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OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND.
ALL THY WORKS SHALL PRAISE THEE, O LORD;
AND THY SAINTS SHALL BLESS THEE. THEY SHALL SPEAK OF THE GLORY OF THY KINGDOM,
AND TALK OF THY POWER. PS. CXLV.
THERE has not been shewn any sufficient reason for giving an exclusive preference to the Psalms, or to any versification of them as yet published, for singing in our churches or in our household devotions. A new versification of the Psalms is reported to have been executed very lately, but is not published. Wherever chanting may be practicable, it would seem much better to chant the prose translation of the Psalms, rather than to put any versification of them hitherto published into such use as to prevent the introduction of any Hymns. The prose Psalms so chanted, and a good Selection of Hymns in verse, regularly sanctioned, appear to form the best system. A considerable relief would be afforded the Clergyman, by chanting the Psalms; a collateral advantage of great weight.
Whatever may be the letter of our law, if strictly enforced, it is not the spirit of our time to reject Hymns because they are not part of our Common Prayer as it now stands. In almost every diocese, some Collection of Hymns is in use; and in some dioceses, under the immediate sanction of a Bishop. A version of the Psalms, so free as to be fully adapted to modern feelings, and so changed as to satisfy Christian gratitude, would, in fact, be a Book of Hymns.
The great number of Psalms and Hymns now published is in itself a sufficient reason for the publication of more ; as it justifies a belief that our Church is not yet supplied with such versions of the Psalms, and such Hymns, as are generally
PREFACE. approved. It is probable that the best means of providing such a supply, is, to publish such Collections as will furnish the materials for a Selection, in due time, by some fitting person. As the want of such a Selection is more and more felt, and more and more known, our hopes that it may ultimately be effected under the sanction of the Bishops and Clergy, and authorised for general use in the Church, become more and more reasonable. The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge has the best means of calling forth new Hymns and selecting old ones, and then giving their volume extensive circulation. Upon that Society, therefore, is chiefly resting the moral obligation to publish such a volume, whenever its publication may be deemed expedient.
The editor of this volume anxiously begs all, who, like himself, may be desirous of seeing an Authorised Selection of good Hymns, to do all they can, in their own way, for the accomplishment of their desires : and he ventures to suggest that every such person, who may read this little volume, should use it as a means of providing a better Collection; and bear in mind, that such is the principal purpose of its publication. So, whenever any Hymn is read, preferable to some one of these Hymns here printed, let the reader strike out that one, and put in its stead the new one, by a marginal reference or a copy. In the end, by comparing the books so corrected, a good Selection may perhaps be formed; and it is not very material, whether the number be 100 or 300. Reviews and conversation, and repeated appeals to the press, will afford the means of comparison: neither time, nor labour, nor money expended on such an undertaking, would be lost.