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Title-page of John Wesley's First Hymn Book, said to be not only the First Hymn Book published in America, but “the First Hymn_Book com
piled for use in the Church of England”
THE GENEALOGY OF THE METHODIST HYMNAL
EARLY WESLEYAN HYMNALS-SUCCESSIVE HYMNALS OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND THE METHODIST
EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH In the light of subsequent ecclesiastical events, it is of peculiar significance to American Methodists that the first hymnal ever published for use in the Church of England was prepared by John Wesley in 1736, and was first printed in 1737 in Charlestown, South Car olina. John Wesley was then a foreign missionary from England to the distant shores of Georgia. Two striking characteristics of his wonderful career were early displayed in the making of that hymnal: his high hymnodic interest and ability, and his remarkable capacity for work, in that he was able to add to the exacting duties of an active foreign missionary the
preparation of a pioneer hymn book. Only two copies of this hymnal are now known to exist. Julian's “Dictionary of Hymnology” errs in stating that but one copy is known, and that it is in England; for a copy is now in possession of the Public Library in New York City. This copy, in a good state of preservation, bears upon the title-page the legend: "A Collection of Psalms and Hymns, CharlesTown, Printed by Lewis Timothy, 1737.” The editorship and authorship of the threescore and ten hymns are not disclosed, though hymnology has clearly
demonstrated this to be Wesley's collection. The first forty hymns are for use on Sunday, the next twenty on Wednesday or Friday, the rest on Saturday.
Not until 1760 was the next important hymnal of the Church of England prepared (by M. Madan), composed chiefly of the hymns of Wesley and Watts. During that time Methodism as an active, successful propaganda had become established, though not yet as a separate organized Church; and everywhere the Wesleyan doctrines were being taught effectively through hymns, as well as through the preaching of the Word. Charles Wesley published over fifty books and pamphlets of hymns during his hymnodic career.
The particular collection, to which all subsequent Wesleyan Methodist hymnals trace their genealogy, that golden book of Wesley's that has exerted the largest influence upon Methodism everywhere, was the famous Wesley collection of 1780. This book, as we shall see in another chapter, was retained practically intact by the Wesleyan Methodists as a nucleus for their successive hymnals in the nineteenth century, forming the middle one of three parts, into which the collection naturally divided itself. In the present Wesleyan Hymnal its architecture is still to be traced.
One of the most popular Methodist hymnals of the latter part of the eighteenth century in England, though unauthorized by the Wesleys, was the famous "Pocket Hymn Book," compiled, edited, and published by Robert Spence, of York, about 1784. Starting out as a coachman, Spence had come under the influence of Methodist preaching, and not only became