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THE following Selection, although it bears the general title of Hymns, contains translations of many passages from the Book · of Psalms, and such other portions of Scripture as appeared to be best adapted to the purposes of Christian Worship,
In a Selection embracing such a variety of subjects, it was impossible that the poetry should always be of the same order of merit. In the majority of cases, however, the difference of style may be accounted for by a difference in the subject; some subjects appearing to the greatest advantage in a plain and simple dress, and others requiring all the graces and embellishments of language to give them their full effect.
The Editor flatters himself that, notwithstanding the variety of authors whose productions have contributed to form this Selection, it will he found to contain little which is offensive to the reader of true taste. It may be thought by some persons, indeed, that the language is occasionally too glowing ; and that, in certain cases, expressions have been retained which do not exactly accord with the plainness and simplicity of the Unitarian system. On this subject the Editor begs leave to avail himself of the sentiments of one, whose excellence as a writer on devotional subjects is universally admitted ; and in whom sound judgment, correct taste and genuine poetical feeling
are happily blended. “From an over-anxious fear of admitting any expression that is not strictly proper, we are apt,” says this writer, to reject all warm and pathetic imagery, and in short, every thing that strikes upon the heart and the senses.-In our creeds let us be guarded, let us there weigh every syllable ; but in compositions addressed to the heart, let us give freer scope to the language of the affections, and the overflowing of a warm and generous disposition."
With regard to the subjects and arrangement of the Hymns, this Selection must be left to speak for itself. Care has been taken to render it as scriptural as possible, and to admit nothing which is at all inconsistent with the genius and spirit of Christianity. It will likewise be perceived that the Editor has not confined himself to Hymns exclusively adapted for Public Worship. One Book is expressly designed for the use of Families and Individuals. This addition, it is hoped, will increase the interest of the work, and contribute to render it more extensively and permanently useful.
The Compilers of Hymn-books have sometimes taken liberties with the originals, which appear to the Editor to be altogether unwarranted. This has rendered the task of selection in many cases extremely difficult ; and some of the Hymns which have been adopted from otber Collectious it was impossible to give in the state in which their authors left them. In general, however, the original sources have been consulted ; and, though frequent
* Mrs. Barbauld's “Thoughts on Devotional Taste, &c.”p. 14.16. omissions will be found in many of the Hymns, it will be seen that their general complexion has been faithfully retained, and that no wanton or unadvised deviations from the original have been admitted.
This Selection differs little, in its external structure, from other works of the same kind, except in placing at the corner of each page the number of the Hymns found in that page, instead of the number of the page itself. This plan has been adopted to prevent confusion, and to enable those who are seeking for any particular Hymn to turn to it with greater facility. The usual practice of prefixing to each Hymn the name of the Metre in which it is written has likewise been deviated from in this Selection, after the most mature consideration.
Notwithstanding the difficulties which have occurred in the progress of this work, the Compiler feels himself bound to acknowledge that he has possessed one decided advantage, of which his predecessors in the same humble line could not avail themselves. The number of sources has lately been much increased, and every New Collection has added somethiug to the stock of Original Hymns. Of these considerable use has been made in the present work, which is now submitted, (though not without some degree of hesitation and diffidence,) to a public examination. If it should be found to excite or keep alive a devotional spirit in the minds of those for whose use it is chiefly intended, the Editor will have reason to congratulate himself that the labour bestowed upon the compilation of it has not been altogether in vain.
CATALOGUE OF WORKS
HYMNS for Public Worship, selected from Various Authors, and intended as a Supplement to Dr. Watts's Psalms. Warrington. 1772. No. 1, 22, 47-49, 79, 92, 155, 158, 160, 161, 178, 216, 296.
Manuscripts, &c., No. 2, 63, 118, 202, 245, 285.
Poems translated from the French of Madame De la Mothe Guion, by William Cowper, Esq. NewportPagnell. 1801. No. 3, 122, 156, 165.
A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Worship. Liverpool. 1818. (R. S.) No. 4, 7, 35, 51, 66, 94, 95, 106.
A Collection of Psalms proper for Christian Worship. Liverpool. 1768. No. 6, 36, 166, 206.
The Psalms of David imitated by I. Watts, D. D. No. 8, 11, 26, 32-34, 40, 42, 52, 57, 96, 189, 217, 219, 230-232, 252, 260, 274.
A Collection of Poems printed for J. Dodsley. 6 vols. 12mo. 1770. No. 9, 268, 298.
A Version or Paraphrase of the Psalms, by the Rev. James Merrick, A. M. No. 10, 229.
Horæ Lyricæ.-Poems chietly of the Lyric kind. In three Books: by I. Watts. 2d. Ed. London. 1709. No. 12, 18, 21, 25,
The Works of Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe. 4 vols. 12mo. London and Edinburgh. 1796.. No. 14.
Poems on several occasions : by Elizabeth Tollet. London. 1755. No 15.
The Gentleman's Magazine. No. 16.