Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

News

)} T is almost superfluous to remark that the publication during

the past fortnight of the new edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (Messrs. Clowes & Sons, Ltd.)-a hymn-book which has been so widely used in the Church of England that 45,000,000 copies are said to have been sold since its first issue some forty years ago—has been an ccclesiastical event of very exceptional interest ind importance. But before coming to an account of the new lIymns Ancient and Modern, it may be useful to give a résumé of the history of the inception and first publication of this famous book; and in doing so, I will gladly avail myself of some interesting historical notes in the November number of the Musical l'imes, and also of the letter of Earl Nelson's in the Guardian of November 2nd.

In the first place, it is well known (as Earl Nelson points out) that Archbisliop Cranmer and others, when translating the Book of Common l'rayer from the old Latin servicc books of the Church of England, were only withheld from giving us the Breviary hymns by the apparent difficulty of turning them into good English verse; but they left two metrical versions of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus as a witness to their resire. Passing now at once to the deplorable state of hymnology in the Church of England fifty years ago, improvement first began by the publication of II ymnal Noted, a collection embodying translations of Breviary hymns (and which is still in use at some C:1 nolic churches, amongst others, St. Alban's, Holborn, and St. Apsustine's, Kilburn). This book before long was followed by the Salisbury lıymn book, which, mainly, through the kind help of the Rev. John Keble, was the first attempt to bring out a joint collcction of hymns ancient and modern; and this, in turn, was succeeded by Roundell Palmer's Book of Praisc. But none of these lıymnals can be said to have attained anything like a wide circulation; and so before long several earnestminded clergymen, who were also more or less hymnological experts, associated themselves together for the purpose of issuing a hymn-book that should mect with more general acceptance. The prime movers were the late Rev. F. H. Murray, of Chislehurst, and the Rer. Sir H. W. Baker, vicar of Monkland, in Herefordshire. Sometime towards the close of the year 1858 committee was formed, who held their first mecting at St. Barnabas' Church, Pimlico, in January, 1859; and after saying the l'eni Crcalor Spiritus-invariably used at all the subsequent mectings—they began their work which has providentially wrought so wonderful an improvement in the hymnic worship of thic Church of England, and been so marked a factor in the Citliolic Revival.

The new hymn-book, whose title, Hymns Ancient and Mod. : crn, was before long to become quite as familiar to countless numbers of Church people as Common Prayer, first made its appearance at Advent, 1860, being not only published, but printed by Messrs. Novello. Not more than four months afterwards they announced as now ready, the 35th thousand of Hymns Ancient and Modern (words edition), thus showing how rapidly it had come into use. The editor of the music edition was William Henry Monk, best known then as organist of St. Mat. thias' Church, Stoke Newington. An appendix was added to Ilymas Incient and Modern in 1868; a revised and cnlarged version appeared in 1975; while further additions, in the forın of a supplement, were made in 1889.

The names of the compilers of the new cdition have not been given out, though Earl Nelson appears to have been among the personnel; whilst, if I am correctly informed, one of the musical committee was the Rev. W. H. Frere, C.R., superior, who is probably the most learned man in England on Plainsong. The compilers, in their preface, state that it seemed desirable to those who were responsible for the issue of the hymn-book that the work of revision should comprise a thorough and comprehensive review of the whole collection; and certainly every page of the new book testifies most emphatically to the conscientious care and indefatigable industry with which that aim has been carried out. The edition of 1904 is not merely a new edition of the old book, but is practically a new work; and, in spite of all the outcry against it, especially in the Spectator and Pall Mall Gazelte reviews, it is undoubtedly in very many respects, more particularly in the music, much nearer an ideal hymn book for Catholic usc than was the old edition. The color of the cover has been changed from dun to red, certainly more attractive; the supplement of 1889—the weakest part of the old edition-has been extensively weeded out, and fused into the body of the book; there has also been a gcneral rearrangement of the hymns, which is a marked improvement, and a renumbering; 105 of the old hymns have been cut out, and their place taken by 110 new hymns, the total number of hymnic compositions being 642; whilst most of the translations from the Latin have undergone drastic alterations, many of them being scarcely recognizable.

vidi : Back of Buok.

« ForrigeFortsett »