I recently stumbled upon an interesting item in the Manly Family papers manuscript collection: a hymn book from 120 years ago, with selections chosen by Basil Manly, Jr., a Baptist minister and educator.
The book was published in the year of Manly’s death, perhaps as a tribute or memorial.While it doesn’t contain any music, just the words to the hymns, it does include a notation above each song indicating what kind of meter it has. For example, the lines in “Love Divine, All Love Excelling” alternate 8 and 7 syllables, as noted:
The book contains some still-familiar hymns, like “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” and the Christmas songs “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.”
Some song seem familiar but on closer inspection offer surprises. The popular hymn “Amazing Grace” is included here, but with a different final verse than we’re used to:
Apparently, the verse we know as the last — beginning “When we’ve been there then thousand years” — is a later addition.
To hear a couple of these songs performed, check out these recordings from the Harald Rohlig Organ Music collection:
- “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” sung acapella
- “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” variations performed on the organ