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highly esteemed, in all congregations of Protestant Christians who worship God in the English tongue. These popular melodies have such power over the spiritual affections and sympathies of most religious persons, that to exclude them from our Hymn Books would be to interrupt, and restrict, as far as in us lay, the communion of saints on earth. Nor was the firstnamed principle of selection opposed to their admission. For they are, nearly all, as beautiful in poetry, as they are touching, or sublime, in thought and feeling.
This Collection contains as small a number of Hymns as is consistent with the endeavour to provide for all subjects which can with propriety be made the themes of sacred song. If it may be hoped that all the Hymns in the book will be found worthy of adoption into our service on appropriate occasions, the paucity of their number will prove a great and lasting benefit. A few Hymns, often sung, and (if the recommendation may be made without presumption) the same Hymns always to the same and suitable tunes, will become familiar to the minds and voices of our congregations, in connexion with the subjects upon which they have been composed. They are thus more likely to be “sung with the Spirit, and sung with the understanding also,” than those which are seldom introduced, and comparatively unknown.
Another important consideration affecting the number of Hymns, is the desirableness of supplying the
poorer members of our congregations with a book, printed in good type, at a small price.
2. The adaptation of such Hymns as could not well be received without some omissions, or alterations, was a matter of equal delicacy and difficulty. It must suffice to state, that verses have not always been omitted because objectionable, but often for the purpose of shortening the Hymn; and that, while many restorations have been effected in Hymns which, as usually printed, their authors would scarcely recognise, not a few alterations have been adopted or made, without which some very excellent compositions would certainly be unsuited to modern use, at any rate in the communion of the Church of England.
3. The system of arrangement is in accordance with the title and object of the Collection. These are “Hymns for Church Services;" and the services of the Church ought to be, as in the Church of England they are, constructed upon the great events and facts, of the History and Revelation of the Gospel. The arrangement here made supersedes the necessity of a list of subjects, implying a choice of subjects—a list and choice, which the compiler of this book would rather receive from the Church than take upon himself to make for it. And it will be found, he trusts, an arrangement both comprehensive and intelligible. Those who use this Collection will naturally look for
Psalms of direct praise to the Divine Being under the first article of the Creed. Hymns expressive of our relation to God as the Father of all, or our Father in Christ, or the God of Creation and Providence, are ranged under the second and third. Hymns of adoration, addressed especially to our Lord Jesus Christ, follow His holy name.
Those which contain our acknowledgments of His essential deity, and the indivisible Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are placed after the words “ His only Son." Those in which we avow our discipleship, and offer our service to Christ, are appropriately prefaced by His title as “ Our Lord." No directions are needed to find Hymns composed on the principal events of His incarnation, life, ministry, and sacrifice, or those which celebrate the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. Hymns on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper are associated with those on the sufferings of Christ; and Hymns on the Sacrament of Baptism with those under the Article, (I believe in) “the forgiveness of sins.” This order is in accordance with the corresponding Article in the Nicene Creed, which, as the fuller exposition of the Christian faith, has given direction for the position of Hymns on other subjects also, as for instance, on the Holy Scriptures. Hymns embodying experiences of the Christian life are arranged under various Articles, as their subjects and contents respect different facts of the Divine mani. festation, or the Divine economy. Many such are
to be found under the head of the “ Communion of Saints,” and the Article which some think identical with it—the “ Holy Catholic Church.” The lastnamed Article introduces also those Hymns in which we recognise the Church's duty to the world, and which are usually termed Missionary Hymns.
Following the guidance of the Creed, it was unavoidable that the proportion which Hymns on subjects taken from the personal history of our Lord bear to the whole number should be greater than in most other Collections. Our“ Psalms," as well as our “prophesying,” or public teaching, ought to be “according to the proportion of the faith.” And we have higher authority than a creed of human composition for the multiplication of Hymns upon such themes. For “ Christ's Church militant here upon earth” can only echo faithfully the joyful sounds of the Gospel Revelation, and join in full and conscious communion of worship with the Church triumphant, and the heavenly host, by celebrating in her services and her songs of praise,
“ Him first, Him last, Him midst, and without end."