Recent And Standard Hymn-Books. -- By: W. E. Barton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 049:194 (Apr 1892)
Article: Recent And Standard Hymn-Books.
Author: W. E. Barton


Recent And Standard Hymn-Books.

W. E. Barton

Of the making of many hymn-books there is no end; and much study of them, with a view to the adoption of a new one, is a weariness to the flesh of pastors and church committees. A brief notice of some recent ones, with incidental reference by way of comparison to others less recent but still standard, may be of service to such.

One of the very best hymn-books, not only of the year but of the century, is the “Church Hymnary,” compiled by Edwin A. Bedell.1 The clear type, clean page, rich binding, and good paper leave little to be desired in the way of mechanical execution, and the selection of hymns is in keeping with the general appearance of the book. It instantly suggests comparison with “Laudes Domini,”2 which it greatly resembles in size and appearance. The Church Hymnary has gained somewhat in clearness of words and music by omission of hymns. Exclusive of chants and doxologies, Laudes Domini has one hundred and seventy-four more hymns than the Church Hymnary, on twelve less pages. This, practically, is the difference between the books. The selection of hymns in either book is almost beyond criticism: though perfection is impossible, and a preference is allowable. The number of hymns in the Church Hymnary (994, exclusive of chants, etc.) is larger than any congregation will sing familiarly; but the pastor or chorister of a church, having adopted a large collection, usually expects to find in it whatever he may need, and is disappointed by every omission. The nearly two hundred additional hymns in Laudes Domini will prove acceptable to such. The

Church Hymnary contains some new hymns, well chosen; among which we notice the beautiful “Like a cradle, rocking, rocking,” from “Saxe Holm Stories,” which is here credited to Helen Hunt Jackson. As this hymn is published by the authority of the Scribners, there can hardly be further doubt of the long-disputed authorship of that series of tales, if indeed doubt had not already been removed. This book contains twenty-live pages of indexes, against twenty-nine in Laudes Domini.

How to make the singing in the Sunday-school contribute to the singing of the church is a difficult problem. Some of the Episcopalians attempt to solve it by making the entire selection of songs for their Sunday-school book from their Church Hymnal,3 with opening and special services from the Prayer-book. That the hymns chosen are good goes without saying, but the collection will strike many Sunday-school workers as rather dry and lack...

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