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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
ROBERT CARTER & BROTHERS.
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of
T. B. SMITH & SON,
24 Frankfort St.
BV 459 oW3 1858
This is simply a book of hymns for private use. They are chosen from many sources; are of many countries; and were written, some of them, centuries ago. Perhaps I cannot better tell what the book really is, than by a title which I once thought of giving it—Hymus of and for the Church Militant. The pages will, I think, prove such description true. They are not fuller of trial than of consolation.
I wished to bring together all the really fine hymns, and none others; but I found that I must admit a little class of general favourites, so long known and loved that they are beyond criticism, like the faces of old friends.
Of many a hymn I wish I could know the history-s0 sure do I feel that some special circumstances called it forth; and every hint that I have found makes me wish to know more. Thus the hymn on page 218, was found treasured up in a chest in some poor cottage in England, --that on page 615 is a French hymn, written in Paris during the cholera summer of 1832; and who can read "The Battle Song of Gustavus Adolphus,” (p. 253) and not feel stirred to know that it was sung by his army before every battle? While many another is the war-cry of unknown combatants, in unseen strife. The old leaf whereon I found " The Saviour's Merit,” (p. 351,) was so worn through with use, though the rest of the book was
perfect, that some few words had to be supplied. To me, the hymns have been like a vision of the "great cloud of witnesses."
It is perhaps well that I cannot put in words all the pleasure this hymn-work has given me, nor just what I think of its results,—I fear the gentlest charity would call me at least eccentric. But I may tell (since I am but usher to the book) I may tell some of its titles to favour, and some of the grand truths which its pages collectively teach.
It has brought most vividly before my eyes, some of those Bible facts which before I knew rather by faith. For these are not assembly hymns, nor paraphrases, nor hymns written to order,—they are the living words of deep Christian experience.
And they tell that the Church is one. In prose, one denomination will war with another, -war, and striveas some of the disciples did—for a place above the rest. The Church Militant is to outward eyes, often a Church divided against itself — every banner attacking every other, forgetful that the great standard of the Prince of Peace floats over all.
Yet this is but a difference of head-look here at their hearts. Read Luther and some old Catholic monk, side by side, -read Wesley, and all he ever opposed, or who ever opposed him. They fight still, but it is with themselves, with sin, with unbelief. They work out that other word—“through much tribulation.” O friends-whether christian or unchristian-see what a hidden war doth rage in the midst of the Church ; and find kinder cause than hypocrisy, for a ruffled temper and an unsteady walk! Even Christian gave way a little, when “Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot."
The Church are one here also—they suffer in mind, in
body, in estate; with sometimes no sign of life but this --they would lie in the Slough of Despond for ever, rather than climb out on any side but that which is towards the Celestial City. “For they desire a better country, even an heavenly." And herein again they are one—"as sorrowing, yet alway rejoicing, "-as esteeming “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." With one voice they sing,
“Heavenward the waves I'll breast
Heavenward with Christ-after him. His headship over the Church is wonderfully set forth in their songs. They ever say with the old martyr—“None but Christ!" All eyes are looking unto Jesus, and waiting for him ; and while one says of the loss of all things
“Pass away, earthly joy,
another answers that without him all things are worth nought,
" What have I in this barren land?
My Jesus is not here."
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism"—the building of their faith may cover more or less ground, but its corner-stone is the same.
I have read with great edification the prefaces of sundry collectors, who say, that wherever it seemed desirable to alter a hymn, the thing was done “ without the slightest hesitation !" For me, I bave tried to give the author's own words, and all of them. There is always a fresh beauty in the free growth of a fine thing (even though it be a little unruly) which no strange hand can
trim into better shape. But the pruning knives have been so many, that I long ago gave up the hope of find. ing all the lopped branches. In three or four instances I have wittingly left out what seemed to me objectionable verses.
Of well-known hymn writers, I could sometimes get an old edition and copy from that; but with the thousand pameless hymns, I could but compare and take which version I liked best. Often indeed (especially where the alterations had sprung from that great root of alteration -a lower tone of Christianity than that of the hymn) the original words asserted their own right without a question; and many times the hymn had to be collected from various books, I have had twelve open before me at one time, for one hymn.
I have adniitted a few hymns, which I well knew would be called unlearned and even rough; yet there was something in their strong faith, or its strong expression, which I was not willing to leave out. It was fair, too, that all parts of the Church should be represented. And for any general favourites that are wanting, I can only say, look at my number of pages.
As to names-whenever I found such as were well authenticated, I have put them in the index. Where the name was doubtful I preferred to leave a blank.
NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 1858.