Page:Our Hymns.djvu/9

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V
PREFACE.

by means of two indexes, to assist the general reader as much as possible, and especially to render this work serviceable to those who will use it as a " Companion." There is first an alphabetical index of authors, and against each author's name a carefully prepared list of the psalms and hymns he has contributed to the collection to which this work is a companion. In that list, those that have been erroneously attributed in that collection to any author are omitted; and those that have been given without name are treated of under the heading "Anonymous." There is also an alphabetically arranged index of several hundred psalms and hymns. It contains only those of which this work gives some particular account; and against each hymn in that index there is the number of the page where that account can be found.

In our public assemblies prose compositions are usually given with the illustration they derive from our knowledge of the author. We know something of the speaker who addresses us; or he announces a well-known name as that of the author of what he reads; or if it be in a place of worship pre-informs us that he is going to read part of the Gospel of John, or of an epistle by Peter or Paul. And we very seldom put any prose composition to the disadvantage of being judged on its intrinsic merits and apart from our knowledge of its author (although, for special reasons, this is done in some departments of our literature). But our hymns usually suffer from this disadvantage. In many instances they embody the sentiments of a particular writer, and were born of the peculiar circumstances in which he wrote them, yet all that we know of them, beyond their internal testimony, is their number in a collection, or the page on which they are found. It is the object of this work to assist in the removal of that disadvantage and to lend new interest to our public praise by informing the worshipper of the lives of the authors whose hymns he sings, and of the origin and history of those hymns. To illustrate,