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[From Oer London Correspondent.]

London, May 2,

Judging from an amusing article in the current number of ‘ Blackwood’s Magazine,’ the compilation of a collection of hymns is not the simple and easy matter one would imagine. The writer (Mr Boyd) relates the private literary history of ‘ The Scottish Hymnal,’ with the arrangement and publication of which he had a good deal to do : —“ Especially noteworthy is the account of the embarrassments of the selectors of this now famous collection of devotional poetry —the first that ever received the formal sanction and authority of the Scottish Kirk —reproached as they were in turns with Popery, Episcopacy, Arminianisro, Socinianism, and ‘even Bourignianism.’ The compilers have been called Ritualists, Rationalists, Romanists ; persons wholly ignorant of Scripture ; despieers of their ordination vows. They have been stigmatised as highhanded and insolent, and told that their 1 proofs ’ were read with indignation ; they have had objectionable lines quoted as from their book which never were in it. One person objected to the very name ' Hymnal ’ ‘ because it was a Puseyite word.’ The fiercest contests appear to have been over lines that were suspected—sometimes apparently on rather absurd grounds—of ‘ a tendency to Mariolatry.’ An amiable country minister wrote to the ‘ Convener ’ that be would ‘as soon insert a hymn by the Devil as one by Cardinal Newman.’ The Committee started with the laudable determination to give a 1 faithful text ’ —a principle which will be best appreciated by those who know best what amazing liberties have been taken with the words even of some of the finest hymns in our language. But it was found that a few modifications had been made needful by the common consent of Clvistian folk. The line in ‘ Rock of Ages,’ ‘ When my eyelids dose iu death,’ furnishes a conspicuous example. What Toplady really wrote was, ‘ When mine eyestrings bn ak iu death ’; bat letters without number came from persons recently bereaved, entreating that these painful words should not stand. Hence the judicious falsification of this celebrated hymn received the Committee’s sanction. Somewhat similar is the instance of ‘ Hark, the herald anpeU sing Glory to the new-born King.’ How many persons are aware that in this noble carol, as written by Charles Wesley, the lines run ‘Hark how all the welkin rings, Glory to the King of Kings,’ In the first proof of the ‘ Scottiih Hymnal Charles Wesley was given correctly ; but it was found, as Mr Boyd says, that ‘ it would not do.’ For reasons stated, some kindly recognition of the main events of the Christian year was found necessary; but this feature in the selectors’ labors has not been appreciated in all cases. A prominent Assembly orator informed the writer that he would sing ‘ Jesus Christ is risen to-day ’ upon any day in the year except Easter Day, Another good man gave out ‘Hark, tho herald angels sing’ upon a bright day in June. Mr Boyd has hoard ‘ Brightest and beat of tho sons of the morning’ on a sunshiny August Sunday, and been present when ‘Abide with me—fast falls the eventide’ was sung at a quarter past twelve upon a blazing Longest Day. These things, as he observes, are strange. But in spite of all the difficulties and embarrassments which beset the path of the compilers, the ‘ Scottish Hymnal ’ has proved a marvellous success. It w’as first used in public worship on Sunday, August 14, 1870 ; being then a collection of only 200 hymns. At tho end of the year 1888 tho Hymnal had grown to a volume containing 442 hymns; and no fewer than two millions of copies had been sold, and this, as we are reminded, mainly in Scotland—a small country, with a population less than that of London.”

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Bibliographic details

THE HISTONY OF A HYMNBOOK., Issue 7957, 12 July 1889, Supplement

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THE HISTONY OF A HYMNBOOK. Issue 7957, 12 July 1889, Supplement

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