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writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, “ from the tender and earnest numbers of Southwell and Crashaw and Habington,” the gentle symphonies of Vaughan, the rugged verse of Donne and Jeremy Taylor, from the quaint “ Church Emblems” of Quarles, and the voluminous "Hallelujah ” of Wither, which touched with a poetic glow each object of every-day life.
For the rest, we have, like the householder, brought together things “new and old :” some of the latter we must thank the German writers for passing on to us, and Miss Winkworth and others for translating. We are also indebted to the compilers of a little Scottish Hymn Book, which, when we discovered the two worn volumes, had been through a score of editions at Edinburgh.
Choosing irrespective of creed, we have been often guided by rare and deep associations of the past; hymns there are here which have been breathed by dying lips, traced on the walls of prisons, sung with hushed voices in catacombs, or joyfully chanted on the battle-march, or fearlessly at the stake.
The poet Robert Southwell, when in prison awaiting martyrdom nearly three hundred
years ago, wrote thus to his friend: “We have sung the canticles of the Lord in a strange land, and in this desert we have sucked honey from the rock, and oil from the hard stone; but” “We now sow the seed with tears, that others hereafter may with joy carry in the sheaves to the heavenly granaries.”
The martyr's prophecy has seemed to us nearing accomplishment, as in the course of our pleasant labor, we have gone back gleaning these precious handfuls which the years let fall.
C. S. W.
Roxbury, July, 1860.