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2124

A15

1978

Copyright, 1928, by

THE ABINGDON PRESS, INC.

Printed in the United States of America

The Editor's Foreword

The purpose of the editor and the publishers has been to make THE ABINGDON HYMNAL a genuine aid in advancing the interests of vital worship and in promoting high cultural standards in the musical program of the church. To accomplish this, neither time nor study has been spared in its preparation.

The actual editorial work has extended over a period of two years; and this labor has a background of fifteen years of experience on the part of the editor, in the leadership of the worship and song of churches, church schools, assemblies, conferences, institutes, and religious gatherings of every type.

In the selection of hymns for THE ABINGDON HYMNAL two questions of major importance have been asked: Do the words possess literary merit, and Are they a worthy expression of religion for today? In the selection of each tune, two questions have also been asked: Has it musical merit, and Does it truly express the spirit of the hymn linked with it? In this HYMNAL will be found a body of classic and standard hymns mellowed and proved by long use. There will also be found a number of new hymns and tunes, previously unpublished, some of which were written especially for this book. But no hymn or tune has been admitted merely because it is new; rather has the preference been given to those so excellent that they never grow old.

The religious spirit of youth is marked by a readiness for mystical experience and the adventure of faith. One of the strongest motives is the influence of Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." The first groups of hymns in this HYMNAL, therefore, set forth Christ before the eyes of the world. Christian experience, faith, consecration, and service are richly expressed. Through Christ we come to the Father. Here will be found great hymns of God as Creator of the world and Lover of men. Hymns of the Holy Spirit, of the Church, of the Bible, of our homeland, and of the kingdom of God upon earth give wealth of expression to this spiritual faith.

Yet all centers in Christ, visibly set forth before the eyes of men; and the hymns are rich in the expression of the ardor of youth and the heroic devotion to Christ's Way of Life. A large proportion of the hymns belong properly in the groups entitled "The Call to Discipleship," "Dedication to Christ," "Christian Heroism," "The Call to Courage," "Purity and Self-Control," and "Service and Brotherhood."

There is a strong movement today toward a real appreciation of the greatness of Christian hymnology. Hymns of the ages, hymns that never grow old, express the Christian experience which, like a refreshing stream, flows down through the centuries. Besides the great hymns of the past, scattered

through the HYMNAL, an important group will be found under the title, "Historic Hymns." In the use of such hymns the most important doctrines, principles, and events of Christian history can be taught. The makers of this HYMNAL cherish the hope that it will be a strong instrument, in the hands of leaders of hymn-singing, for increasing the knowledge and love of Christian hymnology.

It is a great gain when people who sing hymns learn to recognize the tunes by name, and also to know something of authors, composers, and dates. In THE ABINGDON HYMNAL the name of the tune will be found in large black type above the music, and at the left of the page. On the right will be found the name of the author of the words and the composer of the music, the name of the author being above that of the composer. Leaders of hymn-singing should call attention to significant facts regarding the personalities who have given us our wealth of hymns and hymn-tunes.

NOTES ON CONGREGATIONAL SINGING

In public worship the most important music is congregational song. To realize in full the spiritual and inspirational values of singing, by the people, three things are necessary:

(1) Interpretation of the hymns.

(2) Familiarity with a wide repertory of hymns.

(3) Rehearsal and training of the congregation in singing.

The interpretation of the hymns implies that the leader selects them with care. He should use good reference works on hymnology, and give careful instruction to the people. Hymns themselves should be studied for their spiritual meanings.

A large repertory of hymns can be developed only by courageous and persistent introduction of new hymns and tunes, and well-directed practice in singing them. A new tune should be played through for the people. A new hymn should be sung through by a soloist or the choir. Then the congregation should be encouraged to practice, until the people gain familiarity with the words and music. Thus the repertory of hymns is enriched.

Great emphasis must be laid on the method of rehearsal and training of the congregation. This is a task worthy of the best-trained choral conductor, though it may be done, with success, by any thoughtful leader.

The method of training a congregation to sing, and the major principles on which such training should be based, may be stated briefly. There are five simple principles which, if properly applied by the leader and followed by the people, will lead to good congregational singing. They are as follows:

(1) All the people should sing.

This implies a moral obligation, for every member of a worshiping congregation should participate in every hymn, chant, responsive reading, prayer in unison, or other part of the service committed to the people. This should be done by every person in the congregation with the same willingness and earnestness expected of the minister or leader in his Scripture reading, or his prayer, or his address. If the people will do this as an obligation, they will soon do it as a high privilege. The Spirit of God will surely descend, in truth and power, upon that congregation whose members give themselves, without reserve, to worship and song. (2) Sing earnestly and with devout enthusiasm.

Passive participation in the service of song and worship is not enough. When the congregation sits or stands to sing, the individual should hold his body erect, thus giving the support of his whole physical being to his vocal tones. He should open his mouth freely and widely for the emission of the tones, and should sing heartily. Even a small group of people, accepting this principle and putting it into practice, can achieve a greater volume and sonority of tone than does a congregation of hundreds of people singing in the average ineffective way. (3) Sing thoughtfully.

Every hymn, worthy of use, is a genuinely poetical expression of true religious experience, sentiment, or idealism. The moods of prayer, exhortation, praise, affirmation, or belief, devotion or dedication, all find rich and full expression in hymnody. In singing these hymns the worshiper has the privilege of making them his own; of appropriating, for his own use, these great words of others. These hymns of worship become his own. He ought to think of the meaning of every hymn that he sings; and the leader of the service, or director of the music, should assist him in doing this. The leader or director has this duty of interpretation; and each individual in the congregation has the duty of singing with this interpretation in mind, and giving expression to it in singing.

(4) Sing beautifully.

Thinking of the words has been pointed out as an important duty; and to this is added the duty of appreciating the beauty of the music. The beauty of congregational singing can be enhanced by the application of three simple principles. (a) Eliminate slurring, sliding, and drawling, and cultivate a delicate crispness in enunciation. Proceed cleanly from syllable to syllable and from note to note, almost as if there were a rest or silence between them. (b) Sing rhythmically, gaining smoothness and grace, and avoid undue haste. There is need of vitality in congregational singing, but it is not to be gained merely by speeding the tempo of the hymns. Mere speed will destroy the majesty and dignity of congregational singing. Rhythmic singing will produce vitality without loss of dignity. This is to be gained largely by careful attention to accent. In singing a hymn in com

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