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HE following Hymns were written to illustrate an idea which has long filled their author's mind, that such portions of our Divine worship should be more fervent and joyous, more expressive of real and personal love to God than they are in general found to be.
We are, alas! too distant and reserved in our praises. We sing not, as if our hearts were on fire with the flame of Divine love and joy; as we should sing to Him, and of Him, Who is Chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. If we loved Him as we ought to do, we could not be so cold.
Toward the removal of this dulness and formality, few things are more helpful than glowing tender Hymns; they quicken as well as convey the desires of the soul, they say for us what many are unable to say for themselves, what a lifted eye, a voiceless breathing, has often said to God for us all; and in the use of them the spirit catches their heavenly fervour, and draws nearer to Him it is adoring.
That these Hymns are altogether of such a character their author does not venture to assume.
They are however the utterances of a soul conscious of most intense longings for closer communion with God; and as such they may be helpful to others, gladdening and warming spiritual life in some hearts and homes of His people.
Their name tells what they desire to express,— Love to, and Praise of God: and if they tend in any degree to make that love in others more fervent and real, that praise more joyous and bright, they have not been written in vain.
Some metrical versions of portions of "The Song of Songs are introduced, as affording, with the highest sanction, the most perfect example of a Song of Love to God. It is remarkable how few are the alterations necessary to change them, from the form in which they stand in our Bibles, into the rhythm of English verse.
At the close of this volume will be found in full, the three Chapters from whence the hymns referred to are extracted.
A few of the Hymns now published have appeared elsewhere; but are introduced here as being supposed by their author to have more in them of what he deems the true hymn character than their companions in the volumes from which they are selected.
The great mass of all now put forth appear for the first time, having been written during the summer just ended. An admirable article on Hymnology, in the Quarterly Review of last April, suggested the idea of endeavouring to reach the higher standard therein presented.
To any objection which may be raised against a too frequent use of the singular number, the answer
is, first, that there is abundant precedent for such usage in the Psalms of David; and, secondly, that the nature of the Hymns themselves necessarily required such a form, it being impossible to convey the personal individual yearning toward God, which they endeavour to express, in any other way.
May they prove in their lifetime (whatever its duration may be) as great helps and comforts to those who use them, as they have been to him who made them in their conception and birth.
Egham Vicarage, Surrey.
All Saints' Day, 1862.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
HREE motives induce the author of these Hymns to put forth a second edition. First, an increased demand for them; secondly, that several new Hymns have been added illustrative of seasons and occasions not noticed before; and, lastly, that the book has had conferred upon it the greatest honour as well as benefit it could have enjoyed, namely, a careful revision, on its first appearance, by one, to whom the Church owes, not only her noblest specimen of literature in this department, but still more, the revival of her purest aspirations in these latter days, the venerable author of the Christian Year.
All Saints' Day, 1865.