HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Author: No names of compilers or editors listed
Publisher: Melody Publications, 2018
Related website(s): http://www.melodypublications.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Suitable for everyone
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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No names of compilers or editors listed. Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs (Published in 2018 by Melody Publications LLC, P. O. Box 70107, Knoxville, TN 37938). I collect hymnbooks. I have reviewed hymnbooks, but not usually for Home School Book Review, though I have previously done a couple or so. After all, hymns are poems set to music. Recently, I was introduced to Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs from Melody Publications of Knoxville, TN, and purchased a copy. I do not know the religious background(s) of the compilers and/or editors, and there is no list of names given. There are 980 selections covering more than twelve centuries of past labors, almost all of which have both words and music together except for a very few with text only and suggested tunes. All historical stanzas are accurately included, usually with original wording, and those over eight are printed after the last staff in poetry layout. The website says that from the beginning sketches of this publication, it has been tuned for congregational and family use.
Each selection is identified as a psalm, a hymn, or a spiritual song (perhaps a bit arbitrarily). The tune name and meter are found under the title. Above the top staff, the authors and sources of lyrics are on the left while the composers and sources of tunes are on the right. Several recent books have begun putting all this information at the bottom, and I don’t like that. Historical accounts of authors, origin, and impact are located beneath the bottom staff for over 450 hymns. There are Bible references along the sides of each selection, with more than 16,000 total. The over 200 categories parallel the chronology of doctrine given in the Scriptures, beginning with praise of the Godhead before time, through creation, the fall of man, the coming of the Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb, the gospel, the church, Christian living, and much more, to the praise of heaven when time is no more. Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs claims that it “stands apart as the most usable hymnal available. It is the most unique, most singable, most accurate, most biblical, most logical, and most exhaustive hymnal.”
I have been studying the history of hymns for nearly fifty years, and to be honest I would have to say that well over half these hymns are unfamiliar to me. Only someone who had committed John Julian’s monumental Dictionary of Hymnology to memory would recognize all of them. However, I basically agree with one reviewer who wrote, “Ever wonder why the old-time hymns have far far more power in them to convict, edify, strengthen, encourage, motivate and build faith than any of the modern contemporary junk? It is because they draw directly from scripture for the lyrics and used godly music to worship with, without borrowing a thing from the world.” My only complaint was that it came in standard round notes since most Churches of Christ prefer shaped note hymnals. Then under Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) I found the following. “Does your book come in shape notes? Soon! We are finalizing our shape note edition now after experiencing delays and will go to print shortly.” It is now available, and I have ordered it!