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VOL. XV...- JULY 1864..-- No. 7.
THE ANGELIC HYMN.
BY THE EDITOR.
This celebrated ancient hymn, which is also called the "Gloria in Excelsis,” because it begins with these words in the Latin, is based on Luke 2: 14, where the angels celebrated our Saviour's birth. Hence it was anciently called the Angelic Hymn.
It consists of three parts, according to the order of the three Persons in the Trinity-Father, Son and Holy Ghost. As a wholo it seems to take up into itself the olements of older devotional forms. The Gloria Patri underlies its organism. The second part is an expansion of the old form: “Have mercy upon us;" and the third part is based on the Trisagion, or three times Holy, Is. 6: 3.
Its authorship has been attributed to various persons, and its origin located in different periods. Some have ascribed it to Telesphorus, a bishop of Rome, A. D., 150 ; others to Symmachus of the same city, A. D., 500., and still others to Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, in the fourth century - he died A. D., 368. This supposition is most probably the correct one, as Hilary is known to have composed hymns. Some say that he merely translated it in a free way into Latin. It is, at any rate, generally attributed to the 4th century, and is beyond doubt the oldest Christian hymn of uninspired composition in existence.
The reason of its authorship being thus obscure, is to be found in the fact of its gradual development into its final permanert form. Though Hilary may have given it its final form, when he translated it in the form then found, the expansion of it from the old ele
ments mentioned, no doubt belongs to different men and ages. As quoted in some of the ancient writings, it is not yet in its present completo form. In the Apostolic Constitutions it stands as follows:
"Glory be to God on high, in earth peace, good will toward men. We praise Thee, we laud Thee, we worship Theo, by the great High Priest, Thee the true God, the only unbegotten, whom no one can approach, for Thy great glory, O Lord, heavenly King, God the Faiber, Almighty : Lord God, the Father of Christ, the im. maculate Lamb, who taketh away the sin of the world, receive our prayer, Thou that sittest upon the cherubim. For Thou only art holy, Thou only Lord Jesus, the Christ of God, the God of every created being, and our King. By whom unto Thec be glory, bonor and adoration."
Athanasius, who died A. D., 373, also makes mention of this Hymn in his book of virginity, but does not quote it entire. He recommends it as a morning Ilymn. In the Clementine Liturgy we bave it in nucleus thus: “Let all the People answer : “There is one Holy, one Lord, one Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father, blessed forevermore. Amen. Glory be to God in the bighest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed be Ho that cometh in the name of the Lord ; He is our God and Lord, and hath appeared to us. Hosanna in the highest." Thus it is, as to its substantial form, orer 1500 ycars old ; and has been known and used in England 1200 years.
In the iniddle ages it was sung with various interpolations. Some of these fit together not much better than, “Broad is the road that leads to death," with the chorus, "O come and will you go!" Thus after the words: “For thou only art holy”-they added"Sanctifying Mary!" After : “Thou only art the Lord'-the words—“governing Mary.” After : “Thou only art most high," they added—“crowning Mary." But these improrements were soon rubbed off from it by the purifying process of history.
This Hymn was anciently much used in private morning prayer, as St. Chrysostom tells us. Also in the celebration of Christmas; and very ancien:ly it was used always in the communion serviceat the close of that solemnity. In the Latin Church it has been set aside in this service by the Te Deum. The reason of its being used in the communion service is plain. The original Angelic Hymn, Luke 2:14, out of which this grew, celebrated the mani. festation of God coming in the flesh; and here, in the sacramental mystery, we have the highest manifestation of His life. As in the first Angolic Greeting the Incarnation was announced to men, 80 in the holy Eucharist men respond to those angels in connection with that sacrament in which tbe virtue of the incarnation becomes their real possession. This sacrament is ever new, and the high. est commemoration of the incarnation of Christ.
In the Eastern Church this Hymn is still, as it was in the days of Atbanasius, used in the morning service of cach day.
In the early part of the Reformation this Hymn was cast into a metrical form, by Nikolaus Decius, 1529. · His version begins : "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr.” It was also for a time sung in Latin in the Lutheran Church, on account of the peculiarly molodious flow of of the words and sentiments in that language. Free metrical versions have also been made in English. A pretty literal metrical version of the whole Hymn may be found in the "Hymns and Chants," where it stands as Hymn No. 98.
BY THE EDITOR.
The word Apochrypha is derived from two Greek words, which combined mean secrets, or to hide and conceal from. Wby the books, which are in many Bibles incorporated with the Old Testament, received this name, is not quite clear. Some think they were 60 called to denote that their origin and authors were unknown.
That their authors designed to pass off these books as canonical and inspired is evident from the fact, that they have sought to imitate the genuine books in style and forrn, and have given them such titles as ally them ostensibly with the sacred books. Some of the ancients spoke of them at least as genuine, and tho Roman Church admits them. Others regarded them, not as inspired, but profitable to be read in the Church and by Christians. The Prot estants rejected them.
The Zurich and Strasburg editions of the Bible, 1529, include Leo Juda's translation of the Apochryphal Books, designating them as "the books wbich by the ancients are counted among the Biblical writings, but which are not found among the Hebrews.” In the first complete edition of the Bible in German, published by Luther, 1534, he includes most of them under the title : “Apochrypba; that is, books which are not of equal honor with the Holy Scria tures, but yet are good and useful to be read.” The third and tourth book of Ezra, as he himself says, he did not feel inclined to translate "because there is so entirely nothing in them that may not as well be found in Æsop, or in books of still less note, except that in the fourth book there are contained some idle dreanis. Whoever will may translate them, but he must not mix them up with the pumber of these sacred books.”
These books contain much that is good and beautiful, but also enough that is in such evident disbarmony with the general tone and spirit of the Holy Scriptures as to condemn them as uninspired from internal evidence. They are supposed to have been written by some learned Jews. They are not quoted in the New Testament as the Old Testament books are, nor do Philo and Josephus quote or mention them. They were evidently written long atter Malachi, when the spirit of inspiration ceased among the Jews; and none of the writers claim inspiration for themselves.
These books indicate in many parts a high order of talent; and they contain many passages of power and beauty perhaps not exceeded in any buman productions. Wbere, for instance, is there anything to surpass in poetic beauty the following from the Wisdom of Solomon, chap. 5, on
THE VANITY OF EARTHLY THINGS.
All those things are passed away like a shadow,
Which when it is gone by,
The trace thereof cannot be found,
Or as when a bird hath flown through the air,
Is passed through,
And therein afterward
Or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark
It parteth the air,
Even so we, in like manner,
And had no sign of virtue to show;
For the hope of the ungodly is like dust
That is blown away with the wind ;
Like as the smoke
That tarrieth but a day.
Take another very beautiful and touching passage from the same book, chapter 3, on
THE BEAUTIFUL DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
But they are in peace.
Yet is their hope full of immortality.
They shall be greatly rewarded;
For God proved them
They shall shine,
They shall judge the nations,
We cannot refrain from quoting another of these grand poetical passages. If the last one given is tender and touching, this approaches the sublime. It reminds one at once of the one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm. Where is there anything outside of the Bible itself, that surpasses this beautiful poem, found in Ecclesiasti. cus, chap. 43, on
THE GRAND IN NATURE.
The sun when he appeareth,
The work of the Most High :
A man blowing a furnace is in works of heat,
Breathing out fiery vapors,
It dimmeth the eyes.
He made the moon also to serve in her season
For a declaration of times,
And a sign of the world.
The month is called after her name,
The beauty of heaven,
At the commandment of the Holy One
They will stand in their order,
Look upon the rainbow,
Very beautiful it is in the brightness thereof
And the hands of the Most High have bended it.