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23rd June, 1789, aged seventy-six. In the minute book, now in the keeping of Mr. Joseph Beckett, late of Sheffield, acting trustee, there are the following entries :
1795, Jany. 15. Pd. the Rey. Wm. Allard, of Hucklow, &c., £4, raised in 1796 to £6. 1798, Feb. 20. The Rev. Willm. Allard, of Hucklow, Dec. 22, 1797, £6.
(last entry of payment to Mr. A.) Removing to Coseley in 1799 he established the Sunday School at the old Meeting-house. Here he began his entries in the Baptismal Register,* with the statement that he removed from Great Hucklow to Coseley in August, 1798). It is to his care in entering the maiden name and her father's name of the mothers of children baptized that we owe the knowledge of his taking to wife a Rotherham woman. She died after much suffering a few months before him.
• (A transcript of this-1779-1837, is amongst the MSS. in the library of the Rev.
George Eyre Evans, at Tan-y-bryn).
F national life it has been well said,
Ballads, and you may make the Laws.” May it not be
as truly said of Church life, “Let me make the Hymns, and you may make the Sermons”? Good hymns appeal to the deeper, the more tender and spiritual emotions of our souls, while sermons usually assume a more intellectual and monitary form of address. The Dissenters, holding distinctive conscientious principles of their own, and contending for the primitive purity of Christian worship, as against monies," &c., required ministers and leaders of acute scholarship and argumentative ability. Hence, the emotional appeals of superior hymnology were not sufficiently recognised in the earlier formulation of Nonconformist services. Fortunately, God raised up in their midst those two Apostolic hymnists, a Watts and a Doddridge. It has been already remarked, that the Presbyterian congregations in the middle of the eighteenth century had abandoned he sterner theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith for a modified orthodoxy and more acceptable Christian profession. The antiquated “Psalmes of Sternhold and Hopkins, however suitable to the sterner Puritan period, ceased to satisfy the aspirations of worshippers, yearning for more spiritual songs, for more inspiring melody, to lift up the heart to the Lord. Dr. Watts' Hymns and Spiritual Songs, first published in 1707, came as a glorious revival to the Nonconformist chapels. While the poet showed himself a finished scholar and polished rhetorician in his sermons and various prose works ; it was his religious poetry that raised the souls of the multitudes of worshippers up to Heaven's Gates. And not the common people only sang with gladness of heart his inspiring songs, but the more cultivated Christian professors no less rejoiced to welcome this new and gifted
singer in Israel. All were tired of “Sternold and Hopkins," and “Tate and Brady," afterwards, did not proffer any considerable improvement in poetic beauty or melodious charm.
Dr. Watts became a most voluminous composer of hymns. The “Arrangement” by Dr. John Rippon, 1802, contains 718 hymns, including, as stated on the title-page, “ (what no other volume contains) all his hymns.” The doctor's felicity of varied hymnal versification was perfectly marvellous. All know he was a man of unusually small stature, and by no means of prepossessing appearance. Overhearing someone exclaim in a coffee-house, “What ! is that the great Dr. Watts ? ” he at once replied in his famous lines :
“ Were I so tall to reach the pole,
Or grasp the ocean with my span,
The mind's the standard of a man. It is related that at the age of twenty he conceived the desire to attempt to raise the standard of praise, and as his first effort, composed that immortal hymn–273.
“ Behold the glories of the Lamb,
Amidst His Father's throne :
And songs before unknown.” It was a daring spiritual flight" to prepare new honours for His name," but his poetic wings were equal to the accomplishment. How rapturous verse 7 :
“Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood,
Hast set the prisoners free,
And we shall reign with Thee.” His imaginative power was so vivid that from the sight of Southampton Water, it is said, he was inspired to compose that sweetest refrain :
Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,
Stand dressed in living green ;
While Jordan roll'd between.” No need to continue the verses, which have been imprinted by their heavenly beauty and enchantment on our hearts from childhood.