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Hymn-books

The early Methodists were taught to sing their faith and their theology. John Wesley's first hymn-book, A Collection of Psalms and Hymns (the 'Charlestown Hymn-book') was published as early as 1737, while he was in Georgia. After May 1738, hymns flowed from Charles Wesley's pen, while his brother published many collections, beginning with Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739). Some had a specific theme (e.g. Hymns on the Lord\'s Supper (1745) and Hymns on the Great Festivals (1746); others were of a more general nature, including a 1743 Collection later known as the 'Morning Hymn-book', Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1753) and, most importantly, the Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists (1780), intended to supersede all earlier books. Wesley's first tune book was published in 1742, followed in 1761 by Hymns with Tunes Annext (also known as Sacred Melody), which he prefaced with advice on hymn-singing. His finest tune book was Sacred Harmony (1789; edited and revised by Charles Wesley junior in 1821).

The 1780 hymn-book was reissued with additions or supplements in 1831 and 1876, but was not replaced in WM until the Methodist Hymn Book of 1904. T.B. Stephenson played a prominent part both in 1876 and in 1904.

The MNC used the 1780 Collection with supplements until a new book was produced in 1834, followed by Hymns for Divine Worship in 1864. For the PMs Hugh Bourne produced a 'Large Hymn-book' in 1824; John Flesher's revised and enlarged edition of 1853 aroused considerable controversy and was in turn replaced in 1886 (with a supplement in 1912). For the BCs, William O\'Bryan produced a supplement to the 1780 book in 1820 and a new book using the 1780 book as its model in 1824. This was revised by James Thorne in 1838 and 1862. A new book was produced in 1888/9, which continued to be current in the UMC until the production of the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book. The UMFC made changes in editions of 1860 and 1889.

The WM book of 1904 was the first to change from the experiential arrangement of the 1780 Collection in favour of a thematic one, which survived in it successor, the Methodist Hymn Book of 1933, an early fruit of Methodist Union in 1932. A supplement Hymns and Songs was issued in 1969 and a new book, Hymns and Psalms came out in 1983, fifty years after the 1933 MHB. Its successor, Singing the Faith was published in the autumn of 2011.

Each denomination also produced Sunday School hymn-books; e.g. the WM Sunday School Hymn Book of 1879. The School Hymn-book published in 1950 by the Methodist Youth Department has been supplemented by the all-age Partners in Praise (1979), Story Song (1993) and Big Blue Planet (1995).

The first Welsh WM hymn-book, Diferion y Cyssegr was published by John Hughes, (Brecon, 1802). Much altered and enlarged editions appeared in 1804, 1807, 1809 and 1812. Like all subsequent hymnals, these depended heavily on the Calvinist William Williams, Pantycelyn. The connexion itself published books in 1817, 1845 and 1900, and in 1927 joined with Welsh Calvinistic Methodism in what has been the most highly regarded Welsh collection, with a supplement in 1985.

Sources

  • J. Kirsop, 'The Revision of the Hymn-book', in UMFC Magazine, 1876 pp.202-3
  • G.J. Stevenson in Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology (1892) pp.726-32
  • Frederick L. Wiseman, in New History of Methodism 2 (1909) Appendix c
  • W. Bainbridge, 'The First Hymn Book of the Methodist New Connexion, 1800', in WHS Proceedings, 14 pp. 21-23
  • James T. Lightwood, 'The New Methodist Hymn-book', in London Quarterly and Holborn Review, January 1934, pp.12-21
  • Oliver A. Beckerlegge, 'The First Bible Christian Hymn-book', in WHS Proceedings, 34 pp.34-36
  • Richard Watson & Kenneth Trickett, Companion to Hymns and Psalms (1988) pp.18-33
  • Kenneth Greet, Fully Connected (1997), pp.86-88
  • Bryan F. Spinney, Tuned for Praise: the story of Methodist hymn-books and their revisions in the 20th century, from Wesley's Hymns to Hymns & Psalms (Totton, 1999)
  • Andrew Pratt, O for a thousand tongues: the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book in context (Peterborough, 2004)
  • Colin C. Short, 'Nineteenth-Century Methodist Hymn Books' in WHS Proceedings, vol.55 (May 2005), pp.69-71
  • Colin C. Short, O'Bryan's Hymns: a new look at the 1824 Bible Christian Hymn-book and its later revisions (Oxford, 2006)
  • David Tripp, 'The Wesleyan Methodist Hymn Book', in Proceedings of the WHS, 56 (February 2007) pp.29-30
  • Brian Frost, 'How multi-cultural is Hymns and Psalms?', in Methodist Recorder, 8 May 2008
  • Neil Dixon, 'A hymn-book to be explored', in Methodist Recorder, 10 November 2011
  • Andrew Pratt, 'Methodist Hymns: the continuing influence of Charles Wesley…' in WHS Proceedings, 59 pp.102-7

Entry written by: GTH and PLC
Category: Subject

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