Congregational Church Hymnal 1887 - Title page and part of the Preface transcribed from copy in possession, undated but with a pencilled name and date F.Ross-Willis 1910
(See also the Congregational Union Assembly Reports and Minutes concerning the production of the book.)
THE CONGREGATIONAL UNION OF ENGLAND AND WALES
GEORGE S. BARRETT, B.A., D.D.
the harmonies revised by
Organist to the Hon. Societies of the Inner and Middle Temple, etc.
CONGREGATIONAL UNION OF ENGLAND AND WALES,
MEMORIAL HALL, FARRINGDON STREET.
P R E F A C E
This hymnal has been prepared in pursuance of a resolution passed by a Committee of the Congregational Union of England and Wales in April, 1883, and sanctioned by the Assembly of that year in its adoption of the Annual Report.
The objects the Committee had in view were, first, to enrich the service of praise in the Churches, by providing a book which, while retaining the best of the older hymns that had been found to minister to the faith and devotion of past generations, should include as large a selection as the limits of the book would allow from hymns of a more modern date, and especially from those in which the Evangelical faith and spiritual life of the present day have found expression; secondly, to adapt the provision made for public praise, so far as is consistent with the retention of the classics of Evangelical and Congregational worship to the present state of culture and feeling in the Churches, at once in regard to the literary form of the hymns, and to the style and spirit of the tunes by which they are interpreted; and, thirdly, to supply to the Churches a single volume which, containing the hymns, chants, and anthems, with music, should be sufficient for all the purposes of public praise. The object last named was much insisted on by correspondents, and the Committee have been able to accomplish it without undue enlargement of the book, or injurious limitation of any of its sections. They have, however, for the convenience of congregations where chants and anthems are not used, divided the book into two parts, which can be purchased in separate volumes.
It was not without reluctance that the Committee undertook the preparation of this Hymnal; but by the publication of the "Congregational Hymn-book" in 1844, of the "New Congregational Hymn-book" in 1859, and of the "Supplement" in 1874, all of which had been received with favour by the Churches, they had assumed a responsibility which led the Churches to look to them to make such further provision for the service of praise as the new life and methods of the day required. Urgent representations on the subject were from tiume to time received from all parts of the country, and it was not till it became apparent to the Committee that if they did not yield to the pressure brought to bear upon them, the work would be undertaken by others, to the probable detriment of the Union, and with results otherwise unsatisfactory, that they resolved to add to their list of publications the "Congregational Church Hymnal."
It will be understood from this statement that it is not intended to withdraw from sale the "Congregational Hymn Book." So long as any considerable number of Churches continue to use that book it will be supplied to them on the same terms as heretofore.
The Committee considered themselves fortunate in being able to secure the services of the Rev. George S.Barrett, B.A., as General Editor, and of E.J.Hopkins, Esq., Mus.Doc., Organist to the Honourable Societies of the Inner Middle Temple, as Musical Editor. Mr Barrett's qualifications for the office had already been proved as the Editor of the admirable "Hymnal for the Young," and the Committee cannot too strongly express their sense of the ability, devotion, and self-denial which, amid the multiform duties of a large pastorate, he has brought to the work.
The fame of Dr. Hopkins is too widespread and well-established to need certification, but it may be permitted the Committee to refer, as they do with much satisfaction, to the fact that his work on the Hymnal has not been confined to editorial supervision: he has enriched it with some of its most valuable music in new tunes expressly written for it.
The responsibility for the book, as a whole, rests on the General Editor. Two Committees were appointed to assist him, one in the selection of hymns, and the other in the selection of tunes; but the function of both Committees was, by their own desire, confined to consultation and advice, and in regard to hymns did not come into operation until Mr Barrett had prepared a draft selection. This draft was placed in the hands of the appropriate Committee, carefully considered by them, and, as to its leading features and substance, approved. The ultimate decision in regard to hymns and tunes alike lay with Mr Barrett, while Dr. Hopkins undertook the revision of the harmonies of all the tunes which were not copyright.
The work of the Editor will speak for itself, but as questions may arise about the absence of some hymns from the book, the Committee think it due to him to say, that by their vote he was limited to "about 750 hymns." It was believed that this number, taken in connection with the chants and anthems that were to follow, would suffice even for those Churches which give the greatest prominence in their service to sacred song, and the limitation was necessitated by the decision to print hymns, chants, and anthems with music, in one volume. Although by this decision some hymns may have been left out which would otherwise have been included, the Committee believe that the value and servicableness of the book have not been thereby prejudiced.
The leading ideas which guided the Editor on the choice or rejection of hymns were: (1) that the Hymnal should be a book for the worship of the Churches, to the exclusion of sacred poems, which, however full of devotional feeling, were not suitable for the worship of a mixed congregation; (2) that while true to the distinctive faith and spiritual traditions of Congregationalism, it should be catholic in feeling, and draw freely from the ample stores furnished by the sanctified genius of all sections of the Christian Church; (3) that it should include some hymns which, though defective when tried by modern standards of taste and literary form, are yet closely connected with the history of the Evangelical faith in England, and with the spiritual experience of a large number of the members of Congregational Churches; (4) that it should give, wherever practicable, the original text of the hymns introduced. Some alterations have been admitted on the ground that they have been sanctioned by long and general use, and form part of the compositions in which they occur, as these are generally known; and others (very few in number) in correction of minor irregularities of metre, offences against taste, or suggestions of questionable doctrine in the original text. In adopting these canons the Editor was not more true to his own opinions and spirit, than to those of the Committee.
The Editor found that one of his most delicate and critical tasks lay in the selection of tunes appropriate to the hymns. The Consultative Committee, after repeated meetings, had agreed on a certain number of tunes, which in their judgment it was desirable, for various reasons, to include in the book; but the ultimate responsibility for the choice of appropriate tunes devolved upon the Editor. It will be found that he has made liberal use of old and familiar melodies, and that the book is peculiarly rich in popular modern tunes, and in tunes specially written for the work by some of the ablest living composers of sacred music. All such tunes are marked with an asterisk in the Index to Tunes.
The Committee confidently hope that the Hymnal will be received by the Churches as adequately meeting a want thay have long felt, and will prove, for many years to come, a means of enhancing the interest and increasing the spirituality of their public worship.
For the Committee,
[ A separate Editorial note, containing numerous individual copyright and other acknowledgments, follows the Preface. The Rev.Dr. Alexander Hannay was, at the time of publication, the Secretary of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. ]
For extracts from Minutes of and Reports to the Assembly of the Congregational Union of England and Wales relating to the Hymnal, click here > >
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