« FöregåendeFortsätt »
deservedly admired Ode on “The Death of Sir John Moore,” which is placed in juxtaposition to it for the sake of comparison, and which has been read and approved by all lovers of true Poetry wherever the English tongue is known. As it will be seen in the present collection that
a few other Odes, besides the one alluded to above, which cannot be said to belong to what is usually termed “Sacred Poetry,” the Editor wishes to avow that his constant aim and endeavour has been to introduce nothing but what may tend to raise the heart from Nature up to Nature's God. This blessed tendency is specially manifest in the works of such gentle spirits as those of our own George Herbert and Reginald Heber, whose second and therefore better nature seems unconsciously to reflect in their writings that chief characteristic of Deity, which is so simply and effectually described by the tenderhearted Disciple in this one brief sentence,“ God is Love.” Such a subject will naturally be found of frequent recurrence in the Lyra Sacra, as the never-failing theme on which the disciple of Christ in all ages has loved to tune his lyre, when seeking to pour forth strains sweet as the melody of Heaven itself. Plato's definition of this Divine Principle, that “it takes away one's living in himself and transfers it to the party loved ; ” is necessarily true in the highest degree
with regard to our knowledge of Him, “whom having not seen we love; in whom though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” If this thought be consoling during our pilgrim ftate, that the faithful will take nothing with them into their everlasting home above, save that “ love which never faileth ;” how blessed to see its effect in the daily intercourse of life amidst all the trials and sorrows with which we are profitably encompassed here, and to find it, as the saintly Bishop Wilson of Sodor and Man has fo truly described it, “speaking kindly, dealing tenderly, grieving not the hearts of the living, and treading softly upon
of the dead !” In conclusion, the Editor cannot omit to invite attention to a choice selection of Psalms, which have been purposely introduced into this collection, and particularly to that one, to which allusion has been already made, of unsurpassed grandeur and beauty, terminating with a chorus to the praise of Jehovah, in which the Psalmist* invokes men and angels, fun, moon, and stars, and all the elements : and calls upon them to join in one united Hallelujah to Him who hath made them all. Oh, what mighty power hath not poetry, when the heart and intellect combine to constrain the soul into making known its wants unto God, and necessarily in a far higher degree when directly inspired, like David, and the sacred fingers of Israel, by God Himself! To use the language of a distinguished Poet of the present day : “In the closing Psalms of David we fee the almost inarticulate enthufiasm of the lyric poet; so rapidly do the words press to his lips, floating upwards to God their source, like the smoke of a great fire of the foul wafted by the tempest. Here we see David, or rather the human heart itself, with all its God-given notes of grief, joy, tears, and adoration —poetry fanctified to its highest expression; a vase of perfume broken on the step of the Temple, and shedding abroad its odours from the heart of David to the heart of all humanity! Hebrew, Christian, or even Mohammedan, every religion, every complaint, every prayer has taken something from this vase shed on the heights of Jerusalem, wherewith to give forth their accents.
* We avoid naming David as the author of the 148th Psalm. It has no title in the Hebrew; and in the Syriac version it is attributed to Haggai and Zachariah. The LXX. and the Ethiopic say the same. As a hymn of praise, it is the most sublime in the whole book.
The little Shepherd has become the Master of the sacred choir of the Universe. There is not a worship on earth which prays not with his words, or fings not with his voice. A chord of his harp is to be found in all choirs, resounding everywhere and
for ever in unison with the echoes of Horeb and Engedi ! David is the Pfalmift of Eternity. In the Book of Psalms, there are words which seem to issue from the soul of all ages, and which penetrate even to the heart of all generations. Happy the bard who has thus become the eternal hymn, the personified prayer and complaint of all humanity! If we look back to that remote age when such songs resounded over the world ; if we consider that while the lyric poetry of all the most cultivated nations only fang of wine, love, blood, and the victories of the coursers at the Olympic games, we are seized with profound astonishment at the mystic songs of the Shepherdking, who talks to God the Creator as one friend to another, who understands and praises His great works, admires His justice, implores His mercy, and becomes as it were, an anticipative echo of all evangelical poetry, speaking in accents of truest love, the soft words of our Master Christ, before his coming into the world to die for fallen man.”*
B. W. S.
Tattingstone Rectory :
* Lamartine, Cours de Litterature.