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We have tried to give in our little hymn-book two hundred and fifty hymns likely to be loved by congregations whose simple feeling in religious service is that of children seeking the Father. Most of the recent hymn-books for church-use contain nearly a thousand hymns, one-fourth of which probably receives three-fourths of the actual use. The limitation to the small number makes possible so low a price that even young or small societies can afford a full supply of the books: and without the full supply, a book, at least, to every two persons,-" congregational singing" can hardly be successful. So many of these hymns will be found fresh to all collections that we hope our little work may do some service, also, as a cheap supplement to older books too dear and useful to be given up.
Some hymns in the collection (like 47) may be thought too tender, too delicate, too private, for use in the miscellaneous congregation: then let us sing those at home, the book is "for the Congregation and the Home," but we like to think of the Sunday hour as an hour of "family-worship." Some (like 31) may be thought beautiful in themselves, but not to flow easily to music: we think so, too, but forgive that fault in each case for the special beauty's sake,-in no case having passed the line, we trust, of practicable use. Some (like 188) may be called "songs" rather than "hymns"; or (like 55) may, perhaps, be thought to “ preach or to "teach rather than to "sing" at all: we half assent, but claim that one function of a congregational hymn is to sink great thoughts from the mind into the heart. One of our tests has, therefore, been the sermon-test, does a hymn echo grandly to some frequent and impressive sermon-thought? For a similar reason we offer a "Creed" (228) to be sung, believing that song may carry convictions deeper and farther than the catechism.
Many of the hymns will be found altered from the originals; in most cases slightly, in but a word or line; yet not a few are largely altered. If the alteration, whether made by previous collectors or by ourselves, amounts to more than two or three words, the author's name is printed in italics to indicate the fact,-save where we have his permission for the change. If freedom to change hymns in this way be questioned, we can but beg, "Allow it, friendly author, for the widened service which your heart's song thereby secures. Rejoice that you have sung a song in which, with alteration, you can help other hearts to rise toward God." To all friends, known and unknown, consulted or unconsulted, from whom we have ventured thus to borrow work, we give warm thanks
The tunes to which we recommend the hymns to be sung are designated in italics on the title-lines of the hymns, and the page of the tune is added. We suggest these settings, not to forestall the taste of others, but to help congregations without choir-leaders, and choirs when obliged to sing with little time to make their own selections. The cut page enables a few noble tunes to serve conveniently many hymns, and secures to every hymn the range of all the music in the book to find its best adaptations. The principles followed in the selection of the music have been (1) to have, within our narrow limits, as many as possible of the old, familiar, dear tunes, and these the best of them: (2) to give new and special tunes for the hymns which require them either by metre or sentiment; and to have these new tunes simple, grand, worthy to last, and easy for congregational use: (3) to suggest two settings as alternates when both seem appropriate, especially using the new music in this way so as to help it to become familiar.
This new music is new only to us, either as not familiar, or as now offered for the first time in a collection of English psalmody. But it is, for the most part, very old,
and is entirely from German, Latin or English sources. We think it includes noble chorals which will be welcomed and loved. If the proportion of new tunes seem large, this was necessitated by the somewhat peculiar character of the collection of hymns; but we hope that few of the greatest and dearest of the old tunes will be missed.
In the new music the harmony has required much attention, and for this we are under great obligation to the kind, skilful and learned aid of Prof. Rich. J. Wilmot of Quincy, Ills.
CHORALS AND ANTHEMS FOR THE CONGREGATION.
One chief hope with us has been to offer aid in enriching the somewhat bare form of the usual congregational worship in churches not liturgical. For this purpose a few elements of choral and responsive service will be found at the end of the book, which may be combined variously according to the customs, feelings or circumstances of a congregation. The three following forms may serve as suggestions:
Of course, our congregations need training in the use of such choral elements; and success is not the work of a Sunday or a month. Within a year it may be hoped for, if the people are in earnest; and an increasing love for the service will be the almost sure encouragement. Five things will help greatly toward this result: (1) A Choir, at first to teach, and afterwards to lead and guide, the congregation,—a Choir inspired with the feeling that no anthem they can sing will so enrich the service, will be so glorious a deed for them, as Choir, to do, as the waking of a people's voices to utter nobly their own worship. (2) An interested Organist, sensitive enough to know that each verse in a hymn may need its own interpretation on the organ. (3) A number of heartily interested singers in the congregation. All depend on these; the others are to catch from them, and hide themselves, at first, in them. The older children, here, can greatly help. (4) A few conscientious rehearsals by such singers with the Choir. (5) A family-feeling pervading the congregation,-which itself is likely to be deepened by singing thus together in Sunday worship.
There should be no haste to attain variety in the use of these choral parts. Only repetition will secure good singing from a congregation. Let the hymns give the variety, and the choral strains give, rather, the uniformity equally desirable. Simple, noble music alone can bear the test, but such grows dear with association; and the dearest parts of a religious service are usually those around which associations have begun to cluster. We venture specially to urge the congregational beginning of the service, the very first sound, after the organ-prelude, being the voice of the people praising God together. And the aim should be for the people to recognise by the organ-touch, without other announcement, which one out of the several selections is to be sung by them. Thus, too, at the other choral moments of the service. Let the first three months' experiment be with a single strain or two, perhaps "Old Hundred," till it becomes familiar: then gradually add others. By the year's end a rich and flexible service will probably be within the power of the congregation,—a new joy, because a new beauty, for the Sunday.