I don’t know if you have seen this. I hadn’t, until a friend told me about this. It is the great Pastor C. H. Spurgeon speaking on the topic of music and in particular their reason for having their own hymnal.
Spurgeon‘s congregation produced a hymnbook called “Our Own Hymnbook.” In his autobiography, he writes:
“None of the collections already published are exactly what our congregation needs, or we would have cheerfully adopted one of them. They are good in their way, but we need something more. Our congregation has distinctive features which are not suited by every compilation—not, indeed, by any known to us. We thought it best to issue a selection which would contain the cream of the books already in use among us, together with the best of all others extant [existing] up to the hour of going to press; and having sought a blessing upon the project, we set about it with all our might, and at last we have brought it to conclusion. Our best diligence has been given to the work, and we have spared no expense. May God‘s richest benediction rest upon the results of our arduous labors! Unto His glory we dedicate Our Own Hymnbook.
The area of our researches has been as wide as the bounds of existing religious literature – American and British, protestant and Romish, ancient and modern. Whatever may be thought of our taste, we have exercised it without prejudice; a good hymn has not been rejected because of the character of its author, or the heresies of the church in whose hymnal it first appeared; so long as the language and the spirit of it commended the hymn to our heart, we included it, and we believe that we have thereby enriched our collection. The range of subjects is very extensive, comprising not only direct praise, but doctrine, experience, and exhortation, thus enabling the saints according to the apostolical command, to edify one another in the spiritual songs.” (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume 2: The Full Harvest 1860-1892. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1973; rpt. 2006, pp. 154-55.)
Much has been said for years about music that is used in the church for the purposes of worship. I have always thought it good and even wise for a church to select music that is not based on one hymnal because many hymnals are very incomplete. I frequently had trouble choosing a hymnal and often supplemented the hymnal so that many other Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs could be sung. Seems like this has been a difficulty in churches for many years. I also like the breadth of the range of subjects that he lists that were appropriate for his people. Good shepherding demands a care for the soul, and choosing music for the church is an integral part of that soul watching. I am always amazed at how many pastors refuse to take this kind of care with the music of the church. Most will say things like, “I don’t know music…” and thus intimate that their ignorance gives them a reason not to deal with soul watching in regard to music. That same pastor would not tolerate ignorance in other areas of church health or theological study, yet will continue in ignorance in this key area of soul watch. I am glad for this example set by Spurgeon. Let’s take good care of the souls of our people and of each other.
Great quote, Eric! Challenging thoughts. Thanks for sharing.
What is your thought on the technological changes going on now? Should churches just not have hymnals and use projected hymns? What about things like the iPad that would make available in the near future hymnals that can be edited and added too?
It is interesting that Spurgeon did this. Thanks for sharing!
I wrote much about this at my blog although I threw William Gadsby into the mix…
here it is if you are interested: http://sounddoxology.blogspot.com/2010/04/worship-leaders-imitate-william-gadsby.html