Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

language of poetry. Thus, while the mind is informed, the soul is thrilled and elevated. Our instruction and happiness are thus promoted. The wants of our whole nature are harmoniously and simultaneously supplied. We receive the most exalted truths in the most exalted language, by the inspiring influence of poetry and music. Those who, like Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, have most extensively and beneficially influenced their fellow-creatures, have used not only books and sermons, but hymns. Music and song had much to do with both the Reformation and the progress of Methodism. It is Uncle Joseph's opinion that the progress of truth in the world is far more indebted —under God—than is generally thought of, to hymns. By their inspiring influence we are lifted above the earth ; they give us fresh ideas and feelings as to the dignity and destiny of our common humanity. Often have we felt the truth of the lines

- That palace of our glorious king,

We find it nearer while we sing. Thus while the dust of earth has been brushed away from the spirit, the atmosphere of heaven has been breathed by the soul; while the transforming power of faith has been gloriously enlarged, as we have sung the high praises of our God. What on earth is so like heaven, as a congrega. tion engaged in singing, with the spirit and with the understanding also, the “ Songs of Zion.”

“ Lord, how delightful 'tis to see,

A whole assembly worship Thee,
At once they sing, at once they pray,

They hear of heaven and learn the way.
I have been there, and still would go,

'Tis like a little heaven below." I would wish, my young friends, to help you, to derive the greatest possible good from hymns. You love singing; I know you do. Well, God made you to sing. He not only wishes the lark, and the nightingale, the thrush, and the blackbird to sing; but he specially loves to hear the song of little children. There were some envious, very narrow, and

unmusical souls, who would have stopped the dear children who sung with all their little hearts “ Hosanna to the Son of David," as Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem. But they knew not how pleased Immanuel was with their hearty and sincere praise.

When his salvation bringing,

To Zion Jesus came,
The children all stood singing,

Hosanna to his name;
Nor did their zeal offend him,

But as he rode along,
He let them still attend him,
And smiled to hear their song:

Hosanna to Jesus they sung. Jesus still delights in the songs of the young, and Uncle Joseph is happy at the thought that thousands who read the “ Sunday School Hive' are among the number who sing “hymns of praise to Christ as God.” Sing on, and may you all sing in heaven. Amen.

The writer of these letters is fond of good singing, and an ardent admirer of good hymns. He has a profound regard, and the very highest opinion of Wesley's hymns. Perhaps a better hymn-book never was printed than the one used in our own congregations. But I am writing to the young, and I will freely tell you, my young friends, my opinion of Dr. Watts' Hymns for Children. I am sure, my young friends, that when the idea of writing you a separate letter on hymns first struck my mind, some few days ago, it awoke in me some of the most pleasing and interesting recollections and emotions that I can possibly be the subject of. My mind was carried back to the Sunday-school. I sat there as a scholar. I also stood, in imagination, at the head of a class as a teacher. I remembered my old school companions. Those teachers to whom I am specially indebted, and those who most frequently conducted the devotions in our school, were soon present to my mind. I heard the tones of their voices, and remembered their peculiar modes of giving out the hymns. Some hymns were associated in my recollection with particular persons; others with some special occasion. I lived over again, in a short space of time, many very happy Sabbaths. I thought especially of that charming little penny hymn-bookWatts' “ Divine and Moral Songs for Children." It is the book we then used in our Sunday-school. I say our school, because, though separated by two hundred miles from that school, I cannot relinquish my feeling of connection therewith. O how often has the voice of Uncle Joseph joined with hundreds more in singing those sweet little hymns. Many whom I joined with—whom I can see in imagination while I write-are gone to heaven. While we sing the praise of redeeming love here, they are singing the same praise in brighter, holier, sweeter strains there. I must however turn to the little hymn-book of Dr. Watts. One writer says, “I am surprised at nothing that Dr. Watts wrote but his Hymns for Children. Others have written as well on other subjects; but how he wrote those hymns I cannot tell.” How many youthful hearts have found suitable expression to their adoration, love, and praise, in those delightful hymns! How many minds have been furnished by them with clear and correct ideas of Jesus and his Gospel! How many who are now beyond the sky, in the heaven of joy and love, remember, with gratitude, that little book! How many who, having been trained in our Sunday-schools, have since become devoted missionaries, and now sing, in their forest homes, those beautiful hymns. I dare say that the tear has often started into their eyes, as they have stood surrounded with savages, and thought of happy England-of its Sabbath-schools—its houses of prayer, and the time when their voices joined in the Sunday-school in singing-

[graphic]

How do I pity those that dwell

Where ignorance and darkness reigns;
They know no heaven, they fear no hell,
Those endless joys, those endless pains.

It may be that the missionary spirit was awakened in them while they were engaged in singing those hymns. Their minds were affected by the condition of the heathen world,

and while singing in the Sunday-school, they formed the high and holy resolve to be missionaries. Hence they think with the deepest and most sincere interest on that which first awoke the deep feelings of their souls on behalf of others. Thousands of little black children are now learning to sing these same hymns. And can we breathe a purer, warmer, prayer to heaven, than that all children, of every colour, and people, and tongue, may soon be taught to sing

How glorious is our heavenly King,

Who reigns above the sky:
How shall a child presume to sing

His dreadful majesty.

li 0 that the glorious resolve of the last verse of that hymn were now being formed by every boy and girl in the world!

My heart resolves, my tongue obeys,

And angels shall rejoice
To hear their mighty Maker's praise

Sound from a feeble voice. Well, the time is coming when it will be so. May it be soon. Amen.

I had a great deal more to say about those “ Divine and Moral Songs for Children." But I am afraid of becoming tiresome. I must therefore bring this letter to a close. Next month I intend to write you a letter on “ Companions.” At the same time I shall have something more to say on hymns also. Perhaps this letter cannot close better than by quoting that fine song, entitled “Summer Evening,” praying that both the writer and readers of these letters may make such a finish as is there spoken of.

How fine has the day been; how bright was the sun :
How lovely and joyful the course that he run,
Though he rose in a mist, when his race he begun,

And then follow'd some droppings of rain :
But now the fair traveller's come to the west,
His rays are all gold, and his beauties are best,
He paints the sky gay as he sinks to his rest,

And foretells a bright rising again.
Just such is the Christian; his course he begins,

Like the sun in a mist, while he mourns for his sins,
And melts into tears; then he breaks out and shines,

Aod travels his heavenly way;
But when he comes nearer to finish his race,
Like a fine setting sun, he looks higher in grace,
And gives a sure bope at the end of his days,

Of rising in brighter array. Hoping, my young friends, that we shall each so end our days,

I am yours affectionately,

UNCLE JOSEPH.

THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.
O TELL me where the pearl is found,

That shines with brightest hue,
In shell, or mine, or ocean cave,

Concealed from human view?
Say, where is seen the richest gem,

To grace a monarch's crown,
And shed the purest lustre, when

That princely head is shown?
Can eastern climes produce the stone,

Than rubies dearer far?
Not gold and silver's price alone,

With it can we compare.
No shell, how deep soe're it lies,

Beneath the ocean's wave,
Contains the pearl of costly price,

For which our spirits crave.
Golconda's mines, though rich their store,

Of gems both choice and rare;
In vain we mine and cave explore,

The treasure is not there.
Say then, where shines the pearl of worth?

In ocean, earth, or sky?
Go seek it in the word of truth,

Is wisdom's prompt reply.
Birmingham.

W. Dawson.

« PreviousContinue »