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Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1833, by A. B. C. Dossey, in the clerk's office of the district court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.
It has been the desire of the Compiler to furnish his brethren with a pocket manual of hymns and spiritual songs, adapted alike to every day's use, and the promotion of religious revivals. Having had it tested by the experience of several years and the fourth edition being called for, he has been encouraged to give it a patient and criti. cal review, and now sends it into the world in the best form that his understanding, and the means within his grasp, could furnish. If, in doing this, he has been compelled to make various alterations, he hopes that the im. provement derived from them will be as acceptable to its friends as they are satisfactory for the labour which they have cost him; and especially, as it now assumes a fixed form.
This is not the place to disclose all the reasons which have prevailed in excluding many compositions which
were in the former editions. Suffice it to say, that his views have undergone no change relative to the subjects for which no hymns in this are exclusively applicable. The work had become too large. In abridging it, it was obviously necessary to exclude such as could only be used on occasions which seldom occur, and others that were wanting in animation. These, therefore, have been made to give place to others better suited to the original design of the work.
Taught by experience, he is persuaded that a large Index of subjects is of but little use. It originated in the desire to direct the mind to a suitable hymn with facility. The desire is laudable, but it fails of its object. Hymns are seldom so constructed as to embrace only one leading thought. Hence, what one man would place under one bead, another would conceive belonged to a very different
one. The plan which he has adopted, is at once more simple and useful.
Under the general heads of Praise, Gospel-Grace, and Gospel-Ministry, will be found the hymns of most common use for the pulpit. The first embraces the object and ex. ercise of praise. The second, the graces of the Spirit, gospel doctrine, invitations, and promises. The third, such as are assigned to the opening and concluding public worship, associations, and missionary meetings. As there are a great number of short, spirited hymns in this edi. tion suitable to be sung between sermons, or between prayer and sermon, it has been thought best not to give them a distinct place, as in the former, but to scatter them through the whole, under their appropriate heads, adding to the simplicity and beauty of the work. The rest will be ob',ious by a mere glance at the Index of Subjects.
In selecting for the Choice, the question has not been, will it be proper to publish the compositions of men whose views differ in some points from our own ? but simply, is the piece itself good, and adapted to the design?
In all cases where the Author is known, his name is given. Where he is not, the work from which the stan. zas are taken is acknowledged. If I have måde changes which are material, and especially in works not generally known, it is expressed by Altered. If such changes are not made, and the Author is not known, it is signified by Anon.--anonymous. In some of the pieces selected from standard works, a few slight alterations have been made, which are not acknowledged, except here. The desire to attribute them to their Author, is my apology; and the fact that the work is generally known, will enable the public to do justice to us both. The original compositions plead rather for candour, than challenge criticism. They are mostly on subjects which were either not supplied, or supplied in an unsatisfactory manner.
The Rev. Mr. John Wesley says, that the greater part of the hyinns in his book, were composed by the Rev. Charles Wesley. It is a source of regret that they cannot
now be identified with their Author! I have made a pretty free use of his book, and am inclined to think that the most of those selected from it were composed by Mr C. Wesley, but, as of this I am not certain, I have been compelled to refer the reader to Wesley's Collection.
There is in the hymns of Mr. Wesley one excellence, of which I cannot speak in terms of approbation too strong. It consists in his personal addresses to God. He does not speak about him merely, but addresses him in humble prayer, earnest pleading-and sends up his hymns directly to him in strains of lofty praise. It is this that gives his compositions that unction, which, operating as a charm on the congregation whilst singing, kindles in them the feryour of devotion without their knowing why. Trans. ported by the poet to the throne of God, they feel awed into reverence by the Majesty on high.
From a European work, published by the Synod of Relief, the Compiler has been enabled to select many hymns and songs which add to the value of his book, and the more, because, in themselves valuable, they are, for the most part, unknown in this country.
The compositions of Dr. Watts more enrich the Choice than any others. Without any wish to cause his general work to be disused, the Compiler has been desirous to make his own book more acceptable to the public, by adorning it with the beauties of this prince of lyric poets. Instead of making his hymns less useful, he hopes thereby to give them a more constant use in our worshipping assemblies.
By the publishers of spiritual songs the indulgence of the enlightened community has been so often bespoke, that it has become common to conceive that a book, one design of which is to circulate them, must necessarily be deficient in poetic merit. But why may not compositions of this kind be as worthy of acceptation as hymns? That many which are so called, are destitute of claims to public favour, is admitted; but it is not the purpose of the Choice
to circulate them. If the first part of it merits public approbation, the second alleges its claim also.
EXPLANATION. In preparing the sixth edition of the Choice for the press, the Compiler has revised and corrected the whole. This was partly done before the fifth was issued, and would have been completed, but for the pressure of other engagements, and the immediate call for the work. A very few miscellanies have been deemed necessary to make the volume complete. These have been added, and the arrangement preserved according to his pledge to the public.
Some explanation was needful, especially relative to song 64, and to avoid adding to the size of the book he has expunged so much of the former preface as to give it room, It had been originally too long and prosaic, and the hur. ried manner in which it was abridged for the stereotypes excluded so many of the leading exercises as left it, like the lame, unequal. The instrument of his first quickening into life was not as clearly disclosed as it merited to be. The sword of the Spirit (John iii. 3—7.) in his own almighty hand was the means first employed. A withered blossom was the second. It was due to the public and himself to correct these inaccuracies, as far at least as he was able, and to place things in their proper order.
If the removal of a verse or composition has been deemed necessary for the advancement of the work to wards perfection, the trouble and expense are his; and, if the Chureh is benefited by it, this is his sufficient re. ward. The form is just what was designed for the fourth edition, and the whole as complete as he can make so small a pocket manuel.-May the Divine favour attend it, for Jesus' sake. Amen.