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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, by
THE WEST BOSTON SOCIETY,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
METCALF AND COMPANY,
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
THE Vote of the West Boston Society, directing the preparation of a new hymn-book, has afforded an opportunity of enlarging the collection that has been in use for the last quarter of a century, by the introduction of some recent hymns and others of an earlier date. In the new selections, it has been the endeavour of the Committee to combine poetical merit with depth of sentiment and the fervor of true devotion. Watts and Doddridge have been restored to their relative position and proportion. The ardent breathings of the Wesleyan and Moravian hymns, and of those of Cowper, here find utterance. The process of exclusion has not been enforced against any hymn on account of an occasional quaintness of sentiment or form, when it otherwise possessed sufficient merit; on the contrary, as this peculiarity is pleasing to a certain extent, it has been in some instances a recommendation.
It has been the wish of the Committee to restore hymns to their original reading. Many of them, in the progress of time, have been subjected to great alterations, but seldom without enfeebling the sense and the poetical expression. Especially has this been the case with those of Watts and Doddridge, so that a rigid comparison with the original be
came necessary and has been instituted; and the process of restoration has been carried out with regard to them except in the few instances which purport to be varied from the author's text. Justice to authors requires that no change, however slight, should be made without a cogent reason; and that a hymn objectionable in sentiment should be omitted, rather than that, by essential alteration, an author should be made responsible for what is not his own, and, perhaps, for what he never would have expressed.
Of more modern hymns, while some, as those of Mrs. Barbauld for instance, will bear a favorable comparison with the best of former days, many abound in naught but penury of thought and feebleness of expression. Out of a large supply, the Committee have endeavoured to select the best, and, they trust, with a good degree of success. And here they would gratefully acknowledge the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Frothingham, in the very acceptable offering of three original hymns,—two of which have never before appeared in print.
The former division into Psalms and Hymns has not been retained. The versions of the Psalms will be easily found in the Index of Subjects, under their appropriate head, numbered as Hymns. A few Chants have been added, which, it is hoped, will increase the value of the collection.
BOSTON, January, 1849.
TABLE OF FIRST LINES.
A charge to keep I have
Again the Lord of life and light
Ah! not for thee was woven
Ah, wretched souls, who strive in vain
All earthly charms, however dear
And is the gospel peace and love