Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Pilgrim's Hymnal

While working on a list of Baptist hymn books and hymnals, I have researched The Pilgrim's Hymnal: a Book of Choice Songs for All the Services of the Churches by William H. Crouse. Since I found little information online, I decided to post a bit of what I found and make an available record.

William Harlan Crouse was born in Randolph County, Indiana, February 23, 1874. He was baptized by the Nettle Creek Church, and ordained as a Primitive Baptist elder in 1899 in Indiana, He served churches in Indiana, then pastored in Kentucky from 1904 until he moved to Georgia in 1907. W. H. Crouse spent the rest of his ministry there. He pastored Primitive Baptist churches, edited Primitive Baptist periodicals called The Pilgrim's Banner and The Primitive Herald (which he founded in 1916)[1], wrote several books and compiled The Pilgrim's Hymnal. Crouse followed the Progressive division of Primitive Baptists and became a leader thereof.[2] His Pilgrim's Hymnal was the primary song book of the Progressive Primitive Baptists until eventually replaced by Hymns of Grace.

Crouse was the son of Charles and Pheriba Jane Crouse of Randolph County, Indiana. He married Lefa Lanning in Indiana in 1901. They had six children. W. H. Crouse died April 2, 1941. He and his wife are buried at the Eastside Cemetery in Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia.

The Pilgrim's Hymnal was first published in 1908. The first edition was published while Crouse resided in Graymont, Georgia, and (according to the listing at Pitts Library) was printed by the Armstrong Printing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Armstrong was a leading shape-note printer/publisher in that time. They also printed The Sacred Harp by W. M. Cooper. Crouse's book appeared in an upright SATB format with shaped notes.

In The Banner Herald's History (in Word and Picture) of the Progressive Primitive Baptists, John D. Durden wrote that The Pilgrim's Hymnal was "the first song book generally accepted by all our churches." The Pilgrim's Hymnal went through at least 8 editions, and the eighth edition through at least 3 printings. J. Walter Hendricks and John D. Durden bought the rights to the book in 1941 and took over publication after Crouse's death. In 1964 Robert G. Dickerson and Fred Bethea became joint owners and publishers with Durden. Robert D. Conner and George R. Daniel became owners and publishers in 1969. The Pilgrim Publishing Company, Inc. was formed by Conner, Daniel and others in 1977 and acquired the rights to the hymnal. The corporation was dissolved in 1994. Several elders involved in the production of The Pilgrim's Hymnal left the Progressive Primitive Baptists and went over to the Old-Line Primitive Baptist (e.g. Fred Bethea, Robert D. Conner, Robert G. Dickerson) -- possibly seriously undercutting its future.

Without access to several editions of the book, it is hard to determine some details about it. Based on library listings at WorldCat, apparently the first edition in 1908 had 176 pages (or more likely 176 songs). Another 1908 printing is claimed to have 205 pages, and the Primitive Baptist Library in Carthage, Illinois says their second edition holding has 245 hymns (and that hymns 1-203 have tunes and hymns 204-245 do not have tunes). Library holdings for 1936 and 1964 list 274 hymns (or 274 pages). In 1955 John D. Durden said "the present book" (copyrighted 1953) contained 359 songs, "a topical index as well as an index of titles and of first lines of the songs." His statement calls in question the accuracy of some library catalog information. The current extent of use of The Pilgrim's Hymnal is unknown to me -- except that I know of one church in Louisiana that uses it, plus the Primitive Baptist Church in Brooklet, Georgia uses it at their hymn sing (W. H. Crouse organized the Brooklet Church in 1914).

If anyone knows more details about this book, please let me know.

An Open Letter to All Primitive Baptists, by Bob G. Dickerson
"Elder William H. Crouse: Primitive Baptist Pastor and Religious Writer," Emerson Proctor, in Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History (Volume 22, 2010, pp. 21-36)
History (in Word and Picture) of the Progressive Primitive Baptists, J. Walter Hendricks, J. Harley Chapman, Paul B. Bullington, et. al, Statesboro, GA: The Banner Herald, May 1955 (unpaged)
The Pilgrim's Hymnal: a Book of Choice Songs for the Home and All the Services of the Churches, William H. Crouse, Pilgrim's Hymnal Publishing Co., [n.d, but after 1977]
William H Crouse on Find-a-Grave

[1] Now combined as The Banner Herald
[2] "Progressive Primitive Baptists are a Christian denomination comprising 95 churches located in nine US states and one church in Haiti." This division beginning about 1910, with the main dispute being over the use of instrumental music in worship. The largest group of Progressives are in Georgia (possibly about 70%). Crouse didn't agree with all points of the Progressives, but disagreed with the Old-Line decision to disfellowship churches over these points.


Stephen Garrett said...

I have a book by Crouse in which he denounces the Missionary Baptist view that one must hear the Gospel to be eternally saved. Though he was sympathetic to the Progressives at first, he later became an opponent of them. He was a deep admirer and follower of Elder John R. Daily (who also published a hymnal).

Stephen Garrett

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks, Brother Garrett. I noticed in researching him that he named one of his sons Daily Crouse (I feel certain after Elder John R. Daily). From what I've read he appears to wound up in a sort of "limbo" -- he didn't agree with a number of the practices of the Progressives, but didn't believe that they should rise to the level of disfellowship (such as organs, secret societies, etc.). Here is something he wrote about "continued meetings":

"Again, from the position taken by some of your contributors, it is dangerous for a preacher to preach more than three days at one meeting, lest he should preach unsound doctrine. That is the most flimsy argument against continued meetings I have ever heard. If I was afraid one of our ministers would preach false doctrine in a series of sermons, even a dozen, I would be afraid to risk him the first time." (I think this was answering something written in Hassell's Gospel Messenger.)

I thought that was interesting.

R. L. Vaughn said...

BTW, have you ever seen a copy of The Pilgrim's Hymnal? I haven't yet.

Jolynn Alpharetta said...

I have a hardback and a paperback of the 1906 hymnals. Hardback has 205 numbered pages and 248 hymns. It has several pages called Rudiments of Music and one page Definitions of Musical terms. I only have the first page of the index. My paperback is the same but at the end of the alphabetical index it had Topical Index.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Jolynn, thanks for the information on the editions you have. Sounds like yours corresponds to one I found on the WorldCat library catalog. I have just received a printing of the 1964 copyright. It has 427 songs, and no page numbers. After that there is a topical index and a general index.