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The present compilation is an attempt, made with some care, to supply a hymn-book that shall be adapted, as far as possible, to the services of the United Church of England and Ireland.
In making the selection, a higher importance has been attached to the poetical excellence of the hymns than has perhaps been usual in such compilations. No doubt the correctness and appropriateness of the religious sentiment expressed are the most essential qualifications of a good hymn; and accordingly none have been admitted into this collection that are not in perfect harmony with the spirit of the Church of England as exhibited in the Book of Common Prayer. But it may be doubted whether a production in which the poetical element is wanting can fairly be called a hymn at all. All compositions open to this criticism have, therefore, as far as possible, been excluded, together with such as have not the dignity, or at least the simplicity, of style that is suited to a sacred subject. It is hoped that as a result there will be found in this book most of the really good hymns in the English language, with but few that are unworthy, as compositions, of the place accorded to them.
As, with few exceptions, the use of the hymns here collected is unauthorized, it has been thought right to append to them the names of the authors or translators, where they are ascertainable. There is, however, so much doubt as to the authorship of the earlier Latin hymns, that in many cases the names cannot be attached with any degree of certainty.
The hymns have been printed mostly in the form in which the writers left them ; but where any deviation from the original text has been generally adopted, and appears desirable, it has been retained ; and in all the cases in which an alteration is known to have been made, an asterisk is placed after the name. Where an asterisk is placed against the doxology, the latter did not originally form part of the hymn, but has been appended to it.
The compiler acknowledges with gratitude the kindness of those who have permitted the use of their copyright hymns. Amongst these his thanks are especially due to the Very Rev. the Dean of Canterbury, the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth, the Rev. Dr. Kennedy, the Rev. W. J. Blew,* the Rev. W. W. How, and the Rev. Edward Caswall, for the hymns of which they are respectively the authors; to the Rev. Dr. Neale, for seven hymns from "Mediæval Hymns and Sequences” (London : Masters); five from "Hymns of the Eastern Church " (London : Hayes); and six from “Hymns for Children” (London : Masters); to the Rev. William E. Green, of Trinity Church, Lambeth, for the hymns and translations bearing his name, and which appear in this book for the first time; to the proprietors of the copyright of “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” for four hymns + inserted from their collection ; and to Messrs. Longman and Co. for six hymns translated from the German by Miss Winkworth, from the “Lyra Germanica."
Regarding the arrangement of the hymns a few words are necessary. It has lately been said by a high authority, and seems to be now generally felt, that no hymn-book can be regarded as altogether satisfactory, or as practically adapted for use in our Churches, unless
* Nos. 30, 138, 141, 179, 227, and 261.
ť Nos, 24, 67, 70, and 91.