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Saturday, 15 August 2015


The first Protestant collection of hymns and psalms in the vernacular was published by the Bohemian Brethren in Prague in 1501. It contained 89 sacred songs in Czech.

Martin Luther's first German hymnal was published in 1524. It contained 16 hymns mostly written by the Protestant reformer himself including "The Mighty Fortress Of God".

Isaac Watts' 1707 Hymns and Spiritual Songs collection, was the first real hymn book in the English language. He headed it with the text, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ," taken from Galatians 6 v 14.

Hymns Ancient and Modern, the first comprehensive collection of hymns, was introduced by the Anglican Church in 1861. It brought together hymns by new writers with older ones so that the Christian faith could be taught by singing. Hymns were matched to the seasons of the Christian year and despite the fact one of the editors, Henry Baker, held some controversially radical Anglo-Catholic views, it proved to be popular with Anglicans of all persuasions.

Three years after his conversion, Dwight Moody became a lay preacher and evangelist working amongst the wild and depraved young men of Chicago. Later he began to hold evangelistic campaigns both in America and Britain with the powerful singer Ira Sankey. In 1875, Moody and Sankey collected together a selection of hymns for their revivalist meetings, which they published in a sixpenny pamphlet Sacred Songs and Solos. This collection sold by the bucketload and proved uniquely suitable for evangelistic campaigns in both America and Britain at which people flocked to hear Sankey sing and Moody preach.

By the early 20th century demand for popular hymns was spreading to the Roman Catholic Church and in 1912 they introduced the Westminster Hymnal. The hymns were collected together by Richard Terry, the Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.

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