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express its emotions." To the first of these divisions of the services of the sanctuary belong the reading of the Scriptures, exposition, exhortations, and sermons. To the second belong prayer and singing. Though these divisions should be kept distinct, yet it very often happens, that exhortation or preaching occupies a large place in the prayers and hymns.
Modern hymns,” says the author referred to above," are not lyrical, but didactic. They only preach in rhyme; and thus they reach the head, but not the heart. If, now, the sermon preaches, and the singing preaches, and the prayer preaches, the monotony of the service will occasion weariness; but if the sermon preaches, and the hymn sings, and the prayer prays, there will be a beautiful variety, to exercise and interest all the faculties of the soul.” One author of hymns has filled a large book with pieces, most of which were written as supplements to sermons, and seem to be little more than abstracts, expressed in rhyme, of the sentiments which had just been delivered. As such, they may be very good; but they can scarcely be considered as better adapted to musical effect, than a table of contents, or the synopsis of an argument. They may be set to music, so that each syllable shall correspond to a note of a tune, but they cannot be sung. This forcibly bringing syllables and notes into contact, and pronouncing them together, is not singing, any more than noise is music. Such hymns may contain excellent statements and discussions of Christian doctrines, expressed in an attractive form, and may be highly valuable to be read and treasured up in the memory; but they are in no degree adapted to musical effect. All truly lyrical poetry, of a religious character, has one of these two objects— either to be a channel through which the full soul may pour forth its strong and holy emotions, or to bring before the mind objects which, in their nature and aspect, are adapted to awaken these elevated emotions ;-it is io express emotion, or to excite it
2. The sentiments and imagery should be grave, dignified, and conformed to the taste and habits of the age. What would be suited to one nation or age, or to one state of society, might be wholly unsuited to another. When the feelings are addressed, no allowance can be made for difference of age, or nation, or habits, as there may be when the understanding is addressed. Whatever, then, is unscriptural, grovelling, minute in detail, light, fanciful, incongruous, or offensive to the taste and feelings, checks the flow of the soul, and detracts seriously from the effect, and should therefore be avoided. If the prevailing, taste is opposed to the precepts and doctrines of the Bible, it should not, of course, be humored. But, so far as manner, imagery, and illustration are concerned, it should be regarded scrupulously. Much, in these respects, which would be appropriate and powerful in an oration, or a heroic poem, would be utterly unfit for the dignity and holy excitement which should always attend a hymn sei to music.
All familiar and fondling epithets, or forms of expression, applied to either person of the Godhead, should be avoided, as bringing with them associatious highly unfavorable to purs
end of one line, and the verb at the beginning of the next, the lines, when sung, must make nonsense. If the performer attempts to run the lines together, and preserve the connection, the measure of the line, the returning rhyme, the length of the sentence, and the cadence of the music, all demanding a pause, but being violated together, will render the performance unnatural, and produce a harshness worse, perhaps, than nonsense. If long pauses are introduced within the line, they should be at or before the middle; and never, unless to secure some peculiar expression, near the end. Even the short pause following an address, which may occur any where else, should not be admitted there.
7. The accented parts of the stanza should correspond with the accented notes of the tune. The want of this is a defect of more frequent occurrence in hymns than any other. Articles or conjunctions, or the lightest syllables in important words, are often so placed, that, in the regular movement of the tune, they are pronounced on the longest and most accented notes; while the more important words and syllables, by their side, fall on the weakest and most unaccented notes. The judicious singer, in such cases, may be able, to some extent, to accommodate the music to the words ; but ordinary choirs will entirely destroy the meaning and force of the poetry. Such a misplacing of the accent, such a swelling upon the unimportant syllables, and such a depression of the important ones, is as unfavorable to all beauty and force, and as utterly nonsensical, in singing, as in reading or speaking.
8. The several stanzas of a hymn should possess a good degree of uniformity, as to measure, accent, and pauses. If each stanza were to be sung to a tüne made specially for it, their structure might be ever so diverse without inconvenience; but, as they are all to be sung to the same tune, it is obvious that all the stanzas should be similar to each other, and regularly conformed to the measure adopted.
9. Each stanza, and the whole hymn, should be so constructed, that the importance of the sentiments, the force of expression, the emotion, and the general effect of the piece, shall be increasing through to the end. A sinking, retrograde movement is worse, if possible, in lyric poetry, than in oratory.
It is not claimed for the psalms and hymns, in this collection, that they are entirely free from the faults that have now been referred to. Perhaps no hymn could be found in the English language, in which some of these faults might not be detected. The writers of sacred devotional poetry seem to have thought very little of adapting it to musical purposes. Had they felt the importance of this, and turned their thought to it, much the larger part of all the irregularities now found in their hymns might very easily have been avoided. Now, many of them cannot be removed, without rendering the pieces disagreeably stiff, or breaking down their whole fabric.' In compiling this book, the principles just laid down have been kept constantly in view, and, in innumerable instances, such faults as have here been noticed have been corrected. The fact that some imper
fections, of various kinds, must remain, is no reason why they should not be rendered as few as possible.
In noticing the sources from which the materials for this book have been drawn, it may be stated that, besides the version of the psalms by Dr. Watts, and those versions that preceded his, and those of some authors of less note, made since his time, use has been made of two nearly entire versions, and one very extensive collection, recently published in England. Versions of inany single psalms have been found scattered through the several collections of hymns which have been examined. In selecting the hymns, in addition to the hymnbooks used by the various denominations of Christians in the United States, the compilers have examined eight or ten extensive general collections of hymns, besides a large number of smaller collections published in England, and which have never been republished, or for sale, in this country. In these and other works, they suppose that they have examined nearly all the good lyric poetry in the English language.
The number of metrical pieces of the psalms is 454, and the number of the hymns 731, making 1185 in all. Of these, 421 are from Dr. Watts, who has, undoubtedly, written more good psalms and hymns, of a highly lyrical character, than any other author, and to whom the church is indebted, probabảy, for nearly half of all the valuable lyric poetry in the language. The names of the several authors, when known, or the collections from which the pieces have been taken, are given in the index to the first lines.
In selecting and arranging these materials, the compilers have aimed to make a hymn-book of a thoroughly evangelical character, in doctrine and spirit, and as highly lyrical as the materials, with such labor as could be testowed upon them, would permit
. They have, accordingly, rejected a large amount of religious poetry, excellent in itself, so far as the sentiments and language are concerned, and aimed to select only such pieces as are adapted to be sung.
As the same piece was often found with important variations, in different books, they have aimed to select that copy which seemed best suited to the design of this work, without inquiring how the author originally wrote it. They have treated the hymns which have come before them as public property, which they had a right to modify and use up according to their own judgment. Omissions, abridgments, alterations, and changes in the arrangement of the stanzas have, therefore, been made with freedom, whenever it appeared that the piece could thereby be improved. These alterations have been made principally, to avoid prosaic and unimpassioned passages; low or otherwise unsuitable imagery or expression ; abrupt transitions ; unmeaning and cuinbrous words and clauses; long, complicated, and obscure sentences; feeble connectives; long words, and harsh and slender syllables; a wrong position of the accent and pauses ; the anticlimactic structure ; and a disagreement in the form and rhythm of the several stanzas.
A considerable number of pieces, possessing less of a lyrical character than is desirable, have been retained; partly because
the subjects were important, and nothing better on them could be found; and partly because, though not well adapted to public worship generally, they might be useful on special occasions, or for families and individuals.
On some important topics, it may be asked why so few pieces have been inserted. The reply must be, that on such topics. all have been inserted, which could be found, that seemed worthy of a place. Not one hymn, in all respects good, on any useful topic, has been designedly omitted. If it is asked why so large a portion of the pieces are so short, the reply is similar--that all of each piece was inserted that seemed worth inserting, and it was not thought worth while to print poor stanzas for the sake of increasing their number. " Besides, four and five stanzas are, in ordinary cases, as much as can be sung with ease or profit. Singing, of all the exercises of public worship, should least be protracted so as to become wearisome, as it necessarily must be, when six or eight stanzas are given out.
In the arrangement, it was thought best, for various reasons, to preserve the psalms separate, as has been done heretofore, in the books most commonly used. In the index of subjects, the psalms are arranged under the appropriate heads with the bymns. The several parts of each psalm have been arranged according to their metre, and are numbered on continuously throughout, in the most simple manner. In arranging the bymns, those heads were selected which, it was thought, would most easily cover the whole ground, and run into each other the least. They follow each other in what seemed the most natural order. The hymns, under each of the general and subordinate heads, are intended to be so arranged, that, while they are read in course, the mind shall be steadily advancing in the subject. The arrangement is certainly imperfect; yet, probably, few who examine it will see so many imperfections in it as they saw who made it. It is doubtful whether, while hymns possess so little unity, any such arrangement can be adopted, as that many hymns may not, with about equal propriety, be placed under any one of two or three different heads. In the index of subjects here, they are so placed.
The number of tunes from which the selection has been made is limited, and such have been chosen as are not only appropriate in their general spirit and movement, but whose acceni and pauses correspond with those of the several stanzas to be sung. Often, the tune prefixed merely indicates the class of tunes to be used. Others would be equally appropriate. Different choirs, or different circumstances, may render it expedient to use different tunes. Judgment should be exercised, and time, place, occasion, &c. should be consulted.
To indicate, to some extent, the manner of performance, those marks for musical expression have been used which are commonly employed in music-books, and with which choirs are generally acquainted, rather than any arbitrary signs.
also applicable to those hymns or passages
whicit now have no mark. a little loud. loud. very loud. increasing, louder and louder. diminishing, softer and softer. increasing and then diminishing. diminishing and then increasing. in a gentle, smooth, gliding manner. with deep and tender feeling. short, distinct, articulate. gradually becoming slower and softer to the
end. used at the heginning of a line, to contradict
any mark of musical expression which has gone before it.
In the middle of a line, or at the end, it signifies a pause, longer or shorter, according to the judgment of the performer.
The marks for musical expression have been prefixed, in general, with reference to the tunes named. The same psalm or hymn, sung to a different tune, might often require soine vari ation of the expression.
After all which can be done, directions for musical expression must be merely hinis, by which the general character of the expression to be giveli is indicated. The various kinds and degrees of the emotions to be expressed, requiring a cor responding variation of the manner of performance, are so numerous, and so complicated in their nature, that only a ready susceptibility of emotion, joined to good taste and judgment, and careful attention to the subject, can secure a correct manner of singing.
In the index to the first lines, as well as in that to the subjects, the psalms and hymns are brought together without distinction, and the reference is uniformly to the page. In the latter index, the different subjects are not inserted under words arbitrarily selected, and placed in alphabetical order, but un der the principal and subordinate topics of the arrangement in the book, thus bringing all the psalms and hymns on the same or kindred topics near each other in the index, so as to be easily found. This is believed to be the most convenient plan for such an index.
With these remarks and explanations, this work, on which the compilers have bestowed much time and labor, and in which they have found much pleasure, is now given to the churches for their use.
DAVID GREENE. Boston, August, 1831.