Sunday, June 17, 2007

English Hymnbook Shopping

Inspired by Catherine Osborne’s blog (and with some advice from Dr. Osborne herself) during this week’s visit to London I set aside time for hymnbook shopping. Using her tips, as well as the Internet (notably UKCBD and Tentmaker), I narrowed my search down to four stores, which I visited (in between other business) over three days. Below are the stores (in order visited)

Chapter Two
Transit Stop
Rail: Woolwich Arsenal
Tube: Westminster
Tube: West Finchley
Rail: Stoke Newington
Bus: Dunsmore
Hymns Ancient & Modern


The English Hymnal
Songs of Praise. Enlarged edition
The New English Hymnal
† They only had the limited printing (500 copies) of the Centenary Edition

§ New copies are
New Standard Edition

Overall, I was pretty successful in my shopping this weekend:
  • Hymns Ancient and Modern. This was the first standardized British hymnal. I bought three at Chapter Two: 1st Edition with Appendix (1869); 2nd Edition with 2nd Supplement (1906); Standard Edition (1916). Because there were so many editions, I need to compare these and do some research to see if I need any more.
  • The English Hymnal (1906). This is the book Dr. O praises without ceasing, and features Ralph Vaughan Williams as music editor (and composer of several new tunes) and Pearcy Dearmer as editor of the texts.
  • Songs of Praised, Enlarged Edition (1931). The original 1925 edition appears to have quickly gone out of print, but used copies of the 1931 are readily available.
I didn’t buy these in-print hymnals, available new at several stores and at Amazon UK:
  • Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Version (1983). Probably has a nostalgia value for hymn singers, but no historical significance for my interests in tracing the impact of English hymnals upon those in the US.
  • The English Hymnal, Revised Edition (1933). Also edited by Vaughan Williams and Dearmer. This is the hymnal used by two generations in the Church of England, and has significant changes from the earlier edition. This is to Dr. Osborne what the 1940 Hymnal is to me. Obviously I’ll have to get it, but I decided not to pay £37 for a new copy at this time.
  • The New English Hymnal (1986). No influence (yet) on American hymnals, but I might someday get it to contrast the parallels between Hymnal 1940->Hymnal 1982 and TEH->NEH.

As it turns out, my greatest successes were at the two used bookshops, Chapter Two (East of The City) and Pendleburys (behind the Stamford Hill library). Both had 1½ racks of used hymnals, although Pendleburys' was temporarily out of most of the COE books. Overall, the Chapter Two books were older and cheaper, with almost nothing at Pendleburys printed before WW II. Fittingly, Pendleburys is in the annex to a church (Stamford Hill United Reformed Church) — as Chapter Two once was, until their landlord church needed the space back and they had to move.

Both also had an assortment of other Protestant English hymnals (Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian). However, I hadn’t researched those before I came, and so didn’t have a shopping list. To analyze the parallel development of Hymns Ancient & Modern and The English Hymnal, I will be getting The Church Hymnary (Church of Scotland and allied Presbyterian churches), both in the original (1898) and revised (1927) editions, but probably not the third (1973).

I plan on going back to both stores on a future trip. SPCK had only a token used collection, but because of its location (just south of Westminster Abbey) is more convenient than any of the others. Cornerstone was very friendly, but not a place for researching liturgical music; it was almost identical to a standard U.S. “Christian” bookstore, so that it had any hymnals at all suggests the dominant role that Anglican worship plays (or once played) in England, compared to the centuries-old religious pluralism of the US .

The hymnals I saw more often than any other were The Celebration Hymnal (must be the current bestseller), Complete Mission Praise and the Redemption Hymnal (1951, but now back in print). Both are outside the scope of my current interest.

I also acquired some interesting books on hymns, which will be another posting. Only Pendleburys had any sort of assortment of books here, with three shelves (half of a rack) on hymnody, so that’s how they got my money.


Catherine Osborne said...

Glad to hear the trip was successful! Happy singing...

Anonymous said...

mastuaHow- where can I purchase accompaniment volume for 1982 hymnal Ralph Vaugh Wiliams?
David Printy

David said...

Where can I purchase 1982 Hymnal Ralph Vaugh Williams.

9.West said...

For the accompaniment edition, see