SONGS IN HIGH PLACES.
"Praise Him in the heights. Kings of the earth, and all people, princes, andall judges of the earth,let them praise the name of theLord."
The great dramatist gives us no mere fancy sketch when lie makes an inheritor of royalty say of himself:—
The government I cast upon my brother,
And to my state grew stranger, being transported
And rapt in secret studies.
I pray thee mark me.
I thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind
With that which, but by being so retired,
O'er prized all popular rate, in my false brother
Awaked an evil nature.
Such princes have lived, and studied, and prayed, and suffered, to the edification of a few, and to the sorrow of many. Hugh Capet, the father of the third line of French kiijgs, showed himself quite equal to his position, and held the reins so as to keep his rude and kicking subjects within the traces. He knew how to preserve quietness within his own border, and how to make a sufficiently awful impression outside. He was a ruter at home and a terror abroad; and in those days both were desirable virtues in men of his calling. He prospered, and finished his royal career in 996. But like does not always beget like., His son Robert came to the throne, bringing to it all his father's softer virtues, without those sterner qualities for government which are necessary to keep the balance of state. He wanted to be good, and was good. But he was too willing to cast the affairs of government upon some brother, and
false brothers are not lacking. If not to be found in France, Italy could furnish one. Gregory the Fifth could do the politics for him, and the fighting too, and manage at the same time to lord it over King Kobert's conscience. The king was not fit for kingship; he was more disposed to the cloisters. Anybody might rule for him. He might have had rule in Italy; yes, and the imperial crown might have been on his brow. But no, not he: "Let me alone," he seemed to say, "my joy is in secret; give me my psalter, my service-book, my psalm, my hymn, and I am happy." And so he was. He took his choice. The outside world might wag its way as it pleased; he would be a royal monk, and his palace should be his cell. And so he lived, and prayed, and chanted, and sung; and whether France or the world were ever the better for his rule or not, Christendom is the better for one hymn at least, which he left as the fruit of his devotion, and in which his reverent, tender, and peacful spirit is graciously embalmed. As a king, his memory might have melted into oblivion; but as a hymnist his name will be dear to every following generation of those who breathe the feeling and sustain the music of his Veni Sancte Spiritw.
Holy Spirit come, we pray,
Come from heaven and shed the ray
Of Thy light divine.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Giver from a boundless store,
Light of hearts, O shine!
Matchless comforter in woe,
Sweetest guest the soul can know,
Living waters blest.
When we weep our solace sweet,
Coolest shade in summer heat,
In our labour rest.
Holy and most blessed light,
Make our inmost spirits bright,
With Thy radiance mild;
For without Thy sacred powers,
Nothing can we own of ours,
What is arid, fresh bedew,
What is sordid, cleanse anew,
Balm on the wounded pour.
What is rigid, gently bend,
On what is cold Thy fervour send;
What has strayed, restore.
To Thine own in every place
Give the sacred, seven-fold grace,
Give Thy faithful this.
Give to virtue its reward,
Safe and peaceful end afford.
Give eternal bliss.
By bequeathing; this hymn to us King Robert has left the world better than he found it. Nevertheless, it is a mercy for the world that Providence makes heroes as well as monks. Monkish monarchs have been blessings in their way. But both men and things need leaders now and then of harder make. Human nature being as it is, the master heart may be called for, the mighty arm, and the sceptre of steel. And there have been men starting up, at some junctures, above the strife and rage of human opposition to the good and the true, who have exemplified the possibility of being valiant for truth in the field as well as in the closet and the choir. And if these have not been hymnists, they have never lacked a hymn to cheer them in the day of battle, in the day of victory, in the day of death. Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden had the spirit of a king, the powers of a hero, and the heart of a Christian ; all this he proved in his chivalrous advance to the succour of the German Protestants in their long and terrible struggle for liberty of conscience and worship. He landed on the coast of Pomerania with thirty thousand men on the 24th of June, 1630, and in unison with his German allies marched to successive victories, and, as it proved, to victorious death. He was cheered onward by those who hailed him as their deliverer; but he needed more. His heart looked to the source of might; and who can tell how richly and mightily that heart received responses of power by means of one hymn? If he could not, like Robert of France, write hymns for his own use, God could supply the lack. Out of the ranks of battling Protestants the hymnist rose whose words were to nerve the arm and strengthen the heart of the hero and his bands. In 1631 Altenburg issued that hymn, now so widely known and loved by so many hearts. He called it "a heart-cheering song of comfort, or the watchword of the evangelical army in the battle of Leipsic, September 7, 1631, 'God with us.'" This became the battle song of Gustavus. The conqueror often sung it with his troops. He sang it for the last time whan entering the field of Liitzen against the famous Wallenstein—his last field, the scene of his last victory, and to him the field of triumphant death. The hero's parting song has cheered many a Christian soldier since then. Let it cheer us now.
Fear not, 0 little flock, the foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow,
Dread not his rage and power;
What though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o'er God's saints
Lasts but a little hour.
Be of good cheer, your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs,
Leave it to Him our Lord.
Though hidden yet from all our eyes,
He sees the Gideon who shall rise •
To save us and His word.
As true as God's own word is true,
Nor earth nor hell with all their crew
Against us shall prevail.
A jest and by-word are they grown;
God is with us, we are His own,
Our victory cannot fail.
Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer!
Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare;
Fight for us once again!
So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise
A mighty chorus to Thy. praise,
World without end. Amen.
Songs in high places have not been always "songs of deliverance," or hymns of victory. No high places on earth are so high as to be beyond the swell of human sorrow. The floods will arise in days of darkness, and occasionally desolate the homes and hearts of royal life. So it was in the court of Hungary in 1526. The Turkish hordes had swept down upon the Christian borders, and the king, who had armed himself for the defence of his throne, had been cut down with the flower of his nobility, leaving Maria, his queen, a defenceless widow, open not only to Turkish
violence, but what was more dreadful to her, an invasion of her Christian rights of conscience on the part of those who bore the hallowed name of the Saviour, whom she loved. Her attachment to the reformed doctrine rendered her desolated home unsafe; and for her religion's sake she fled from Buda, trusting alone to Him, who is the husband of the widow, and the "present help" and reward of those who suffer for His name's sake. Nothing is grander than the sight of a human soul cut off from all visible help, casting itself with all its interests in time and eternity upon the power and goodness of God alone. Such sublime action is recorded in the song of this bereaved, persecuted, and fugitive queen.
Can I my fate no morfi withstand,
Nor 'scape the hand .
That for faith would grieve me;
This is my strength, that well I know
In weal or woe,
God's love the world must leave me.
God is not far, though hidden now,
He soon shall rise and make them bow,
Who of His Word bereave me.
Judge as ye will my cause this hour,
Yours is the power,
God bids me strive no longer;
I know what mightiest seems to-day
Shall pass away,
Time than your rule is stronger.
The eternal God I rather choose,
And fearless all for this I lose,
God help me thus to conquer!
All has its day, the proverb saith;
This is my faith,
Thou, Christ, wilt be beside me,
And look on all this pain of mine
As were it Thine,
WTien sharpest woe betide me;
Must I then tread this path—I yield;
World, as thou wilt, God is my shield,
And He will rightly guide me!
"We have no record of the divine response to the widow's act of trust, but the "record is on high." Trust in God is never long without its answering hush from above. God arranges His times and instruments of blessing so as most happily to aid the sufferer and most fully to glorify Himself, and how often does the blessing come by means of a comfortable hymn? From time to time the hymn of plaintive appeal is replied to by the hymn of consolation. In many an individual history it is so; and it is always so in the history of the Church. Now God's children are supplied with hymns expressive of reliance; and now with forms of "joy in tribulation." Thus, "one generation shall praise His works to another." Nor can it be otherwise than instructive and cheering to listen to the voices of song from the "high places" of Germany, as they come in successive responses through the periods of her suffering, joy answering to sorrow, and triumph to depression. Though a century passes'between, it is not difficult to recognise something like an inspiration responsive to Queen Maria's trustful hymn in the song which in 1053 rose from the full heart of Louisa Henrietta, Electress of Brandenburgh. How the music lulls the tremulous sufferer!
Jesus, my Redeemer, lives,
Christ, my trust, is dead no more;
In the strength this knowledge gives,
Shall not all my fears be o'er,
Though the night of death be fraught
Still with many an anxious thought?
Jesus, my Redeemer, lives,
And His life I once shall see;
Bright the hope this promise gives,
Where He is I too shall be.
Shall I fear, then? Can the Head
Rise and leave the members dead?
Close to Him my soul is bound,
In the bonds of hope enclasp'd;
Faith's strong hand this hold hath found,
And the Rock hath firmly grasp'd;
And no care of death can part
From our Lord the trusting heart.
I shall see Him with these eyes,
Him whom I shall surely know;
Not another shall I rise,
With His love this heart shall glow;
Only there shall disappear
Weakness in and round me here.
Ye who suffer, sigh, and moan,
Fresh and glorious there shall reign;
Earthly here the seed is sown,
Heavenly it shall rise again;
Natural here the death we die,
Spiritual our life on high.
Body, .be thou of good cheer,
In thy Saviour's care rejoice;
Give not place to gloom and fear,
Dead thou yet shalt know His voice,
When the final trump is heard,
And the deaf cold grave is stirr'd.
Laugh to scorn, then, death and hell;
Laugh to scorn the gloomy grave:
Caught into the air to dwell
With the Lord, who comes to save,
We shall trample o'er our foes,
Mortal weakness, fear, and woes.
Only see ye that your heart
Rise betimes from earthly lust:
Would ye there with Him have part,
Here obey your Lord and trust,
Fix your hearts beyond the skies,
Whither ye yourselves would rise.
Another short interval, and the soothing response to the widow's hymn is repeated by a masculine voice, in fine harmony with the utterance of the Brandenburgh Princess. The voice comes this time from an ancient and princely house, the name of which is dear to every English heart, loyal and reverent enough to acknowledge the Providence which associated that name with the happiest period of English royalty. Who does not thank God for the line of Brunswick? Even losing sight of the blessings which have come to us in our national relation to that illustrious line, there will always be Christian hearts, which, while the German or the English language lives, will gather strength and joy from one, at least, who graced that Brunswick pedigree: In the noble family succession from Henry the Lion to the honoured and beloved lady who now sways the sceptre of Great Britain, there have been names distinguished by many family virtues and courtly actions; but one has left a longer-lived memorial in a few sweet and touching hymns. One of these is a song for the soul in bereavement and sorrow. It comes upon the burdened heart with a soothing music, like that which touched the lonely spirit of the bereaved widow at Nain, when Jesus "had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not!"
Leave all to God,
Forsaken one, and stay thy tears;
For the Highest knows thy pain,
Sees thy sufferings and thy fears;
Thou shalt not wait His help in vain,
Leave all to God.
Be still and trust!
For His strokes are strokes of love,
Thou must for thy profit bear;
He thy filial fear would move,
Trust thy Father's loving care,
Be still and trust!
Know, God is near!
Though thou think Him far away,
Though His mercy long have slept,
He will come and not delay,
When His child enough hath wept,
For God is near!
Oh, teach Him not
When and how to hear thy prayers;
Never doth our God forget,
He the cross who longest bears
Finds his sorrows' bounds are set,
Then teach Him not.
If thou love Him,
Walking truly in His ways,
Then no trouble, cross, or death
E'er shall silence faith and praise;
All things serve thee here beneath,
If thou love God!
This was the hymn of Anthony Ulric, Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel. He gave it to the Christian world in 1667, and it will ever live as the precious utterance of a noble heart in its purest and most hallowed state of feeling. There is, however, another hymn whose birth and history claim a page in the chronicles of the House of Brunswick. How finely wrought are some of the most important links of things in human history; how minute and delicate the points on which the most weighty consequences turn ; how slight a touch, at certain junctures, would have turned the mightiest current of human affairs! About the middle of the sixteenth century, the seven sons of William of Brunswick cast lots to determine which of them should marry. Poor young princes! the patrimony was probably not rich enough to bless them all with matrimonial rights! The lot fell upon George, the sixth son. After four of his brothers had reigned, of course without issue, the government came to Christian Lewis, his son; then to George William, another son, who left as his heiress Sophia Dorothea, who married her cousin, George Lewis, of Hanover, afterwards George I. of England. George Lewis was, on his mother's side, the grandson of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, daughter of James I. of England. The houses of Stuart and Brunswick were thus at one, and the results, as happily developed in the history of modern England, may, perhaps, illustrate the divine proverb, "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." This remarkable linking of Stuart and Brunswick has a peculiar interest for the lover of spiritual hymns and songs. There was a hymnist among the Brunswickers, and one, too, among the Stuarts. Elizabeth, the grandmother of George I., used to solace herself with hymns; and one of these has come down to us among the evidences of her piety and talents. Its music is not flowing throughout; it has some of the quaintness of its time, but it is pleasant in its simplicity; it breathes a dgorous spirit, and has a rich and cheerful tone of Chrisan feeling. The hymnist was the daughter of James I. 'he morning-tide of her life was bright; she had been rought from Scotland an infant when her father came to !io throne of the United Kingdom; and her first English L-esidence was Combe Abbey, in Warwickshire, where, amidst scenes of quiet rural beauty, she spent some of the happiest days of her life. She soon gave promise of those charms of person, mind, and manners which afterwards secured for her the title of " Queen of Hearts." She must have had an inspiring presence to bring from Ben Jonson that remarkable poetic combination of compliment and prophecy which he addressed to the King and Queen when their eldest son was created Prince of Wales :—
Nor shall less joy your royal hopes pursue
In that most princely maid, whose form might call
The world to war, and make it hazard all
Its valour for her beauty; she shall be
Mother of nations, and her princes see
Rivals almost to these.
Could Ben Jonson have foreseen that she would be the mother of that illustrious line now represented by our beloved Queen Victoria? A foreign prince, who saw Elizabeth in 1608, says that she was "handsome, and of a noble expression of countenance;" and one of her own countrymen, who knew her, tells us that she was " a princess of lovely beauty, in whom at the first glance, majesty shines out, though hidden by courtesy. Although she has not yet passed her twelfth year, yet all behold in her lively proofs of most excellent and noble dispositions. Her wit is acute, her memory tenacious, her judgment discerning, beyond her years. In piety and knowledge of languages she excels. She also diligently cultivates music, and is a great proficient in the art; for this tranquil liberal science most fittingly accords with the temper of the most placid and illustrious maiden. Added to this, her manners are most gentle; and she shows no common skill in those liberal exercises of mind and body which become a royal maiden. In fine, whatever was excellent or lofty in Queen Elizabeth is all compressed into the tender age of this virgin princess, and if God spare her to us, will be found there accumulated." She and her brother, Henry, Prince of Wales, loved one another very tenderly. The one could scarcely be happy in the other's absence. Nor was the tender bond at all loosened by the attachment which now sprang up between Elizabeth and her husband elect, Frederic V., Count Palatine of the Rhine. Just, however, as all were preparing themselves for mutual congratulations on Elizabeth's marriage, Henry was seized with fever. His affectionate sister, distressed at being forbidden to see him, stole away from St. James's more than once in disguise, and made vain attempts to gain admittance to his chamber. She never saw him again. He died, saying, "Where is my dear sister?" A dark shadow fell on the soul of the tender-hearted princess. This was her first pang of bereavement; and, alas! it proved to be the foreshadowing of future sorrows, the earnest of a long succession of clouds upon her eventful life. It was while this early tribulation pressed upon her heart that she gave expression to her feelings in the hymn so remarkable for its beauty and pathos :—
This is joy, this is true pleasure,
If we best things make our treasure,
And enjoy them at full leisure,
Evermore in richest treasure.
God is only excellent,
Let up to Him our love be sent;
Whose desires are set or bent
On aught else, shall much repent.
Theirs is a most wretched case
Who themselves so far disgrace,
That they their affections place
Upon things named vile and base.
Let us love of heaven receive,
These are joys our hearts will heave
Higher than we can conceive,
And shall us not fail nor leave.
Earthly things do fade, decay,
Constant to us not one day;
Suddenly they pass away,
And we cannot make them stay.
All the vast world doth contain,
To content man's heart, are vain,
That still justly will complain,
And unsatisfied remain.
God most holy, high, and great,
Our delight doth make complete;
When in us He takes His seat,
Only then we are replete.
Why should vain joys us transport,
Earthly pleasures are but short,
And are mingled in such sort,
Griefs are greater than the sport.
O my God! for Christ His sake,
Quite from me this dulness take;
Cause me earth's love to forsake,
And of heaven my realm to make.
If early thanks I render Thee,
That Thou hast enlightened me
With such knowledge that I see
What things most behoveful be;
That I hereon meditate.
That desire I find (tho' late)
To prize heaven at higher rate,
And these pleasures vain to hate;
0 enlighten more my sight,
And dispel my darksome night,
Good Lord, by Thy heavenly light,
And Thy beams most pure and bright.
Since in me such thoughts are scant,
Of Thy grace repair my want,
Often meditations grant,
And in me more deeply plant.
Work of wisdom more desire,
Grant I may, with holy ire,
Slight the world, and me inspire
With Thy love to be on fire.
What care I for lofty place, •
If the Lord grant me His grace;
Showing me His pleasant face,
And with joy I end my race.
This is only my desire,
This doth set my heart on fire,
That I may receive my hire,
With the saints and angels' quire.
O my soul, of heavenly birth,
Do thou scorn this basest earth;
Place not here thy joy and mirth,
Where of bliss is greatest dearth.
From below thy mind remove,
And affect the things above;
Set thy heart and fix thy love
Where thou truest joy shalt prove.
If I do love things on high,
Doubtless them enjoy shall I;
Earthly pleasures if I try,
They pursued faster fly.
0 Lord, glorious, yet most kind,
Thou hast these thoughts put in my mind;
Let me grace increasing find,
Me to Thee more firmly bind.
To God glory, thanks, and praise,
I will render all my days;
Who hath blest me many ways,
Shedding on me gracious raye.
To me grace, O Father, send,
On Thee wholly to depend;
That all may to Thy glory tend—
So let me live, so let me end.
Now to the true Eternal King,
Not seen with human eye,
Th' immortal, only wise, true God,
Be praise perpetually!
Ill-fated hymnist! How many, many a time after she penned this first hymn, and gave it into the hand of her friend and tutor, Lord Harrington, was she called to test the faithfulness of her God in hours of trouble. She went a happy bride to her husband's hereditary palace at Heidelberg, became a happy mother at eighteen, saw her husband placed on the throne of Bohemia, and realized the dream of her own youthful ambition—a crown. But scarcely had she shown her queenly presence in Bohemia, before her husband was driven from his royalty. She fled for her life, and entered on the dark succession of misfortunes which crowded on her all through the "thirty years' war." Hers was indeed a life of royal suffering. Widowed at last, beggared, tortured by her father's crooked policy, living to hear of her brother Charles's death on the scaffold, parting with her children for lack of means to support them, treated with cold neglect by the only son who could help her, having her sound Protestant heart smitten at the perversion of others of her children to Romanism; yet her hopeful and buoyant heart kept up until, after forty sorrowful years of exile, and thirty years of desolate widowhood, she returned, at the age of sixty-five, to finish her eventful career in the land of her infancy. She died in Leicester House, Leicester Square, leaving the relics of her royal furniture to be preserved in that same Combe Abbey which had witnessed the pleasures of her youth, and the beginnings of that piety which sustained her in sorrow, and gave peace to her last hour. Of her surviving daughters, it was said that Elizabeth, Abbess of Hervarden, was the most learned woman, that Louise was the greatest
artist, and that Sophia, her youngest, was the most accomplished woman in Europe. Elizabeth's memory as a liymnist is remarkably associated with the names of some of the most distinguished hymnists of her tune. Dr. John Doune wrote her epithalamium on her marriage-day. George Wither presented complimentary stanzas on her betrothal, and her music master was no other than John Bull, the reputed author of that national hymn in which all British hearts now offer their prayer for the illustrious living descendant of her youngest daughter—
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen!'
O Lord our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
Confound their politics;
On her our hearts we fix:
God save the Queen!
Thy richest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign!
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!
On the Sunday after the coronation of Victoria, "our most religious and gracious Queen," there was an interesting scene at Brixham in South Devon. A crowd of sailors and fishermen attended the church—the church that looks out upon Torbay, on whose waters so many of the hardy sons of that beautiful sea-board have been trained to man "the wooden walls of Old England." The parson of the parish was in the pulpit, the gifted and gentle-spirited Henry !F. Lyte, beloved by all who knew him, and still talked of with reverence and affection by the children of those whom he taught in sea-songs to remember God upon the mighty waters. He had intended to preach from another text that day; but seeing the character of his con
gregation, he changed his theme, and addressed them from the Lord's words to the fishermen of Galilee, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." Ho showed his hearers that "it is the religious man that is always, and in every relation of life, the best member oi society, the most useful to others, and the most happy in himself," and that no man ever "casts the net on the right side of the ship, none ever catches anything worth his finding, who does not seek and find the favour of God through Christ." Then referring to the circumstances under which they were met—those of the coronation week —he said, "The manner in which our fishermen have conducted themselves through all this week cannot have failed to gratify all who have witnessed it. The people of Brixham may well be proud of a body of men who have so practically proved that they can command themselves But if the opening of your proceedings
was praiseworthy, the close of them is not less so. To meet you here, my brethren, in the house of God, to witness your orderly conduct, your devotional manner, is,
indeed, most pleasing and encouraging It
seems to me to intimate that you have a proper sense of the religious nature of the great ceremony we have just been celebrating in these realms; that you view it, as indeed it is, as a solemn national transaction, carried on in the sight of God, in one of His holy temples, between His vicegerent on earth and the people He has committed to her charge; and that you are aware that God must be appealed to, in order that she may prove a blessing to us, or that we may be enabled to discharge our duties to her. My dear friends, nothing is really great in which God and religion have not a place. Deprive the coronation of these, strip the pageant of its heavenly halo, and how poor and insignificant does it become! It is, as connecting itself with God, with His will, His sanctuary, His appointment, and His blessing, that the ceremony becomes truly impressive. In. this light I trust that your presence here to-day shows that you view it. It is, I trust, as if you said, We have but half discharged our duty on this occasion till we have gone to the house of God, and asked His blessing on our youthful sovereign—asked the King of kings and the Lord of lords to supply the deficiencies of our services towards her. The prayers in which we have all joined here to-day afford a striking compendium both to monarch and subject of their respective duties to each other; and I trust that we shall all make a point of studying their contents, and of pouring them forth earnestly every Sabbath at the throne of grace. Then may our loyalty be expected to be, not like the vows and garlands that adorned the festal hour, and then faded away, but like the jewels of the royal crown, that have come down, precious and untarnished, through successive generations. Oh, let the loyalty of British hearts once thus vent itself in fervent, persevering prayer for their sovereign, and who shall say what benefits may thus descend upon her head, and, through her, upon her people?" The preacher's address was closed, and all rose and sang a hymn, a beautifully condensed and accommodated paraphrase of the 21st Psalm, composed for the occasion by the pastor himself:—
Lord, Thy best blessings shed
On our Queen's youthful head;
Round her abide.
Teach her Thy holy will,
Shield her from every ill,
Guard, guide, and speed her still
Safe to Thy side.
Grant her, 0 Lord, to be
Wise, just, and good b'ke Thee,
Blessing and blest.
With every virtue crowned,
Honoured by nations round,
Midst earthly monarchs found
Greatest and best.
Long let her people share
Here her maternal care;
Long 'neath her smile
May every good increase,
May every evil cease,
And freedom, health and peace
Dance round our isle.
Under Thy mighty wings
Keep her, O King of kings!
Answer her prayer:
Till she shall hence remove
Up to Thy courts above,
To dwell in light and love