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England's Antiphon   By: (1824-1905)

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[Illustration: England's Antiphon]

ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON

BY GEORGE MACDONALD

ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON was originally published in 1868

PREFACE

In this book I have sought to trace the course of our religious poetry from an early period of our literary history.

This could hardly be done without reference to some of the principal phases of the religious history of the nation. To give anything like a full history of the religious feeling of a single county, would require a large book, and not to mention sermons would involve a thorough acquaintance with the hymns of the country, a very wide subject, which I have not considered of sufficient importance from a literary point of view to come within the scope of the volume.

But if its poetry be the cream of a people's thought, some true indications of the history of its religious feeling must be found in its religious verse, and I hope I have not altogether failed in setting forth these indications.

My chief aim, however, will show itself to have been the mediating towards an intelligent and cordial sympathy betwixt my readers and the writers from whom I have quoted. In this I have some confidence of success.

Heartily do I throw this my small pebble at the head of the great Sabbath breaker Schism .

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION.

CHAPTER I. SACRED LYRICS OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.

CHAPTER II. THE MIRACLE PLAYS, AND OTHER POEMS OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.

CHAPTER III. THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.

CHAPTER IV. INTRODUCTION TO THE ELIZABETHAN ERA.

CHAPTER V. SPENSER AND HIS FRIENDS.

CHAPTER VI. LORD BACON AND HIS COEVALS.

CHAPTER VII. DR. DONNE.

CHAPTER VIII. BISHOP HALL AND GEORGE SANDYS.

CHAPTER IX. A FEW OF THE ELIZABETHAN DRAMATISTS.

CHAPTER X. SIR JOHN BEAUMONT AND DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN.

CHAPTER XI. THE BROTHERS FLETCHER.

CHAPTER XII. WITHER, HERRICK, AND QUARLES.

CHAPTER XIII. GEORGE HERBERT.

CHAPTER XIV. JOHN MILTON.

CHAPTER XV. EDMUND WALLER, THOMAS BROWN, AND JEREMY TAYLOR.

CHAPTER XVI. HENRY MORE AND RICHARD BAXTER.

CHAPTER XVII. CRASHAW AND MARVELL.

CHAPTER XVIII. A MOUNT OF VISION HENRY VAUGHAN.

CHAPTER XIX. THE PLAIN.

CHAPTER XX. THE ROOTS OF THE HILLS.

CHAPTER XXI. THE NEW VISION.

CHAPTER XXII. THE FERVOUR OF THE IMPLICIT. INSIGHT OF THE HEART.

CHAPTER XXIII. THE QUESTIONING FERVOUR.

ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

INTRODUCTION.

If the act of worship be the highest human condition, it follows that the highest human art must find material in the modes of worship. The first poetry of a nation will not be religious poetry: the nation must have a history at least before it can possess any material capable of being cast into the mould of religious utterance; but, the nation once possessed of this material, poetry is the first form religious utterance will assume.

The earliest form of literature is the ballad, which is the germ of all subsequent forms of poetry, for it has in itself all their elements: the lyric , for it was first chanted to some stringed instrument; the epic , for it tells a tale, often of solemn and ancient report; the dramatic , for its actors are ever ready to start forward into life, snatch the word from the mouth of the narrator, and speak in their own persons. All these forms have been used for the utterance of religious thought and feeling. Of the lyrical poems of England, religion possesses the most; of the epic, the best; of the dramatic, the oldest.

Of each of these I shall have occasion to speak; but, as the title of the book implies, for Antiphon means the responsive song of the parted choir, I shall have chiefly to do with the lyric or song form.

For song is the speech of feeling. Even the prose of emotion always wanders into the rhythmical. Hence, as well as for other reasons belonging to its nature, it is one chief mode in which men unite to praise God; for in thus praising they hold communion with each other, and the praise expands and grows... Continue reading book >>




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