Hymn Book Work

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Hymn Book Work
Regarding GVW's role in developing hymn books, A. Roach wrote:
Various hymn books were at first used among them until 1838, at which time G. V. Wigram compiled a book called "Hymns for the Poor of the Flock" (Zech. 11:77And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. (Zechariah 11:7)). This book had a special arrangement of hymns by category such as "Baptism," "Lord's Day," "Lord's Supper" etc. Mr. Darby makes reference to The Poor of the Flock," in his letter of October 25, 1879 (Letters of J.N.D., Vol. 3, p. 45). It contained many hymns written by the gathered saints as well as others of the Lord's people. Apparently other books were also in use among the gatherings. In 1856 Mr. Wigram was called upon to review the whole matter of hymns. We shall let him tell in his own words what took place:
Upon this let the compiler's private account of his labors be heard. I was asked in 1856 to examine carefully some hymn books which were in common use. To do so was easy; to express my judgment faithfully, and yet not invidiously, was difficult. After consideration I determined to give my judgment by this attempt at a book more suited for present need than any I know of. It rests with others to decide how far I have or have not succeeded. I may add that my rules while working were these:
Retouch as little as possible, and with as light a hand as possible;—But
Allow to remain (1) no false, no faulty, no defective doctrine—cost what it might; (2) no dispensational incongruities; (3) no want of keeping in the truth or truths stated; (4) no ambiguities between that which is and that which is not true, And
Add as many new hymns as the Lord might enable me. I now leave my labor with the Lord.
G. V. Wigram.
This book was entitled "A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs (selected 1856)". It was published by Groombridge and Sons of Paternoster Row, London, England.
In the years just prior to 1881 Mr. J. N. Darby gave his attention to a revision of the 1856 hymn book. He was chiefly concerned about the lack of hymns to the Father. On June 10, 1880, he wrote:
I had been going through the hymns that we have, for a new edition, and the question of hymns to the Father presented itself, and the study of our relationship with the Father was much blessed to me, developing it to my heart. How gracious He is! (Letters, Vol. 3, p. 93).
Again in July 1881 he wrote:
Take hymns and see how many you have addressed to the Father, or which continue to have Him and not ourselves for their subject after the first verse, etc." (Letters, Vol. 3, pp. 173-174).
He therefore included in the new book these hymns to the Father: #25, 41, 50, 178, 331, and App. #7 and 48.
This edition was completed soon before his going to be with Christ, which took place April 29, 1882. It is known as "A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs for THE LITTLE FLOCK" (Luke 12:3232Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)).
One of the hymns (# 330) written by GVW is this:
What raised the wondrous thought:
Or who did it suggest?
That we, the church, to glory brought,
Should WITH the Son be blest.
O God! the thought was Thine
(Thine only it could be)
Fruit of Thy wisdom, love divine
Peculiar unto Thee:
For thoughts so bold, so free,
Greatness or strength, could ever find Thine only it could be.
The motives, too, thine own,
The plan, the counsel, thine!
Made for Thy Son, bone of His bone In glory bright to shine.
O God! with great delight
Thy wondrous thoughts we see, Upon His throne in glory brought, The bride of Christ shall be.
Sealed with the Holy Ghost,
We triumph in that love,
Thy wondrous thought has made our boast "Glory WITH Christ above."