Bennetts Baptist Church




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Bennetts Baptist Church

Psalms and Hymns of Reformed Worship

(Psalms and Hymns of Reformed Worship is one of the Three Hymn books used at Bennetts End Reformed Baptist Church)


This collection of metrical psalms and hymns was inspired by the spiritual riches of Our Own Hymn Book, compiled by C. H. Spurgeon in 1866, and once widely used among Particular Baptist Churches especially causes pastored by Spurgeon's numerous students. Although this is an entirely new hymnal, the link with Our Own Hymn Book is emphasised because the ethos and design of that outstanding collection has been keenly imitated, though in a modern context.

Our Own Hymn Book stands out in the history of Protestant hymnals as a kind of `last outpost' of reformed hymnals complete with psalter, and firmly rooted in the collections of Dr Watts and Dr Rippon. The subsequent era of denominational hymnbooks swept away psalters, together with numerous hymns of a deeply doctrinal and experimental character.

The latter were often replaced by non-evangelical compositions, many of which continue to impair even the better books to this day.

Our Own Hymn Book was unique in that it combined strong sovereign-grace hymns with a great array of hymns suitable for evangelistic services - far more than any other hymnal. Hymns expressing love to Christ and aspirations for Heaven also outnumbered those of other hymnals. Moreover, the excellencies of Spurgeon's hymnbook went beyond the hymns themselves. The classification of hymns provided the richest headings, especially in the categories for hymns of Christian experience.

Our Own Hymn Book has therefore served as a model for the present selection of hymns and their arrangement, but we have employed a degree of editorial intervention which Spurgeon would never have countenanced in his day. (Our approach to editorial updating will be explained later in this Preface.) Many fine hymns which emerged after the date of Spurgeon's book have been included, along with some excellent older hymns, and additional compositions by Charles Wesley. We have not included hymns which are non-trinitarian, modernistic, sacramentalistic, or animistic in character.

This hymnal follows Spurgeon in allocating the first 150 hymn numbers to versions of the psalms. We believe the Book of Psalms to be an inspired manual of praise for God's people in every age. Its themes and its special balance of objective praise, subjective reflection, repentance, intercession, etc, should shape all our worship.

Often more than one version of a psalm is provided, resulting in a total of 266 different psalm items. We retain Spurgeon's title for this section - Spirit of the Psalms - because it perfectly describes the `new song' approach which is taken in this selection. This is in the tradition of Isaac Watts and a host of other writers who produced Christianised, or `evangelical', renderings of the psalms.

In Revelation, chapters four and five, we read of how the Church of God now sings a new song, in which explicit and particular mention is made of the worth of Christ, the crucifixion, the shed blood, particular redemption, the priesthood of all believers, and the future reign of God's people. We believe that New Testament churches must sing very specifically and plainly about such things. We cannot use the psalms in such a way as to limit our worship to the language of Old Testament types and shadows, never daring to mention the glorious truths which they prefigured. With Spurgeon, we think that Jewish expressions must often be changed to Christian language.

Some very beautiful psalm versions in this hymnal come from the literal school of metrical psalm writing, but most come from writers who do not hesitate to name Christ and His Church in the psalms, and to amplify the Christian sense. We endorse the words of Dr Isaac Watts in his preface to Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1718), here quoted in condensed form:-

'It is necessary that I should inform my readers that they are not to expect in this book an exact translation of the Psalms of David. My design is to accommodate the Book of Psalms to Christian worship. In order to do this, it is necessary to divest David, Asaph, etc, of every other character but that of a psalmist and a saint, and to make them always speak the language of a Christian. Where the psalmist uses sharp invectives against his enemies, I have endeavoured to turn the edge of them against our spiritual adversaries - sin, Satan and temptation. Where the original runs in the form of prophecy concerning Christ and His salvation, it is not necessary that we should sing in the style of prediction when the things foretold are brought into open light by a full accomplishment. Where the psalmist speaks of the pardon of sin, I have added the merits of a Saviour. Where he talks of sacrificing goats or bullocks, I rather chose to mention the sacrifice of Christ. Where he promises abundance of wealth, honour, and long life, I have changed some of these typical blessings for grace, glory and life eternal. And I am fully satisfied that more honour is done to our blessed Saviour by spreading His name, His graces and actions in His own language, and according to the brighter revelations He has now made, than by going back again to the language of types and figures.'

The psalter portion of this hymnal contains a recurring attribution which requires explanation, that of - Evangelical Psalter. This is the name given to a portfolio of psalm versions assembled as part of this hymnal-project over a period of more than ten years. It consists mainly of pieces heavily altered, adapted or modernised from various authors, frequently combining the work of several, and sometimes involving metrical conversion. Wherever ideas, expressions, lines and rhymes have been freely utilised from older psalters, but with too much alteration for original authors to be credited, the resulting version has been attributed to this portfolio - Evangelical Psalter. Sources include Auber, Doddridge, Grant, Irons, Lyte, Mant, Merrick, Montgomery, Spurgeon, Steele and Watts, not to mention `strict' metrical sources, such as the American Psalter hymnals of 1912 and 1927. This portfolio also includes a number of unattributed modern items.

The editorial policy for this hymnal is markedly different from that of Our Own Hymn Book. While Spurgeon deprecated editorial changes to hymns, this did not altogether eliminate alterations in Our Own Hymn Book. It simply meant that Spurgeon's editor was obliged to omit in their entirety verses marred by obscure or ugly lines, resulting in some very short hymns, and others in which the development of the theme was broken.

We feel that language has changed far more in the 125 years since Spurgeon's hymnbook than during the 150 years which separated Spurgeon from Watts. We are now confronted with numerous quaint and jarring words or phrases which ought to be edited.

Editorial changes have aimed at achieving instant comprehension wherever possible, thus enabling worshippers to honour the apostolic principle - `I will sing with the understanding also.' Awkward lines, hopefully, have been improved, and some overlong hymns shortened.
Victorianisms have mostly been removed, together with pronouns such as `thee' and `thou' where these are addressed to the worshipper's own soul (or to other people). However, wherever such so-called archaic pronouns are used to address Almighty God they have been left in place.

Users may note inconsistencies in editing. In cases where the use of old-fashioned words affects the rhyming, or where the hymn is too well-known, we have often recoiled from making any change.

Another modernisation will be seen in our treatment of the words `man' or men', together with male pronouns, where these convey the unintended impression to a new generation that all Christians are male. This use of language occurs to an excessive degree in older hymns, and in most cases a way has been found to eliminate it.

Where a hymn has received only minor editing we give no indication of any change (in common with most other hymnbooks).However, where the hymn has been more extensively altered the symbol # appears next to the author's dates. If the degree of alteration is considerable, the words `based on' appear before the author's name.

The weary compilers of one fairly recent evangelical hymnbook exclaimed in their Preface, `The preparation of any hymnbook is a considerable undertaking.' Having learned the truth of this, the present compiler wishes to express indebtedness and deepest appreciation to all who have laboured together to assemble, edit and check this hymnal. Without such a collective effort this volume would not have been remotely possible.

We pray that this selection of hymns will bring great blessing to all who use it to sing the praises of our glorious God, and to kindle their love for Him. Whether used in the House of God or in personal devotion may all hearts be stirred and blessed by its store of sacred themes and sentiments. Truly, in hymns we inherit a great and wonderful tradition of godly praise and reflection! May the Spirit of God help us as we seek to obey the great command: `Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another; in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.'








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Sermon Recordings          What is a Christian           Our History           Reformer's Online Library           1689 Confession            TULIP

                 The Word of God           Worthy Hymns             Good Book Guide             CH Spurgeon'S Daily Readings  

    SITE Search            Young People’s Gospel Meetings          Catechism          R. Chaplin