Preface to William Gadsby's Hymns - Last Edition
To be employed with solemn pleasure in singing the praises of God with the spirit and with the understanding also, is a blessing peculiar to God's elect; nor can even they be thus engaged, only as the blessed Spirit influences the mind, and favours them with the union of his grace. It is one thing to have the ear charmed, and another to have the heart engaged in this most delightful part of God's worship in his church below. "Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound."
It may be thought by many a great piece of folly for such an obscure mortal as I to publish a selection of hymns for the public worship of the eternal Three-One God; nor shall I attempt to make many apologies for having done so. Suffice it to say, that the church and people over which the Holy Ghost has made me overseer, and has been in the constant habit, ever since I came among them, of using Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns, Rippon's Selection, and Hart's Composition. But though some of these hymns are big with the important truths of God, there are others, especially among Dr. Watts's and Rippon's, which give as legal a sound as if they had been forged at a certain foundry. This was one reason which induced me to publish a selection. Another was, we had three editions of hart's Hymns amongst us, either differently arranged or differently paged; so that when any of those hymns were given out, one part of the congregation was unable to find them. These circumstances, together with a desire in my own breast and the express wish of others to have a selection of hymns in one book free from Arminianism, and sound in the faith that the church might be edified and God glorified, were what induced me to attempt this work.
The last one hundred and fifty-seven hymns are of my own composing. In the former editions, many of these were too long for public worship, consequently comparatively useless, extending the size of the book without a proportionate benefit. In the present edition I have curtailed them; but as I have been careful to leave entire, or nearly so, the first verse of each, and as I have not materially altered the language of the remain verses which still appear, I think but little inconveniences will be experienced, particularly if the hymns be given out from this edition, as in that case no verses can be read which are not in all the books. It will be seen that I have sometimes taken a line from another author, but for this, not professing perfection, I shall offer no apology.
My reason for putting those of my own composing together was, that I might publish a few copies of them separately from the selection, for the benefit of those who might wish to have them without being obliged to purchase the whole work; so that they may be had as they appeared originally, at full length, together with 112 more, since added, under the title of the "Nazarene's Songs."
The pages gained by the curtailment of my own Hymns, as above named, are occupied with a Supplement, consisting of 120 hymns, which have principally been selected from Hart and Berridge, these two men being, I believe, the sweetest and greatest experimental writers that have left any hymns on record.
If the dear Redeemer will be gracious to make this selection of hymns a blessing to his people, I hope the same grace which will accomplish this end will influence me to feel amply rewarded for my labour, and cheerfully give him all the glory.
** If any of the Hymns be thought too long to sing at one time, the verses included in brackets, thus [ ], may be left out, without destroying the sense.