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IN the preparation of The American Hymnal, the editor has been guided by the following general principles:
First, that the Hymnal should be sufficiently catholic and complete to appeal to all bodies of Christians irrespective of sect or denomination; and that it should be sufficiently varied in its contents to meet all the normal needs of the Christian worshipper.
Second, that it should include as many as possible of the older hymns of the Church, which are sacred by tradition, memory, and association.
Third, that it should also include a large body of new hymns, which adequately express the eternal spirit of devotion, in forms which correspond with the active spiritual ideals of our own time.
The editor believes that the time has come for a Hymnal which attempts to realize these ideals. The true unity of the Churches is better expressed in hymnology than in theologic statements, because hymns are the expression of spiritual desires and aims held in common by all devout souls. But every age is apt to lay emphasis on certain aspects of religion which exhibit a superior vitality in the common thinking of the time, and every age is constrained to seek a new vocabulary for its emotions. While, therefore, no Christian congregation can afford, or would desire to be indifferent to the great catholic hymns of the centuries, it will nevertheless be increasingly desirous, in the degree of its own sincerity, to express the eternal spiritual life of man in language which is consonant with prevalent ideals. It has been the aim of the editor to gather together in one hymnal both those hymns of an earlier generation which are yet vital in their appeal and classic in their associations, and those more recent hymns which are the faithful utterance of our own conceptions of truth; and it may be added that in the writings of many modern poets there is a great mine of wealth, of which the churches have hitherto made but scanty and partial use.
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A large number of seasonal and festival hymns have been included; together with the best hymns that express the religion of childhood and youth.
Grateful acknowledgment is hereby made to many friendly critics who have given the editor the benefit of their experience and knowledge; and also to those who have cheerfully placed copyright matter and music at his disposal.
Valuable editorial assistance has been contributed by the Rev. Milton S. Littlefield.
The setting of the hymns has been entrusted to Mr. George Whelpton, of The Century Co., musical editor of Hymns of Worship and Service.
W. J. Dawson. New York, 1913.
Metrical Index Of Tunes xxv
Authors And Translators Of Hymns xxix