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be greatly multiplied. Enough, however, has been said to show the impenitent sinner that he cannot safely comfort himself in his sin with the idea that at the worst he will only sink into a state of nothingness, devoid indeed of joy, but equally free from pain. He has begun to live under God's government, and he can never pass away from it. He must exist forever, and it is for him to say whether that forever shall be filled with bliss or woe.
ART. III.- ANOTHER NEW HYMN BOOK.
The Sabbath Hymn Book: for the Service of Song in the House of
the Lord. New York: Mason Brothers. Boston: J. E. Tilton & Co.
The preparation of a new volume of hymns for Christian worship is a difficult task. It requires not only an acquaintance with the religious poetry of the language, and a general knowledge of similar preceding publications, but good judgment, poetic taste, and not a little patience. Attention is to be paid not only to the doctrinal teaching of every hymn, but to the language in which it is taught. The rejection of doggerel is as imperative as the insertion of poetic gems, while no beauty of diction can excuse false theology.
We welcome the appearance of every new hymn book. We expect it to be better than any of its predecessors. It ought to be, inasmuch as the compilers have had the benefit of the labors of all who have gone before them. With such expectation we took up this volume, the title of which we may say, at the outset, did not strike us as exceedingly happy. Not to speak of its affected quaintness, it seems to restrict the use of the book to public worship in church on Sundays. This is by no means the intention of the compilers. They tell us, on the contrary, that it is designed “to aid in the more private social devotions in the conference room, the family, and the closet.” It is certain, moreover, that many of the hymns are not at all adapted for congregations of mixed worshipers on Sunday.
There is another objection to the title of this collection of hymns. It is calculated, to mislead the public. It seems to imply that sectarianism has been kept out of sight. It is not a book for the service of any one religious denomination. It is The Sabbath Hymn Book, implying that, in the judgment of the compilers, those who cannot use it are not evangelical Christians. Surely they ought to know that it is too late in the world's history to base the title of a volume of sacred poetry upon the arrogant assumption that Calvinism and Christianity are synonymous. The revelations of the last census, by which it appears that not one half of the professing Christians of the United States have any sympathy for the specialities of Calvinism, ought to have suggested the propriety of giving their book a more modestly-distinctive title, or of omitting many of the hymns that have found a place in it. We transcribe a few specimens of its theological teaching:
I cast my burdens on the Lord,
The Lord sustains them all;
That saints shall never fall.-H. 199, v. 5.
With all the fates of men;
Drawn by th' eternal pen.-H. 235, v. 3.
Dispense his favors as he will;
And yet be just and gracious still ?-H. 238, v. 1.
The meanest of his sheep;
His hands securely keep.-H. 882, v. 2.
What have Ì to do with fear?-H. 980, v. 3. *It is due to candor to add that in one of the hymns of this collection (1106) a different doctrine seems to be taught:
He knows the secret line which led
Those youthful steps astray:
Might fall from him away. This stanza possibly found its way into the book through carelessness on the part of the compilers. If those who are holiest might fall away, and we suppose they might, one would think it were better to be numbered among those very mean sheep whom "his honor" has engaged to save.
Other specimens of a similar character might be quoted, which the compilers must have known were not in harmony with the creed of the larger portion of Christ's militant Church. The fact is, the book was intended for the use of Calvinists, and it would have been honest to have said so on the titlepage.
We shall have more to say presently upon the alterations and improvements made by our compilers. Just here, on the doctrinal teachings of their book, we may notice the manner in which they print one of Charles Wesley's stanzas. It is from hymn 133 of the Methodist collection, where it may
be found as it came from the poet's pen :
Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God:
Ye all are bought with Jesus' blood :
Our compilers thus mend the stanza, and give no intimation that it differs at all from the original:
Was crucified for
His Church is purchased with his blood.
On the subject of alterations generally the compilers are very explicit—in theory. They tell us that, “in general the author's words should be preferred to others," and assure us that they have admitted no changes for slight reasons, and few without obvious necessity.” Doubtless they believed this statement, and made it in good faith. It has been our misfortune, in examining the book, to stumble on the “few” that seem to have been made without obvious necessity; and if the compilers had not told us the contrary, we should have thought that they had made some changes for slight reasons. The first hymn in the Methodist collection,
O for a thousand tongues to sing,
has been transferred to the Sabbath Hymn Book, (No. 247.) It is altered a little in four of the six stanzas. In the third, where the poet says of the name of Jesus,
'Tis music in the sinner's ears, our compilers have it,
'Tis music in
ravished ears, an alteration, the necessity of which, either theologically or poetically, is not to us “obvious."
The 306th of the Methodist collection was also, in part, thought worthy of a place. The line,
And dances his glad heart for joy, was, however, too poetical for our compilers. Dancing is such a bad thing per se, that they will not allow even the heart of him who is from sin set free, to usurp a function which prosaically belongs only to the heels. So they say,
And bounds his gladdened heart with joy. That well-known lyric,
Jesus, lover of my soul, finds a place, in whole or in part, in almost every collection. Compilers generally insert it without mutilation. The coin mittee who prepared the volume before us have made two hymns of it, (408, 409.) In reading it, however, it occurred to one of them, and the others appear to have agreed with him, that there was “an obvious necessity” for an alteration in the first stanza:
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high. Nearer? nearer waters? What can that mean? Verily, the compilers didn't know. Of course they took it for granted that nobody else would; so, felicitously, one of them hit upon this alteration :
While the waters near me roll. That's plain, certainly, but as certainly prosy. Our compilers' hymn 604 is a part of Charles Wesley's beautiful lyric, beginning,
Depth of mercy! Can there be
Instead of the poet's language, (v. 2,)
I have long withstood his grace,
Of a poor
we are taught in the Sabbath Hymn Book to sing,
I have scorned the Son of God,
Trampled on his precious blood, which is an alteration not required, as it seems to us, by any obvious necessity. The rhyme is spoiled and the rhythm mangled. So their hymn 622, which is 865 of the Methodist collection, in which the first stanza reads,
And wilt thou yet be found,
And may I still draw near ?
prayer, our compilers have altered so that it reads :
Still wilt thou, Lord, be found ?
I still draw near ?
A sinner's earnest prayer. There may have been some plausible pretext for the alteration in the last line. “A sinner's earnest prayer” may be more poetical, perhaps, than “A poor sinner's prayer.” It will suit a rich sinner, or a sinner in comfortable circumstances better doubtless. But the iteration in the first and second lines, “still,” “wilt,” and “still," does not strike us as an improvement on the original.
In a number of instances, as if the compilers had been seeking to gratify Unitarians, they obliterate the name of Jesus and substitute for it God, as in their hymn 634, which, in the Methodist collection, reads,
Jesus, my strength, my hope, but which they have altered (or followed an alteration made by some one else) to
O God, my strength, my hope, FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XIII.-4