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In the following Selection the effort has been to provide, supplemental to the Psalms of David, a Handbook of Household Worship. This object the reader will kindly bear in mind, should he in the following pages miss any of his favourites. There are hymns not a few, which, however suitable to the great congregation, are scarcely adapted to “ the church in the house;" and many exquisite passages of sacred poetry are neither “psalms," nor “hymns," nor spiritual songs."
At the same time a rule becomes vexatious when carried out with rigid pedantry; and in order to prevent disappointment, we have inserted a few compositions which are more suitable for private meditation than for social worship; such as Pope's “Vital Spark of Heavenly Flame,” Montgomery's beautiful description of prayer (No. 272); and the most original and impressive of Josiah Conder's effusions, “Oh the Hour when this Material.”
In so large a collection there must of course be some peculiar metres ; but of the following Hymns 239, or nearly the half, are in our common measure, 89 are in long measure, and 45 in short measure. Of the peculiar metres many are no longer uncommon.
In Hymns 150 and 456 will be recognized the versification of the National Anthem; and as the measure of the 148th Psalm, Hymns 104, 208, 388, 464, can be sung to melodies popular alike in England and Scotland.
Variety of authorship, as well as of subject and sentiment, has been kept in view; and in the following pages will be found specimens of a hundred and fifty hymn - writers. Amongst these the most extensive appropriations has been made as follows: -- Watts, 94 hymns; C. Wesley, 28; Cowper, 27; Newton, 21; Doddridge, 22; James Montgomery, 15. As we learn from the Rev. Henry Allon, one of the compilers of the New Congregational Selection, two-fifths of its hymns, or 402 in the thousand, are taken from Dr. Watts. Next comes Wesley, who contributes 73; then Doddridge, 52; and James Montgomery, 44.
Our late venerable friend, Dr. Leifchild, gave us permission to transcribe hymns contained in his collection; and for a similar obligation our thanks are due and are hereby tendered to the Rev. T. T. Lynch, the highly gifted author of the Rivulel, as well as to the anonymous writer of some excellent hymns in the new Leeds Selection.