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HIS lecture consists of a series of essays introductory to the study of English hymns, in which I have tried to give some account of the sources from which the Church gathers its sacred songs, and to sketch briefly the growth of the modern hymn-book. It has been necessary to omit several sections which I had intended to include, and this volume covers a portion only of the ground indicated by the title. I may, perhaps, some day be able to carry the work a stage nearer completeness.
It may be thought that I have given disproportionate space to certain periods and to certain hymn-writers. If so, I can only say that they seemed to me specially interesting or important. In quotations, especially from less-known writers, I have taken as much liberty as possible, and I think this is the redeeming feature of the lecture. In extended quotations I have usually given the preference to hymns not readily accessible to the general reader, and have only occasionally quoted hymns to be found in the Methodist Hymn-book.
To the hymns of the Wesleys I have given considerable space. The subject was chosen for me in view of the publication of the new Methodist Hymn-book, and the occasion seemed to require a somewhat detailed survey of the early Methodist hymns. Nor do I think that many will consider the attention given to them more than their intrinsic value justifies. 'After the Scriptures,' wrote Dr. James Martineau, 'the Wesley Hymn-book appears to me the grandest instrument of popular religious culture that Christendom has ever produced.'
Delightful as this work has been to me, the book has been written under great pressure and amid countless interruptions. I have had to redeem odd minutes and the evening hours when a long day's work had already been done.
I have to acknowledge constant obligation-much more extensive than is indicated by frequent reference -to Dr. Julian's monumental Dictionary of Hymnology, which has lightened the labour of research for all students of hymns.
To my friend, Dr. J. T. L. Maggs, I am under manifold obligations which I most gratefully record. Dr. Maggs read a great part of the book in MS., and the whole in proof; and I am also indebted to him for calling my attention to, or procuring for me, some important books of reference. Mr. W. Garrett Horder has also given me the benefit of his advice and JAMES MARTINEAU, vol. ii. p. 99.
criticism—all the more valuable because his judgement has often differed from my own.
It is a pleasure to mention the valuable help rendered me by some of my friends connected with The Children's Home, and especially by Miss F. L. Moon (now Mrs. Carey), who most kindly relieved me of the greater part of the burden of the actual preparation of the MS. for the press. My son, Benjamin A. Gregory, has prepared the Index, verified quotations, and helped me in many other ways.
No Fernley Lecturer has had a more attractive theme. I wish its treatment had been more worthy. But with all its imperfections I trust that He who inhabiteth the praises of Israel may deign to bless my little book to the edification and comfort of some who read it.