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THE CHURCH SERVICES
The Christian Year.
HOPE & CO., GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
WHY DOTH ONE DAY EXCEL ANOTHER, WHEN AS ALL THE LIGHT OF EVERY DAY IN THE YEAR IS OF THE SUN?
BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD THEY WERE DISTINGUISHED, AND HE ALTERED SEASONS AND FEASTS.
SOME OF THEM HATH HE MADE HIGH DAYS, AND HALLOWED THEM, AND SOME OF THEM HATH HE MADE ORDINARY DAYS.
THE human mind seeks and creates for itself two separate vehicles of expression, the distinction between which it is difficult to state but easy to understand. These we call respectively, Prose and Poetry; the first of which is the chosen and characteristic channel of thought and reason, the second, of feeling and imagination. Poetry and prose stand related to the mind as music and mere sound to the ear. The one is the exhilaration of the intellect; the other, its ordinary food.
It will be perceived that the essence of this distinction lies in the matter, and not in the form; in the intrinsic difference of the states of mind expressed, and not in the artifices of verbal structure through which those states express themselves. Thus it is very possible to clothe prosaic matter
with metre or rhythm; and again, to express the purest poetry apart from either the one or the other. Still both experiments would be felt as irksome in the former case there would be unnecessary effort-in the latter, uneasy restraint. There is a natural congruity between the two phases of mind and the two forms of language. Ordinary matter falls as of itself into that unstudied, or, at least, unfettered mould which we call Prose; poetic matter as naturally allies itself with a certain cadence or even regular metre, to which we give the name of Verse. The two words are well chosen with a view to the difference. Prose is literally forward, as a man going on a journey ; verse is literally turning, as a plough turns in a field when the furrow is completed. Hence the
eye of a child, who does not know one letter from another, can easily discriminate the furrow-like aspect of printed verse from the compact continuity of printed prose.
That all true poetry, though it does not of necessity ally itself to metre, and still less to rhyme, has yet a tendency to subside into a certain melodious rhythm, the Sacred Volume affords the most interesting and familiar proofs. Even through the veil
of a version which takes no cognizance of the as yet undiscovered laws of the Hebrew Parallelism, and gives no notice to the eye of any difference in structure between the Pentateuch and the Psalms, the essential character of the poetical portions reveals itself to the ear in the most exquisite cadences.
The Heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament showeth His handiwork.
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thec.
My soul doth magnify the Lord;
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Prose, it has just been said, is the language of the mind in its subdued and ordinary operations; Poetry is the language of the mind in its moments of exhilaration and excitement. And this seems to be exactly the idea of St. Paul, when he opposes the hilarity of intemperance to a holy and religious joy. "Be not drunk with wine," says he, "wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit;" giving vent to your gladness in the exercises of piety, “speaking to yourselves" or rather "to one another," (an allusion probably to the responsive method.-compare Isa. vi. 3) "in psalms and