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dividuals, with great diversity of views and feelings, it may reasonably be expected to present something to touch the corresponding chords in the heart of every one who employs it for the purposes for which it is designed ; and—just like expressions from the scriptures -hymns which in some states of the affections, or in some of the ordinary circumstances of life, may present nothing to interest, will, in others, appear to have a force, and an adaptation to spiritual wants, which the inexperienced cannot understand.
While, therefore, no composition has been admitted into the Unitarian Christian's Hymn Book, which is exclusively adapted to the case of a solitary individual, it is hoped that there are no circumstances in the Christian life, for which there will not be found something peculiarly suitable : and when an adequate acquaintance is gained with the contents of the Collection, the appropriate hymns will often suggest themselves in the the time of need, to aid in yielding peace, and strength, and comfort.
From the system which has been followed in this compilation, it is obvious that many of the hymns must be unsuitable for the ordinary purposes of public worship, and that some must be exclusively adapted to individual use. It has, however, been deemed unnecessary to specify these ; and, indeed, it would not be easy to draw any well-defined line of distinction. The separation of such
hymns from those for more general use, has been attended with inconvenience in the pri. vate employment of hymn books.
Should it appear to candid judges that, in some cases, the verbal expression will not bear a strict critical examination, it may nevertheless be found that the sentiment is conveyed so clearly and forcibly, that it was not worth while to alter the words, at the risk of lessening the strength and perspicuity of the passage. In some instances, defective rhymes have been left, rather than do injury to the sense ; and in others, hymns of little poetical merit have been admitted, for the sake of the sentiment. It has, however, been the constant aim, to satisfy the understanding, the correct taste, and the regulated imagination, as well as to animate and elevate the af. fections.
The compilation of this Hymn Book was commenced in 1824, in consequence of the liberal offer of one hundred pounds, made anonymously to the Lewin's Mead Con. gregation in this City, when the Collection in use among them had become out of print, in order to defray the expense of printing a new one; the individual proposing that a copy of it should be given for each copy of the former, possessed by a member of the Congregation. Various circumstances have contributed to delay the execution of the object ; but it has never been out of sight. The arrangements
since made with the Congregation, have enabled the publishers to print a small pocket edition, at the same time with that in du. odecimo. Both are executed with great correctness; and the labour of conducting this Hymn Book through the press, has been made light by the typographical skill and accuracy of the printer.
About three hundred of the following hymns are derived from the valuable Collection above referred to, which has been employed by the Lewin's Mead Congregation for the last twenty-five years. The omission of some contained in it, may, perhaps, be regretted by those to whom they have become familiar; it will, however, be found, that none which it would have been desirable to retain, have been omitted, without being replaced by others, from some cause deemed more suitable. It may be allowable to add, that no change has been made without repeated consideration; and indeed no time or exertion has been spared, to render this Collection complete and useful.
The Hymn Book which formed the basis of the present, like the London Collection which preceded it, gives many of the hymns that are here retained, with considerable variations from the originals ; and a few of them are so much altered by various Editors, as scarcely to be referable to their Authors. In this Collection it has been kept in view, to employ the original readings where practicable ; but
no hesitation has been felt in adopting or in making alterations, if by this means the hymns seemed decidedly improved, either in sentiment or in style. Nothing, however, of this kind has been done inconsiderately, or through a love of change ; and in forming an opinion of the alterations, the effect of familiarity should be taken into account, and time allowed before a decided judgment is formed against them. In pursuing the system here stated, it has been deemed probable that the desire to aid others in raising their hearts to God, or in cherishing christian affection and principle, would surmount the little feelings of authorship. If, in any case, pain should be given by the alterations made or adopted in this Hymn Book, either to the Author, if still living, or to those who watch over his reputation, it may prove a healing balm, to think that with them the great purposes of his compositions will be answered among thousands, to whom, without such change, they might have proved of little or no service. But whenever suitable opportunity has occurred for seeking it, the alterations made in this, and in the Exeter Collection, have obtained the concurrence of those most concerned.
The chief difficulty arising from the altering of the hymns, consists in assigning them to their respective Authors, which, on the whole, appeared desirable, and which, as far as practicable, is done in the Index of
First Lines. When the original has been left without alterations, or, at most, with slight verbal ones, the Author's name, if known, is given. If, while the general tenor of the hymn is unchanged, the alterations have been considerable, an indication of this is annexed to the Author's name, Where it is known that the object of address has been changed, or the general tenor of the hymn materially affected, no name is given. In several cases, one or more verses only have been derived from a hymn, the Author of which is known. And in various instances besides, no name is annexed, because the Author has not been ascertained : but in such cases, the hymn is usually assigned to that particular Collection beyond which it has not been traced.
The hope has been entertained, that where a more copious Collection than the Exeter is desired, one compiled on the same general system might be acceptable, and be introduced into several Congregations besides that for which it is primarily designed. If any Congregation should adopt it, and should desire the addition of hymns which have not been introduced, the publishers can have them printed to correspond with the rest, so as to be inserted before the Doxologies, which have been numbered separately, with a view to such additions.
The responsibility of this Hymn Book rests, almost exclusively with one of the Ministers of Lewin's Mead ; but in some important