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BV 459 ..064
The following volume of Hymns is submitted to the Public, in consequence of the earnest representations of very many to whose judgment I cannot but pay deference, that it is a desirable work as a supplement to the inimitable productions of Dr. Watts. I had at first intended to prepare for my own congregation a selection of hymns, and to present to them some original compositions which they had sung after the discussion of particular subjects, and which they had condescended to approve: but when it was suggested to me, that the work might appear with more advantage as a general publication, and when some congregations had enforced private judgment, by promising to adopt these compositions, I enlarged my original plan, and endeavoured to render the volume worthy the place it professes to occupy, as an appendage to psalms and hymns which have the suffrage of the great and the good of every denomination. In making this statement, my intention is candidly to develop the principles upon which this work was undertaken; and totally to disclaim those imputations of rivalry which may, and probably will, be urged against me. Many have contributed, and contributed well, to the enlargement of the praises of Zion; and while I rejoice in their success, I feel persuaded, from a knowledge of their character, that they will not be displeased with me for casting my mite into the treasury. It remains only that I should explain my plan, and attempt to meet some objections which appear to lie against it.
As to my plan. I have been swayed by the following considerations :
1. I have attempted to give a greater compass to this part of our devotional exercises, both as to the number of the hymns, and the variety of the metres, than has yet been effected. The hymns consist of nearly one thousand
2. I have endeavoured to blend dignity and simplicity in the compositions. I wished to produce a volume that might be indeed supplementary to Dr. Watts. For this purdose, I consulted more than eighty volumes of the English poets, before I examined collections and original compositions, as hymns. Nearly four hundred of these hymns have either been extracted from larger poetical compositions, or are not used as hymns these, at least as to use, will be new. I have also been favoured with a variety of in my estimation) very superior pieces, which have never before been published. These are arranged under the head ORIGINALS.
3. I have wished to introduce a greater variety of hymns on particular texts-on specific subjects—and on public occasions, than has hitherto been attempted. This is the first use of a supplement.
4. My reason for arranging the hymns under the title of their respective authors, rather than according to the subject, was--that every man has his peculiar style of composition; and I meant to present to the public, in one volume, the beauties and uses of ma
In the prosecution of my plan, it has happened to me, as it must to all finite beings, that I have partly succeeded and partly failed. After having acted upon the principle which I had proposed to myself, I discovered that I had overlooked certain beautiful effusions, which I could not consent to omit; and these are superadded, under the title of ADDITIONAL, from the various authors who had been examined ; the volume having been partly printed off, I could not do otherwise than thus class them, although it destroyed the original arrangement in part, without
cancelling the whole which had been thus completed ;-a measure which must have exposed me to an enormous, and, I think, an unnecessary expense.
Such, then, has been my plan. I fear the greater difficulty remains to me, to obviate those objections which suggest themselves to my own mind; and which, with others not apparent to me, will too probably operate with considerable force on those who feel less interest in this laborious work than myself.
1. The bulk of the volume is exceptionable. This has, indeed, been increased beyond my original intention. A second edi. tion may obviate this objection, by the adoption of a thinner paper.
2. The elevation of some of the compositions may appear too great for common use. The answer to this objection is--that amidst sueh variety, enough may be selected to answer every purpose.
Six hundred hymns may be found sufficiently, simple for public worship, allowing that four court the graces of poetry, and avail themselves of the aid of imagination. Some of these are also intended for private use. I remembered that I was compiling a general volume.
3. The metres of some have not at present congregational tunes adapted to them. These are to be supplied, by promise, with suitable airs, by the first composers of this or of any. age. I am not at liberty to mention their names; but their compositions will sufficiently determine their ability. I may be allowed to observe, that such metres are comparatively few.
4. The use of Roman numerals in place of figures, is, I am convinced, a great defect in the work. I was not aware of this, till I had proceeded too far to alter my plan. In a fuiure edition, figures shall be employed, and the page shall be made to correspond with the hyinn,
5. The alterations which will be manifest in this volume. For-these, I have nothing to plead, but that if I have not amended where I have altered, I must abide the consequences. In many cases, I have attempted to soften a harsh line. In some, especially with Mr. Charles Wesley's compositions, (by far the most devotional I have met with), I have sometimes omitted a verse, and sometimes altered a line, for the sake of sentiment. I must endure, here, the test of cri. ticism.
6. The errors of all the editions are, I fear, very numerous. These shall be rectified in future editions. They arise partly from the difficulty of compiling and superintending such a volume, in the first instance; and partly from the circumstances of this particular volume, mutilated, hastily supplied, and