1562 and continued to be used for nearly two centuries and a half. But, let it be noted, in both the last two cases it was Psalms that were sung, not hymns. The Psalms, it was maintained, were inspired, while hymns were not. This argument would seem to compel the use of the holy text in every particular, without the change of a word and even in the original Hebrew; and there were those who stood up sturdily to the logic of the situation, and stumbled through the difficulties of trying to get a congregation to chant the very words of the Scripture, though not in the original. Chanting, however, had a certain popish flavor; and to avoid both this and unworshipful discord metrical versions were tolerated. In King Edward the Sixth's chapel a metrical version of the Acts of the Apostles was in use, and the royal ear was edified by listening to such inspiring strains as the following:

"It chaunced in Iconium,

As they oft tymes did use,
Together they into did come

The sinagoge of Jeus.

Where they did preache and only seke

God's grace them to atchieve;

That soe they speke to Jeu and Greke

That many did bileve." 1

1 The first mention of the substitution of congregational psalmody for the old choral mode of worship places it in the reign of King Edward VI: "On March 15, 1550, M.

Some, however, took refuge in banishing music altogether; and in the case of the Nonconformists in the latter half of the seventeenth century there was an additional reason for this. Singing might betray to the informer the meetinghouse or the wood where the persecuted were assembled. Among those congregations which had no singing was the Baptist church in London whose pastor was Benjamin Keach, and of which half a century ago Mr. Spurgeon was pastor. In 1691 Keach published a book entitled The Breach Repaired in God's Worship; or Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs Proved to be an Holy Ordinance of Jesus Christ. This led after long discussion to the decision by his congregation to introduce singing; whereupon a disapproving minority seceded and established a place of worship for themselves unpolluted by song.2

Other churches compromised on the Psalms in a metrical version, but, feeling that the line must be drawn somewhere, drew it at hymns. This issue again rent churches asunder. In 1623 George Wither published Hymnes and Songs of the Church; and he succeeded in procuring a letter-patent ordering that it should be inserted in every copy of the authorized Psalm-book in meeter. But the hymns never became popular, and in 1634 the permission Vernon, a Frenchman by birth but a learned Protestant and parson of St. Martin's, Ludgate, preached at St. Paul's Cross before the mayor and aldermen, and after sermon done they all sung in common a psalm in metre, as it seems now was frequently done, the custom being brought to us from abroad by the exiles." Nichols's Progress of Queen Elizabeth, I, p. 54.

"A curious controversy once agitated this body [the Baptists], as to the propriety of singing at all in worship; a practice which, at one period, they generally omitted. Mr. Keach was the first who broke the ice; he began to introduce singing at the ordinance; after a struggle of six years it was added to the devotions of thanksgiving days; and after fourteen years more of perseverance and debate it was permitted at the close of each service on the sabbath, that those who chose might withdraw and not have their ears offended by the sound. The church, however, divided, and the inharmonious formed a new society, which still flourishes in Mays Pond. Isaac Marlowe fiercely opposed Mr. Keach, designating the practice as error, apostasy, human tradition, prelimited forms, mischievous error, carnal worship.'" Thomas Milner; Life, Times, and Correspondence of Rev. Isaac Watts, p. 360.

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