To these homiletical rules and hints must be added the notices scattered through the sermons of preachers like Honorius of Autun and Caesar of Heisterbach. Caesar said, 2072a sermon should be like a net, made up of texts of Scripture; and like an arrow, sharp to pierce the hearts of the hearers; straight, that is, without any false doctrine; and feathered, that is, easy to be understood. The bow is the Word of God.
Among the prominent preachers from 1050 to 1200, whose sermons have been preserved, were Peter Damiani, d. 1072, Ivo of Chartres, d. 1116, Hildebert of Tours, d. 1133, Abaelard d. 1142, St. Bernard, d. 1153, and Maurice, archbishop of Paris, d. 1196. Of the eloquence of Arnold of Brescia, Norbert, the founder of the Premonstrant order, and Fulke of Neuilly, the fiery preacher of the Fourth Crusade, no specimens are preserved. Another class of preachers were the itinerant preachers, some of whom were commissioned by popes, as were Robert of Abrissel and Bernard of Thiron who went about clad in coarse garments and with flowing beards, preaching to large concourses of people. They preached repentance and sharply rebuked the clergy for their worldliness, themselves wept and brought their hearers to tears.
Bernard enjoys the reputation of being, up to his time, the most brilliant luminary of the pulpit after the days of Gregory the Great. Luther held his sermons in high regard and called him "the golden preacher"—der gueldene Prediger. Among the preachers of France he is placed at the side of Bourdaloue and Bossuet. He has left more than two hundred and fifty discourses on special texts and themes in addition to the eighty-six homilies on the Song of Solomon. 2073
The subjects of the former range from the five pebbles which David picked up from the brook to the most solemn mysteries of Christ’s life and work. The sermons were not written out, but delivered from notes or improvised after meditation in the convent garden. For moral earnestness, flights of imagination, pious soliloquy, and passionate devotion to religious themes, they have a place in the first rank of pulpit productions. "The constant shadow of things eternal is over them all," said Dr. Storrs, himself one of the loftiest figures in the American pulpit of the last century. One of the leading authorities on his life, Deutsch, has said that Bernard combined in himself all the qualities of a great preacher, a vivid apprehension of the grace of God, a profound desire to help his hearers, a thorough knowledge of the human heart, familiarity with the Scriptures, opulence of thought, and a faculty of magnetic description.4
Fulke of Neuilly, pastor in Neuilly near Paris, was a man of different mould from Bernard, but, like him, his eloquence is associated with the Crusades.5 He was a born orator. His sermons on repentance in Notre Dame and on the streets of Paris were accompanied with remarkable demonstrations, the people throwing themselves on the ground, weeping and scourging themselves. Usurers "whom the devil alone was able to make, "fallen women, and other offenders turned from their evil ways. Called forth by Innocent III. to proclaim the Fourth Crusade, Fulke influenced, as he himself estimated, no less than two million to take the cross. He did not live to hear of the capture of Constantinople, to which event unintentionally he made so large a contribution.
The great preachers of the thirteenth century were the product of the mendicant orders or, like Grosseteste, sympathized with their aims and methods. The Schoolmen who belonged to these orders seem all to have been preachers, and their sermons, or collations, delivered in the convents, many of which are preserved, received the highest praise from contemporaries, but partook of the scholastic method. Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventura were preachers, Bonaventura 2076being a great preacher. Albertus’ thirty-two sermons on the eucharist, based upon Proverbs 9:5, constitute one of the first series of discourses of the Middle Ages.
To the mendicant orders belonged also the eminent popular preachers, Anthony of Padua, John of Vicenza, and Berthold of Regensburg. Anthony of Padua, 1195–1231, born at Lisbon, entered the Franciscan order and made Northern Italy the scene of his labors. He differed from Francis in being a well-schooled man. He joined himself to the conventual party, at whose head stood Elias of Cortona. Like Francis he was a lover of nature and preached to the fishes. He preached in the fields and the open squares. As many as thirty thousand are reported to have flocked to hear him. He denied having the power of working miracles, but legend has associated miracles with his touch and his tomb. The fragments of his sermons, which are preserved, are mere sketches and, like Whitefield’s printed discourses, give no clew to the power of the preacher. Anthony was canonized the year after his death by Gregory IX. His remains were deposited, in 1263, in the church in Padua reared to his memory. Bonaventura was present. The body was found to have wholly dissolved except the tongue. 2077
Berthold of Regensburg, d. 1272, had for his teacher David of Augsburg, d. 127l, also a preacher of renown. A member of the Franciscan order, Berthold itinerated from Thuringia to Bohemia, and from Spires to the upper Rhine regions as far as the Swiss canton of the Grisons. He was familiarly known as rusticanus, "the field preacher." According to contemporaries, he was listened to by sixty thousand at a time. His sermons were taken down by others and, to correct mistakes, he was obliged to edit an edition with his own hand.8
This celebrated preacher’s style is exceedingly pictorial. He drew illustrations from the stars and the fields, the forests and the waters. The most secret motives of the heart seemed to he open before him. Cruel, the historian of the mediaeval German pulpit, gives as the three elements of his power: his popular speech easily understood by the laity, his personality which he never hid behind a quoted authority, and his burning love for God and man. He preached unsparingly against the vices of his age: usury, avarice, unchastity, drunkenness, the dance, and the tournament, and everything adapted to destroy the sanctity of the home.
He urged as motives the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. But especially did he appeal to the fear of perdition and its torments. If your whole body, he said, was glowing iron and the whole world on fire, yet are the pains of the lost many times greater, and when the soul is reunited with the body in hell, then it will be as passing from dew to a burning mountain. The sermons are enlivened by vivacious dialogues in which the devil is a leading figure. Berthold demanded penitence as well as works of penance. But he was a child of his time, was hard on heretics, and did not oppose any of the accepted dogmas.
A considerable number of sermons, many of them anonymous, are preserved from the mediaeval pulpit of Germany, where preaching seemed to be most in vogue.9 Among the preachers were Gottfried, abbot of Admont, d. 1165, Honorius of Autun, d. 1152, and Werner of St. Blasius in the Black Forest, d. 1126. Gottfried’s sermons, of which about two hundred are preserved, occupy more than a thousand columns in Migne (174. 21–1133), and are as full of exegetical and edifying material as any other discourses of the Middle Ages.
Honorius and Werner both prepared homiliaria, or collections of sermons which were meant to be a homiletical arsenal for preachers. Honorius’ collection, the Mirror of the Church—Speculurn ecclesiae 2080— is made up of his own discourses, most of the texts being taken from the Psalms. The sermons are arranged under thirty-six Sundays or festival days, with as many as three or four sermons under a single head. In one of them he addresses himself to one class after another, calling them by name. One of the interesting things about these model discourses is the homiletical hints that are thrown in here and there. The following two show that it was necessary, even in those good old times, to adapt the length of the sermon to the patience of the hearers. "You may finish here if you choose, or if time permits, you may add the following things." "For the sake of brevity you must sometimes shorten this sermon and at other times you may prolong it."
Werner’s collection, the Deflorationes sanctorum patrum, or Flowers from the Fathers, fills more than five hundred columns in Migne (151. 734–1294), and joins, with discourses from patristic times, other sermons, some of them probably by Werner himself. Thirteen are taken from Honorius of Autun. It would be interesting, if there were space, to give specimens of the sermonic literature contained in these collections.
Of the pulpit in England there is not much to be said. It had no preachers equal in fame to the preachers of Germany and Italy. The chief source of our information are the two volumes of Old English Homilies by Morris, which contain an English translation at the side of the Saxon original. The names of the preachers are lost. The sermons are brief expositions of texts of Scripture, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and on Mary and the Apostles, and are adapted to the wants and temptations of everyday life. In a sermon on the Creed 2081the general statement of the introduction is such as might be made by a wise preacher to-day: "Three things there are that each man must have who will lead a Christian life, a right belief, baptism, and a fair life, for he is not fully a Christian who is wanting in any of these." One of the sermons quaintly treats of the traps set by the devil in four pits: play, and the trap idleness; drink, and the trap wrongdoing; the market, and the trap cheating; and the Church, and the trap pride. In the last trap the clergy are ensnared as when the priest neglects to perform the service or to speak what he ought to, or sings so as to catch the ears of women. 2082
A general conclusion to be drawn from the sermons of this period of the Middle Ages is that human passions and the tendency to shirk religious duties or to substitute the appearance for the reality were about the same as they are to-day. Another conclusion is that the modes of appeal employed were about the same as the earnest preacher employs in this age, except that in those days much more emphasis was laid upon the pains of future punishment.
§ 133. Hymns and Sacred Poetry.
Latin Hymns: H. A. Daniel: Thesaurus Hymnol., 5 vols. Halle and Leipzig, 1855–1856. —F, J. Mone: Latein. Hymnen d. Mittelalters, 3 vols. Freib., 1853–1855. —R. C. Trench: Sacr. Lat. Poetry with Notes, Lond., 1849, 3d ed., 1874. —G. A. Königsfeld: Latein. Hymnen und Gesänge d. MtA., 2 vols. Bonn, 1847–1863 with transll.—J. M. Neale: Med. Hymns and Sequences, Lond., 1851, 3d ed., 1867; Hymns chiefly Med. on the Joys and Glories of Paradise, Lond., 1862, 4th ed., by S. G. Hatherley, 1882.—W. J. Loftie: Lat. Hymns, 3 vols. Lond., 1873–1877.—F. W. E. Roth: Lat. Hymnen d. MtA., Augsb., 1888.—*G. M. Dreves and C. Blume: Analecta hymnica medii aevi, Leipz., 1886–1906, 49 parts in 16 vols.—U. Chevalier: Repertorium hymnol. Cat. des chants, hymnes, proses, sequences, tropes, etc., 2 vols. Louvaine, 1892–1897; Poésie liturg. du moyen âge, Paris, 1893.—S. G. Pirmont: Les hymnes du Bréviare rom., 3 vols. Paris, 1874–1884.—Ed. Caswall: Lyra Catholica (197 transll.), Lond., 1849.—R. Mant: Anc. Hymns from the Rom. Brev., new ed., Lond., 1871.—F. A. March: Lat. Hymns with Engl. Notes, N. Y., 1874.—D. T. Morgan: Hymns and other Poems of the Lat. Ch., Oxf., 1880.—W. H. Frere: The Winchester Tropar from MSS. of the 10th and 11th centt., Lond., 1894. —H. Mills: The Hymn of Hildebert and the Ode of Xavier, with Engl. transll., Auburn, 1844.—W. C. Prime: The Seven Great Hymns of the Med. Ch., N. Y., 1865. —E. C. Benedict: The Hymn of Hildebert and other Med. Hymns, with transll., N. Y., 1867, 2d ed., 1869. —A. Coles: Dies Irae and other Lat. Poems, N. Y., 1868. —D. S. Wrangham: The Liturg. Poetry of Adam de St. Victor, with Engl. transll., 3 vols. Lond., 1881.—Ozanam: Les Poètes Franciscains en Italie au XIIIe siècle, Paris, 1852, 3d ed. 1869.—L. Gautier: Oeuvres poet. d’ Adam de St. Victor, Paris, 1858, 2d ed., 1887; Hist. de la poésie liturg. au moyen âge. Paris, 1886.—P. Schaff: Christ in Song, a Collection of Hymns, Engl. and trans. with notes, N. Y. and Lond., 1869. —Schaff and Gilman: Libr. of Rel. Poetry, N. Y., 1881.—Schaff: Lit. and Poetry, N. Y., 1890. Contains essays of St. Bernard as a Hymnist, the Dies irae, Stabat mater, etc.—S. W. Duffield: Lat. Hymn Writers and their Hymns, N. Y., 1889.
For German Hymns, etc.: C. E. P. Wackernagel: D. Deutsche Kirchenlied von d. ältesten Zeit bis zum 1600, 5 vols. Leip., 1864–1877.—Ed. E. Koch: Gesch. des Kirchenlieds und Kirchengesangs, 2 vols. 1847, 3d ed., by Lauxmann, 8 vols. 1866–1876.—Artt., Hymnus and Kirchenlied in Wetzer-Welte, VI. 519–551, VII. 600–606; Kirchenlied, in Herzog, by Drews, X. 409–419, and Lat. and Ger. Hymnody in Julian’s Dicty. of hymnology.
Note. The collection of Latin hymns by Dreves and Blume, members of the Society of Jesus, is a monument of persevering industry and scholarship. It is with few exceptions made up of hitherto unpublished poems. The collection is meant to be exhaustive and one is fairly amazed at the extent of mediaeval sacred poetry. There are about seven hundred pages and an average of eleven hundred poems to each volume. Monasteries and breviaries of every locality in Western Europe were searched for hymnological treasures. In cases, an entire number, or Heft (for the volumes have appeared in numbers), is given up to the poems of a single convent, as No. Vll., pp. 282, to the proses of St. Martial in Limoges. No. XL. contains sequences taken from English MSS., such as the missals of Salisbury, York, Canterbury, and Winchester, and is edited by H. M. Bannister, 1902. Among the more curious parts is No. XXVII., pp. 287, containing the religious poems of the Mozarabic, or Gothic liturgy. If Dreves adds a printed edition of the mediaeval Latin poetry found in Mone, Daniel, and other standard collections, his collection will supersede all the collections of his predecessors.
The mediaeval sermon is, at best, the object of curious search by an occasional student. It is otherwise with some of the mediaeval hymns. They shine in the cluster of the great hymns of all the ages. They have entered into the worship of all the churches of the West and continue to exercise a sanctifying mission. They are not adapted to the adherents of one confession or age alone, but to Christian believers of every age.
The Latin sacred poems of the Middle Ages, of which thousands have been preserved, were written, for the most part, in the shadow of cloistral walls, notably St. Gall, St. Martial in Limoges, Cluny, Clairvaux, and St. Victor near Paris. Few of them passed into public use in the church service, or were rendered by the voice. They served the purpose of devotional reading. The rhyme is universal after 1150.
These poems include liturgical proses, hymns, sequences, tropes, psalteries, and rhymed prayers to the rosary, called rosaria. The psalteries, psalteria rhythmica, in imitation of the Psalms, are divided into one hundred and fifty parts, and are addressed to the Trinity, to Jesus and to Mary, the larger number of them to Mary.3 Sequence, a word first applied to a melody, came also to be used for a sacred poem. Notker of St. Gall was the first to adapt such poems to sequences or melodies. 2084 The tropes were verses interpolated into the offices of the liturgy, and were joined on to the Gloria, the Hosanna, and other parts. They started in France and were most popular there and in England. 2085
The authorship of the Latin mediaeval poetry belongs chiefly to France and Germany. England produced only a limited number of religious poems, and no one of the first rank. The best is Archbishop Peckham’s (d. 1292) rhymed office to the Trinity, from which three hymns were taken.6 One verse of the poem runs:—
Adesto, sancta trinitas
Par splendor, una deitas,
Qui exstas rerum omnium
Sine fine principium.
Come near, O holy Trinity,
In splender equal, in deity one
Of all things that exist
The beginning, and without end.
The number of mediaeval hymns in German is also large. The custom of blending German and Latin lines in the same hymn was also very common, especially in the next period. The number of Saxon hymns, that is hymns produced in England, was very limited. 2087
Although the liturgical service was chanted by the priests, singing was also in vogue among the people, especially in Northern Italy and in Germany. The Flagellants sang. Gerhoh of Reichersberg (d. 1169) said that all the people poured forth praises to the Saviour in hymns.8 At the battle of Tusculum, 1168, the army sang,
Christ der du geboren bist.
St. Bernard, when he left Germany, spoke of missing the German songs of his companions. At popular religious services the people also to some extent joined in song. The songs were called Leisen and Berthold of Regensburg was accustomed, at the close of his sermons, to call upon the congregation to sing. 2089 He complained of heretics drawing away children by their songs. Honorius of Autun gives directions for the people to join in the singing, such as the following: "Now lift high your voices," or "Lift up your song, Let us praise the Son of God."
As compared with the hymns of the Ambrosian group and of Prudentius, the mediaeval sacred poems are lacking in their strong and triumphant tone. They are written in the minor key, and give expression to the softer feelings of the heart, and its fears and forebodings. They linger at the cross and over the mystery of the Lord’s Supper, passionately supplicate the intercession of Mary or dwell on her perfections, and also depict the awful solemnities of the judgment and the entrancing glories of paradise. Where we are unable to follow the poet in his theology, we cannot help but be moved by his soft cadences and the tenderness of his devotion.
Among the poets of the earlier part of the period are Peter Damiani, some of whose hymns were received into the Breviaries, 2090Anselm of Canterbury, and Hildebert, archbishop of Tours (d. 1134). Some of Hildebert’s lines were used by Longfellow in his "Golden Legend." Abaelard also wrote hymns, one of which, on the creation, was translated by Trench. 2091
Bernard of Clairvaux, according to Abaelard’s pupil, Berengar, cultivated poetic composition from his youth.2 Five longer religious poems are ascribed to him. 2093 From the Rhythmic Song on the name of Christ—Jubilus rhythmicus de nomine Jesu — the Roman Breviary has drawn three hymns, which are used on the festival of the name of Christ. They are:—
Jesus, the very thought of thee.
Jesus, King most wonderful.
O Jesus, thou the beauty art.
Jesu, dulcis memoria.
Jesu, rex admirabilis.
Jesus, decus angelicum.
The first of these hymns has been called by Dr. Philip Schaff, "the sweetest and most evangelical hymn of the Middle Ages."
The free version of some of the verses by Ray Palmer is the most popular form of Bernard’s poem as used in the American churches.
Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts
We turn unfilled to thee again.
The poem to the Members of Christ’s body on the Cross—Rhythmica oratio ad unum quodlibet membrorum Christi patientis — is a series of devotional poems addressed to the crucified Saviour’s feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and face. From the poem addressed to our Lord’s face—Salve caput cruentatum — John Gerhardt, 1656, took his
O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.
O sacred head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down.
Much as Bernard influenced his own age in other ways, he continues to influence our own effectively and chiefly by his hymns.
Bernard of Cluny, d. about 1150, has an enduring name as the author of the most beautiful and widely sung hymn on heaven, "Jerusalem the Golden." He was an inmate of the convent of Cluny when Peter the Venerable was its abbot, 1122–1156. From his probable place of birth, Morlaix, Brittany, he is sometimes called Bernard of Morlaix. Of his career nothing is known. He lives in his poem, "The Contempt of the World"—de contemptu mundi — from which the hymns are taken which go by his name. 2094 It contains nearly three thousand lines, and was dedicated to Peter the Venerable. At the side of its glowing descriptions of heaven, which are repetitions, it contains a satire on the follies of the age and the greed of the Roman court. 2095 It is written in dactylic hexameters, with leonine and tailed rhyme, and is difficult of translation.
The most prolific of the mediaeval Latin poets is Adam of St. Victor, d. about 1180. He was one of the men who made the convent of St. Victor famous. He wrote in the departments of exegesis and psychology, but it is as a poet he has enduring fame. Gautier, Neale and Trench have agreed in pronouncing him the "foremost among the sacred Latin poets of the Middle Ages"; but none of his hymns are equal to Bernard’s hymns, 2096the Stabat mater, or Dies irae. Many of Adam’s poems are addressed to Mary and the saints, including Thomas à Becket. A deep vein of piety runs through them all. 2097
Hymns of a high order and full of devotion we owe to the two eminent theologians, Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas. Of Bonaventura’s sacred poems the one which has gone into many collections of hymns begins, —
Recordare sanctae crucis
qui perfectam viam ducis.
Jesus, holy Cross, and dying.
Three of Thomas Aquinas’ hymns have found a place in the Roman Breviary. For six hundred years two of these have formed a part of the ritual of Corpus Christi: namely, —
Pange, lingua, gloriosi corporis mysterium,
Sing, my tongue, the mystery telling,
Lauda, Zion, salvatorem.
Zion, to thy Saviour singing.8
In both of these fine poems, the doctrine of transubstantiation finds full expression.
No other two hymns of ancient or mediaeval times have received so much attention as the Dies irae and the Stabat mater. They were the product of the extraordinary religious fervor which marked the Franciscan order in its earlier period, and have never been excelled, the one by its solemn grandeur, and the other by its tender and moving pathos.
Thomas of Celano, the author of Dies irae,9was born about 1200, at Celano, near Naples, and became one of the earliest companions of Francis d’Assisi. In 1221 he accompanied Caesar of Spires to Germany, and a few years later was made guardian, custos of the Franciscan convents of Worms, Spires, Mainz, and Cologne. Returning to Assisi, he wrote, by commission of Gregory IX., his first Life of St. Francis, and later, by command of the general of his order, he wrote the second Life.