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THE object of this volume is to furnish the Churches with a complete COLLECTION OF SACRED SONGS for public worship; and in presenting such a work, when so many, aiming at the same end, are already in circulation, we seem to be called upon to state some reasons which have influenced us in this undertaking, and which may have some weight with others. The least offensive mode in which this can be done, will be to give a brief exposition of the principles which have been kept in view in its execution. An outline is all that will be given—for more than this, however much it may be demanded, or however rich in thought or replete with practical wisdom, would be hardly ever read. A PREFACE is generally deemed a very dull and unattractive part of a Book, so much so, that if an author had some profound secrets which he wished to record, and yet preserve in deep obscurity, he might be advised, as it regards most readers, to commit them to the safe-keeping of these neglected pages. And yet some persons read a Preface, and for the benefit of such this one is written.
The subjects of LYRIC POETRY and PSALMODY are intimately and inseparably connected, and it is in vain to expect one to exist in a high state of perfection without the other; or for either to attain distinguished excellence without cultivation. It must be acknowledged, that ministers and churches have not studied this subject with that attention which it claims, nor even in relative proportion when compared with other grave matters pertaining to the worship of God. Singing often falls far below every other part of the services of the sanctuary, from the want of both sympathy and knowledge, on the part of the Church. Little is known on the subject, and little is felt in relation to it. But this is a state as unwise as it is criminal. It is a matter of vast and vital importance that all who desire that the public institutions of religion may make the best impression and