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AT the announcement of this work, some reader will probably exclaim, "Another Hymnal! are not all congregations well supplied, and in some vith hymn books all but perfect?" This is not the place to criticise otherwise it would be easy to point out, even in our most modern ular productions, such defects in poetry, rhyme, taste, and syntax, 1 certainly justify some further attempts at hymnological improveHeartily do we agree with a learned authority, who says that “a uld have simplicity, freshness, reality of feeling, and rhyme harmonious, but not jingling or trivial." The most exemplary ≫ of doctrine cannot atone for doggerel, or redeem from failure or didactic style. This hymn book, however, is not brought ence merely to present congregations with compositions of ius and culture, but in order to embody a distinct, and as the ks, a fundamental principle in true hymnology. The principle t every hymn like every prayer should be a direct address to bject of worship. Men in acts of worship should sing to God, vout Him, still less about themselves, as they do in the great bulk of compositions called hymns. This principle, which certainly appears true to common sense, is everywhere recognised in the Bible as the true idea of a hymn, hence we are commanded to "sing unto Him;" "sing psalms unto Him." Again, "Come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation." And again, "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms." The New Testament idea of a hymn agrees exactly with that of the Old. It is said that Paul and Silas, when in the prison at midnight, "sang praises unto God." And St. Paul calls upon the Colossians and Ephesians "to teach and admonish one another with psalms and
hymns, singing with grace unto their Lord." From St. Augustine's definition of a hymn, we infer that he adopted this idea. It might be said that many of the Psalms of David were not in strict conformity with this principle; that it excludes the didactic functions of a hymn, and that the exclusive adoption of it will shut out many of the best compositions. We dispose of the first objection by the simple statement that there is no proof that there was any psalm used in the temple that did not agree with this idea. We dispose of the second by remarking that supposing a hymn should be didactic, all the doctrines can be as fully, and more impressively expressed in compositions addressed to God, than in those merely embodying sentiments about Him; and it is sufficient with respect to the third to say, what the examination of this work will show, that the gems of all hymn books extant are moulded after this principle.
Moreover, as far as the worshipper is concerned, the effect upon his mind in "speaking to God," must be very different from that which he experiences in merely speaking about Him. The realization of the personal presence of the omniscient God must excite the strongest feelings of devotion.
Such is the principle on which this Hymnal is composed; and as there is no other hymn book arranged on the same plan, it has a place all its own, and a good reason for its existence. The editor has carefully examined nearly all the hymn books of all churches, ancient and modern, and taken from them the best he could find in poetry, doctrine, spirit, and expression, answering to his idea. He has also introduced a few originals, whose merits futurity must determine. As it has been said that only a small minority of the hymns, even in our most modern books, can be heartily sung by men of culture, reflection, and conscience, the editor has rejected all hymns, however popular, which are justly liable to objection.
The book contains what seems essential to hymn books of this age, a large variety of chants and anthems, all selected upon the same principle.
The chants are selections from Scripture. In many of the Psalms, as well as in other poetic parts of the Holy Word, there is much that is local and temporary in application; and in some cases even questionable in spirit and morality. The writer seems at times even to have lost his
temper, and to deal too freely in imprecations: and yet modern congregations are found chanting these objectionable utterances. In one of the best of modern chant books, for example, the people have to sing, "that they have been consumed by the blow of God's hand;" "that they are a wonder unto many;" "that their horn is exalted like the horn of a unicorn;" "that they are anointed with fresh oil;” “that their bones are burned as a hearth;" "that they forget to eat their bread;" "that they are like pelicans in the wilderness, and owls in the deserts;" "that they are like sparrows on the house-top ;" and besides much more like this, they are made to pour forth horrid imprecations upon their enemies: "Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul;" "let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt." How monstrous for a congregation of professed Christians to sing such utterances as these! The chants in this book are all such selections of passages as are true to man as man everywhere, and at all times, embodying the universal, the remedial, and eternal in the Bible.
As the work is designed to supersede the necessity of two hymn books in worship, it contains a very large selection from the poems of Dr. Watts and other favourite hymnists.
The editor has in a few cases made slight alterations, so as to adapt a choice and favourite composition to his ideal. This is a license which custom seems to have granted to hymnological editors. On this point the authority to whom we have already referred thus speaks in his preface to "The Book of Praise":- "The Wesleys altered the compositions of George Herbert, Sandys, Austin and Watts, Toplady, and Madan; and others altered some of Charles Wesley's hymns, much to his brother John's discontent, as he testifies in the preface to the hymn book for Methodists. Toplady's own hymns, even the 'Rock of ages,' have not escaped similar treatment. James Montgomery complains much, in the preface to the edition of his collected hymns, published in 1853, of his share in this peculiar class of hymn writers, as he calls it. But he had himself, about thirty years before, altered the works of other men, in his Christian Psalmist.' Bishop Heber, scholar as he was, and editor of Jeremy Taylor's works, silently altered Taylor's Advent Hymn in his
own hymn book; and the hymns of Heber himself, and of writers still living, such as Keble, Milman, Alford, and Neale, are met every day in a variety of forms, which their authors would scarcely recognise."
There are some authorities, such as Dr. Kennedy, of Shrewsbury, editor of "Hymnologia Christiana," who consider that such modifications, under certain circumstances and for certain purposes, are justifiable. We have, as will be seen, availed ourselves of this license of alteration.
The editor has to thank living authors for the use of their compositions. He would add, in the language of Sir Roundell Palmer, that, "if in any instances he has, either through ignorance of the existence of a copyright, or for want of means of communication, made use of any work, in respect of which a similar permission ought to have been obtained, without actually obtaining it, he ventures to hope that the oversight may be excused, and the same liberality extended to him as if a request for permission had been previously made."
As strict adherence to our principle has led to the exclusion from the body of the work of a few favourite compositions found in most popular hymn books, we have inserted them at the end of the book, under the title, Sacred Poetry.