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limits. I well remember, that at a meeting of this committee, the first item proposed was a New Selection of Hymns. Four years have nearly elapsed, and nothing has been done pursuant to their appointment.
When, in the providence of God, I had the happiness of spending a short season, as a laborer for Christ, within the limits of the Albany Presbytery, the call for such a work in that region; and, as I learned from the most respectable sources, very extensively in the West and South, was not less imperious and pressing, than in districts where I had been more particularly conversant. In personal experience, and discoveries of this description, originated the resolution to undertake the work. The compilation here presented is the result. The task has occupied my attention much of the time for nearly two years. Especially has it cheered and comforted me, during the long continued retirement to which a severe sickness subjected me.
The book, whatever may be its defects, is now most affectionately presented
"To Zion's friends and mine."
I anticipated difficulties, but am fully persuaded, that whoever undertakes a work of this kind will have to encounter many unforeseen embarrassments in the execution.
I had hoped to find, in the style of genuine poetry, a greater number of hymns adapted to the various exigencies of a revival. Laborious
research has, however, led me to conclude, that not many such compositions are in existence.
This volume contains a number of original hymns, which I esteem a valuable accession.-To their authors whose signatures are prefixed, or at their own request omitted, I tender my sincere thanks.
I have obtained permission to insert a few of the originals from the Hartford Selection These, though already familiar to many, will yet be consulted with feelings of new interest, when associated with the names of STRONG and STEWARD.
The reader will find, inserted in this volume, a few of the psalms and hymns to which it is designed as a supplement. But he is desired to recollect, that Dwight's edition of Watts is in extensive circulation. In his edition, some of Watts's psalms and hymns were omitted; and those which I have inserted are principally of this character.
I have consulted all the authors and Collections of Hymns to which I could gain access. I have availed myself of their labors; and have spent much time in attempts to remodel many of the materials thus collected. In all cases, excepting the hymns of established reputation, wherever abridgments or alterations were deemed conducive to the design of this volume, they have been made without hesitation.
There is a numerous class of hymns which have been sung with much pleasure and profit in seasons of revival, and yet are entirely destitute of poetic
merit. Some of my brethren, acquainted with this fact, will probably be disappointed when they find, that so many have been omitted. Others, unacquainted with their beneficial effects at such seasons, would exclude the whole of this class. I am satisfied from observation, as well as from the nature itself of such hymns, that they must be ephemeral. They should be confined to seasons of revival: and even here, they ought to be introduced with discretion; for on this, their principal utility must depend. A book, consisting chiefly of hymns for revivals, however important in its place, would be utterly unfit for the ordinary purposes of devotion-as prescriptions, salutary in sickness, are laid aside on the restoration of health.
With respect to the hymns of a lower grade, I fully unite in the opinion of a much respected correspondent: "That the safest course is to leave them generally out-That the warm heart of a young convert will take a strong hold, and that with pleasure and profit too, of many things, from which, in a more ripened state, he would derive neither."
After selecting a hymn, my first object has been to bring it into a form best adapted to be read or sung in meetings for religious purposes. With this view, some of them have been divided, and others reduced to a stricter unity of thought. With respect to the arrangement, it has cost
much labor. After all, I have not been able
entirely to satisfy my own mind. I am aware that many of the hymns placed under different heads, might have been arranged under the same; and yet all these heads seemed indispensable. The Christian and the Convert, for example, might have been included under one head. But there are so many things peculiar to the commencement of the christian life, that it was deemed highly proper to collect a number suited to his case, and place them under the eye of the young convert.
This part of my employment has been highly delightful; and I cannot but indulge the hope, that among the many thousands who have commenced their christian course in the recent revivals, not a few of them will find this volume a pleasant and profitable companion on their way to the heavenly Zion.
The character of some of the hymns is such, that with equal propriety they might have been differently arranged. I have, therefore, distributed them under the several heads where thought them most needed-recollecting that the intrinsic value of the hymn was not at all affected by the page which it might occupy.
Where the title of a hymn is omitted, it will be found in the next preceding, or in the running titlǝ.
For the selection of tunes, I am chiefly indebted, to the Rev. Joshua L. Williams and Mr. Chandler. It is not expected that all who use this Selection, will of course adopt the music; to many,
however, a particular reference to suitable music may be useful.
I am happy in being able to say, that the demand for the former edition has exceeded my expectation.
For the accommodation of singers, it is in contemplation to collect tunes for all the particular metres. These annexed to a few copies, it is thought, will add to the interest and utility of this little volume.
Wethersfeld, June 22, 1824.