1725 - 1807 Author of "Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat" in The Cyber Hymnal Newton, John, who was born in London, July 24, 1725, and died there Dec. 21, 1807, occupied an unique position among the founders of the Evangelical School, due as much to the romance of his young life and the striking history of his conversion, as to his force of character. His mother, a pious Dissenter, stored his childish mind with Scripture, but died when he was seven years old. At the age of eleven, after two years' schooling, during which he learned the rudiments of Latin, he went to sea with his father. His life at sea teems with wonderful escapes, vivid dreams, and sailor recklessness. He grew into an abandoned and godless sailor. The religious fits of his boyhood changed into settled infidelity, through the study of Shaftesbury and the instruction of one of his comrades. Disappointing repeatedly the plans of his father, he was flogged as a deserter from the navy, and for fifteen months lived, half-starved and ill-treated, in abject degradation under a slave-dealer in Africa. The one restraining influence of his life was his faithful love for his future wife, Mary Catlett, formed when he was seventeen, and she only in her fourteenth year. A chance reading of Thomas à Kempis sowed the seed of his conversion; which quickened under the awful contemplations of a night spent in steering a water-logged vessel in the face of apparent death (1748). He was then twenty-three. The six following years, during which he commanded a slave ship, matured his Christian belief. Nine years more, spent chiefly at Liverpool, in intercourse with Whitefield, Wesley, and Nonconformists, in the study of Hebrew and Greek, in exercises of devotion and occasional preaching among the Dissenters, elapsed before his ordination to the curacy of Olney, Bucks (1764).
The Olney period was the most fruitful of his life. His zeal in pastoral visiting, preaching and prayer-meetings was unwearied. He formed his lifelong friendship with Cowper, and became the spiritual father of Scott the commentator. At Olney his best works—-Omicron's Letters (1774); Olney Hymns (1779); Cardiphonia, written from Olney, though published 1781—were composed. As rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, in the centre of the Evangelical movement (1780-1807) his zeal was as ardent as before. In 1805, when no longer able to read his text, his reply when pressed to discontinue preaching, was, "What, shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak!" The story of his sins and his conversion, published by himself, and the subject of lifelong allusion, was the base of his influence; but it would have been little but for the vigour of his mind (shown even in Africa by his reading Euclid drawing its figures on the sand), his warm heart, candour, tolerance, and piety. These qualities gained him the friendship of Hannah More, Cecil, Wilberforce, and others; and his renown as a guide in experimental religion made him the centre of a host of inquirers, with whom he maintained patient, loving, and generally judicious correspondence, of which a monument remains in the often beautiful letters of Cardiphonia. As a hymnwriter, Montgomery says that he was distanced by Cowper. But Lord Selborne's contrast of the "manliness" of Newton and the "tenderness" of Cowper is far juster. A comparison of the hymns of both in The Book of Praise will show no great inequality between them. Amid much that is bald, tame, and matter-of-fact, his rich acquaintance with Scripture, knowledge of the heart, directness and force, and a certain sailor imagination, tell strongly. The one splendid hymn of praise, "Glorious things of thee are spoken," in the Olney collection, is his. "One there is above all others" has a depth of realizing love, sustained excellence of expression, and ease of development. "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds" is in Scriptural richness superior, and in structure, cadence, and almost tenderness, equal to Cowper's "Oh! for a closer walk with God." The most characteristic hymns are those which depict in the language of intense humiliation his mourning for the abiding sins of his regenerate life, and the sense of the withdrawal of God's face, coincident with the never-failing conviction of acceptance in The Beloved. The feeling may be seen in the speeches, writings, and diaries of his whole life. [Rev. H. Leigh Bennett, M.A.]
A large number of Newton's hymns have some personal history connected with them, or were associated with circumstances of importance. These are annotated under their respective first lines. Of the rest, the known history of which is confined to the fact that they appeared in the Olney Hymns, 1779, the following are in common use:—
1. Be still, my heart, these anxious cares. Conflict.
2. Begone, unbelief, my Saviour is near. Trust.
3. By the poor widow's oil and meal. Providence.
4. Chief Shepherd of Thy chosen sheep. On behalf of Ministers.
5. Darkness overspreads us here. Hope.
6. Does the Gospel-word proclaim. Rest in Christ.
7. Fix my heart and eyes on Thine. True Happiness.
8. From Egypt lately freed. The Pilgrim's Song.
9. He Who on earth as man was Known. Christ the Rock.
10. How blest are they to whom the Lord. Gospel Privileges.
11. How blest the righteous are. Death of the Righteous.
12. How lost was my [our] condition. Christ the Physician.
13. How tedious and tasteless the hours. Fellowship with Christ.
14. How welcome to the saints [soul] when pressed. Sunday.
15. Hungry, and faint, and poor. Before Sermon.
16. In mercy, not in wrath, rebuke. Pleading for Mercy.
17. In themselves, as weak as worms. Power of Prayer.
18. Incarnate God, the soul that knows. The Believer's Safety.
19. Jesus, Who bought us with His blood. The God of Israel. "Teach us, 0 Lord, aright to plead," is from this hymn.
20. Joy is a [the] fruit that will not grow. Joy.
21. Let hearts and tongues unite. Close of the Year. From this "Now, through another year," is taken.
22. Let us adore the grace that seeks. New Year.
23. Mary to her [the] Saviour's tomb. Easter.
24. Mercy, 0 Thou Son of David. Blind Bartimeus.
25. My harp untun'd and laid aside. Hoping for a Revival. From this "While I to grief my soul gave way" is taken.
26. Nay, I cannot let thee go. Prayer. Sometimes, "Lord, I cannot let Thee go."
27. Now may He Who from the dead. After Sermon.
28. 0 happy they who know the Lord, With whom He deigns to dwell. Gospel Privilege.
29. O Lord, how vile am I. Lent.
30. On man in His own Image made. Adam.
31. 0 speak that gracious word again. Peace through Pardon.
32. Our Lord, Who knows full well. The Importunate Widow. Sometimes altered to "Jesus, Who knows full well," and again, "The Lord, Who truly knows."
33. Physician of my sin-sick soul. Lent.
34. Pleasing spring again is here. Spring.
35. Poor, weak, and worthless, though I am. Jesus the Friend.
36. Prepare a thankful song. Praise to Jesus.
37. Refreshed by the bread and wine. Holy Communion. Sometimes given as "Refreshed by sacred bread and wine."
38. Rejoice, believer, in the Lord. Sometimes “Let us rejoice in Christ the Lord." Perseverance.
39. Salvation, what a glorious plan. Salvation.
40. Saviour, shine and cheer my soul. Trust in Jesus. The cento "Once I thought my mountain strong," is from this hymn.
41. Saviour, visit Thy plantation. Prayer for the Church.
42. See another year [week] is gone. Uncertainty of Life.
43. See the corn again in ear. Harvest.
44. Sinner, art thou still secure? Preparation for the Future.
45. Sinners, hear the [thy] Saviour's call. Invitation.
46. Sovereign grace has power alone. The two Malefactors.
47. Stop, poor sinner, stop and think. Caution and Alarm.
48. Sweeter sounds than music knows. Christmas.
49. Sweet was the time when first I felt. Joy in Believing.
50. Ten thousand talents once I owed. Forgiveness and Peace.
51. The grass and flowers, which clothe the field. Hay-time.
52. The peace which God alone reveals. Close of Service.
53. Thy promise, Lord, and Thy command. Before Sermon.
54. Time, by moments, steals away. The New Year.
55. To Thee our wants are known. Close of Divine Service.
56. We seek a rest beyond the skies. Heaven anticipated.
57. When any turn from Zion's way. Jesus only.
58. When Israel, by divine command. God, the Guide and Sustainer of Life.
59. With Israel's God who can compare? After Sermon.
60. Yes, since God Himself has said it. Confidence.
61. Zion, the city of our God. Journeying Zionward.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Newton, J., p. 803, i. Another hymn in common use from the Olney Hymns, 1779, is "Let me dwell on Golgotha" (Holy Communion).
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)
John Newton was born in London, July 24, 1725. His mother died when he was seven years old. In his eleventh year he accompanied his father, a sea captain, on a voyage. For several years his life was one of dissipation and crime. He was disgraced while in the navy. Afterwards he engaged in the slave trade. Returning to England in 1748, the vessel was nearly wrecked in a storm. This peril forced solemn reflection upon him, and from that time he was a changed man. It was six years, however, before he relinquished the slave trade, which was not then regarded as an unlawful occupation. But in 1754, he gave up sea-faring life, and holding some favourable civil position, began also religious work. In 1764, in his thirty-ninth year, he entered upon a regular ministry as the Curate of Olney. In this position he had intimate intercourse with Cowper, and with him produced the "Olney Hymns." In 1779, Newton became Rector of S. Mary Woolnoth, in London, in which position he became more widely known. It was here he died, Dec. 21, 1807, His published works are quite numerous, consisting of sermons, letters, devotional aids, and hymns. He calls his hymns "The fruit and expression of his own experience."
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872
See also in:
Hymn Writers of the Church
1771 - 1854 Translator (from Dutch) of "Praise the Lord Through Every Nation" in The Cyber Hymnal Montgomery, James, son of John Montgomery, a Moravian minister, was born at Irvine, Ayrshire, Nov. 4, 1771. In 1776 he removed with his parents to the Moravian Settlement at Gracehill, near Ballymena, county of Antrim. Two years after he was sent to the Fulneck Seminary, Yorkshire. He left Fulneck in 1787, and entered a retail shop at Mirfield, near Wakefield. Soon tiring of that he entered upon a similar situation at Wath, near Rotherham, only to find it quite as unsuitable to his taste as the former. A journey to London, with the hope of finding a publisher for his youthful poems ended in failure; and in 1792 he was glad to leave Wath for Shefield to join Mr. Gales, an auctioneer, bookseller, and printer of the Sheffield Register newspaper, as his assistant. In 1794 Mr. Gales left England to avoid a political prosecution. Montgomery took the Sheffield Register in hand, changed its name to The Sheffield Iris, and continued to edit it for thirty-one years. During the next two years he was imprisoned twice, first for reprinting therein a song in commemoration of "The Fall of the Bastille," and the second for giving an account of a riot in Sheffield. The editing of his paper, the composition and publication of his poems and hynms, the delivery of lectures on poetry in Sheffield and at the Royal Institution, London, and the earnest advocacy of Foreign Missions and the Bible Society in many parts of the country, gave great variety but very little of stirring incident to his life. In 1833 he received a Royal pension of £200 a year. He died in his sleep, at the Mount, Sheffield, April 30, 1854, and was honoured with a public funeral. A statue was erected to his memory in the Sheffield General Cemetery, and a stained glass window in the Parish Church. A Wesleyan chapel and a public hall are also named in his honour. Montgomery's principal poetical works, including those which he edited, were:—
(1) Prison Amusements, 1797; (2) The Wanderer of Switzerland, 1806; (3) The West Indies, 1807; (4) The World before the Flood, 1813; (5) Greenland and Other Poems, 1819; (6) Songs of Zion, 1822; (7) The Christian Psalmist, 1825; (8) The Christian Poet, 1825; (9) The Pelican Island, 1828; (10) The Poet’s Portfolio, 1835; (11) Original Hymns for Public, Private, and Social Devotion, 1853. He also published minor pieces at various times, and four editions of his Poetical Works, the first in 1828, the second in 1836, the third in 1841, and the fourth in 1854. Most of these works contained original hymns. He also contributed largely to Collyer's Collection, 1812, and other hymnbooks published during the next 40 years, amongst which the most noticeable was Cotterill's Selections of 1819, in which more than 50 of his compositions appeared. In his Christian Psalmist, 1825, there are 100 of his hymns, and in his Original Hymns, 1853, 355 and 5 doxologies. His Songs of Zion, 1822, number 56. Deducting those which are repeated in the Original Hymns, there remain about 400 original compositions.
Of Montgomery's 400 hymns (including his versions of the Psalms) more than 100 are still in common use. With the aid of Montgomery's MSS. we have given a detailed account of a large number. The rest are as follows:—
i. Appeared in Collyer's Collection, 1812.
1. Jesus, our best beloved Friend. Personal Dedication to Christ.
2. When on Sinai's top I see. Sinai, Tabor, and Calvary.
ii. Appeared in Cotterill's Selection, 1819.
3. Come to Calvary's holy mountain. The Open Fountain.
4. God in the high and holy place. God in Nature. The cento in Com. Praise, 1879, and others, "If God hath made this world so fair," is from this hymn.
5. Hear me, O Lord, in my distress. Ps. cxliii.
6. Heaven is a place of rest from sin. Preparation for Heaven.
7. I cried unto the Lord most just. Ps. cxlii.
8. Lord, let my prayer like incense rise. Ps. cxxxix.
9. O bless the Lord, my soul! His grace to thee proclaim. Ps. ciii.
10. Out of the depths of woe. Ps. cxxx. Sometimes "When from the depths of woe."
11. The world in condemnation lay. Redemption.
12. Where are the dead? In heaven or hell? The Living and the Dead.
iii. Appeared in his Songs of Zion, 1822.
13. Give glory to God in the highest. Ps. xxix.
14. Glad was my heart to hear. Ps. cxxii.
15. God be merciful to me. Ps. lxix.
16. God is my strong salvation. Ps. xxvii.
17. Hasten, Lord, to my release. Ps. lxx.
18. Have mercy on me, O my God. Ps. li.
19. Hearken, Lord, to my complaints. Ps. xlii.
20. Heralds of creation cry. Ps. cxlviii.
21. How beautiful the sight. Ps. cxxxiii.
22. How precious are Thy thoughts of peace. Ps. cxxxix.
23. I love the Lord, He lent an ear. Ps. cxvi.
24. In time of tribulation. Ps. lxxvii.
25. Jehovah is great, and great be His praise. Ps. xlviii. Sometimes, "0 great is Jehovah, and great is His Name."
26. Judge me, O Lord, in righteousness. Ps. xliii.
27. Lift up your heads, ye gates, and wide. Ps.xxiv.
28. Lord, let me know mine [my] end. Ps. xxxi.
29. Of old, 0 God, Thine own right hand. Ps. lxxx.
30. O God, Thou art [my] the God alone. Ps. lxiii.
31. 0 Lord, our King, how excellent. Ps. viii. Sometimes, "0 Lord, how excellent is Thy name."
32. O my soul, with all thy powers. Ps. ciii.
33. One thing with all my soul's desire. Ps. xxvii. From this, "Grant me within Thy courts a place."
34. Searcher of hearts, to Thee are known. Ps. cxxxix.
35. Thank and praise Jehovah's name. Ps. cvii.
36. Thee will I praise, O Lord in light. Ps. cxxxviii.
37. The Lord is King; upon His throne. Ps. xciii.
38. The Lord is my Shepherd, no want shall I know. Ps. xxiii.
39. The tempter to my soul hath said. Ps. iii.
40. Thrice happy he who shuns the way. Ps. i.
41. Thy glory, Lord, the heavens declare. Ps. xix.
42. Thy law is perfect, Lord of light. Ps. xix.
43. Who make the Lord of hosts their tower. Ps. cxxv.
44. Yea, I will extol Thee. Ps. xxx.
iv. Appeared in his Christian Psalmist. 1825.
45. Fall down, ye nations, and adore. Universal adoration of God desired.
46. Food, raiment, dwelling, health, and friends. The Family Altar.
47. Go where a foot hath never trod. Moses in the desert. Previously in the Leeds Congregational Collection, 1822.
48. Green pastures and clear streams. The Good Shepherd and His Flock.
49. Less than the least of all. Mercies acknowledged.
50. Not to the mount that burned with fire [flame]. Communion of Saints.
51. On the first Christian Sabbath eve. Easter Sunday Evening.
52. One prayer I have: all prayers in one. Resignation.
53. Our heavenly Father hear. The Lord's Prayer.
54. Return, my soul, unto thy rest. Rest in God.
55. Spirit of power and might, behold. The Spirit's renewing desired.
56. The Christian warrior, see him stand. The Christian Soldier. Sometimes, "Behold the Christian warrior stand."
57. The days and years of time are fled. Day of Judgment.
58. The glorious universe around. Unity.
59. The pure and peaceful mind. A Children's Prayer.
60. This is the day the Lord hath made (q. v.). Sunday.
61. Thy word, Almighty Lord. Close of Service.
62. What secret hand at morning light ? Morning.
63. While through this changing world we roam. Heaven.
64. Within these walls be peace. For Sunday Schools.
v. Appeared in his Original Hymns, 1853.
65. Behold yon bright array. Opening a Place of Worship.
66. Behold the book whose leaves display. Holy Scriptures.
67. Come ye that fear the Lord. Confirmation.
68. Home, kindred, friends, and country, these. Farewell to a Missionary.
69. Let me go, the day is breaking. Jacob wrestling.
70. Not in Jerusalem alone. Consecration of a Church.
71. Praise the high and holy One. God the Creator.
In common with most poets and hymnwriters, Montgomery strongly objected to any correction or rearrangement of his compositions. At the same time he did not hesitate to alter, rearrange, and amend the productions of others. The altered texts which appeared in Cotterill's Selections, 1819, and which in numerous instances are still retained in some of the best hymnbooks, as the "Rock of Ages," in its well-known form of three stanzas, and others of equal importance, were made principally by him for Cotterill's use. We have this confession under his own hand.
As a poet, Montgomery stands well to the front; and as a writer of hymns he ranks in popularity with Wesley, Watts, Doddridge, Newton, and Cowper. His best hymns were written in his earlier years. In his old age he wrote much that was unworthy of his reputation. His finest lyrics are "Angels from the realms of glory," "Go to dark Gethsemane," "Hail to the Lord's Anointed," and "Songs of praise the angels sang." His "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire," is an expanded definition of prayer of great beauty; and his "Forever with the Lord" is full of lyric fire and deep feeling. The secrets of his power as a writer of hymns were manifold. His poetic genius was of a high order, higher than most who stand with him in the front rank of Christian poets. His ear for rhythm was exceedingly accurate and refined. His knowledge of Holy Scripture was most extensive. His religious views were broad and charitable. His devotional spirit was of the holiest type. With the faith of a strong man he united the beauty and simplicity of a child. Richly poetic without exuberance, dogmatic without uncharitableness, tender without sentimentality, elaborate without diffusiveness, richly musical without apparent effort, he has bequeathed to the Church of Christ wealth which could onlv have come from a true genius and a sanctified! heart.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
1556 - 1608 Person Name: Philip Nicolai Composer of "SLEEPERS, WAKE" in The Cyber Hymnal Nicolai, Philipp, D.D., son of Dieterich Nicolai, sometime Lutheran pastor at Herdecke, in Westphalia, and after 1552, at Mengeringhausen in Waldeck, was born at Mengeringhausen, August 10, 1556. (The father was son of Nicolaus Rafflenbol, of Rafflenbol, near Hagen, in Westphalia, and in later life had adopted the Latinised form Nicolai of his father's Christian name as his own surname.) In 1575 Nicolai entered the University of Erfurt, and in 1576 he went to Wittenberg. After completing his University course in 1579 (D.D. at Wittenberg July 4, 1594), he lived for some time at Volkliardinghausen, near Mengeringhausen, and frequently preached for his father. In August, 1583, he was appointed Lutheran preacher at Herdecke, but found many difficulties there, the members of the Town Council being Roman Catholics. After the invasion by the Spanish troops in April, 1586, his colleague re-introduced the Mass, and Nicolai resigned his post. In the end of 15S6 he was appointed diaconus at Niederwildungen, near Waldeck, and in 1587 he became pastor there. He then became, in Nov. 1588, chief pastor at Altwildungen, and also court preacher to the widowed Countess Margafetha of Waldeck, and tutor to her son, Count Wilhelm Ernst. Here he took an active part on the Lutheran side in the Sacramentarian controversy, and was, in Sept. 1592, inhibited from preaching by Count Franz of Waldeck, but the prohibition was soon removed, and in the Synod of 1593 held at Mengeringhausen, he found all the clergy of the principality of Waldeck willing to agree to the Formula of Concord.
In October, 1596, he became pastor at Unna, in Westphalia, where he again became engaged in heated controversy with the Calvinists; passed through a frightful pestilence (see below); and then on Dec. 27, 1598, had to flee before the invasion of the Spaniards, and did not return till the end of April, 1599. Finally, in April 1601, he was elected chief pastor of St. Katherine's Church, at Hamburg, where he entered on his duties Aug. 6, 1601. On Oct. 22, 1608, he took part in the ordination of a colleague in the St. Katherine's Church, the diaconus Penshora, and returned home feeling unwell. A violent fever developed itself, under which he sank, and died Oct. 26, 1608 (D. Philipp Nicolai’s Leben und Lieder, by L. Curtze, 1859; Koch, ii. 324; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie xxiii. 607, &c).
In Hamburg Nicolai was universally esteemed, was a most popular and influential preacher, and was regarded as a "pillar" of the Lutheran church. In his private life he seems to have been most lovable and estimable. Besides his fame as a preacher, his reputation rests mainly on his hymns. His printed works are mostly polemical, often very violent and acrid in tone, and such as the undoubted sincerity of his zeal to preserve pure and unadulterated Lutheranism may explain, but cannot be said to justify. Of his hymns only four seem to have been printed.
Three of Nicolai's hymns were first published in his devotional work entitled Frewden-Spiegel dess ewigen Lebens, published at Frankfurt-am-Main, 1599 (see further below). The two noted here ("Wachet auf” and “Wie schon") rank as classical and epoch-making. The former is the last of the long series of Watchmen's Songs. The latter marks the transition from the objective churchly period to the more subjective and experimental period of German hymn writing; and begins the long series of Hymns of Love to Christ as the Bridegroom of the Soul, to which Franck and Scheffler contributed such beautiful examples. Both are also worthy of note for their unusual and perfect rhythms, and for their splendid melodies.
i. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. Eternal Life. This beautiful hymn, one of the first rank, is founded on St. Matt. xxv. 1-13; Rev. xix. 6-9, and xxi. 21; 1 Cor. ii. 9; Ezek. iii. 17; and Is. lii. 8. It first appeared in the Appendix to his Frewden-Spiegel, 1599, in 3 st. of 10 1., entitled "Of the Voice at Midnight, and the Wise Virgins who meet their Heavenly Bridegroom. Matt. 25." Thence in Wackernagel v. p. 259, the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 690, and most German collections.
It is a reversed acrostic, W. Z. G. for the Graf zu Waldeck, viz. his former pupil Count Wilhelm Ernst, who died at Tübingen Sept. 16, 1598, in his fifteenth year. It seems to have been written in 1597 at Unna, in Wesphalia, where Nicolai was then pastor; and during the terrible pestilence which raged there from July, 1597, to January, 1598, to which in July 300, in one week in August 170, and in all over 1300 fell victims. Nicolai's parsonage overlooked the churchyard, and there daily interments took place, often to the number of thirty. In these days of distress, when every household was in mourning, Nicolai's thoughts turned to Death, and thence to God in Heaven, and to the Eternal Fatherland. Jn the preface (dated Aug. 10, 1598) to his Frewden-Spiegel he says: "There seemed to me nothing more sweet, delightful and agreeable, than the contemplation of the noble, sublime doctrine of Eternal Life obtained through the Blood of Christ. This I allowed to dwell in my heart day and night, and searched the Scriptures as to what they revealed on this matter, read also the sweet treatise of the ancient doctor Saint Augustine [De Civitate Dei].
..... Then day by day I wrote out my meditations, found myself, thank God! wonderfully well, comforted in heart, joyful in spirit, and truly content; gave to my manuscript the name and title of a Mirror of Joy, and took this so composed Frewden-Spiegel to leave behind me (if God should call me from this world) as the token of my peaceful, joyful, Christian departure, or (if God should spare me in health) to comfort other sufferers whom He should also visit with the pestilence .... Now has the gracious, holy God most mercifully preserved me amid the dying from the dreadful pestilence, and wonderfully spared me beyond all my thoughts and hopes, so that with the Prophet David I can say to Him "0 how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee," &c.
The hymn composed under these circumstances (it may be stated that Curtze thinks both hymns were written in 1596, while Nicolai was still at Alt-Wildungen) soon became popular, and still retains its place, though often altered in the 3rd stanza. Probably the opening lines;
"Wachet auf! ruft uns die Stimme Der Wachter sehr hoch auf der Zinne" are borrowed from one of the Wächter-Lieder, a form of lyric popular in the Middle Ages, introduced by Wolfram von Eschenbach. (See K. Goedeke's Deutsche Dichtung im Mittelalter, 1871, p. 918.) But while in the Songs the voice of the Watchman from his turret summons the workers of darkness to flee from discovery, with "Nicolai it is a summons to the children of light to awaken to their promised reward and full felicity.
The melody appeared first along with the hymn, and is also apparently by Nicolai, though portions of it (e.g. 1. 1 by the Gregorian Fifth Tone) may have been suggested by earlier tunes. It has been called the King of Chorales, and by its majestic simplicity and dignity it well deserves the title. Since its use by Mendelssohn in his St. Paul it has become well known in England, and, in its original form, is given in Miss Winkworth's Chorale Book for England, 1863 (see below).
Translations in common use:—
1. Sleepers wake, a voice is calling. This is an unrhymed translation of st. i. by W. Ball in his book of words to Mendelssohn's oratorio of St. Paul, 1836. This form is in Horder's Congregational Hymns, 1884, and others. In the South Place [London] Collection, 1873, it is a recast by A. J. Ellis, but opens with the same first line. In the Parish Hymn Book, 1875, a translation of st. ii., also unrhymed, is added.
2. "Wake ye holy maidens, wake ye. A good translation contributed by Philip Pusey to A. R. Reinagle's Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Oxford, 1840, p. 134. It was considerably altered, beginning "Wake, ye holy maidens, fearing" in the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, and this is repeated, with further alterations, in Kennedy, 1863, and the Sarum Hymnal, 1868.
3. Wake, arise! the call obeying. A good translation by A. T. Russell, as No. 110 in the Dalston Hospital Hymn Book 1848.
4. Wake, oh wake; around are flying. This is a recast, by A. T. Russell, not for the better, from his 1848 translation, as No. 268 in his Psalms & Hymns. 1851, st. iii. being omitted. Thence, unaltered, in the New Zealand Hymnal, 1872.
5. Wake, awake, for night is flying. A very good translation by Miss Winkworth, in her Lyra Germanica, 2nd Ser., 1858, p. 225, repeated in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 200, with st. ii., 11. 7, 8, rewritten. Included in the English Presbyterian Psalms & Hymns, 1867; Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876, &c.; and in America, in Laudes Domini, 1884, and others. In the Cantate Domino, Boston, U. S., 1859, it begins "Awake, awake, for night is flying."
6. Wake! the startling watch-cry pealeth. By Miss Cox, in Lyra Messianica, 1864, p. 4, and her Hymns from the German, 1864, p. 27; repeated in W. F. Stevenson's Hymns for Church and Home, 1873. The version in J. L. Porter's Collection, 1876, takes st. i., 11. 1-4 from Miss Cox. The rest is mainly from R. C. Singleton's translation in the Anglican Hymn Book, but borrows lines also from Miss Winkworth, and from the Hymnary text.
7. Wake! the watchman's voice is sounding. By R. C.Singleton. This is No. 259 in the Anglican Hymn Book, 1868, where it is marked as a "versification by R. C. Singleton, 1867."
8. Wake, awake, for night is flying. This is by Canon W. Cooke, in the Hymnary, 1871, and signed A. C. C. In the edition of 1872, 11. 7, 8 of st. ii. are recast, and the whole is marked as " based on E. A. Dayman." It is really a cento, four lines of the 1872 text (i., 1. 5; ii., 11. 7, 8; iii., 1. 9) being by Canon Cooke; and the rest being adapted from the versions of P. Pusey as altered in the Sarum Hymnal, of Miss Winkworth, of Miss Cox, and of R. C. Singleton. It may be regarded as a success, and as passed into the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, 1871; the 1874 Appendix to the New Congregational Hymn Book; Horder's Congregational Hymns, 1884, and others.
9. Wake, arise! the voice is calling. This is an anonymous translation in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
10. Slumberers, wake, the Bridegroom cometh. A spirited version, based on Miss Winkworth (and with an original st. as iv.), by J. H. Hopkins in his Carols, Hymns & Songs, 3rd ed., 1882. p. 88, and dated 1866. Repeated in the Hymnal Companion (Reformed Episcopal) Philadelphia, U.S., 1885.
Other translations are:—
(1) “Awake, the voice is crying." In Lyra Davidica, 1108, p. 73. (2) "Awake! awake! the watchman calls." By Miss Fry, 1845, p. 33. (3) "Hark! the trump of God is sounding." By Dr. H. Mills, 1845 (1856, p. 269. This is from the altered form by F. G. Klopstock, in his Geistliche Lieder, 1758, p. 246, as further altered in Zollikofer's Gesang-Buch, 1766, No. 303, where it begins "Wachet auf! so ruft." (4) "Awake, arise, the voice gives warning." In the United Presbyterian Juvenile Missionary Magazine, 1857, p. 193; repeated in 1859, p. 171, beginning, “Awake, arise, it is the warning." (5) “Waken! From the tower it soundeth." By Mrs. Bevan, 1858, p. 1. (6) Up! awake! his summons hurried." By J. D.Burns, in the Family Treasury, 1860, p. 84, and his Memoir & Remains, 1869, p. 234.
11. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Voll Gnad und Wahrheit von dem Herrn. Love to Christ. First published in theAppendix to his Frewden-Spiegel, 1599, in 7 stanzas of 10 lines entitled "A spiritual bridal song of the believing soul concerning Jesus Christ, her heavenly Bridegroom, founded on the 45th Psalm of the prophet David." Lauxmann, in Koch, viii. 271, thus gives an account of it as written during the Pestilence of 1597. He says Nicola was
"One morning in great distress and tribulation in his quiet study. He rose in spirit from the distress and death which surrounded him to his Redeemer and Saviour, and while he clasped Him in ardent love there welled forth from the inmost depths of his heart this precious hymn of the Saviour's love and of the joys of Heaven. He was so entirely absorbed in this holy exaltation that he forgot all around him, even his midday meal, and allowed nothing to disturb him in his poetical labours till the hymn was completed "—-three hours after midday.
As Nicolai was closely connected with Waldeck he formed with the initial letters of his stanzas the acrostic W. E. G. U. H. Z. W., viz. Wilhelm Ernst Graf Und Herr Zn Waldeck— his former pupil.
The hymn has reminiscences of Eph. v., of Canticles, and of the Mediaeval Hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It became at once a favourite in Germany, was reckoned indispensable at weddings, was often sung around death beds, &c. The original form is in Wackernagel v. p. 258, and the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 437; but this (as will be seen by comparing Miss Winkworth's version of 1869) is hardly suited for present day congregational use. In Bunsen's Versuch, 1833, No. 554, it is slightly altered. The form in Knapp's Evangelischer Lieder-Schatz, 1837, No. 2074 (1865, No. 1810) is a recast by Knapp made on Jan. 14, 1832, and published in his Christoterpe, 1833, p. 285, preceded by a recast of "Wachet auf!"; both being marked as “rewritten according to the requirements of our times."
The popularity of the hymn was greatly aided by its beautiful chorale (named by Mr. Mercer, Frankfort), which has been called "The Queen of Chorales," and to which many city chimes in Germany were soon set. It was published with the hymn, and is probably an original tune by Nicolai, though portions may have been suggested by earlier melodies, especially by the "Resonet in laudibus," which is probably of the 14th cent. (Bäumker i., No. 48, cites it from the Obsequiale, Ingolstadt, 1570. In Alton's Congregational Psalmist named Arimathea).
Translations in common use:—
1. How bright appears the Morning Star! This is a full and fairly close version by J. C. Jacobi, in his Psalter Germanica, 1722, p. 90 (1732, p. 162); repeated, with alterations, in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, pt. i., No. 317 (1886, No. 360). The versions of st. v., vii. beginning, "The Father from eternity," are included in Aids to the Service of Song, Edinburgh N.D., but since 1860. In 1855 Mercer gave in his The Church Psalter & Hymn Book., as No. 15, a hymn in 4 stanzas of 10 lines, of which five lines are exactly from Jacobi. St. i., l1. 1-3; ii., .11. 8, 9 ; iii., 11. 2, 3, 6 ; iv., 1. 10, are exactly; and i., 1. 9; ii., 11. 2, 3, 6, 10; iii., II. 1, 4, 5; iv., 11. 7, 9 are nearly from the Moravian Hymn Book, 1801. The interjected lines are by Mercer, but bear very slight resemblance either to Nicolai's original text, or to any version of the German that we have seen. In his 1859 edition he further recast it, leaving only the first line unaltered from Jacobi; and this form is in his Oxford edition, 1864, No. 121, in the Irish Church Hymnal, 1869 and 1873, and in the Hymnal Companion 1870 and 1876. In Kennedy, 1863, the text of 1859 is given with alterations, and begins "How brightly dawns the Morning Star;" and this form is in the People's Hymnal, 1867; Dale's English Hymn Book 1874, &c.
2. How graciously doth shine afar. By A. T. Russell, as No. 8 in the Dalston Hospital Hymn Book, 1848, and repeated in the Cheltenham College Hymn Book, No. 37. It is a free translation of st. i., vi., v.
3. How lovely shines the Morning Star! A good and full translation by Dr. H. Harbaugh (from the text in Dr. Schaff’s Deutsches Gesang-Buch, 1860), in the German Reformed Guardian, May, 1860, p. 157. Repeated in full in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, and abridged in Adams's Church Pastorals, Boston, U.S.A., 1864.
4. 0 Morning Star! how fair and bright. A somewhat free translation of st. i., iii., iv., vii., by Miss Winkworth, as No.149 in her Chorale Book for England, 1863. Repeated in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868; Ohio Lutheran Hymnal,1880, &c.
5. How brightly shines the Morning Star, In truth and mercy from afar. A translation of st. i., iii., iv., vii., by Miss Borthwick, as No. 239 in Dr. Pagenstecher's Collection, 1864.
6. How brightly glows the Morning Star. In full, from Knapp's German recast, by M. W. Stryker, in his Hymns & Verses, 1883, p. 52; repeated, omitting st. ii., iv., in his Christian Chorals, 1885, No. 145.
Other translations are:—
(1) "How fairly shines the Morning Star." In Lyra Davidica, 1708, p. 40. (2) "As bright the star of morning gleams" (st. i.) By W. Bartholomew, in his book of words to Mendelssohn's oratorio of Christus, 1852, p. 11. (3) "How lovely now the Morning Star." By Miss Cox, 1864, p. 229. (4) "How beauteous shines the Morning Star." By Miss Burlingham, in the British Herald, Oct. 1865, p. 152, and Reid's Praise Book, 1872. (5) "0 Morning Star, how fair and bright." By MissWinkworth, 1869, p. 160. (6) "How bright appears our Morning Star." By J. H. Hopkins, in his Carols, Hymns and Songs, 3rd ed., 1882, p. 168, and dated 1866.
There are also three hymns in common use, which have generally been regarded as translations from Nicolai. They are noted as follows:—i. "Behold how glorious is yon sky" (see p. 127, ii.). ii. "How beautiful the Morning Star". iii. "How brightly shines the Morning Star! What eye descries it from afar". [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)