Excerpt from United Methodist School Hymnal
The earliest hymn-book for Methodist children was published by John and Charles Wesley. Since the year of its publication many changes have taken place in the Christian conception of the spiritual and ethical needs of childhood. The songs that satisfied our ancestors, and awed and instructed their children, would not satisfy the teachers and scholars of today. In more recent times hymn-books for schools, of a still better type, have been published by all the Churches. The Wesleyan Methodist sunday-school H ymn-booh, The United Methodist School Hymnal, The Bible Christian sunday-school Hymnal, and Hymns of Light and Life will long be remembered for their high qualities. A comparison of earlier with later hymnals shows how great and gradual has been the advance in child hymnology. It would ill-become the compilers of this Hymnal to undervalue the labour of their predecessors. We build upon their foundations, and reverently use the choicest of their materials.
The necessity for a new School Hymnal has been for some time strongly felt, and has become increasingly evident. It is the natural result of quickened interest in the moral training of children. Higher educational ideals have created a demand for new Sunday-school buildings, for trained teachers, for perfected appliances, and con sequently for a new hymnal. A teaching Church cannot lag behind the State. Teachers and children instinctively realize that their Sunday hymns must not be inferior in quality to the songs and lyrics of the Day School.
In recent years English literature has been enriched with hymns of exceeding beauty, set to melodious music. The simple child-song with truth set in gracious forms has come again to the Church. The new spiritual songs, with their appealing music, belong most of all to the children, and Churches cannot withhold them.
In the present Hymnal ample provision is made for those Primary Departments and Infant Schools in which the youngest are taught, and in which, among the picturesque methods of instruction, song takes so prominent a part.
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