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RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN OLD ENGLISH

VERSE

RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

IN

OLD ENGLISH VERSE

BY

REV. C. J. ABBEY

RECTOR OF CHECKENDON, OXON.

LATE FELLOW OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD

LONDON

SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY

Limited

St. Dunstan's House

FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.

All rights reserved

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PREFACE

In the following pages I have endeavoured to illustrate the main current of religious thought in English poetry through the long period of 1100 years which elapsed between Cædmon and the end of the last century. I am careful to say the main current. It has been an interest and a pleasure to me to trace through each passing century the general stream of religious thought flowing steadily and calmly on, affected far less than might have been expected by the changing circumstances and questions of the time. Those deeper and more personal feelings which so often find a natural and appropriate vent in poetry have little in common with the spirit of controversy. In religious poetry, so far as it is the language of the heart, even the Reformation itself, great as the movement was, made itself felt not so much in the disputatious and argumentative form which it displayed in most prose writings of that period, but simply, for the most part, in the evident enlargement of the general field of graver thought. Not unfrequently, it would be difficult to determine from internal evidence on which side the writer of the poem had ranged himself. Often again, although the theological views of the author are obvious enough, they serve chiefly to tone the feeling

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