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CHAPTER II

THE MAKING OF THE HYMNAL

ACTION OF GENERAL CONFERENCE-FIRST COMMITTEE

NEW Joint COMMISSION, NORTH AND

SOUTH-MUSICAL EDITORS At the close of the nineteenth century there was a strong feeling that the Methodist Episcopal Church was in need of a new Hymnal. The old Hymnal had been in use for about a quarter of a century, and while it had served the needs of the Church, and had endeared itself to Methodists throughout the country, the need for a change was recognized as imperative. The first expression given to this sentiment was a series of memorials and resolutions brought before the General Conference of 1900 from various sources. The result of this movement was Report No. 12 of the Committee on Book Concern, adopted on May 29 as signed by Hon. Leslie M. Shaw, chairman of the committee, then governor of Iowa, and a delegate to the General Conference from the Upper Iowa Conference:

DEAR FATHERS AND BRETHREN: Your Committee, to whom were referred certain memorials relative to a Church Hymnal, beg leave to submit the following report:

Whereas, The present Hymnal contains a large number of hymns which are rarely, if ever, used, and are therefore unnecessary, and render the book too large and too expensive for common use; and,

Whereas, A large number of our churches, especially in small towns and country charges, do not use our Church Hymnal at all, but in its place a variety of unofficial, independent song books, and which in many cases are pernicious,

to the damage of the Church spiritually, and of our publishing interests financially;

Therefore, there is hereby authorized the preparation of a Hymnal of octavo size, of about six hundred hymns, in which there shall be a small percentage of the best modern hymns and spiritual songs, and also the ritual and order of service of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the same to be sold at the lowest practicable cost.

Your Committee further recommend that the Board of Bishops be authorized to appoint a committee of nine to carry out the provisions hereof.

The committee of nine was appointed by the bishops in accordance with the resolution, and a glance at their individual records is a convincing evidence that the bishops chose wisely the makers of the new Hymnal:

The Rev. Dr. Samuel F. Upham, the chairman of the committee, had been a pastor in the Providence and New England Conferences, and in 1881 was elected professor of practical theology in Drew Theological Seminary. His death occurred on October 5, 1904, before the deliberations of the Joint Commission were completed.

The Rev. Dr. W. A. Quayle, then pastor of Saint James Church, Chicago, and afterward (1908) elected bishop, has long been recognized as one of the most eloquent preachers in American Methodism, as well as a writer of purest literary style. He is one of the very few bishops elected to the episcopacy directly from the pastorate.

The Rev. Dr. Charles W. Smith, then editor of the Pittsburgh Christian Advocate, was elected bishop by the General Conference of 1908. He had served many pastorates and a presiding eldership in the

Pittsburgh Conference previous to his election to the editorship, in 1884.

The Rev. Dr. Charles Macaulay Stuart was professor of sacred rhetoric in Garrett Biblical Institute at the time of the revision, after having served as associate editor of the Michigan Christian Advocate and the Northwestern Christian Advocate, of which he is now the editor.

The Rev. Dr. Camden M. Cobern, for many years a pastor in the Erie, Detroit, Colorado, and Rock River Conferences, was elected professor of English Bible and philosophy of religion in Allegheny College, 1906. At the time of the Hymnal revision he was pastor of Trinity Church, Denver.

Bishop Richard Joseph Cooke, at that time editor of The Methodist Advocate Journal (Chattanooga, Tenn.), had been active for years as preacher and pastor, and as professor of New Testament exegesis and historical theology, and later as vice-chancellor and acting president of Grant University. The General Conference of 1904 elected him book editor of his Church. He has rendered distinguished service on the Commissions on the Federation of Episcopal Methodism, the Constitution, the Ritual, and the Judiciary Committee.

The Rev. Dr. Charles S. Nutter, then presiding elder of the Saint Albans District of the Vermont Conference, is well known throughout Methodism as the author of "Hymn Studies,” and as one of the foremost hymnologists in America.

Caleb T. Winchester, L.H.D., author, lecturer, and

since 1873 professor of English literature in Wesleyan University, has long been regarded in the literary world and among the colleges as a distinguished authority upon English literature.

Matthew V. Simpson, the son of Bishop Simpson, was a business man in Philadelphia.

When the committee held its first meeting in New York there existed some doubt as to what the nature of the new Hymnal should be, the wording of the resolution not being explicit on that important point. One party held that the General Conference had authorized only a prayer-meeting book, such as the Epworth Hymnal of 1884, to be used as an abridged form of the general Hymnal. Another party, and strongly in the majority, insisted that the proposed Hymnal was intended to supplant the Hymnal of 1878, and should, therefore, be treated as a revision of that book. Upon one point all were agreed, and that was that the new Hymnal should be much shorter than the old, consisting of about five or six hundred hymns.

It was toward a revision of the Hymnal that the committee finally agreed to work, and in their subsequent meetings they had made great progress to this end, when suddenly their work was halted. Already they had agreed upon a large proportion of the hymns, and had formulated the general plan of the book. On January 16, 1902, announcement was made that the book would be ready for the press in August, and printed by December. It might be interesting, if safe, to conjecture what manner of Hymnal this first com

mittee would have produced, had their work continued without interruption. Probably the book would have been much shorter than the Hymnal that was finally produced, for their ambition to make a book of only a little more than five hundred hymns could more easily have been attained had they chosen their old hymns from the 1,117 different hymns in the old Methodist Episcopal Hymnal, instead of from two Hymnals, North and South, containing nearly 1,700 different hymns. Then, too, the Hymnal might have had fewer of the American evangelistic type of tunes, which for many years in the Southern Hymnal and its Supplement have been preserved like pressed flowers in an old volume, flowers that are now cherished less for their fragrance than for the memories which they awaken.

The reason for the discontinuance of the first commission was the discovery that the same General Conference (1900) that had authorized them to prepare a new Hymnal had also authorized "prompt steps being taken for the preparation of a common Catechism, a common hymn book, and a common order of public worship, and that other branches of Methodism be invited to cooperate in this undertaking” (Report of the Committee on Federation, General Conference, 1900).

In the meantime the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was also preparing for a common Hymnal. Their General Conference met in Dallas, Texas, in May, 1902. Both of the fraternal delegates from the North referred in their speeches to the common Hym

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