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468 a779 1874
LONDON: PRINTED BY
AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE AND PARLIAMENT STREET
W. H. Wait
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.
HE AIM of the present volume is to offer to members of our English Church a collection of the best sacred Latin poetry, such as they shall be able entirely and heartily to accept and approve—a collection, that is, in which they shall not be evermore liable to have the current of their sympathies checked, by coming upon that, which, however beautiful as poetry, out of higher respects they must reject and condemn-in which, too, they shall not fear that snares are being laid for them, to entangle them unawares in admiration for ought which is inconsistent with their faith and fealty to their own spiritual mother. Such being the idea of the volume it is needless to say that all hymns which in any way imply the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation are excluded. In like manner all are excluded, which involve any creature-worship, or which speak of the Mother of our Lord in any other language than that which Scripture has sanctioned, and our Church adopted. So too all asking of the suffrages of the saints, all addresses to the Cross calculated to encourage superstition, that is, in which any value is attributed to the material wood in
which it is used otherwise than in the Epistles of St. Paul, namely, as a figure of speech by which we ever and only understand Him that hung upon it; all these have been equally refused a place.
Nor is it only poems containing positive error which I have counted inadmissible; but I have not willingly given room to any which breathe a spirit foreign to that tone of piety which the English Church desires to cherish in her children; for I have always felt that compositions of this character may be far more hurtful, may do far more to rob her of the affections, and ultimately of the allegiance, of her children, than those in which error and opposition to her teaching take a more definite and tangible shape. Nor surely can there be a more serious mistake, than to suppose that we have really 'adapted' such works to the use of her members, when we have lopped off here and there a few offensive excrescences, while that far more potent, because far subtler and more impalpable, element of a life which is not her life remains interfused through the whole.
Having thus in a manner become responsible for all which appears in this volume, I may be permitted to observe, that I do not thereby imply that there may not be in it, here and there, though very rarely indeed, a phrase which will claim the interpretation of charity. The reader will in such a case remember how unfair it is
to try the theological language of the middle ages by the greater strictness and accuracy which the struggles of the Reformation rendered necessary. Thus, for us at this day to talk of any 'merits' save those of Christ, after all that the Reformation has won for us, would involve a conscious and a deliberate falling away from a sole and exclusive reliance upon His work. But it was a different thing once, and such language might quite be used by one who had implicitly an entire affiance on the work of Christ for him as the ultimate ground of his hope; and who only waited to have the truth, which with some confusion he held and lived by, put before him in accurate form, to embrace it henceforth and for ever, not only with heart, as he had done already, but with the understanding as well.
Nor is it impossible that there may have found admission here one or two poems which some, whom I should greatly have desired altogether to carry with me in my selection, may not wish had been away. It is one of the mischiefs which Rome has entailed upon the whole Western Church, even upon those portions of it now delivered from her yoke, that she has rendered suspicious so much, which, but for her, none could have thought other than profitable and edifying. She has compelled those, who before everything else would be true to God's Word, oftentimes to act in the spirit of Hezekiah, when