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be useful in several respects; as it might contribute to restrain the too common vagrancy of singing choirs, and to give permanency to the use of a standard set of tunes would be a great convenience to singers in the choir, who might wish to refresh their memories in regard to the tune to be sung--and would be a help to many others in the congregation, who, by occasionally casting their eyes upon the tune, would be able to join in the performance, of this pleasing, animating, and exalted part of divine worship.
The effect of public psalmody is often exceedingly marred, by a psalm or hymn being sung to an ill adapted tune. The leaders of singing choir's are not always persons of good taste and judgment; and the best qualified leadet cannot always at the moment, so fully possess himself of the sentiments of the portion given out, as immediately to recut to a tune well suited to express them. It might therefore, it was thought, be highly useful to sit down at leisure, and refér each psalm and hymn, not merely to a proper key, but to a suitable tune.
The grand defect of our publick psalmody in general is the want of proper expression. Should a preacher deliver his sermon, in an unanimated, monotonous manner, not varying the movement, or quantity, or tone of voice, nor even observing the pauses-be his sermon ever so good, or his pronunciation ever so exact-his hearers might sleep, and his labour be lost. So the best psalm may be sung to the best tune, and every note, in the several parts, be sounded with the utmost exactness, and yet the performance have little interest or effect. That performance of psalmody, and that only, is entitled to be called good, in which the movement, quantity, and tone of voice, are well adapted to the general subject, and so varied as justly to express the different thoughts, sentiments, and passions. This, it is confessed, an attainment of no small difficulty; and requires no ordinary degree of judgment and taste, attention and practice. Its importance, however, demands that every thing which can be done in aid of it, should be done.
TO Assist singers extensively, in this essential, but neglected part of good psalmody, no method appeared more eligible, than that of so marking the psalms and hymns by means of certain symbols, as to indicate, as correctly as possible, the requisite variations of movement, quantity, and tone of voice.
Such were the views of the Compiler, when he took up the design of the work; and such the plan upon which he formed his book, entitled CHRISTIAN Psalmony, in Four Parts: comprising Dr. Watts's Psalms Abridged; Dr. Watts's Hymns Abridged; Select Hymns from other Authors; und Select Harmony: together with Direction's for Musical Expression. He was sensible in the outset, and became more and more deeply so in the progress of the undertaking, that it was a design of difficult execution, and of no ordinary responsibility; and in regard to its several parts, he did not fail to avail himself, as opportunity offered, of the judgment of clergy men, musicians, and stbers, respectable in character, and judicious in matters of this kind.
His Abridgement of Dr. Watts was executed with a cautious and trembling hand; and, he would fain hope, in a manner not to offend the pious and judicious admirers of that justly venerated psalmist. In regard to Christian doctrine and sentiment, Watts remains unaltered and unimpaired; and in what is relained of his Book, eren the verbal alterations are very few, and only such as seemed most obviously requisite.
It deserves particular notice, that the numerical desigBations of the psalms and hymns, parts and stanzas, retained, are the same as in Watts unabridged, and when the last verse er verses are-omitted, the omission is denoted by a No confusion, therefore, need ensne in a congregation should the minister use this book, while the people are yet furnished wholly or in part with the common book.
The Selection of Hymns from various Authors was made with laborious care; after a perusal of all the Hymns which the Compiler could well procure, and with repeated and solicitous revisions. To have adopted all the hymus extant which are good, would have swelled the book to an ondue size. The design was to select a competent number of such as would form the best supplement to Watts regard being bad at once to intrinsic merit, to particular subjects and occasions, and to variety of metre.
'i'be Fourth Part, entitted Select Harmony, consists of more than a hundred Tunes, and about tweuty Particular Pieees, of approved excellence, and of a style and sharseter, suitable to public and private devotion. The Compiler is fully persuaded, and in this persuasion he is sure of the concurrence of the best judges, that the adoption of a few well chosen tunes for permanent use, would be vastly preferable to a great variety and a frequent change. The prurience, indeed, for variety and change is the bape of our pablick psalmody. It can never be sufficiently regretted that good tunes, as soon as the singers have learned to perform them with tolerable correctness, and just as the congregation begin to be pleased with them, should be capri. eiously exchanged for others. Good tunes, to be performed with any adequate effect, must be perfectly familiar to the performers. It is impossible that a psalm or hymn should be performed with proper expression, when the tune is not familiar; and antil singing choirs will be content with the use of a few standard tunes, not entirely excluding, how ever, the occasional use of others, Expression, that most important part of good musical performance, will be but little known. Besides, good tunes must be familiarized by üse, before their beauties and excellencies will be in any good degree perceived and felt; the longer and better they are practised, the more they will be loved and admired; and when they are lightly esteemed, or willingly exchanged for others, it must be owing not to a familiar acquaintance with them, but to the want of such acquaintance.
In assigning particular tunes for the severai psalms and hymns, regard has been had, not merely to the different key, but also to the peculiar air and character of each tune, and its appropriate adaption to the psalm or hymn for which it is assigned. If therefore, in any instance, the leader of the choir, for some particular reason, think it not best to sing the tune, or either of the tunés, referred to; still the reference may be of use, as a direction to the sort of tune, suitable to be chosen.
Of the several parts of this undertaking, that of marking the psalms and hymns with reference to Expression, was not the least difficult. To indicate, indeed, all the variations, which a skilful and well practised performer would observe, were impracticable; to designate some of the principal of them only, is what has been attempted. The method adopted for this purpose is simple, and easy to be understood.
The movement is divided into five degrees, which are supposed to be indicated by five vowels, in Roman letter: viz. a--very slow; e-slow; i-common; Om quiek; u-very quick: but in the actual marking, the i is omitted; as it was deemed unnecessary for passages requiring only the common movement to be marked.-The quantity of voice is also di:ided into five degrees, which, in like manner, are indicated by the same vowels in Italick letter: viz. (—very soft; em soft; i-common, but omitted in the marking; 6-loud; u --very loud.
In some passages 'a variation is required both of movement and quantity. The Pathetick in general, and some other kinds of sentiment, require the slow and soft; this expression is denoted by the letter p. The Grand requires the slow and loud, this expression is denoted by the letter g The Beautiful requires the quick and soft; this expression is denoted by the letter b. The Spirited requires the quick and loud; this expression is denoted by the letter s.
Some passages require, not any considerable change from the common, either in movement or quantity; but either a peculiar distinciness of utterance, or some pecnliar distinction in the tone or modulation of voice. This expression, or rather these varieties of expression, are denoted by the letter d. This symbol is indeed, not so much to indicate the particular manner of performance, as to arrest attention,
and notify that some pecaliar manner is required. Where it is applied, however, whether to passages marked as quotations, or to such as express abhorrence, scorn, indignation, or any other passion or feeling, the judicious performer, will in general readily perceive the requisite expression.
If a psalm or hymn begins without any syobol of expres. sion, it is to be considered as common, until some symbol is applied. When any symbol is applied, that is to be consid. ered as being continued, until some other occurs. The sbort Jash (-) after any other symbol, denotes the passage to be in all respects conimon.
The general charcter of each psalm or hymn, as before intimated, is intended to be designated, by the lune, or tunes to which it is rcferred; and in applying the symbols of expression, each passage of the psalin or hymn has been considered relatively to the prevailing character of the whole, and to the bearings of the several passages. Hence, some passages are marked differently from what they wonki have been, had the psalm or hymn to which they belong, been of a different prevailing character, or the passages with which they stand counected, required different kinds of expression.
la the Punctuation regard bias been bad to musical expression. In some instances, therefore, different points or pauses are inserted, from what would have been used, bad the grammatical construction, only, beca regarded. The dash is intended to denote an expressive suspension. In order to good expression, a distinct and judicious observance of the pauses is absolutely necessary.
In reference to persons, the relative who is preferred to that, because it is better for musical sound. For the same reason, in reference to things, that is preferred to which.
Though the ChuSTIAN PSALMODI has answered, in its reception by the Christian publick, the most sanguine expectations; though it has been adopted by many congregations, and is gelling into extensive use; and though the Compiler has seen po reason to abate of his confidence in the correctness and utility of the design: yet it has been thought advisable to give an Edition of Waits's entire, carefully revised, and furnished after the manner of the Christian Psalmody with Directions for Musical Expres. sión. In this edition those portions of the Psalms and Hymns, which are omitted in the Christian Psalmorly, are included in brackets. In judging however of the propriety of the omissions, it should de particularly kept in mind, ihai, not in a few instances, portions were omitted, not for wanne of merit in themselves; but because the same subject. matter and sentiments are amply supplied, in other portions either of Watts's or of the Seleit Himnos, of equalis superior merit.
Individuals, Churches, and Societies, may now be sup. plied, as they shall choose, with the Christian Psalmody with Watts entire and the Select Hymns added or with Watts alone in an improved edition.
It only remains for the Compiler and Editor humbly to commend the work, in its several parts and forms, to the oandour of the religious public-with the devout hope, that it will promote their improvement and delight in the high praises of God: and above all, to the favour I him, who is T'fearful in praises,” and whose approbation is the highest meed-with the fervent prayer, that, under his gracious blessing, it may contribute to the advancement of his great salvation, and to the glory of his adorable Nane.
Salem, August 12, 1819.
P-Slow and soft. b-Quick and sort.
See the explanation in the foregoing Prefach The Prefuse should be read attentively.