A Critical and Historical Study
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Paperback / softback
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of Pages: 564
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
D.H. Lawrence, writing of the poems that had meant most to him, said that they were `still not woven so deep in me as the rather banal Nonconformist hymns that penetrated through and through my childhood'. It is not easy to account for this, and most writing about hymns has not helped because it has concentrated on their content and function in worship and liturgy. In the present book the author tries to account for feelings like Lawrence's by examining the hymn form and its progress through the centuries from the Reformation to the present day. He begins by discussing the status of a hymn text and relates it to the demands made upon it by the needs of singing. A chronological study then traces the development of the English hymn, from the metrical psalms of the Reformation, through the seventeenth century and Isaac Watts to the Wesleys, Cowper, Toplady, and others, and then to the great flood of hymn writing that occurred during the Victorian period, together with the great success of Hymns Ancient and Modern. There are chapters on American hymnody and women's hymn writing, and sections on gospel hymns and the translation of German hymnody. A final chapter takes the story into the twentieth century, with a brief postscript on the revival of hymn writing since 1960.
... the intellectual hymnist's vade mecum ... a massive, solid read ... fascinating detail. Home Words (the nationwide church magazine supplement) After a read through The English Hymn it would be hard to imagine a stronger case for the hymn. Methodist Recorder For a definition of the hymn and the state of the art of hymn-writing one need look no further than Professor Watson's magisterial book The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study. Methodist Recorder A book which gives so much enlightenment and pleasure ... It more than fulfils its author's aim of rescuing hymns from their second-rate image in the eyes of the literary establishment, and demonstrates their subtlety and imaginative power. Church Times ... 'must' for the library of any university or college which teaches either hymnology or English literature to degree level. It should also give great pleasure and enlightenment to the serious general reader. The Hymn Society J.R.Watson, who reports towards the end of this meticulous and monumental book that there were some 40,000 hymns in existence in English by the end of the nineteenth century ... deserves our gratitude for having read a good many of them in preparing it ... Scattered throughout The English Hymn there are valuable and memorable passages, the fruits of Watson's long attention to his subject and of his intricate familiarity with it. Times Literary Supplement The problem with attempting to discuss a book as rich as Professor Watson's is that it is the illustrations which bring it to life, but space prevents lavish quotation. Two features distinguish this illuminating study: the analysis of the language and the exposition of the structure of the hymns ... superb book. The Expository Times,