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With Preface by the
REV. G. OSBORN, D.D.
T. WOOLMER, 2, CASTLE STREET, CITY ROAD, E.C.,
EARLY in the year 1740, John Wesley supplied a brief account of himself for insertion in a new and enlarged edition of Wood's Athena Oxoniensis. In that document he states that he published a Collection of Psalms and Hymns in 1736, a statement which until lately was very perplexing. It was known that he had published a book with this title at London in 1738, shortly after his return from America; but he did not describe that publication as a second edition, and he superseded it by another with the same title three years afterwards. The book of 1738 has now almost disappeared, only two or three copies of it being known to exist; but that of 1736 had neither been seen nor heard of until a few months since, when a copy came into the possession of Mr. Brooke, of Richmond Road, Hackney. This unique volume he has kindly permitted the Methodist Book Committee to reprint in facsimile, and thus conferred a great obligation on that large and increasing number of persons who are interested in the hymnology of Methodism.
A comparison of the three publications bearing the same title leaves no room to doubt that they are the work of the same man, though he only avows himself on the title of the third, which bears date 1741. In 1743 he issued a new edition of the book of 1741, which he called the "Second Edition enlarged," thus ignoring the books of 1736 and 1738 altogether, and numbering the subsequent editions (of which there were many) accordingly. These enlarged editions bore the names of the two brothers; Mr. Charles contributing psalms versified by himself to supersede several of those selected by his brother for the earlier publications, and adding others. There is not space here for a further discussion of the subject; but those who wish for fuller information may find it in vol. iii. of the Collected Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, or in the Record of Methodist Literature, pp. 3, 4, where the contents of the books published in 1738 and 1741 are specified, and the means of comparing all the three collections are furnished.
It has been supposed that this collection of Psalms and Hymns was the first published in our language; so that in this provision for the improvement of public worship, as in many other improvements which have since been generally adopted, Wesley led the way. But this question, however interesting, is too large
to be considered here. It is more to our purpose to observe that the present volume having been published while the compiler was, to use his own phrase, "a missioner in Georgia," strikingly illustrates his care to provide for the spiritual wants of those committed to his care; his earnest and serious temper; and his prominent ecclesiasticism. The three divisions into Psalms and Hymns for Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday, the first including such as were proper for general worship, while those for Wednesday and Friday are occupied with confession and humiliation, and those for Saturday with praise to God especially considered as the Creator of the Universe, bespeak a strict regard to those usages of a remote antiquity to which he then attached a very exaggerated importance. It is pleasant, however, to note that the foolish bigotry which led him to refuse the Lord's Supper to a Lutheran minister did not prevent him from availing himself of the invaluable Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Watts, which make more than one-third of the whole number contained in this little volume. The student will also be interested in observing the variations in the translations from the German as given here (particularly No. xvi) and in the author's subsequent publications; and the attempt to present in a form fit for singing the noble "Hymn of Eupolis," which, whether original