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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1831,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.
In presenting to the public such a work as this, it is obviously proper that something should be said of the object and expec tation of its compilers. These may be stated in a few words. It has been their aim and hope to make a selection of psalms and hymns of a highly lyrical character, in respect to sentiment, imagery, language, and structure; possessing sufficient elevation and dignity to render them specially adapted to public worship on the Sabbath, and possessing, at the same time, such a variety of subjects and metres, and such a degree of simplicity, warmth, and animation, as should render them suitable for use in all social religious meetings, and in families. They have aimed, also, to render the selection particularly copious in those classes of hymus which are specially adapted to this period of revivals and of religious benevolent institutions and labors, and to various important occasions.
The two things to be regarded in hymns for use in public worship, and by which their lyrical character is to be tested, are their Matter and their Structure. In both these respects they may be faulty. Some remarks on the requisites of good lyric poetry will be made under each of these heads.
As to the MATTER proper for lyric poetry.
1. The aim of all lyric poetry should be to express emotion, and the sentiments should be such as are adapted to this end. This is the original and natural office of all poetry; and it is more especially the natural office of all poetry which is designed to be used in connection with music. Poetry itself is the language of emotion; and that only is good lyric poetry, which requires the aid of music to produce its full effect. A kindred office of lyric poetry is to excite or increase emotion in the hearer or performer. Sacred lyric poetry may express every class of emotions which it is proper for man to express in acts of worship; but especially such as are implied in ascriptions of praise. It should generally be addressed directly to God, or else it should consist of rehearsals of truths and events, or exhortations and appeals to the hearts of men, which are directly adapted to turn the thoughts to God, and fill the soul with emotions towards him.
A judicious German writer, treating on the character of lyric poetry, remarks that "The church secures human sanctification by two means-teaching or preaching, and the worship of God. In both these exercises the intellect and heart are employed, and act together, but not equally. Preaching is chiefly designed to enlighten the understanding, while the principal aim of worship is to warm and purify the heart, and