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MAFTER a residence of some years in Great SA Britain, I have been no little surprised to KAN find, from time to time, in conversation with many of its best informed people and Christian scholars, how little is generally known of the wealth that exists in American Sacred Lyric Poetry. Even Sir Roundell Palmer, in his admirable “ Book of Praise,” has but seven hymns from American writers ;? as I feel confident that had he known of some presented in this collection, they would have found an honoured place in his own. I have therefore thought that it would
· Three of which (1861-64), I passed at Cardiff as United States Consul.
2 For we cannot, I think, fairly call Mrs. S. F. Adams, the author of that beautiful hymn,
- Nearer, my God, to Thee,” an American. Gladly would I claim her if I honestly could, but her living a short time in our country does not make her one of our writers.
3 Dean Alford, in his recently published hymn-book, “The Year Book of Praise," has two or three more American hymns.
be rendering a not unacceptable service to the lovers of sacred song on this side of the Atlantic to prepare a work upon American hymns that would, as I should hope, do something like justice to the subject, and show to the mother-country a not unworthy collection of the daughter's productions in this most interesting and increasingly valued department of literature. I am aware, of course, that two or three works of a somewhat similar character have been published on the other side of the Atlantic, and that the most recent one—the “Lyra Americana” of the Rev. George T. Ryder, D.D.—has been in effect republished by the London Religious Tract Society. I say in effect, for though the compiler in his preface says of Dr. Ryder's volume that “ not very much beyond the title has been retained,” the real fact is, that of its one hundred and twenty-four selections, eighty-one, or TWO THIRDS (wanting one) are to be found in the American volume.
But whatever works may have been published in either country upon this subject, the appearance of this volume shows that I think there is room for another. It is true that a majority of the pieces here presented have appeared in print before, chiefly scattered here and there in various hymn-books; but it is also true that many of them are now published for the first
1 Dr. Ryder's book has one hundred and twenty-five selections.
time, the manuscripts having been kindly given to the editor by the authors for this purpose. Some hymns, too, are here restored to their original, unaltered text; such, for instance, as that one of unsurpassed beauty by the Rev. Dr. Muhlenburg, beginning
“I would not live alway,”— which, as far as I have seen, has always been printed with various alterations and abridgments : it will here, however, be found entire, as given to me by the author in his own hand.
As to the arrangement, it will at once be seen that it is alphabetical, both as to authors and hymns, and that the hymns of each author are together. This, I think, has rather the advantage over an arrangement according to subjects, especially if there be a full index of subjects appended. It is pleasant to see the products of each individual mind side by side, that its several productions may be more readily compared, and that the authors themselves may be the better compared, the one with the other. The chronological arrangement, however, I decidedly prefer, where there is a chronology of any extent, that the hymnal products of different periods may be seen together. But all our American hymns of any value are of very recent date, hardly any extending beyond fifty years. The early colonists had much else to do of greater importance and necessity to themselves than to write poetry of any kind. An unsubdued wilderness was before them, and the urgency of their physical wants prevented, to any