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P R E F A Ċ E.
HE great change in religious faith
fince the period in which the different collections of Psalms or Hymns of most general acceptation were first introduced, has rendered it highly improper, if not absolutely criminal, to continue any longer in the use of what the mind at present revolts from. Whatever be the faith of any society, no worship ought to be presented to God, which contradicts that faith. It had indeed been well, if the peculiarities of religious faith had never intruded into a part of worship, whose characteristic features are gratitude, and a virtuous, conformity to the will of God. As our predecessors however unhappily thought otherwise, it is the principal object of this collection to remove the offence, which their doctrinal zeal has occafioned to their fucceffors.
It was also in the view of the editor to improve the stile, to reject all mean and low
compositions, and, if possible, all mean and low lines. But neither of these views could be accomplished, without taking great liberty with the compositions of various authors. He hopes that none will be offended therewith, as no injury is done to any one. The existence of the originals is not affected by the alterations which are introduced into a single copy, and whoever prefer the originals, still may use them. It has been objected indeed, that Watt's sacred poetry has obtained fo high a repute, that it will be deemed almost a facrilege to attempt to correct it. Few respect the memory of Dr. Watts inore than the editor ; but he has reason to believe, that Dr. Watts meditated the correction of himself both as a divine and a poet. To adapt the sacred poems of Dr. Watts to the principal object of the editor, it was absolutely necessary that every objection in respect of doctrine should be removed. And it will be allowed by the warmest friends of this respected author, that whatever poetic spirit he may discover in many instances, yet his best compositions are blemished by very low and groveling lines. Poetry is rather a novel attempt of the editor, and whether he has or has not by nature the smallest talent therein, must be left to the judgment of others. Fame was not inhis view,
and therefore a very temperate approbation will fully satisfy him.
The alterations are very considerable, bearing no small proportion to the whole work, and in many of the psalms and hymns the retaining the name of the original author must be considered as a mere acknowledgment of the source from which the composition was derived. But in authors of a very high reputation, if he has varied in the least from the original, it has almost always been from other motives than the idea of bettering the expression. Thus two lines are inferted in the beautiful pastoral hymn of Addison in order to reduce the original stanza of six lines to one of four. Again in his hymn on recovery from a bed of sickness, the three last stanzas are substituted instead of the author's, because the sentiments of the original could not be reconciled with the design of the editor.
Some of the devotional poems may be thought to be of too private and individual à character for public worship. These are not many, and there is no impropriety in having paid some regard to domestic and even individual worship. There will be found a choice of psalms or hymns on many of the principal topics, as it was the design of the editor to furnish as large a scope for variety
as possible. Too frequent repetition renders the best composition insipid, and almost difguftful ; and independent of this consideration, variety provides a field for the indulgence of various tastes.
As far as was in the editor's power, he has annexed the names of the original authors, and where no intelligence of the author could be procured, he has signified his acknowledgment by the word UNKNOWN. For all those psalms or hymns, which have no mark annexed of known or unknown author, the editor himself must answer. Vanity did not tempt him to insert them, nor has a false modesty induced him to withhold them.
The editor takes this opportunity of making his acknowledgment to Mr. Cappe, from whose collection he has taken the liberty to borrow some few lines and expresfions, particularly in No. 353, the 9th, ioth, 13th, and 14th lines with a little variation.
NOTTINGHAM, MARCH 8, 1788.
If any congregation wish to adopt this collection, they may be supplied by writing to the Rev. George WALKER, Nottingham.