The steady, tasteful decency of JOSEPH ADDISON (1672–1719), son of a Dean of Lichfield and husband of a Countess of Warwick, promises hymns more educated than ecstatic, but though few of us could recite from memory any parts of the respectable essays that form his journalism, he is still remembered for some hymns. One, beginning The spacious firmament on high and graced with several good tunes, is apparently still a great favourite with Freemasons; it states with poise a paradox that not every Christian finds instructive — that the heavenly bodies make a silent music of praise — and it could hardly be more lucidly expressed. We expect the dignity of Doth and taketh, and get Does and takes; whilst (a slovenly form of older whiles) is a concession to fine writing; two hard words occur — frame meaning ‘construction’ and Original for something like ‘Originator/Creator’; one archaism breaks the modern course of the syntax, ‘nor real voice nor sound’, where one would now say neither for the first nor, but it is good to see the disyllable real in these days when too many people reply to information with ‘Oh, reely?’
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