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HE conviction that only the noblest and best in music is worthy of a place in divine worship has guided the editor of HYMNS AND SONGS FOR THE SUNDAY SCHOOL in the selection of his material. There is a clear distinction between music suitable for the world and music suitable for the church. This distinction should be observed in the Sunday school, which has no existence apart from the church. Here the child first learns to take part in public worship; here he should use only such music as has been conceived in the spirit of religion and has been cast into forms consistent with that spirit. By furnishing such music the Sunday school establishes for the child correct taste in religious music. Failing to set before him such examples, the Sunday school loses a great opportunity.
HYMNS AND Songs for the SUNDAY SCHOOL is not a classical edition; it is a practical edition, edited for the voice of medium range which predominates in the Sunday school. It is a musical text-book for the church school; it contains the hymns which the child should study, sing and love. Those marked with an asterisk should be committed to memory. Most of the hymns in the collection are hymns of prayer and praise. A few subjective hymns have been included; these, though their theme is outside of the religious experience of the child, should still have a place in his religious training. Evening hymns have been included because no representative collection is complete without them. The German choral melodies have been arranged for the most part for unison singing. This is not only effective, but also practical, since the alto and tenor parts are often poorly represented in Sunday schools, and are sometimes entirely lacking.
Upon the Sunday school superintendent depends in large measure the usefulness of the book. He should not limit himself to certain tunes or to certain familiar sections. Each hymn has been inserted for a special purpose, and every hymn is meant to be sung. In the Advent season the children should be taught the Advent hymns, and so on through the Church Year. In many cases it will be possible for the superintendent to impart interesting information about the history of a hymn. Schools should be assembled occasionally for practice. A musical drill, following the Sunday school lesson, is not contrary to the spirit of the Sunday school.
The leader or accompanist will find the use of a metronome helpful in es
tablishing a correct tempo. The indicated marks do not apply strictly, except in the case of rapid tempo. In no case should the hymn be sung faster than the given tempo. A Sunday school need enter no further into the niceties of expression than to cultivate a good fortissimo, a good pianissimo, a good crescendo and a good diminuendo. Variety of effect may be secured by having one stanza sung in harmony, the next in unison; by having boys and girls sing alternate stanzas; or by having the stanza sung by a solo voice or by the choir and the refrain by the school.
The Appendix contains various selections which may be sung either by the school as a whole, or by the choir. A well drilled choir is of great advantage to a Sunday school.
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