« PreviousContinue »
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
BY MARK H. NEWMAN & CO., In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
STEREOTYPED BY T. B. SMITH,
216 WILLIAM ST., N. Y.
3. D. BEDFORD, PRINTER,
59 ANN STREET.
Ar the last meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, May, 1840, " the whole subject of Psalmody, with the procuring and furnishing an edition of Psalms and Hymns for our general use, in a way involving no pecuniary responsibility to the Assembly," having been referred to the Consulting Committee, for their deliberation and action, as they may deem proper and practicable,” and said Committee, having through successive periods attended to the weighty trust, endeavoring to perform the difficult duty assigned them according to the true intent of the Assembly, and for the edification of the church of God, did, at a regular meeting in the city of New York, Nov. 5th, 1842, unanimously agree to approve and recommend this present volume, entitled “Church Psalmist, or Psalms and Hymns, for the public, social, and private use of evan. gelical Christians," as being, in their judgment, the best adapted to the worship of God in our age and country; and as such it is commended to the Christian public, and especially to all the churches under the care of the Assem. bly, that they may mith one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and be profited and united in his worship and his praise.
SAMUEL H. COX, Chairman.
HENRY A. ROWLAND, Clerk.
PIJI IP C. HAY J5./.
The object of this volume is to furnish the Churches with a complete COLLECTION OF SACRED Songs for public worship; and in presenting such a work, when so many, aiming at the same end, are already in circulation, we seem to be called upon to state some reasons which have influenced us in this undertaking, and which may have some weight with others. The least offensive mode in which this can be done, will be to give a brief exposition of the principles which have been kept in view in its execution. * An outline is all that will be given--for more than this, however much it may be demanded, or however rich in thought or replete with practical wisdom, would be hardly ever read. A PREFACE is generally deemed a very dull and unattractive part of a Book, so much so, that if an author had some profound secrets which he wished to record, and yet preserve in deep obscurity, he might be advised, as it regards most readers, to commit them to the safe-keeping of these neglected pages. And yet some persons read a Preface, and for the benefit of such this one is written.
The subjects of LYRIC POETRY and PSALMODY are intimately and inseparably connected, and it is in vain to expect one to exist in a high state of perfection without the other; or for either to attain distinguished excellence without cultivation. It must be acknowledged, that ministers and churches have not studied this subject with that attention which it claims, nor even in relative proportion when compared with other grave matters pertaining to the worship of God. Singing often falls far below every other part of the services of the sanctuary, from the want of both sympathy and knowledge, on the part of the Church. Little is known on the subject, and little is felt in relation to it. But this is a state as unwise as it is criminal. It is a matter of vast and vital importance that all who desire that the public institutions of religion may make the best impression and secure their highest results, and especially that ministers of the gospel should understand what Sacred Songs are adapted to social worship, and what tunes will impart to them the greatest power and efficiency. Both of these subjects should form a part of christian instruction, and especially of theological training. A brief course of Lectures on Lyric Poetry, is hardly
less necessary than a course on Sermonizing and Pastoral Theology; and a preacher of the gospel should read and study the best Psalms and Hymns, as an every-day-business, as he does his Bible, till he is acquainted with their sentiments, familiar with their structure and imagery, and deeply imbued with their spirit. The advantages of such a course are obvious and numberless ;—some of them so plain that they need not be specified, and when taken coliectively, and in all their intellectual and moral relations, too many to be embraced in this rapid sketch. It is not saying too much to afirm, that such a discipline would enlarge a minister's knowledge, improve his taste, increase his piety, refine his imagination, invigorate his eloquence, and give him readiness, appropriateness and power, in the public exercises of his profession. His volume of sacred poetry should be a Text-Book by the side of the Bible, and he should be equally familiar with both. If this were the case, the sermon and singing would more generally harmonize in their object and impressions, than they now do; the minister would have to expend less time in consulting numerous indexes in order to know what to select; and in the very act of reading the Psalm or Hymn, he would make an impression which would instruct the hearers, and give the key-note of sentiment and expression to the choir. How deficient the ministry may be in these respects, is matter of opinion of which every person will judge for himself.
The character of Psalmody must always be affected by a great variety of circumstances which need not be adverted to in this place; but nothing has a greater influence to elevate or depress, to advance or retard its progress, than the Lyric Poetry which is employed in the service of God. The following defects may easily be detected in many of the Psalms and Hymns now in use. Some are composed on subjects unsuited to song-others are destitute of a lyrical spirit-another class lack simplicity of design and execution--and not a few are of an unreason. able length for a single exercise of singing. To remedy these and other defects, and to secure, if possible, certain excellencies which are attained as yet only in part, are among the objects of this publication.
That Lyric Poetry has a character of its own—that it moves in a sphere peculiar to itself—and that its subjects are limited, there is no room for doubt. On these points all critics agree. This poetry is made to be sung; and, when combined with appropriate music, we have a vehicle, at once natural and refined, for the expression of strong emotion. A Psalm or Hymn should be devotional