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as far as possible representing the very various tastes and tendencies of religious thought among us. No especial effort has been made to gather new material. No theory has been followed as to changes of text. But the aim has been to cull from our already familiar and
. accepted wealth of sacred poetry that portion which is Jest adapted for musical use, and to follow that reading which seemed on the whole to be the best in each particular case.
The number of hymns is a medium between the extremes desired hy different persons : some considering it an object to reduce the number to five hundred, or even less; others as earnestly approving mu extension considerably beyond the number inserted.
In the arrangement of the hymns, the natural order of topics has been followed, as far as the need of grouping similar metres did not compel a departure from it. This was judged preferable to the more usual course of making the order of the hymns wholly subordinate to the musical adaptation.
In respect to a class of hymns addressed to Christ, as to the propriety of which there are considerable differences of opinion among us, the rule followed has been inclusive rather than exclusive to insert hymns expressive of the highest standard of Christian faith, and ascribing to the Saviour all that is rightfully implied in his mediatorship and his own solemn assertions,—"I and my Father are one;" and " he that honoreth the Son honoreth the Father."
Those portions have been made most full which afford the material for devout enjoyment in all religious services, in preference to extending the number of occasional hymns, which are less often available, and more likely to grow obsolete by the change of the special circumstances that give tone and a transient interest to their thought or sentiment.
Our thanks are due to the authors and publishers for the kind permission given to use selections from Miss H. M. Kimball's volume of hymns, from Whittier's "Tent on the Beach," and from the * Hymns of the Spirit.” Also to the compiler and publishers of " Elim, or Hymns of Holy Refreshment.” From members of our own fellowship we have received many courtesies in the permission to use their works, original and selected, to which much of what is most valuable in this collection is due.
In selecting the tunes, no fixed rule has been followed. The old and long familiar have been generally preferred, but not to the exclusion of more recent compositions, when these approved themselves as well adapted for the object of the work. While the aim has been to promote a higher taste, it has not been assumed to be the function of this book to correct bad taste, or to compel the exclusive use of music scientifically correct, but to put into an available form the best selection of tunes actually known and approved among us.
In arranging the tunes, it has been the usual course to place two of similar metre on the pages facing each other, and of such a kind that in some respect one should be the complement of the other; an old tune facing a newer one; a simpler, one more difficult; a quieter, one more lively, &c., so as to allow of more freedom of choice, and to extend the range of tunes available for congregational use.
The chants, with a few exceptions, are intended to supply music for the selections introduced in the Liturgy, leaving it open to choirs to substitute other music of a richer or more difficult order, accord ing to their ability and taste.
A special business arrangement has been made for the use of tunes of which Messrs. MASON BROTHERS are owners of the copyright; and it is to be understood, that all tunes taken from their publications are used by their permission. A similar arrangement has been made for the use of tunes from the collections published by 0. Ditson & Co., with whose kind consent also free resort has been had to the rich stores of Charles Zeuner's music, of most of which this firm is proprietor and publisher. Acknowledgments are due also to the editors of several of these collections, for their kind assent to such use of their own compositions; and to the proprietors of the "National Church Harmony,” for the use of "Woodland," and other tunes from that collection.
A few words may be allowed here respecting the conditions of success in congregational singing. The first is a hearty and devout spirit in the people, rendering them alive to the object of the exercise, and leading to a general participation in it. The second, and ,
, hardly less indispensable, is practice. Choirs do not expect to sing well without careful practice; why should a congregation? Some regularly organized plan to secure general musical culture, and stated rehearsals, should be a part of the working apparatus of each church. It will conduce much to its success also, if the book is made a familiar companion in the home circle, for which it is well adapted. It is also well to have a number of practised and able singers so grouped in the church, whether as a choir or in a central part of the room, that they may serve as leaders, and give assurance
, to other and less skilful singers.
Where such efforts are not made, congregational singing is very likely to run out into the lifeless and at last tedious repetition of a very few tunes, which, though they may be the best, become stale and repulsive by such disproportioned and hard usage; so that both the music and the worship suffer wrong. For this reason, it is desirable that the general practice should be to use with each hymn one of the tunes which accompany it, on the same or opposite page, though this is not a necessary result of the plan of the book.
It is devoutly hoped that this work, which has been prepared with great labor and expense, may add to the enjoyment of our Christian worship both at church and at home: may quicken, warm, and elevate the feelings; and pour into all hearts new tides of joy and gladness in the worship of the all-wise and good Father; or, if so need be, exercise a soothing and comforting influence in the seasons of scrrow. With this hope, it is commended to the blessing of God, whose high praises it is the noblest privilege of inan to sound forth.