Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Enlightenment, poetry, hymns


In the first edition of his Poesies sacrees (1751), Jean-Jacques Le Franc de Pompignan (1709-1784) published 40 poems in four books, each containing ten poems.1 These Poesies sacrees, or Sacred Poems, were to be printed three times in his Oeuvres choisies or Selected Works of 1753, 1754, and 1754-55. This modest collection was to be enlarged to 85 poems divided into five books of unequal length in its definitive form in the de luxe quarto edition of 1763 and finally as the first volume of his Oeuvres in 1784, which is the text I am using in this article. Although at least one critic, the Canadian poet Robert Finch, maintained that we should consider as sacred songs the Odes ( translations of certain psalms), the Cantiques (drawn from texts chosen from several Old Testament books), and even the selections from the Propheties as well as the Hymnes, these observations are limited here to the hymns.