Spiritual Songs for Family and Social Worship
It is the design of this work to promote devotional singing in the closet, in the family, and in meetings for social worship. The aim has been to furnish a selection of Spiritual Hymns, classified in the order of subjects, with a nice adaptation of chaste and popular tunes, of sufficient number and variety to meet existing wants. In preparing the volume, unwearied pains have been taken to combine the best talent and taste in sacred poetry and music; with the hope that this manual might occupy the same rank in its important department, as do the spiritual classics, already issued by the Society, in that of practical divinity. As early as the Reformation these were identified: "Next to theology," said Luther, "it is to music that I give the highest place and the greatest honor."
The Hymns are of that standard, evangelical character, which has stamped with immortality the productions of Watts, Doddridge, Newton, Cowper, Steele, and kindred poets. They have been selected, from the whole range of sacred poetry, for the superior lyric and practical excellence; and where various readings exist, those have been chosen with which it was supposed the churches were most familiar. The music has been adapted to the hymns, instead of subordinating the poetry to the music.
In the selection of Tunes the two extremes of those which are ungrammatical in their composition, or offensive to musical taste; and those which are too delicate and refined for general use,have been avoided. Many others, possessing great value as church tunes, but too psalmodic for the purposes of this volume; and others still, which are so universally known that their republication could not give them greater currency, have been omitted-often with regret. On the other hand, a very large class of an ephemeral character have been excluded, by the general rule to preserve only those which promise extensive and enduring usefulness. The interests of devotional song require permanence and stability, the basis of which is furnished in those melodies that delight the ear and affect the heart of the devout christian more and more, as they become familiarly associated with his most hallowed spiritual exercises and his most joyful anticipation.
The Committee gratefully express their obligations to THOMAS HASTINGS, Esq. of New-York city, who has patiently exercised his acknowledged talent, in the selection and arrangement of the tunes, and their adaptation to the hymns; and has unhesitatingly selected from his own copy-right publications, all those tunes that seemed suited to add to the attractiveness and permanent value of this work. LOWELL MASON, Esq. of Boston, has also rendered valuable counsel and aid, besides the generous contribution of thirty-five tunes of which he holds the copy-right. To Messrs. KINGSLEY, of Philadelphia, and POND, of New-York, and others, kindred acknowledgments are also due. The skill and experience acquired by the exclusive devotion of years to the interests of sacred music, have thus been placed in requisition to give variety and completeness to the volume, while the readiness of composers to furnish their esteemed productions, is honorable to their christian character, and to the religion of Christ.
It is hoped that these "Sacred Songs" will be blessed of the Holy Spirit, in promoting individual, family and social piety; in refining and ennobling the taste of the young, so as to supersede the relish for vulgar amusements and pursuits; in endearing the parental roof to children, and in quickening the attention and enlivening the affections of domestic circles, as they read the word of God and bow around the family altar. Should God thus graciously accept this offering; and the praises of his people be rendered more sweet and spiritual in their seasons of social prayer and communion, and the hearts of men, thus subdued, be the better prepared to embrace the truth in the love of it; and should the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, receive more hallowed and acceptable ascriptions of praise for Redeeming love, the object of the contributors, compilers and committee will have been accomplished.