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Explaining the obječt and nature of the work.
THE object of this compilation was to furnish to families and churches a collection of devout hymns, sufficiently numerous and various, for the purposes of social worship, and at the same time, as far as could be, neither offenfive nor disgustful to any serious. christian, in point either of doctrine, sentiment, or language. To attain this end, every liberty has been taken of transposing, altering, retrenching, adding; and the whole has been submitted to the censure of several of the compiler's friends, who have long wished for a selection of this kind, and whose knowledge, taste, and devotional turn of mind, qualified them to judge of the work and to improve it. It was meant that nothing, of whatever nature, should occur in the pieces which compose this little volume, to embarrass or interrupt the devotion of the worshipper ; and it is hoped they will be found capable both of expressing and promoting all the good affections in which the christian character confifts.
The principles upon which this selection has been made are these,
That no composition, consisting merely of ideas and propositions, unaccompanied with sentiments, can properly be set to music: Who would sing Locke's Effay, or Euclid's Elements, or a Confession of Faith, or an Act of Parliament?
That sentiments unconnected, or not closely connected, with devotion, such, for instance, as arise solely from pure picturesque description of natural scenes, are not proper subjects of sacred music: Let me be permitted, since no other instances at this moment occur to me, to exemplify this observation in much of the fecond and fourth stanzas of Addison's twentythird pfalm; of Dr. Watts' hymn, beginning with, “ There is a land of pure delight;" and of Mrs. Barbauld's hymn, beginning thus,
Jehovah reigns, let every nation hear.”
That whatever sentiments may properly be addressed to God in plain unmeasured language, and mere articulate enunciation, may, at least, as properly be expressed in the figurative language and the regular measures of poetry; and therefore may properly be sung, provided the music be adapted to the strain of sentiment : PSALM XLVII. 7. C. 2.
That the language of a mind, piously contemplating the works, the providence, the nature or the character of God, is, to all desirable purposes, as useful, and indeed is as really and truly an act of devotion, as the language of a mind immediately addressing itself to the supreme being on such subjects :
That the devout language of one mind uttered in the same place, and at the same time, by a number of individuals, is strictly and properly an act of social worship:
That Psalmody is not necesarily nor properly confined to the expression of devout sentiments only; that it is equally natural, useful, and agreeable to the principles and practice of the sacred writers, Coloss. III. 16, to employ it for the edification and admonition of ourselves and one another, in order to engage, confirm, and animate us in the exercise and culture of all good affections, and in the practice of all
good works. Such psalıns, formed upon religious principles, and fung in concert, from religious considerations, as under the eye of God, and in the contemplation of his presence, constitute a very proper part of social worship, and are not unjustly considered as an act of duty to God, and a tribute of homage and devotion paid to him.
This compilation has been made both from original authors, and from prior collections. The original authors are principally Patrick of the Charter-House, Tate and Brady, Watts, Brown, Duddridge; to which, however, might be added the names of Milton, Addison, Byrom, Steele, Pope, Barbauld, Merrick, and some others. The collections, not to mention some of less note, and some in manuscript communicated to the compiler by his friends, are Mr. Pope's, the two Bristol Collections, the Liverpool, Dr. Enfield's, Mr. Lindsey's, and Mr. Williams'. The Selection is disposed in four books, the three first appropriated respectively to the three metres most in use, the Long, Common, and Short Metre; and the fourth containing psalms of other measures.'