Friday, October 07, 2016

List of Baptist Hymn Books and Hymnals

Over several years I have been compiling a list of Baptist hymn books and hymnals. Solomon said "of making many books there is no end." I've decided that his admonition also applies to making lists! I have tried to put together a fairly extensive listing of hymnals hymn books – but the possibilities seem endless. The sheer magnitude of books published by and for Baptists makes it practically impossible to collect a comprehensive list.

Over the next week or so I am going to publish my list on this blog. The list includes (mostly) English language hymn books, song books and hymnals. These books are compiled and published by Baptist denominations and/or Baptist individuals. I make no judgments beyond this – either the editor/compiler was a Baptist at the time, or the book was published by some Baptist group. I try to cover the spectrum from Arminian to Calvinist, Liberal to Fundamentalist, Progressive to Old School.

The list will be published over nine days because it is lengthy. The divisions hopefully will make it is easier to take in. Books will be listed chronologically from oldest to newest, and then alphabetically by title within the chronology. Books without publication dates are inserted chronologically best as possible, or at the end of the list. For example, the publication date of Golden Harp Hymns by Lawrence Rice is unknown. It is inserted in 1967, the year of Rice’s death. Some other books of unknown date with little or no information on the compiler are placed at the end of the list. The list draws from the published works of others (e.g., Burrage, Drummond, Music, Reynolds), as well as personal knowledge and information from friends and colleagues. If you see books that were left off or books that should not be included, please let me know (and give your proof/reasons).

The Anabaptist hymnal The Ausbund is possibly the oldest Christian song book in continuous use. First printed in 1564, it is still used by the Amish. Spiritual Melody (1691), by London Baptist preacher Benjamin Keach, is believed by some scholars to be the oldest or first Baptist hymn book. Prior to this many, if not nearly all, English Baptists of both the General and Particular persuasions were opposed to congregational hymn singing. Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1766), also known as “The Newport Collection,” is considered the first Baptist hymnal published in America [e.g., cf. I Will Sing the Wondrous Story, Music, pp. 8-17, 119-120; The Newport Collection (1766): the First Baptist Hymnal in America, Music, pp. 88-90].

It is hoped to be as accurate as possible, but inability to locate many of these books creates some dependence on second- and third-hand knowledge. For example, library holdings list A Missionary Hymn Book by John Lawson, a Baptist Missionary in India, as an English language book, but no copy was examined to confirm that. Seven dual language hymn books – English/Choctaw, English/Creek, English/German, English/Hungarian, English/Muskokee and English/Welsh – are included in the above list, especially to remind us that a list of English hymnals and hymn books does not exhaust the list of languages in which Baptist print hymns.

[It is worth acknowledging that some of these hymn books and hymnals by Baptists have had little impact on the Baptist fold, often considerably less that some published by non-Baptists.]

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