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editor expressed his ideal thus: “I would like this tune book to be the finest in the world”; and from the musical standpoint he has approached this ideal.
To our comparison of the Methodist Hymnal with other hymnals there remain to be added briefly the superlatives; for in some points at least our American Methodist collection is unique. In the first place, on the mechanical side, the mammoth edition of 576,000 in which the Methodist Hymnal made its first appearance in 1905 was the largest first edition of any merchantable book ever issued in America.
It is the first official hymnal adopted by the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South .
Since the Methodists form the largest Protestant body in America, and the Roman Catholics do not generally use congregational singing in their worship, the Methodist Hymnal has been adopted for more millions of members than any other official hymnal in America, and probably in the world.
Of all hymnals in use it is undoubtedly the best suited to the theological beliefs of American Methodism in this age.
Musically, it surpasses all of its predecessors, and is the most adaptable to our nation-wide needs of all the high-standard hymnals now in use.
THE STORY OF THE HYMNS
EXPERIENCES WHICH LED TO THE WRITING OF THE HYMNS
EXPERIENCES IN THE USE OF THE HYMNS
EVERY hymn has a spiritual background in the personal experience of its author. As all literature is an expression of life, even so true hymns are the expression of an individual spiritual life, though their sentiments be adapted to universal Christian experience. It is not given to us to know the inner conflicts, the secret strivings of the soul, or the peculiar joys of each hymn-writer, that may have inspired the writing of our great hymns. Many a line, that is sung coldly or thoughtlessly, has been poured into poetic form from the molten metal of the soul's furnace. Of the real story of most of our hymns we shall never know until the final day when all secrets are revealed.
A few of the sacred poets, however, have taken us into their confidence as to the writing of their hymns, while of the lives of still others we know sufficient to determine the state of mind which produced their hymns. It is impossible within the compass of a few pages to relate more than a few of the many stories that have clustered about these seven hundred hymns. Therefore those which are here presented have been chosen chiefly to illustrate different types of experience which have stirred men to hymnodic expression. The conversion of a soul from sin to righteousness