Page images

Wahr ” 3-23-25 11595



HIS book of Scriptural selections is intended primarily for the use of public schools that conduct opening

exercises and of private schools and colleges that hold chapel services.

The very general practice of reading a passage from the Bible as a part of the daily opening exercise of public and private schools makes such a book of selections desirable and useful. A law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prescribes "that at least ten verses from the Holy Bible shall be read, or caused to be read, without comment, at the opening of each and every public school, upon each and every school day by the teacher in charge.” There are now six states in which daily reading from the Bible is required by a similar statute. The laws of six other states specifically permit the reading of the Bible in the public schools. In only ten states, representing less than one fifth of the population of the United States, is the reading of the Bible in the public schools not legally permissible because of adverse laws or judicial decisions.

Many people do not realize how commonly the excellent practice of reading a passage from the Bible is now observed in the public schools as well as in colleges. A recent bulletin of the Bureau of Education shows that in at least twenty-one states the Bible is now “generally read” at the opening exercises of the public schools; that in fourteen other states the Bible is read “in some schools," at the option of the teacher or the local school board; and that, aside from the ten states in which the reading of the Bible in the public schools is not permitted by law, there are only three states that do not take advantage of their liberty in this respect.

The Bible is a large book, containing as much material as a dozen ordinarily printed volumes. Some selection is necessary, and manifestly much of the Biblical material has to be passed over. The actual result is often that a few familiar passages, such as Psalm 1 or the Beatitudes, are read repeatedly with consequent loss of interest on the part of the pupils, or that a hasty, haphazard, or unsuitable selection is made. In some cases a particular book of the Bible may be chosen for consecutive reading, and thus passages are sometimes read which are unprofitable and even unintelligible apart from their context.

The task of finding the best selections for reading in school or college is not an easy one for the teacher. Many of the most impressive and instructive passages are embedded in narrations that are too long for the time allotted. Some of the most wholesome, interesting, and inspiring portions of Scripture are found in books of the Bible with which many teachers are unfamiliar. To select from the narratives concerning Joseph or David a passage which is a unity by itself and is appropriate for public reading requires more time and pains than the busy teacher usually has available in the few moments preceding the opening exercise.

The reading of the great passages of Scripture ought to be one of the most valuable of school exercises and may easily be made one of the most interesting. Simply for information and for knowledge of incidents, characters, and teachings which should be the property of all intelligent persons, and for the beauty of its literary style, the reading of the Bible is indispensable. The beneficent moral and spiritual influence of hearing the Bible read regularly in one's youth has been attested by many generations of the strongest and worthiest citizens of our nation.

The selections in this volume have been chosen in order
to enable the principal or teacher who is responsible for the
opening exercises of the school to present the great passages
of the Bible, from both the Old and the New Testaments,
without repetition in the course of a school year. It is
believed that none of the more sublime and affecting pas-
sages have been omitted. No selections are too long for the
time usually allowed for the exercise in school or college.
The student who hears the portions here presented read
reverently and sympathetically will have a far better
knowledge of the Bible than is frequently the result of much
Sunday school attendance.

The text of the Authorized Version has been used as best
suited, from the standpoint of dignity and style, for public
reading before a group of students. The spelling and punc-
tuation have been modernized, and the text has been para-
graphed like a modern book. In the Old Testament the selec-
tions follow the common Biblical order of the books; but in
the New Testament, especially in the passages from the
first three Gospels, an approximate chronological sequence
has been followed, in order to avoid repetition and to pre-
sent the readings in their right relation to each other.
By use of the titles in the Contents any one who is at all
familiar with the Bible will have no difficulty in finding a
desired passage. Because of their peculiar appropriateness
for students, a few selections from the Apocrypha of the
Old Testament have been included.

The table of passages appropriate to special days and
occasions will be found useful. Any reader who is uncertain
concerning the correct pronunciation of proper names can
secure help from the Appendix.

The compilers believe that others than teachers will wel-
come a collection of Scriptural passages chosen carefully for
instructional purposes. In these selections will be found the
heart of the Bible, the passages that have most deeply im-
pressed the world. In brief portions, each with a descriptive
title, the text will perhaps invite the attention of some who
have been disposed to neglect the full volume and to keep
postponing its perusal to a more convenient season.

« PreviousContinue »