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THE following Hymn Book is entirely a compilation; none of the Hymns are original. In many instances, however, they have been considerably altered, in order to adapt them, in the view of the Compiler, to the uses to which they were to be applied. For, as his object was simply to provide suitable hymns to be used in his Parish Church, and not to give mere specimens of the works of their several authors, he felt that, in dealing with the hymns, he was not so much bound to consider what might seem to be due to their authors, as what was demanded by the exigencies of public worship. He trusts, however, that, in taking such a course, he has not done anything incompatible with a proper sense of his obligations to those authors, for the invaluable materials for which he is so largely indebted to them.
The hymns have been taken from the most various sources; some of them having been composed by Nonconformist authors; many being translations of ancient Latin Hymns; and others, meluding some of the most beautiful, having proceeded from the pens of eminent Divines and Poets of our own Church; among whom may be specially named Bishops Ken, Heber and Mant; Dr. Milman, Dean of St. Paul's; the Rev. Charles Wesley; and last, though by no means least, the distinguished and revered author of the "Christian Year."
The primary aim of the Compiler has been to make the collection, in regard to its spirit, as well as its form, a suitable companion to the Book of Common Prayer. In ac cordance with this aim, he has confined his selection, as much as possible, to hymns of an objective character; believing, at the same time, that, so long as they are truly of this character, they can never be either too animated in their tone, or too fervid in their expression, to be fitly associated with the Psalms, and other devotional portions of our common worship. For the season of Lent, and on some other occasions, the Compiler has not thought it inconsistent with the genius of our public services, to introduce a few hymns of a more subjective character, though he is strongly
of opinion that hymns of this description are, for the most part, only suitable for private use.
The Compiler does not of course flatter himself that he has produced a faultless book, nor does he venture to hope that it will altogether escape hostile criticism. At the same time he does confess it to have been with the greatest surprise that he lately heard of a certain objection being brought against one of the hymns, in regard to which he would have thought that the mere name of its author should have been a sufficient guarantee against the possibility of such an objection. The hymn referred to is that beginning, "When our heads are bow'd with woe," (page 107); composed by Dean Milman, and published many years ago in the hymn book of his distinguished friend Bishop Heber. The objection to the hymn arises out of its addressing our Blessed LORD as the "Son of Mary." It is perhaps difficult to treat an objection of this kind with becoming gravity, from its extreme unreasonableness and puerility. For it should be remembered that the whole purport of the hymn lies in its appeal to our Blessed LORD,for His sympathy with human sorrow, on the ground of His being Himself Man," born of a woman." There is therefore a peculiar point and force in thus addressing Him as the Son of a Woman. He might, of course, have been addressed, simply, "Son of Woman;" but as His Mother was undoubtedly called Mary, it seemed not only more natural,but decidedly also more poetical to refer to her, as the Poet has done, under her proper name. It is surely too plain for even the merest child to need being told that there is no approach whatever, in such an expression, to any invocation of the Blessed Virgin herself. Indeed one might just as well set to work gravely to prove that, when we say in the Litany, "O Son of David, have mercy on us," we really are not praying to David himself to have mercy upon us.
With these few words of preface and explanation, the Compiler now respectfully offers the result of his labours to the candid and charitable appreciation of those for whose benefit they were especially undertaken; humbly trusting that, with GOD's blessing, they may prove effectual in accomplishing all the good which he hoped for, in undertaking them.