« FöregåendeFortsätt »
"I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Cor. xiv. 15.)
"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph. v. 19, 20.)
I AM pleased to have a part in preparing a book for people interested in hymnody. The plan of the book is much the same as that followed in Hymn Studies, but this work is far more elaborate and valuable than that well-known book. The hymns are given in full, with careful criticism and historic notes. The book contains also biographical sketches of all the authors of hymns and composers of tunes.
It is one of the duties of the pastor to be familiar with his Hymnal, and it is the privilege of the intelligent layman as well. This work contains many valuable facts and opinions, criticisms and approbations that can be found nowhere else.
The Methodist Hymnal is a valuable book with a remarkable history. Before the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church several hymn books of Wesleyan origin were used in this country. Among these were Select Hymns, Hymns and Psalms, Redemption Hymns, and Mr. Wesley's first Pocket Hymn Book; but the Methodist people in America had no book in common.
At the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1784, A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for the Lord's Day was prepared for the new organization. It was printed in London in 1784, and came to America in sheets with the famous Sunday Service. The "collection," however, contained only one hundred and eighteen selections, and was altogether inadequate to meet the needs of the growing Church.
About 1790 a Pocket Hymn Book, printed in Philadelphia, appeared containing a pastoral letter to the "members and friends" of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and signed by Bishops Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury. It contained some three hundred hymns, and was sold for half a dollar. This book was essentially a reprint of a Pocket Hymn Book edited and published by Robert Spence, a Methodist class leader of York, England. All subsequent official hymn books of the Methodist Episcopal Church are enlargements and improvements of the Coke-Asbury book.
The editorial work of preparing this annotated edition of the Methodist Hymnal has been very great, as can readily be seen. Dr. Wilbur Fisk Tillett, of Vanderbilt University, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, has been associated with me in this work, and much of the value of the book is due to his careful and painstaking labor.
We send forth this work confidently hoping that it will be appreciated and praying that it may be of some use in advancing the kingdom of our Christ in the earth.
CHARLES S. NUTTER.
4 BERWICK PARK, BOSTON.
THE Hymnal of the Church, in its religious and moral value to Christian believers, is second only to one other book-the Bible. Those who sing "with the spirit and with the understanding also" cannot fail to appreciate the value of an edition of their Church hymnal which gives all desirable information concerning the hymns and their authors. The hymns found in the modern hymnals of the Christian Church are culled from the sacred poetry of all ages, and so rich and abundant is the material available that only the best lyrics of the best poets can find a permanent place in them.
While hymns are selected mainly with reference to their use in public worship, a Church hymnal has value also as a book of private devotion for the closet and for hours of religious meditation. Those who read and study the hymns in private are the worshipers who derive most enjoyment and inspiration from the public service of song in the sanctuary. There is scarcely any phase of religious experience that does not find faithful and happy expression in the Church hymnal. Every great and helpful hymn was born in the heart before it was born in the head, and it is only those hymns that come from the hearts of the writers that find a home in the hearts of others. The "hymns of the ages" were not written by the poets for mere pastime, but, as a rule, were born of experiences the deepest that human hearts are ever called to pass through. These great hymns have a spiritual origin, and many of them a deeply interesting history, to know which increases their value and our appreciation of them as aids to private devotion and public worship.
The hymn book is one of the most effective agencies in the hands of the Christian Church for the dissemination of truth among men, and the value of a hymnal as a book of Christian doctrine cannot easily be overestimated. "Let me write the songs of a people," said one, "and I care not who may write their laws-I will govern them." "Let me write the hymns of a Church," said another, "and I care not who may write its creeds and volumes of theology-I will determine its faith." If it be true that many get their theology more from the hymns they sing than from their Church creeds, the theology of our hymns is a matter to be considered not less than the theology of our creeds and confessions of faith, and the service of song becomes scarcely less important than the preaching of the gospel as a mode of indoctrinating men in Christian truth. Hymns performed a large and important service in the great reformation of both the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. In driving out the errors and superstitions of his day and bringing in the evangelical truth of a purer faith, Martin Luther's hymns did for the masses of the people
what his learned theses and powerful philippics did for scholars and theologians but could not have done for the people. Great as John Wesley was as a preacher of righteousness and an organizer of men, Methodism could never have accomplished its marvelous work in "spreading scriptural holiness over these lands" had not our evangelical doctrines of sin and salvation, of free grace and unlimited atonement, of heart holiness and Christian love, been embodied in the matchless hymns of his gifted poet-brother, the sweet and saintly singer of our Methodism. The large and important place which music and song have taken in the great evangelistic movements of modern times also bears witness to the influence which hymns sung by the people have in determining the type of faith that prevails. Only hymns whose character and contents are in keeping with the true evangelical faith of a great Church are worthy of a place in a modern Christian hymnal.
The hymns found in this volume follow the order in which they are found in the Methodist Hymnal. Under each hymn will be found a note containing the following facts so far as they could be obtained: (1) The original title given by the author to the hymn; (2) the name and date of the book, magazine, or periodical in which it was first published; (3) the passage of scripture, if any, upon which it is based; (4) the changes made in the original text of the hymn; (5) all omitted stanzas, unless too numerous to quote; (6) any experience in the life of the author, or other circumstance, which led to the writing of the hymn or which gives peculiar significance to it; (7) any incident or illustration connected with the hymn or any use of it in Christian experience such as may add interest to the singing of it or give value to the use of it in social and revival meetings; (8) a brief critical estimate of the hymn is given in many cases, and in some cases an appreciation or "hymn study," involving a more or less extended analysis and study of the contents of the hymn; (9) all known facts concerning each hymn deemed of real value and interest by the writer of the note have been given; (10) hymn "myths"-that is, unaccredited stories about the origin of hymns-have, as a rule, been omitted, or if named it is only that they may be duly discredited. The notes have been made as brief as possible consistent with the effort to make them contain all of the facts above mentioned.
The "Biographical Index of Authors" which follows the hymns will be found to contain in alphabetical order brief historical sketches of all the hymn writers and translators whose productions find a place in the Hymnal. These sketches contain a simple statement of the leading facts, as far as known, in each author's life such as will give interest to the reading and singing of his hymns. This biographical section of the volume will be found especially serviceable to all who desire to make a study of the various hymn writers and their hymns, and without some such study there can be no real appreciation of our Christian singers and their songs. A brief course of study in the hymns and hymn writers of the Church would make the