Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Old-Line Primitive Baptist Hymn and Tune Book: First Impressions

Old-Line Primitive Baptist Hymn and Tune Book for All Lovers of Truth in Sacred Song. Jason R. Fruit, Fox Lake, WI, USA: Jason R. Fruit, 2016. $9.00, hardcover, 446 pages.  I recently received a copy. Here are my first impressions

Jason R. Fruit is a Primitive Baptist, computer programmer Sacred Harp singer and composer -- among other things. These interests join in producing this newly-introduced song book for Primitive Baptist churches..

I am very favorably impressed. It seems to be much in the spirit and style of Durand and Lester's Hymn and Tune Book. The book is nicely bound in an upright SATB format, with black and gold hard cover. It contains 847 hymn texts and 201 tunes (some of which appear more than once, with at least two by the compiler). The tunes are set in seven-shape-notes.

The arrangement is topical, divided into 12 major sections -- such as "Glories of God" or "Ordinances, Institutions and Occasions" -- and one "Miscellaneous" section. The topical headings appear in the top center of each page. Within the sections the arrangement proceeds by hymn meter (Long Meter, Common Meter, etc.). Each tune and each hymn is labeled appropriate to its meter. Often a short hymn tune will occupy the top quarter of the page, with the rest of the page filled by hymns that match that meter. Longer tunes may fill a half page or even the whole page. The printing of notes and words is clean and clear, making it easy to read. (There are a few occasions where the type font is reduced for space considerations, making the reading a little harder on old eyes.) The back of the book provides two indices, by first lines of the hymns and by the tune names.

There are a few printing errors of the shapes that have been discovered, and the compiler asks that you contact him if you notice errors -- so that they may be corrected in future editions.

The tunes are mostly early American, folk tunes, Sacred Harp and reform music of the Hastings/Mason style (as far as I am able to judge). There is a wide range of Christian hymns, in which the compiler "tried to ensure that its texts are sound in doctrine and express true Christian experience." The book rises from within and is intended for the use of Old Line Primitive Baptists -- so the doctrinal beliefs will reflect that -- but a majority of conservative Christians will agree with most of the sentiments found therein.

The book is an excellent buy at $9 per hymnal. The author is not trying to make a profit, but rather provide a service for churches. Discounted pricing is available on larger quantity orders. It can be purchased from the compiler, Jason R. Fruit of Fox Lake, Wisconsin (see Hymn Book web page), and The Primitive Baptist Library of Carthage, Illinois.

Some sample pages from the Old-Line Primitive Baptist Hymn and Tune Book can be found HERE.

I like the book and recommend it to you. If you like metered hymns and fine tunes you will like this book. Libraries should have a copy. Hymnal collectors should obtain one. The title will probably limit its use to those churches who find themselves in the name "Old-Line Primitive Baptist," but few will hurt from hymning the Lamb with the hymns and tunes provided here!

Great God of grace, forgive the lays,
That fall so far beneath thy praise;
By grace we hope to sing ere long,
Eternal love in sweeter song. (#421 John Kent)

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