A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the People Called Methodists

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A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the People Called Methodists
by John Wesley

"In 1780 [John Wesley] issued A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (price 3s., sewed, 12mo, pp. xvi, 504). The preface is dated 'October 20, 1779'. Methodism had never lacked hymn-books. Wesley says, 'It may be doubted whether any religious community in the world has a greater variety of them.' The people were, in fact, 'bewildered in the immense variety.' A strong desire was felt for a cheap and portable book, with a sufficient selection of hymns for all ordinary occasions. Wesley took great pains with his task.

"[…] After Wesley's death, the book went through a succession of alterations. In the edition of 1797, twenty-four of the hymns he selected were omitted, and sixty-five others inserted. The Conference of 1799 appointed a committee to 'reduce it to its primitive simplicity, as published in the second edition', but it was not entirely successful. Methodism had to wait till 1904, when, concurrently with the new Methodist Hymn-Book, an edition was published which is an exact reprint of the volume as it left Wesley's hands.

"In 1831 a supplement was added to Wesley's hymn-book, and in 1875 it was revised, and a new supplement prepared.

"The fact that the early publications of the Wesley's bear the name of both brothers [i.e. John Wesley and Charles Wesley] has made it difficult to distinguish between their work. Dr. Osborn said that 'his own inquiries had led him to think it likely that Mr. John Wesley contributed more largely to these joint publications than is commonly supposed; and that the habit of attributing almost everything found in them to his brother, is scarcely consistent with a due regard to accuracy' (Poetical Works, viii. xv.)."

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