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forced upon them by a refractory rhyme; a third became necessary to eke out a verse, a fourth to begin one; and so on, will having compiled a sufficient number of stanzas of so many ines, and lines of so many syllables, the operation has been suspended."
As every Sacred Song should have a subject of its own, and form a regular production, having a beginning, a middle and an end, so it should be adapted, in its length, to the purpose of singing. Important as this thought is, it has been greatly overlooked by the writers of Hymns, and the compilers of Books for the use of the sanctuary. The very best authors are not free from this fault. In one volume now before us of no mean pretensions, hymns may be found of eight, ten and twelve stanzas; and one occurs of eight stanzas of eight lines each, Long Metrem-making sixty-four lines; and this Hymn, the author tells us in the preface, " is considerably abridged from the original.” Various expedients have been resorted to both by authors and compilers, in order to remedy this evil. Here and there a stanza is included in brackets, and pauses are introduced into the middle, or other parts of the production—thus marring the beauty of the page, and often destroying the connection, and always impairing the unity of the piece. The better way, no doubt, is to reduce every Psalm or Hymn, designed for public worship, to a convenient length for this purpose, by rejecting those stanzas which are redundant, which are deficient in lyric spirit, and which destroy the unity of design. There are few long Hymns, in our language, which will not be sufficiently shortened by the application of the above rule. Some of a popular character, and, as it regards portions of them, of standard merit, may be reduced to two or three stanzas; but this is not objectionable, as we often need short Hymns of a striking character, for evening-meetings, and at the close of sermons. And it should not be forgotten, that much more is lost than gained, by singing what is neither poetical nor appropriate. Indeed it is far better to dispense with some good stanzas, and thus bring the piece at once to a suitable length for singing, than to continue these in books intended for public use, when no choir can perform them with ease and effect. The practice so extensively in use of omitting certain stanzas, as it must be done for the most part on the spur of the occasion, confuses the choir, while it often
breaks the connection of thought and the unity of the sube ject. The author, or editor, is much more competent to do this than the leader of public worship.
From four to six stanzas of the grave and ordinary metres, may be considered a suitable length for a song of social praise. In metres of a brisker movement, the addition of one or two stanzas more, may not be improper. The same indulgence may be conceded to some Hymns of a peculiar character, and to those which are to be used only on special occasions. But it is a great practical principle which every minister, and every leader of a choir, should understand, THAT SINGING IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE, MUST NOT BE TOO LONG.
Having given an exposition of the leading principles on which this work has been constructed, it may be proper to speak a little more explicitly of the materials from which it has been formed.
It is intended that this volume shall contain a complete collection of Psalms and Hymns for the Sanctuary, the Lecture-room, and all other places of social worship. In the arrangement of the Psalms, Dr. Watts is the leading author. Many other versifications of high merit have been selected from Doddridge, Steele, Kenn, Newton, Montgomery, Conder and others, which have been arranged, in their proper places, with those of Watts, so that it is believed that this part of the volume presents a greater number and a richer variety of Psalms adapted to singing, than any Book yet published in our language. Few alterations have been made in arrangement or expression, and the thought of the poet, for the most part, has been sacredly guarded. Most of the changes, which have been adopted, are those which were ne cessary in order to conform the work to the principles already stated. Whole Psalms of an inferior and character have been omitted; the same may be said of stanzas which are redundant, interrupt the unity of design, or lack the spirit of holy song; but it is believed, that those Psalms and stanzas, though they incumber many Books now in use, are rarely ever sung. In making this compilation, it has not been the design to throw away a single stanza of superior merit, or one which could contribute to the grand purpose of singing, except when the production was of immoderate length: but when this was the case, to dispense with some good stanzas has been prefered to the common practice of using brackets
or pauses, or what is still worse, of imposing an oppressive burden upon the choir.
In relation to the Psalms, it may be said, in the language of another, “ That the harp of David yet hangs upon the willow, disdaining the touch of any hand less skilful than his own." The older versions of David's Psalms are generally destitute of all poetic merit. Now and then a ray of the ge. nius and the inspiration of the Hebrew bard, breaks through the dullness of their prosaic rhymes, but these are “like angel-visits, few and far between.” If it be alleged, as it often is, that these versifiers entirely adhere to the original it may be replied, that it is in letter, not in spirit. For the most part, their productions are nothing more nor less than the English translation of David, converted into common rhymes, while the spirit of the original has fled. It is one of the wonders of literature, that the productions of Sternhold and Hopkins, of Tate and Brady, to say nothing of earlier, and still poorer versifiers, should furnish the principal songs of enlightened and cultivated christian congregations, in the nineteenth century. It shows us how far the human mind may advance in some things, and remain nary in others; --how far taste may be refined, and the entire powers of immortal man be enkindled and entranced by the productions of genius, and yet, under the influence of certain associations, be delighted with ancient dullness and barbarism.
The practical influence of all this upon the tone and vigor of piety-upon the higher feelings of devotion-upon those purer and holier emotions of the christian's heart, by which he often comes near to heaven and enters into intimate conVerse with his God and Saviour, is a problem of deep import which every minister at the altar may well propose to himself, and endeavor, as far as practicable, to solve.
Dr. Watts struck out a path for himself, and has been imi. tated by all the versifiers of David, and the composers of hymns, since his day. He is not without his faults, but his best productions are now sung, in every land, and among almost all denominations of christians, where the English language is spoken, and probably will continue to be through the millenium, and to the end of the world. His Psalms, taken as a whole, are superior to his Hymns; and in relation to the former it may be said, that Dr. Watts has drawn sweeter tones from the harp of David, than it has ever given
to the church of God, since the hand of the old Hebrew bard swept across its strings, and enkindled the devotions of the faithful: With regard to some of his Hymns, and a large number too, they are not inferior to his best versifications of the Psalms.
The Hymns, contained in this collection, have been selected from the productions of the best writers of this species of poetry, in our language; and such alterations have been made as bring them into a proper form to be used in the worship of the ". Sanctuary." In preparing this work, we have used the most approved editions of Hymns, and no changes have been made unless imperatively called for by the rules already stated and defended. The names of authors, as far as could be ascertained, are given in the Index, and it is not necessary to refer to them here. We cannot, however, forbear recording a sense of our deep indebtedness both to the living and to the dead, for those excellent labors which have furnished us with the materials for the formation of this volume, which we now present to the christian public, in the confident hope that it may increase the Knowledge and Piety of the Church, and promote, among the friends of Zion, the love of holy song.
New York, 1843.
FIRST PART, L. M.
The Righteous and the Wicked. 1 HAPPY the man, whose cautious feet
Shun the broad way that sinners go; Who hates the place where atheists meet,
And fears to talk as scoffers do.
Among the statutes of the Lord,
With pleasure pondering o'er the word. 3 He, like a plant by gentle streams,
Shall flourish in in.mortal green;
On every work his hands begin.
As chaff before the tempest flies,
When the last trumpet shakes the skies. 1.
SECOND PART, L. M.
The Prospects of the Saint and the Sinner.
That leads ungodly men astray ;
Nor with the scorner takes his seat.
That cloud by day, that fire by night,
A fruitful, fair, unwithering tree,