The History of the Little Flock Hymn-Book

by Frank Wallace
Parts 1 & 3 only.
© Frank Wallace, All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or storage in any information retrieval system.
This on-line edition was published with the approval and the explicit permission of the author and with the co-operation of the editor in the CD-ROM 'Spiritual Songs 1998'.

Editor's Foreword
Publisher's Note

Part 1: The History of the Little Flock Hymn-Book
Chapter 1 Beginnings
Chapter 2 The 1856 Selection
Chapter 3 Are Alterations to Hymns Necessary?
Chapter 4 The 1881 Revision
Chapter 5 The 1894 Revision
Chapter 6 The 1903 Revision
Chapter 7 The 1928 Revision
Chapter 8 The 1978 Revision

Part 2: The Divergent Taylor Revisions (omitted from this on-line version)
Chapter 9 The 1932 Revision
Chapter 10 The 1951 Revision
Chapter 11 The 1958 Revision
Chapter 12 The 1962 Revision
Chapter 13 The 1973 Re-selection
Chapter 14 The 1973 Amendment
Chapter 15 The 1990 Amendment

Part 3: Appendices
Chapter 16 Music Editions
Appendix A Extracts from William Kelly's Letters
Index (omitted from this on-line version)

Editor's Foreword

Having used various other hymn-books, I am persuaded that none offers the same depth and range of material as the Little Flock hymn-book. Recent research has revealed that there is great richness even in the variety of language used in its hymns, more so than in other compilations. However, the real test of a hymn-book is whether it is used regularly and appreciated by those who have it (and then that it is used for God's glory). In all these, the Little Flock hymn-book has proved its worth over 160 years (as much of it dates back to Hymns for the Poor of the Flock, 1838)—even the Anglican classic Hymns Ancient and Modern only goes back as far as 1860. Not that the Little Flock has remained static either—although it contains many fine old hymns, the earliest by Theodulph of Orleans (760–821AD), the current edition (1978) also has compositions by contemporary authors.

My thanks must go to both the author and the publisher for their great patience while waiting for the editing and typesetting of this book to be completed. I am also indebted to the following for their help: Mr John van Dijk (Canada), Mr Graham P. Dyer (Librarian & Curator, Royal Mint, Llantrisant), Mr Arthur Creeth (Portsmouth), Mr John Greenhalgh (Manchester), Miss Jean Lambert (Croydon), Mrs Kathleen Stott (Sunbury-on-Thames), Mrs Christine Welch (née Stott, Sunbury-on-Thames), Mr David E. Wells (Hawkhurst), and Mr John Weston (Greenwich).

May this History encourage the use of the Little Flock hymn-book by the Lord's people for His praise and in response to that which the Father seeks—worshippers who will worship in spirit and in truth!

Nicholas Fleet, Tunbridge Wells 1999

Publisher's Note

The encouraging interest in the hymns used among the brethren indicates the need for this book. How often we use a hymn-book but little think of the exercise it required to prepare it for the service of God. Brethren in different countries have hymn-books in their own language each with its own history and heritage.

In France, Germany, Holland, etc., the hymn-books, although with fewer hymns, are used on nearly every occasion. The English-language hymn-book is, by common consent, among the best. The 1978 hymn-book has a fine collection of excellent hymns and deserves to be used and known far more among the gatherings of the Lord's people. We commit this book to the Lord who alone leads the praises of His people.

Edwin Cross, Plumstead 1998


To sing from a hymn-book is comparatively easy. To compile one is another matter. This history is an attempt to show the compiling of the Little Flock hymn-book and the revisions it has experienced. The information available about the revisions is, to say the least, scanty. The exceptions are William Kelly's remarks in The Bible Treasury in 1894 and the information available of the work of the four brothers in the 1978 revision. The author of these notes trusts that the reading of the prefaces, remarks, and other information will provide an insight into the making and revision of a hymn-book. Others, more gifted in research, could have provided a more interesting and readable history. However, if the account rendered in the following pages serves a useful purpose, the labour involved will not have been in vain.

I am indebted to many for help and guidance in compiling and arranging these notes. Dr Gordon Hughes of Liverpool and Dr Peter Gibb of Edinburgh were helpful in their suggestions. Thanks are due to brother Edwin Cross of Chapter Two for his enthusiasm and encouragement to proceed with publishing the notes. Thanks also to brother Nick Fleet of Tunbridge Wells for his expert arranging of the notes for publication. All the help and guidance given has been much valued and appreciated. Without it these notes would never have been available for others.

Frank Wallace, Port Seton 1994



AT the beginning of the nineteenth century the Spirit of God began a movement that effected the lives of many believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For many years there had been growing dissatisfaction among them with the organized state of Christian Churches. This resulted in their separating from these unscriptural arrangements and meeting together simply in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They owned Him as their Head. The Holy Spirit was their power for every Christian privilege and for the fulfilment of every Christian responsibility. The Word of God was the sole authority for all they said or did. Their exercises in faith and in obedience to the Word of God resulted in gatherings in many parts of Britain and the world. They humbly desired to express the truth they had learned from the Scriptures of Truth. They did not give themselves a sectarian name but met simply as members of the body of Christ. For convenience, the term 'brethren' will be used throughout this book to refer to these Christians but it is not intended as a denominational name. The origin of the term 'Plymouth Brethren' is explained in the following extract:

Amongst the many meetings which sprang up all over the country in the early days of Brethren, the one at Plymouth became the most prominent. “About the year 1831,” says Mr. Darby in a letter to a friend, “I went to Oxford where many doors were open, and where I found Mr. Wigram and Mr. Jarratt. Subsequently in calling on Mr. F. Newman I met Mr. Newton, who asked me to go down to Plymouth, which I did. On arriving I found in the house Captain Hall, who was already preaching in the villages. We had reading meetings, and ere long began to break bread. Though Mr. Wigram began the work in London, he was a great deal at Plymouth.”

Their first meeting-place was called “Providence Chapel,” and as they refused to give themselves any name, they were called in the town “Providence People.” When the brothers began to preach the gospel in the open air and in the villages around, no small curiosity was awakened to know who they were; there was something new in their preaching and in their way of going to work. But as they belonged to none of the denominations, they were spoken of as “Brethren from Plymouth.” This naturally resulted in the designation, “The Plymouth Brethren,” which has been applied to them—sometimes in derision—ever since. “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren;” here we have the title which the Lord Himself gives His disciples. (Matt. xxiii. 8.) As the numbers increased, the little chapel was bought and enlarged considerably.

A strong opposition was soon manifested against the new movement, especially on the part of the clergy and ministers of all denominations. Nor need we wonder: the ground occupied by Brethren was felt to be a standing testimony against their whole state and practice, and many were stirred up to say hard and untrue things against them, with the view of neutralising the blessed work which God was doing by their means. But these efforts of the enemy—as they usually are—were over-ruled to increase the general interest in the new preachers, and to attract numbers to their various meetings. The blessing of God evidently rested on the labours of the Brethren at that time; many were led to separate from the different denominations of the day, and gather round the new centre, the name of the Lord Jesus; though, on the part of some, it may have been with very little intelligence, or exercise of conscience, compared with those who originally took that ground. But they were dissatisfied with what they had been going on with, and longed for something better.

There was great freshness, simplicity, devotedness, love and union, among the Brethren; and such features of spirituality have always a great attraction for certain minds; and many, of course, who united with the Brethren had very undefined thoughts as to the nature of the step they were taking. But all was new: Christ was owned as their only centre, and the Holy Spirit as their only teacher. Thus they gave themselves to the study of the word of God, and experienced the sweetness of christian communion, and found the Bible—as they said—to be a new book. It was, no doubt, in those days, a most distinct and blessed work of God's Spirit, the influence of which was felt not only throughout this country, but on the continent, and in distant lands. 1

It was inevitable that these newly-formed gatherings used whatever hymn-books were available to them as they met for worship, prayer, or ministry for edification. Many different hymn-books were in use in the gatherings at that time. Some of them are identified in this extract from an article entitled 'Plymouth Brethren Hymnody' contributed by William Smith in John Julian's valuable book on the history of hymns:

This period2 produced many hymn-writers who put forth a great number of hymns, some of which are very beautiful, and all of which, without doubt, helped either to form or to strengthen the Society. The principal hymn-writers during this period were the following:—Chapman, R. C.; Darby, J. N.; Deck, J. G.; Denny, Sir Edward, Bart.; Kelly, Thomas(?);3 Tregelles, S. Prideaux, ll.d.; and Wigram, G. V.

The hymn-books put forward and used by the Plymouth Brethren during this period were many. They include:—

(1) Hymns for the use of the Church of Christ, by R. C. Chapman, Minister of the Gospel, Barnstaple. A New Edition, to which is added an Appendix selected from various sources by John Chapman. (First edition, 1837.) Reprinted 1852. London. The number of hymns written by R. C. Chapman are in all 58. Those collected number 157, and are, as the title sets forth, by various authors, some of whom were Brethren, and some of other denominations. Amongst the Brethren, Darby, Deck, Denny, and Kelly are found.

(2) A Selection of Hymns by Sir Edward Denny, Bart. London and Dublin. 1st ed. 1839. This book contains many hymns by the editor, at least 36 being written by himself. Chapman, Darby, Deck, Kelly, Tregelles, Wigram amongst the Brethren are also represented.

(3) Hymns for the Poor of the Flock. 1838, London. Edited by G. V. Wigram. When compared with the foregoing this selection contains a special feature, namely, “Hymns arranged for Special Occasions,” e.g. for “Baptism,” “Christian Sabbath,” “Evening,” “Graces,” “Introductory to Prayer,” “Lord's Day,” “Lord's Day Evening,” “Lord's Day Morning,” “Lord's Supper,” “Morning,” “Parting,” “For Trial and Solitude.” The hymns in the body of this work are gathered from a variety of sources. Of Brethren hymn-writers, Deck and Kelly are strongly represented. Darby and Chapman also contribute. The editor wrote one. The Appendix contains 40 hymns, and of these Denny wrote over 20.

(4) Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In Two Parts. Part i. “Intended specially for the united worship of the Children of God.” Part ii. “Chiefly for Private Meditation.” London, 1842. This compilation is the work of J. G. Deck. Many writers contributed. From their own body Denny, Kelly, and Tregelles. Part i. has Hymns on Burial, Resurrection, and the Lord's Supper. Part ii. contains many hymns common to most hymn-books. Denny contributed 15. Darby and the Editor are also represented. 4

It is probable that other hymn-books were in use in the new gatherings but these mentioned are sufficient to indicate the variety of hymn-books that the brethren used in the early years of their exercises. William Smith was mistaken when he referred to the hymn-writer Kelly as one of the brethren. Thomas Kelly, born in Dublin in 1769, was a prolific hymn-writer and many of his hymns were used by the brethren. He should not be confused with William Kelly, the able expositor of truth; editor of The Prospect, The Bible Treasury, the Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, and writings of J. G. Bellett. Thomas Kelly was an Independent and did not meet with those called 'brethren'.

Of the many books in use in those early days, one in particular was to become the basis of the Little Flock hymn-book—Hymns for the Poor of the Flock, compiled by G. V. Wigram.

The Editor and his work

George Vicesimus5 Wigram was the twentieth child of Sir Robert Wigram, a prominent businessman. Born in 1805, he was converted to Christ in 1824 when he was a young subaltern officer in the army. In 1826 he entered Queen's College, Oxford, where he met men who were to become prominent in the early days of the revival of interest in the truth of the Holy Scriptures. About the year 1830 he became acquainted with J. N. Darby and became his lifelong friend and supporter.

Deeply impressed with the unsatisfactory results of Scripture study with the aid of Cruden's Concordance, which gave him no clue as to what word in Hebrew or Greek lay behind the English translation, he poured forth his troubles to a clergyman well aquainted with both languages; with the result that for some time his interest became centred in the preparation of Concordances which should help Bible students who possessed little or no knowledge of the original languages.

The plan of these Concordances was determined on, after conference with the Rev. William DeBurgh, who became the chief constructor of this invaluable work, finding the workers for the same; whilst Mr. Wigram, who was a wealthy man, provided the money for the same.

The extraordinary completeness and perfection of detail, was the result of TEN years spent in its revision by the ripest scholars in the United Kingdom; the principle Editor of the Hebrew being Dr. Bialloblotzky; a Polish Rabbi of great learning; and, the principal Editor of the Greek, was Dr. Tregelles.

Ten thousand pounds were spent in carrying out plans, which, for some defect, were afterwards abandoned; and upwards of FIFTY thousand pounds . . . had been freely bestowed by Mr. Wigram in biblical research, before he found himself in possession of the finished result.

Mr. Wigram, in a truly humble way, simply referred to this amount expended on this work as only passing through his hand; so truly did he regard himself as God's Steward in the matter.

The first to appear, in A. D. 1839, of this work, was the Englishman's Greek and English Concordance to the New Testament; and it was followed in 1843 by the Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance to the Old Testament. 6

In 1838, before his Concordances were completed, he compiled Hymns for the Poor of the Flock, the title alluding to Zechariah 11:7, 'And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock.' and verse 11, 'the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord.' The Appendix appeared in 1841.

Features of Interest

Mr Wigram's first compilation contained 451 hymns in all (increasing to 491 when the Appendix was added). Three of them were his own compositions as follows:

N 200 The person of the Lamb,
Enfolding ev'ry grace,
Once slain, but now alive again,
In Heav'n demands our praise. . . . 7

N 202 Well may we sing! with triumph sing
The great Redeemer's praise!
The glories of the living God,
Reveal'd in Jesu's face. . . .

N 19 What rais'd the wondrous thought'
App. 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 the wisdom, love Divine,
Peculiar unto Thee:

For sure, no other mind,
For thoughts so bold, so free,
Greatness or strength could ever find,
Thine, therefore, it must be.

The motives too Thine own!
The plan, the counsel, Thine!—
“Made for Thy Son, bone of His bone,”
In glory bright to shine.

Jesus! with great delight
Thy bride preparing, see,
Upon Thy throne, in glory bright,
Thy bosom friend to be.

Father, we sing Thy love,
Seal'd with the Holy Ghost;
Nor fear (Thy choice He will approve)
The Bridegroom's love to boast.

The book was published by the Tract Depot, 1 Warwick Square, London. An index of the first line of each hymn was given at the beginning of the book (and at the end for the Appendix), although there was no index of the first line of subsequent verses nor any list of authors.

How the Hymn-book was Received

Although there are no contemporary accounts of how the book was received when it first appeared, it seems to have quickly gained wide-spread acceptance. By the time it came to be superceded some fourteen years later, it had already become established as a standard and many of its hymns were greatly cherished. Writing in the Bible Treasury in 1894, William Kelly said:

When the book of 1856 appeared, great opposition or even animosity was entertained, both by those who resented the public discontinuance (save by a very few for a while) of the “Hymns for the poor of the Flock” (1842), and by those who lost many fine hymns there 8

Even in pointing out its short-comings, seen with the benefit of hindsight almost forty years later, J. N. Darby acknowledges that many of its hymns reflected a great reverence for God. Writing to Christopher McAdam from Pau in France on 25th October 1879, he said:

I have looked through the old 'Poor of the Flock' and corrected a great many hymns, perfectly astounded that so much short of all the light we had ever passed; but there was often piety, and I have put them in the form of truth where there was. 9


The 1856 Selection

IN 1848 there was a division among 'Plymouth Brethren' that resulted in the distinction between so-called open and exclusive brethren.10 After some time had elapsed, an exercise arose among the 'exclusive' brethren to have a new hymn-book that would be used in all the gatherings. A hymn-book used by all in the gatherings would enable the hymns to become well known, which would greatly help their use in meetings for worship, prayer, and ministry as brethren visited each other.

One Hymn-book for all the Gatherings

Mr Wigram was asked to compile a hymn-book suitable for all the gatherings. How he set about the task is best explained by his own account of it:


 Upon this let the compiler's private account of his labours 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:—

I. Retouch as little as possible, and with as light a hand as possible.

But, II., 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

III. Add as many new hymns as the Lord might enable me. I now leave my labour with the Lord.

G.V.W. 11

Mr Wigram was helped by others—William Kelly was one (at that time a young man of about thirty-four). Mr Wigram entitled the compilation A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs. Selected 1856, for The Little Flock, alluding to Luke 12:32, 'Fear not, 12little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom'. The original publisher was Groombridge and Sons, Paternoster Row, London.

Features of Interest

There were 340 hymns in Mr Wigram's new book, including one by his daughter Miss Fanny Theodora Wigram (N 195, 'Worthy of homage and of praise') and (in addition to the three already in Hymns for the Poor of the Flock) two more of his own as follows:

N 91 O what a debt I owe
To Him who shed His blood,
And cleansed my soul, and gave me power
To stand before His God. . . .

N 201 Nothing but mercy 'll do for me,
Nothing but mercy—full and free:
Of sinners chief—what but the blood
Could calm my soul before my God?

Save by the blood He could not bless;
So pure, so great His holiness:
But He it is Who gave the Lamb—
And by His blood absolved I am. 13

Mr Wigram revised the last two verses of his own hymn 'What raised the wondrous thought' as follows:

N 330 O God! with great delight
v. 5 Thy wondrous thought we see,
Upon His throne, in glory bright
The Bride of Christ shall be.

Seal'd with the Holy Ghost,
We triumph in that love,
Thy wondrous thought has made our boast,
“Glory with Christ above.”

The book consisted of 272 pages. An index of the first line of each hymn was given at the beginning of the book, although there was no index of the first line of each subsequent verse nor any list of authors. On the page before the index was a text:

“I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” (1 Cor. xiv. 15)

The following hymns had headings attached to them:

Prov. viii.
Ere God had built the mountains,

Rev. i. 5.
Unto Him who loved us—gave us
Have I bowed “at the name of Jesus?”

Phil. ii. 10.
Jesus! how much Thy Name unfolds

At Parting.
May the grace of Christ our Saviour,

Jude 24, 25.
To Him who is able
 To keep us—His call'd ones,

Prov. viii.
Wisdom! Jehovah's first delight,

(Jesus, or 'The Saviour Jah.')
Jesus! O name divinely sweet!

Rev. xix. 4.
Lo! 'tis the heavenly army,

The fourth line 'With all His saints descending.' is marked with an asterisk which below suggests * Or, “With heavenly saints descending.” How this worked in practice is not known. Presumably, it would be suggested by the brother when giving out the hymn. The first four lines of verse two (beginning 'Joy to His ancient people!') were headed 'ISRAEL.' and the last four (beginning 'Joy to the ransom'd nations!') were headed 'THE GENTILES.' Verse three (beginning 'Joy to the church triumphant,') was headed 'THE CHURCH.'

Break forth, O earth, in praises!
Verse 2 was headed 'ISRAEL.' and verse 3 'THE GENTILES.'

Lord's Supper.
We bless our Saviour's name,

Baptism.—Rom. vi.
LORD Jesus! we remember
The travail of Thy soul,

The night is far spent, and the day is at hand :
This hymn has no heading but is in smaller type than the rest so that it takes up less space because it has five verses of four lines in '10s or 11s' metre. Other hymns of this metre (Nos. 20, 38, 50, 63 etc.) have fewer verses and are printed, where necessary, with long lines split into two. (The 1881 revision repeated this device for hymn 168 but did not use it for hymn 301, which is a similar length.)
“For yet a little while.”
Heb. x. 37.
“A little while,” the Lord shall come,

A Grace.
O gracious Lord, be with us now,
“I have waited for Thy salvation.”
Worthy of homage and of praise;

'Tis sweet to think of those at rest,

Before Parting.
Of Thy love some gracious token
Grant us, Lord, before we go;

On Separating.
Henceforward, till the Lord shall come

The Church.
Father, O how vast the blessing,
Verse 2 had the heading 'Israel.' and verse 3 'Rev. vii.'

On Separating.
While to several paths dividing,
We our pilgrimage pursue,

Some hymns have the first verse in italics, the numbering starting from subsequent verses. Presumably, the first verse was sung as a refrain.

How the New Hymn-book was Received

Mr Wigram wrote that his selection was an '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'. It would appear that he did not succeed completely in satisfying all those who used the new hymn-book.

From Chicago, USA, in May 1875 (nineteen years after Mr Wigram's new hymn-book was introduced) J. N. Darby wrote to Christopher McAdam:

Since I have been here I have been revising the hymn book, excluding and altering where old erroneous views had passed unperceived; I have no means of adding here. There is a lack of worshipping the Father in them. 14

From these remarks it is obvious that insufficient care had been taken in the selection. Erroneous expressions had been allowed and many hymns failed to express scriptural truth adequately. It is no surprise that many brethren were not satisfied with Mr Wigram's new hymn-book, although it was much better than other hymn-books in use.

William Kelly gives convincing testimony that the brethren were not entirely content with their new hymn-book. Writing in the Bible Treasury in 1894 (about his own revision of Mr Wigram's 1856 book) he said:

When the book of 1856 appeared, great opposition or even animosity was entertained, both by those who resented the public discontinuance (save by a very few for a while) of the “Hymns for the poor of the Flock” (1842), and by those who lost many fine hymns there which deserve and will now have an honoured seat. Further, there were strange and sorry importations which astonished even such as shared in its correction, who were few.15 Yet as a whole the improvement was marked and by degrees appreciated. Still the failure in a measure was felt from the first; 16

It would appear from these remarks that many brethren were not satisfied with the 1856 hymn-book. He refers to opposition and even animosity, and that a very few brethren for a while continued to use the old Hymns for the Poor of the Flock. There were complaints that well-loved hymns had not been included in the new book and that many of the new hymns were not appreciated. From its inception it was felt that the new hymn-book had failed to satisfy all the brethren, but it was admitted that considerable progress had been made—the new book was a marked improvement. Even twenty-five years later, in the Preface to his 1881 revision of it, Mr Darby said it was 'already the best known to the Editor'. That there were complaints is not surprising. A hymn-book may contain much truth but it is not inspired like the Holy Scriptures. Anything that comes from the hands of men must be imperfect. Mr Kelly also suggested that those who helped Mr Wigram were not fitted for the work of compiling a hymn-book suitable for use amongst the brethren. 17

An Appraisal

Despite the faults of the 1856 Little Flock hymn-book, it set a pattern that was followed closely in the revisions of 1881, 1894, 1903, 1928, and 1978. Mr Wigram's hymn-book was not sectarian. It contained many hymns from varied Christian sources. The book attempted to meet many needs in the gatherings and in the homes of the brethren. The unhappy discord among the brethren during 1845–1848, which had resulted in widespread division, did not influence him in his selection of hymns. He chose hymns by Dr S. P. Tregelles and R. C. Chapman, two well-known and intelligent brothers who were no longer in practical fellowship with him. He included their hymns because of the truth they expressed, as that was his guiding principle.

The 1856 book remained an instrument of praise in the meetings for twenty-five years, in spite of the dissatisfaction with it. However, the need for improvement eventually resulted in J. N. Darby's being asked to revise it. His work is considered in a later chapter.

[Editor's note: It is evident from Mr Kelly's series of articles on hymns in the Bible Treasury (the first one being in Issue No. 462, November 1894, p. 175) that there was an Appendix to the 1856 selection in use. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any other information about it. From Mr Kelly's comments, we know that it contained a hymn by Mr Darby which he wrote in 1879, so the Appendix must date from after then. If any reader has relevant information, please contact the publisher]


Are Alterations to Hymns Necessary?

IN all the revisions of the Little Flock hymn-book changes have been made to the wording of many hymns. Sometimes the reason for the change has not been apparent, and sometimes the change has been for the better. The following remarks made by some authors of hymns (and consideration of the principles that have governed revisers) may help in this important matter.

Sir Edward Denny had quite a few of his hymns in Mr Wigram's selection, but Mr Darby eliminated them from his. He had wanted to make some changes to the hymns, but Sir Edward objected and so Mr Darby left them out of his revision. Subsequently, Sir Edward wrote:


I have been frequently asked by my friends to point out, and even to mark, my own Hymns in those collections wherein they have been printed. For this reason, therefore, I am induced to collect them together, with a few additional pieces, three or four of which have also been previously published. And in so doing, I have a request to make of my brethren in Christ, with regard to this little work.

I have been much grieved, I confess, to observe how the practice of needlessly altering some even of our well-known favourite hymns has lately prevailed; and could not help wishing that they had been left still to cheer and to comfort the hearts of the people of God, notwithstanding, it may be, some imperfections, without any such attempts at improvement. It is surely not fair to treat another's compositions in this way, especially when he is not unsound as to doctrine. In writing a hymn or a poem, an author knows his own meaning and object far better than another can possibly do; and when he finds that his thoughts have been meddled with and deranged in this way, he is painfully conscious that he has been misunderstood, and that the sense has either been perverted or weakened.

Such being my views with regard to the composition of others, the reader will be prepared for the request which I am about to make with regard to my own; namely, that should any of these poems or hymns be deemed worthy of a place in any future collections, they may be left as they are, without alteration or abridgement. And also (inasmuch as here and there I have revised them myself, I trust for the better), I should wish that they may be copied from this, rather than from any previous collection wherein they are found.

These requests I make, I trust, without the risk of being charged with assumption, and also with the confident hope that my dear brethren in Christ will kindly comply with my wishes. E. D. 18

E. E. Cornwall's book contains a complaint similar to Sir Edward's:

Mr. Frazer submitted several of his hymns to Mr. Darby with a view to their inclusion in the 1881 edition of the Little Flock hymn-book which the latter was then editing. In a gracious reply Mr. Darby thanked him, saying “he was very glad to have them for the new edition, as they were Scripturally sound, and the rhyme good.” In the same letter Mr. Darby alludes to the hymns of Sir Edward Denny, which he had declined, as there were alterations he wished to make, which Sir Edward would not allow.

In this 1881 edition, 14 of Mr. Frazer's hymns appeared. It pained him however to find that it had been thought necessary to alter some of these: and it was this that moved him to publish his hymns and poems as first composed. 19

In the preface to his hymn-book John Wesley wrote:

And here I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without meaning us) the honour to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly willing so to do, provided they print them as they are. but I desire they would not attempt to mend them; for they really are not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore I must beg of them one of these two favours; either to let them stand just as they are, to take them for better for worse; or to add the true meaning in the margin, or at the bottom of the page; that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men. 20

A few remarks by Mr Kelly are important in this difficult matter of changing the wording of hymns:

Undoubtedly, as a literary question, it is due to an author to give his words as they originally or last left his pen; for some of those most valued were often retouched by the author. There may be a delicacy while he lives and refuses his consent to alterations for public use, desirable in the judgment of spiritually competent men. But when he is departed, personal feeling should yield to higher demands. Why should the worship of the assembly lack a hymn admirable but for an error more or less easy of emendation? Or why should they be forced to use one which offends in some serious point? When nothing of moment is gained, the author's form should be observed, . . .

But the reverence which scripture teaches and forms is of prime moment: else God is not worthily honoured, and saints are unconsciously but really injured. 21

It is obvious from these quotations that great care is needed, and wisdom too, in altering hymns. The most numerous alterations have occurred when the plural has been substituted for the singular (necessary where the hymn is intended for assembly, rather than individual, use.

It is sad when a hymn that expressed the author's sincere convictions regarding the Person of the Son of God is changed to suit the notions of others. Joseph Conder's well-known hymn begins with 'Thou art the everlasting Word'. Some, who rejected the truth that Jesus, the Son of God, was the eternal Word, altered that line to 'Thou art the blest incarnate Word'. This kind of alteration is not honest. An author's name is connected with an altered hymn that does not express his true beliefs. Those who revise hymns should be careful either to retain the hymn-writer's true feelings and beliefs or to omit the hymn from their collection.

In the preface to Part Two of his book, E. E. Cornwall makes the following remarks about changes in hymns:

In quoting these hymns and poems, the writer has again sought to quote them in the original text, wondering how far we are justified in so constantly altering the hymns of those no longer able to speak for themselves; when we should deem it wrong to alter that which they have left us in prose.

These manifold alterations greatly increase the difficulties of those who compile new hymn-books: besides many authors feel that the very words came to them in the power and unction of the Spirit. The compiler of Hymns of Adoration and Worship justly says,

“True hymns cannot be manufactured; and if it be no light thing to write a true hymn, it is a very rare occurrence when a second hand can re-model or patch one up.” 22

Mr John Weston of Greenwich has the following interesting anecdote about Miss von Poseck, who wrote a number of hymns still in use:

Miss Von Poseck, our beloved missionary sister,23 was often an honoured guest in the Dublin home of Thomas and Julia Weston (my grandparents) in the 1880's. Miss VP, as we knew her, always insisted that she had accepted the Lord as her Saviour at the age of [5].24 When the Blackheath meeting closed, she broke bread at Catford and then at the outbreak of war, went to Gloucestershire, until finally being received as a guest at the Turrets [in Springvale on the Isle of Wight] . . . until her home call in 1953.

I have Miss VP's hymn book in which she had crossed through the word 'most' in her hymn 248 and substituted the word 'glad'. She always maintained that Mr. Hocking25 was wrong in altering her original. There is no such thing, she would say, as 'most untiring praise'. Incidentally Miss VP always insisted that the hymn 200 “Father, how precious unto Thee” was written by Mr. Darby. 26

While there is much in these remarks about alterations to hymns that is highly commendable, it must be remembered that hymns cannot be put on the same level as the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures do not contain erroneous teaching. Unfortunately, hymns can contain expressions that are not in line with Holy Scripture. Hymns can and must be altered if they contain wrong teaching. An example of this is provided by the following confession (written some six years before Mr Wigram's compilation):

Beloved Brethren,

“If we confess our sins, our God and Father is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” How precious, how suitable, how necessary are these assurances to one, who, like myself, deeply feels how full of sin and failure his path has been, since he first knew that rich, free grace which brought salvation to his soul; and whose continued language is, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord,” “Who can understand his errors cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

But the Lord has also said, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And this is also our duty, and our privilege. We are members one of another; we are the children of one family, the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty—members of the body of Him who loveth, and nourisheth, and cherisheth us as His own-self. If I suffer, all suffer with me; if I sin, all must bear the loss; even as if I am honoured, all the members should rejoice with me. “Vessels of mercy” prepared for glory, not only do we visit the throne of grace to obtain mercy for ourselves; but to seek mercy, and to shew it one towards another. Well might Luther say, “the Church is full of the forgiveness of sins.”

I would reckon on the Lord's grace in my brethren, while I confess to them, what I have already with shame and sorrow confessed to the Lord, an error in a hymn written by me some years ago, which has been lately brought to my remembrance, and for which the Lord has painfully reproved me by the use that has been recently made of it in a late pamphlet, just published by Mr. Newton.

My error has been a public error, and, therefore, I feel it right publicly to acknowledge it. This is due to the honour of Him I love, and to all into whose hands either the pamphlet I allude to may come, or the hymn books in which my error is found.

I ask the forgiveness of my brethren, if any of them have been “stumbled, or offended, or made weak” by my error; and their prayers, that by the grace of God, I may be made more prayerful, more humble, and more vigilant, lest by any careless handling of the word of God, Satan may again get an advantage against me.

Yours affectionately in Christ, James G. Deck.

November 14th, 1850.

Wyke Regis, Weymouth.

Every word of God is pure. He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto his WORDS, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”—Prov. xxx. 5,6.

About thirteen years ago, my heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving in the apprehension of that blessed truth, which the apostle of the Gentiles calls, “the great mystery,” (Eph. v. 25, 33,) [sic]specially revealed to us in the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, the union of the Church, the body of Christ, with its risen, ascended, and glorified Head in heaven. The grace and love of the Lord Jesus, manifested, first, in taking a place with us down here in incarnation, as “the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;” then, in taking that marvelous place, where He alone could stand, for us, as our substitute, when He bore our sins in His own body on the cross, and, by the grace of God, tasted death for us; and lastly, the great love wherewith the Father loved us, “even when we were dead in trespasses and sins,” in quickening us together with Christ, and raising us up together, and making us sit together in heavenly places in Him, filled my soul with gladness and praise,—under the influence of which I was drawn out to write the following Hymn,—

Lord Jesus, are we one with Thee?
 O height, O depth of love!
With Thee we died upon the tree,
 In Thee we live above!

Such was Thy grace, that for our sake
 Thou didst from heav'n come down;
Our mortal flesh and blood partake;
 In all our misery one.

Our sins, our guilt, in love divine,
 Confess'd and bourne by Thee;
The gall, the curse, the wrath were Thine,
 To set thy members free.

Ascended now, in glory bright
 Still one with us Thou art;
Nor life, nor death, nor depth, nor height,
 Thy saints and Thee can part.

O teach us, Lord, to know and own
 This wondrous mystery,
That Thou with us art truly one,
 And we are one with Thee.

Soon, soon shall come that glorious day,
 When seated on Thy throne,
Thou shalt to wond'ring worlds display,
 That Thou with us art one!

This hymn found general acceptance with many whose hearts were, at that time, filled with the same blessed and wondrous truth; and it was introduced into several collections of hymns used among us.

A correction was made in the first verse, at the suggestion of a brother much honoured and beloved among us, which I need not refer to here; but in the second verse, I have been led to see, that I unwittingly and unintentionally used an erroneous expression, when I applied the term “mortal,”* to the flesh and blood of which our blessed Lord partook, when He became the Son of man.

Had I been living in closer communion with the Lord, or had I learned, in “speaking of the things given to us of God,” to be careful not to use “words which man's wisdom teacheth,” but to “hold fast the form of sound words,” (1 Cor. ii. 13; 2 Tim. i. 13,) I should not have used this unscriptural expression: and had my heart been more tender and alive to all that concerns the glory of the name of Jesus, I should have been earlier conscious of the error I had committed; for I had heard, though indirectly, that brethren in Ireland, and elsewhere, had objected to it. . . .

*I would request that this verse be corrected as follows:—

Such was thy grace, that for our sake
 Thou didst from heaven come down;
Thou didst our flesh and blood partake,
 in all our misery one. 27


Some hymns have been improved by alterations but others have been so mutilated as to be almost unrecognisable when compared with the original composition. Great care and spiritual discernment are required in making alterations to hymns, although

It should be remembered . . . that the object in compiling . . . a hymn book . . . is not to give a collection of original hymns, but to provide, as far as may be, utterances suited for singing in the assembly. 28


The 1881 Revision

THE brethren did not allow their dissatisfaction with Mr Wigram's selection to continue. This is understandable. It was important that the brethren should be unified in their singing and anything that caused concern be adjusted. As singing is an integral part of assembly function, it was necessary that the believers should have a hymn-book that expressed their feelings scripturally. The then current publishers of Mr Wigram's book, George Morrish of London, took the matter in hand; they asked J. N. Darby to revise it.

The Editor and His Work

Mr Darby was well-qualified for this important task. His poetic gift was evident in his own poems and songs, and his spiritual and scholarly abilities gave him the competence required for such an undertaking. Mr Kelly described him as “one inferior to none in depth of thought and spiritual feeling, though clothing generally in rugged phrase even his loftiest”29 The biography John Nelson Darby by W. G. Turner (1986 edition, published by Chapter Two, London) can furnish the reader with a good account of his life and labours.

In May 1875, nineteen years after Mr Wigram's edition was published, Mr Darby wrote from Chicago, USA, stating that he was engaged in revising the 1856 hymn-book. In October 1881 he wrote that the new hymn-book was completed and in use among the brethren. This means the work involved took at least six and a half years. When account is taken of the prodigious labours of the servant of God in his teaching, writing, travelling, and visiting, it was a tremendous task for him to undertake. Not only did he review over a 170 hymn-books in his search for good hymns but he seems to have put the whole selection together and even checked the final proofs before handing them to the printer. As he was seventy–five when he began the revision, and lived only seven months after it was completed, it should be appreciated that this important service for the brethren was accomplished when he was an old man—“They shall bring forth fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14).

Preliminary Remarks of J. N. Darby

In his writings, Mr Darby refers to his outlook on hymns and his revision work. They are worth considering and are given here:

Beloved Brother[or R. T. Grant],—
 . . . Hymns are more important than we often suppose, because the affections get engaged religiously with what is incorrect; . . .
Dublin, 1865.30

Beloved Brother [C. McAdam],— . . .
Since I have been here I have been revising the hymn book, excluding and altering where old erroneous views had passed unperceived. I have no means of adding here. There is a lack of worshipping the Father in them, but I know not how that suits hymns, or hymns it, and who is to give them. . . .
Ever affectionately yours in the Lord.
Chicago, May 1875.31

Beloved Brother [Mr Bagshaw],—
 . . . and I had been occupied with the Father's revelation of Himself lately, and how far hymns could be addressed to Him, and then I found that Paul puts us clearly in liberty before Him—the Lord be praised for it!—giving the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father, but never Him distinctly before us. . . .
Later in the same letter he writes:
. . . The true knowledge of the Father is in the affections, in relationship. It is goodness, love—not in the kind of sympathetic exercises and experiences into which Christ has entered for us; we may be in them, and the Father's love known—but it is in another—love of experience and more absolute. Hymns, you will find, do not run on this theme.
Pau, January 22nd. [1879] 32

I have looked through the old 'Poor of the Flock,'33 and corrected a great many hymns, perfectly astounded that so much short of all the light we had ever passed; but there was often piety, and I have put them in the form of truth where there was. I have already gone through the new one.34 I am now going to look through other hymn-books which I have, to see if there are any which could be added, and there are two or three of my own from which some verses perhaps may be taken, some of which you have not seen.
Pau, October 25th. [1879] 35

Dearest Brother [B. F. Pinkerton],— . . .
I had been going through the hymns 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!
Dublin, June 10th. [1880] 36

My beloved Brother [Mr Slim],— . . . I have not lost my interest in Barbadoes, nor in your work, dear brother; but I have been incessantly occupied travelling and visiting the gatherings, besides claims in study work. I have been looking over the hymns for a new edition, have my Testament on hand for a new edition, an English translation of my German to look over, am writing on John's gospel for the French, and on Romans for the Germans, and have been laid up in the gout to boot, not to say that I am within a few months of eighty; but enough of myself, only to excuse myself for my delay in writing. . . .
Affectionately yours in Jesus.
Edinburgh, 1880. 37

My dear Brother [R. T. Grant],— . . .
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? You may, perhaps, have hymns to the Father; but in revising the hymn book I found how grave a question the doing it had raised for me as to this: though our spiritual state affects everything we do, yet it requires a more spiritual state than hymns to Christ, though He be worthy of equal honour. But while I make this difference, you cannot separate them by a sharp mathematical line, so to speak. Affections do not flow in that way. And the love of the Father and the Son run into one another. . . .
Affectionately yours in the Lord.
July, 1881. 38

Dear Brother [Alek Robertson],— . . .
The hymn book is out, and the brethren at Croydon thought it much improved, but I have found a good many printing errors—partly mine. . . .
October 21st, 1881. 39


We have the positive direction of Scripture to speak to one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; but psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs mean compositions rhythmically and metrically arranged; so that I judge that the use of such compositions is scripturally authorized. I would add that I think the spiritual mind will detect at once what is really given of the Spirit in such compositions and what is not, even when merely added to make up the measure or rhyme. Moreover, also, those who believe in the action of the Holy Ghost, as the true and only power of blessing, look for the liberty of the Spirit of God, not bondage—liberty in everything that is of Him for edification. The binding to a form of prayer is not this; but the exclusion of hymns is not that liberty either. Only it is to be sought that hymns should be really composed under His influence, and not mere human poetry. 40

You may mark along with this, that it is not merely knowledge or wisdom of which he speaks, but he adds, 'teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.' It enters into the affections, because that is the character of hymns and spiritual songs. It is not so much knowledge written down like a sermon, but it is where the heart answers in its affections to the revelation of Christ, perhaps something I have heard in a Meeting when Christ has been unfolded; it is the Holy Ghost raising up the affections in answer to the revelation of Christ that has come down. 41

From these extracts of his writings, Mr Darby's great exercise to have more hymns to the Father is clearly evident. The lack of such hymns in Mr Wigram's edition was to him a serious deficiency. As Mr Darby pondered over the joy and privilege of responding to the Father in devotional song, he was blessed in his soul. He was also exercised that the affections of the saints should be engaged with Christ in their hymn-singing in the assembly. It is not sufficient that the wording of the hymn should be correct. That is important, but the affections engaged with Christ is the object of the hymn. The remark by Augustine, often quoted by the Lollards, is not out of place here: 'As oft as the song delighted me more than that is songen, so oft I acknowledge I trespass grievously.' The removal of erroneous expressions and the corrections made to existing hymns were to ensure that the brethren could sing true sentiments. This would prevent them from going astray in their affections and feelings toward the Father and the Son. Mr Darby referred to some of his own compositions from which some verses could be taken to form suitable hymns. An examination of his little volume Spiritual Songs will show how this was satisfactorily accomplished. According to E. E. Cornwall, in his interesting book Songs of Pilgrimage and Glory, some of Mr Darby's hymns appeared first in periodicals such as The Prospect, The Present Testimony, and A Voice to the Faithful. One of Mr Darby's last references to his 1881 revision is found in his preface to it. A careful reading of the preface will indicate the scope of exercise involved in the revision. The preface is given in full:


A new edition of this Hymn Book being required, the present Editor was asked by the publisher to take charge of it. Of course the responsibility of its new contents and form must rest with him, but as it was meant for all, he took counsel with brethren in various places who came his way, who he thought would be likely to aid in the work—a work far more difficult than those imagine who have never undertaken it.

Three things are needed for a hymn book. A basis of truth and sound doctrine; something at least of the spirit of poetry, though not poetry itself, which is objectionable, as merely the spirit and imagination of man; and thirdly, the most difficult to find of all, that experimental acquaintance of truth in the affections which enables a person to make his hymn (if led of God to compose one) the vehicle, in sustained thought and language, of practical grace and truth which sets the soul in communion with Christ, and rises even to the Father; and yet this in such sort that it is not mere individual experience, which, for assembly worship, is out of place. In a word, the Father's love, and Christ developed in the soul's affections, rising in praise back again to its source. God alone can give this, so as to meet the wants of an assembly. Like assembly-prayer, it must not rise too completely beyond the state of the assembly, yet must reach up to God, and raise the assembly's affections up to him, so that what He is in grace developed in the affections of the soul should be jointly proclaimed. It is not mere wants—that would be a hymn for a prayer-meeting. A basis of truth has been spoken of, or, to speak more justly, the truth; this is evidently fundamentally necessary, but much more is. There is based on this truth a large sphere of scriptural thoughts, feelings, experiences, and hopes, in which the soul moves, which ought to be scriptural.

Now in a vast number of hymns there is real piety in the affections, but connected with statements which may not touch any great foundational truth, but are unscriptural, and thus the best affections are connected with unscriptural thoughts, and this is a very real injury to the soul. Thus, suppose uncertainty as to salvation, the absence of the spirit of adoption, a bright hope of being in glory when we die; these are merely taken as instances, for it applies to very many points; and souls are quite angry at losing a hymn which their piety has enjoyed, but which has connected their hopes and affections with what is not scriptural. Many such have been eliminated heretofore from the collection, but there remained still something to do. Hymns should be simple, full of Christ and the Father's love, unaffected, and in some measure elevated, so as not to be mere prose. The singer must be there, but the singer associated in his thoughts with God filled from on high; yet not individualise himself and leave the assembly behind him. Many most sweet hymns are too individual, too experimental, for an assembly. In this collection an Appendix is therefore added, where there may be as beautiful hymns, but the assembly has been less thought of. Where possible the hymns for the assembly are in the plural. There are hymns which suit prayer-meetings, home-devotion, even the gospel; though there the difficulty is very great. Abstractedly you are making people sing as having certain feelings, and then preaching to them because they have not.

But in actual Christendom things are not so sharply defined, and there are hidden souls and hidden wants which the hymn may give expression to, and set a soul free or make it apprehend God's love sometimes more effectually than the sermon; still there is a very great danger of widespread delusion and loose apprehension of sin and grace, and the difficulty is very real. You may often find the loudest singers where the conscience is the least reached.

Only about fifteen hymns were at first excluded by the Editor, but others42 pruned with a far more unsparing hand—they had not to get good ones to fill their places. Some forty or more have been struck out, but many of those that have not maintained their place in the first part will be found in the Appendix. Their places have been supplied from searching a great many collections, but which, for reasons stated above, furnished but few that could be introduced. A good number are original, from various quarters, these have been submitted to different brethren before being put in. Many authors may be comforted by knowing their hymns were sometimes very nice, but not suited to an assembly of saints; several have gone into the Appendix, not necessarily as inferior, but of a different character. Many hymns have been corrected on the principles referred to. These corrections were also shewn to different brethren, but it is not expected that every one will be satisfied; certainly more might have been, and may be, done. The Editor has done the best he could, and, though none, unless he undertake it, can feel the difficulty, he believes the Lord has been with him. More may be added to the Appendix by further research, or original, but this will require time.

For convenience, the number of the hymns which remain are the same, new hymns have been substituted for excluded ones, with the exception of 148 (now 341), and 84 (now 264).

Finally is added what perhaps should have come first: the great principle in selecting and correcting has been that there should be nothing in the hymns for the assembly but what was the expression of, or at least consistent with, the Christian's conscious place in Christ before the Father.

The reader will kindly remark that there are changes necessitated by putting “we” for “I,” which, but for that, there would have been no occasion for.

The book is commended to Him who alone can give songs in the night, trusting that a hymn book, already the best known to the Editor, may be still more useful to brethren; sure that the Spirit, who alone can indite a genuine hymn, can alone enable it to be sung aright. 43

Features of Interest

Mr Wigram's edition of 1856 was deficient in that it contained few hymns to the Father. To remedy this Mr Darby had written three hymns addressed to the Father and included them in his edition. They are as follows:

N 25 Father, Thy name our souls would bless,
 As children taught by grace,
Lift up our hearts in righteousness
 And joy before Thy face. . . . (1879)

N 178 Blest Father, infinite in grace,
 Source of eternal joy;
Thou lead'st our hearts to that blest place,
 Where rest's without alloy. . . . (1879)

N 331 Father, Thy sovereign love has sought,
 Captives to sin, gone far from Thee;
The work that Thine own Son hath wrought,
 Has brought us back in peace and free.

And now as sons before Thy face,
 With joyful steps the path we tread,
Which leads us on to that blest place
 Prepared for us by christ our Head.

Thou gav'st us, in eternal love,
 To Him to bring us home to thee,
Suited to Thine own thought above,
 As sons like Him, with Him to be.

In Thine own house. There love divine
 Fills the bright courts with cloudless joy;
But 'tis the love that mad us Thine,
 Fills all that house without alloy.

O boundless grace! what fills with joy
 Unmingled, all that enter there?
God's nature, love without alloy,
 Our hearts are given e'en now to share.

God's righteousness with glory bright,
 Which with its radiance fills that sphere,
E'en Christ, of God the power and light,
 Our title is, that light to share.

O mind divine! so must it be
 That glory all belongs to God:
O love divine, that did decree
 We should be part, through Jesu's blood!

O keep us, love divine, near Thee,
 That we our nothingness may know,
And ever to Thy glory be
 Walking in faith while here below. (1880)

These hymns of Mr Darby's enriched the 1881 edition and, after more than a hundred years, are still sung with great reverence and in the spirit of true worship. Others of his were added: N 12, 'Sing without ceasing, sing' (1856); N 64, 'Oh bright and blessèd scenes!' (1867); N 235, 'We'll praise Thee, glorious Lord,' (1881); N 270, 'And shall we see Thy face,' (1881); N 18 Appendix, 'And is it so! I shall be like Thy Son,' (1872).

As stated in Mr Darby's preface, 55 hymns from the 1856 selection were excluded and 141 new hymns were added. An Appendix contained another eighty-five hymns. Mr Darby followed closely the numerical structure of the 1856 selection. This was a wise decision, as the brethren were able to find hymns they were accustomed to more easily than they would have done if the numerical structure had been altered.

Mr Darby omitted most of the headings that some of the hymns had in Mr Wigram's selection except for Nos 4, 59, and 310. At the beginning of his edition he included an index of the first line of the first verses of the hymns. At the end of the hymn-book he gave an index of the first lines of the other verses. There was also a list of the authors of the hymns in later printings. These were good and helpful additions to the new revision, and they were continued by future revisers.

Mr Darby found no reason to alter 120 of the hymns in the 1856 edition, but in 165 hymns he made more than 300 changes. Many of the changes were a result of converting the singular into plural. He omitted a total of 46 verses from hymns in the 1856 edition and added 7 new ones. Two examples of wise changes are given to illustrate Mr Darby's corrections. In the 1856 edition, N 165, 'Head of the Church triumphant!' has in line 5 of verse 2 'We clap our hands, exulting'. Mr Darby altered this to 'We lift our hearts, exulting' because the clapping of hands is a feature of Israel's worship not the Church's (Ps. 47:1; 98:8; Isa. 55:12). Another wise change is found in the first verse of N 37 in the 1856 and 1881 editions. Mr Wigram's edition has 'He stands in heaven their great High Priest'. Mr Darby altered this to 'He sits in heaven their great High Priest', which is a more accurate rendering. The High Priests of Israel never sat down as they performed their service in the most Holy Place but, since Christ's work on the cross is finished—never to be repeated, He is viewed in Heb. 10:12 as sitting down rather than standing.

Mr Darby followed the example set by Mr Wigram. His edition contained hymns from many and varied sources. It was not a hymn-book that expressed the peculiar views of a narrow sect. The hymn-book contained the hymns of many believers in denominations. The merit of the hymns in the compilation was the truth they contained. The hymns of Samuel Tregelles and Robert Chapman were retained. The following are a few of the authors whose compositions had a place in the new hymn-book: Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf; the Wesley brothers Charles and John; William Cowper; John Newton; Isaac Watts; Horatius Bonar; Augustus Montague Toplady; R. Sandeman; Henry Francis Lyte (author of 'Abide with me'); and John Henry Newman, who became a Cardinal in the Church of Rome.

How the New Hymn-book was Received

'The hymn book is out, and the brethren in Croydon thought it much improved', wrote Mr Darby in 1881. However, when referring to it some years later, Mr Kelly recalled that:

... the character of [the Revision], whatever the good omissions and changes here and there, as well as the insertion of several fine hymns, did not at all satisfy many intelligent brethren who were expected to use it publicly. 44

It appears that the initial response to the new book by some was encouraging but others voiced some dissatisfaction with it.

An Appraisal

Mr Darby's edition was a better balanced hymn-book than Mr Wigram's. Many of the blemishes discovered in the 1856 book were removed and hymns of spiritual worth included. The worship of the Father and the Son was greatly enriched by the new inclusions. Mr Wigram's edition lasted twenty-five years; Mr Darby's work generally superseded it. The 1881 edition is still in use today by different companies of brethren; It is now published jointly by Bible Truth Publishers (America) and Bibles & Publications (Canada).

In 1924 Pickering & Inglis (the 'open brethren' publisher of The Believers Hymnbook) published Spiritual Songs which, on inspection, appears to be based on the 1881 book—the first twenty or so hymns are the same apart from an occasional substitution.


The 1894 Revision

THIS revision is not very well-known to the users of the 1881 and 1903 editions of the Little Flock hymn-book but it played an important part in subsequent revisions

In 1881, difficulties stemming from a local division in Ramsgate in 1879 culminated in a major division. Consequently, two well-known teachers among the brethren, J. N. Darby and William Kelly, found themselves in different companies of brethren. At that time Mr Wigram's 1856 book was still in use among the gatherings. The brethren had been wanting to revise it for years but the difficulties leading up to the division had hindered them from making it a priority. It is probable that these two brothers, perhaps with others, would have collaborated on the revision but for the division.45 Mr Darby's revision was available in October 1881 and was used by those with whom he now met. Those with whom Mr Kelly now met continued to use the 1856 selection until he completed his revision. Called simply Hymns Selected and Revised in 1894, it became available for use in June 1895. Mr Kelly has left a very full account of his revision in the 1894 volume of The Bible Treasury (which he edited), pages 175, 206, 223, 239, and 318. It would be too much to quote here all the references to omissions, corrections, additions, and other remarks contained in these articles but some extracts are valuable to show how Mr Kelly's acute mind was applied to this important exercise. Mr Kelly, with his great scholastic ability and profound knowledge of Scripture, was well qualified to undertake such a task. He was assisted in the work by W. W. Fereday and others.

Mr Kelly's Remarks


As many are exercised about the selection of 1856 and its revision, a few words may help by furnishing the light of revealed truth. The wisdom which comes from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruit, without contention, without hypocrisy.

Hymns properly addressed to God in Himself and His relations, His grace and holiness, His attributes and mercies, His counsels and His ways, &c.; and so with our Lord Jesus in His person and offices, His work, love, glory, coming, and kingdom, &c. A didactic form is surely to be avoided when God or the Lord is approached in praise or thanksgiving; though nothing can in effect more truly instruct and admonish the saints than such outpourings of hearts under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In a hymn one looks for the elevated expression of communion rising from true and deep spirituality, or that charming simplicity in celebrating grace and truth, which is due in homage and gratitude to God and His Son, and most widely acceptable. Hence those which address the saints, or again the church, &c., as the rule (not perhaps without exception) fittingly fall into a place separate from what is suited for worship; so those of experience, and of course others of a gospel character. These may be excellent, more so than some of direct praise. But the difference is just, and ought to part many otherwise good.

. . . How unbecoming to address the Lord by His personal name without some title of respect! It is a habit come down from the early fall of Christendom, through Monkish hymns to Moravians and almost everybody. The book of 1856 abounds with this serious oversight. Can there be a more valid reason for amending Hymn 6?46 The rest of the stanzas well fall in with the necessary change. “Thy” afterwards is quite proper. The fault demands care everywhere, especially in an age of levity, so increasingly far from real reverence or respect even among Christians.

Truth again is of at least equal importance. Take an early and mild instance, “Sons and daughters” in Hymn 3: does this express the Christian relationship? The apostle in 2 Cor. vi. refers to Isa. xliii. 6, lii. 11, and other scriptures for enforcing separation from evil in every sort and degree on the Christian as the condition of his relationship with God. He is no more defining what is special to us (where male and female vanish), than he is holding out a long life on the earth to Christian children in Eph. vi. as the motive for obeying their parents in the Lord. . . . but in a compilation general edification to the Lord's praise ought to be sought, not to gratify personal taste or prejudice. . . .

Confessedly the plural for hymns of worship in the assembly is more proper than the singular. Many songs easily lend themselves to this change; . . . In revision patient consideration in love with regard to the general feeling is of all price: nobody can or ought to have his own will or way. 47


There is another consideration of great moment in a hymn book for the assembly's use. It should be, in the genuine sense of the word, catholic. While no hymn deserves a place which fails in reverence or offends against revealed truth, there ought to be the most comprehensive adaption to the varied condition of the members of Christ's body. None ought to sink below what is proper to the Christian enjoying the light and peace of the gospel. But the assembly on the one hand is entitled to have the expression of the highest strains of praise, which the Holy Spirit awakens in the heart with the grace of Christ before it, or the fruit of it in our union with Him, or His glory on high, with the love of the Father and the Son, or the manifold ways in which the Spirit of God reveals the depth of God. On the other hand, as grace is ever watchful over the need and blessing and joy of the youngest in God's family, this should be fully reflected in the due provision of hymns for their worship. There should be no stint of these sweet and simple songs of thanksgiving in which such as just know their sins forgiven and cry Abba Father, can heartily join in the praise of the Saviour and of their God and Father. Even the babes of God's family, as all may know from 1 John ii., are characterized by their knowledge of the Father; and no wonder, as they have an unction from the Holy One and know the truth.

But it is a spurious catholicity which allows mere sentiment or traditional mistake contrary to Christ and scripture. The bane for the Christian and the Church has ever been the return of Judaism or to a fleshly mind. Hence what toleration can rightly be of a doubtful mind as to salvation, of enfeebling of the hope, of denial of the Holy Ghost's presence, or claim of earthly place? 48


To a revision there must attach many a difficulty. If revealed truth be, as it ought, the paramount condition of our expression of worship, as in all else, it is far from easy to heal the wound made in a familiar or favourite hymn, without leaving a too easily seen scar. . . . There is another fact which as to be faced:—the most competent hand will fail to satisfy everybody; while the least competent who has no experience can readily flatter himself that either he or his friend is able to do better than any one. 49

Critical Remarks by Mr Kelly on the 1856 Selection

When the book of 1856 appeared, great opposition or even animosity was entertained, both by those who resented the public discontinuance (save by a very few for a while) of the “Hymns for the poor of the Flock” (1842), and by those who lost many fine hymns there which deserve and will now have an honoured seat. Further, there were strange and sorry importations which astonished even such as shared in its correction, who were few. Yet as a whole the improvement was marked and by degrees appreciated. Still the failure in a measure was felt from the first; and this led more than a dozen years ago to a Revision and a Re-revision,50 the character of which, whatever the good omissions and changes here and there, as well as the insertion of several fine hymns, did not at all satisfy many intelligent brethren who were expected to use it publicly. It will be the shame of those who are now labouring diligently in the proposed new edition, which is in course of being printed, if a better and more correct Hymn-book be not produced; as true-hearted men helping it on now are assured that by grace it will be.

Understanding of hymns depends sometimes on the right or spiritual feeling of the individual. Moral state not infrequently blinds, to say nothing of capacity. But a few instances in the book of 1856 may prove how pious men, not fitted in all respects to revise, may unintentionally falsify and destroy the sense. Hymn 76 (“Rise, my soul”) had appeared if not before in the 1842 collection; where, though the punctuation was not erroneous, it did not help the slow, or the self-confident, to understand the last splendid stanza. In fact, it was very generally misunderstood. But in 1856 it is printed so mistakenly as to mislead every one who trusts this edition. “Then no stranger,—God shall meet thee, Stranger thou” &c. Not only should the opening word be “There,” but, what is of far more consequence, the punctuation introduced utterly ruins the author's thought, and makes the first line even contradict the second. The true and only intended force is: God no stranger but well-known, meeting the saint a stranger in courts above. Another error equally gross, if not worse, is in the last line of the same author's sweet personal hymn, 82,51 where he is made to say, as thousands have sung near forty years, that “my hopes shall crown Christ,” instead of its reading (as he wrote) that Christ will crown my hopes: the error of printing “shall” for “shalt,” as was pointed out to the publisher many years since. 52

. . . Time was when we used to sing with no bad conscience in Hymns for the Poor of the Flock, “Since the bright earnest of His love So brightens all this dreary plain.” But when the truth became better known, it was impossible to justify the error, and it was rightly changed to “Since the blest knowledge” &c. Who now can doubt the necessity of that correction except a self-willed person who slights God's Word? “Lift up Thy face and on us shine” again is exactly the blessing which the Jewish priest pronounced, certainly not the expression of Christian standing. And assuredly “I'm often weary here, Lord” is very short of what becomes a Christian hymn or even experience. It sinks below Israel too, whose foot did not swell during the forty years of the wilderness, and who have the promise that they shall run and not be weary—shall walk and not faint. Once it was otherwise with us; but Christ gave us rest, and we find rest to our souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden light.

 . . .

As Hymn 92 stumbles not a few in the beginning of stanza 2,53 it has been sought to express the truth guardedly as well as stanza 3. 54

Mr Kelly had some severe criticism to make about J. G. Deck's hymn N 123 'Saviour, spotless Lamb of God'. In readmitting a verse (suitably amended) that was not included in the 1856 compilation, he said:

. . . the author, like most, fell into the very ugly error of making us bear Christ's cross, instead of our own.55 There is no excuse for such language. Those who try to apologize by a non-natural interpretation might similarly explain any thing. 56

Also, in following Mr Darby's revision in moving hymn N 278 'God moves in a mysterious way' to later in the book and bringing in J. G. Deck's 'Saviour, we long to follow Thee', Mr Kelly amended the second line 'Daily Thy cross to bear' to 'Each day the cross to bear'. The same criticism is levelled against the hymn 'O come, Thou stricken Lamb of God'. The last line of this hymn read 'We bear Thy cross, and seek Thy crown'. Mr Kelly wrote:

. . . and 294 cleared of some blots, especially in its last line, which in its previous shape is a grave offence against truth and reverence. How it passed muster hitherto is a marvel, save by violently accommodating bad words to a more decent sense: a demoralizing expedient on which in other people we have little mercy. Will is a blind guide. 57

Yet, in moving Thomas Kelly's hymn 'To wait for that important day' from N 262 to N 430, he left the sixth line as 'Resolved His cross to share'?58

Mr Kelly omitted hymn N 189 by Sir John Bowering 'We cannot always trace the way'. He called it 'the old unbelieving interpolation', presumably because Sir John was a Unitarian. Mr Darby had moved it to N 9 in the Appendix of his 1881 revision.

Both Mr Darby and Mr Kelly omitted from their respective revisions hymn N 84 in the 1856 edition of the Little Flock hymn-book 'Jesus the Christ! eternal Word'. Mr Kelly said about this hymn:

Hymn 84 has a history attached to it of so painful a character morally, that none who knew the facts could wish it to be retained. 59

The authors' denominational connections did not prevent their hymns from being included in Mr Darby's and Mr Kelly's revisions but moral dishonour to the Lord did.

Features of the 1894 Revision

Because Mr Kelly believed it was wrong to address the Lord as 'Jesus' without an accompanying title or Name, and he appealed to Scripture to support his objection, he altered hymns to support his belief. Two examples of his alterations are given here:

1856: N 187, 'O Jesus, gracious Saviour'

1894: N 187, 'Lord Jesus, gracious Saviour'

1856: N 203, 'O Jesus! Lamb of God'

1894: N 203, 'Lord Jesus, Lamb of God'

When the 1881 and the 1894 editions are compared it is evident that Mr Kelly followed the numerical structure of Mr Darby's edition. He also adopted some of Mr Darby's corrections of the 1856 edition. The changes Mr Kelly made are too numerous to mention them all. Eleven of his own compositions appeared in it; one, N 172 (which has elsewhere been wrongly attributed to Mr Darby) is:

GOD and Father, we adore Thee
 For the Christ, Thine image bright,
In Whom all Thy holy nature
 Dawned on our once hopeless night.

Thou didst send Him as the witness
 Of a life beyond compare;
By Thy Spirit we received Him,
 Now in Christ how blest we are!

Fellowship with Thee, the Father,
 And with Jesus Christ Thy Son—
Such Thine own unjealous giving
 By the Holy Ghost made known.

For in Christ was life eternal
 Once beheld and heard below;
And in Him dwelt all the fulness,
 Though in grace He stooped so low.

Father, Jesus was Thy pleasure,
 Object of supreme delight;
Father, what wast Thou to Jesus
 But His constant spring and light?

Now in Him, our God and Father,
 Sharers of Thy love are we;
Now partaking with our Saviour
 His unceasing rest in Thee.

Grace divine is this, transcending
 All that else the heart employs:
'Tis the Son and Father deigning
 Us to give of their own joys. 60

His others are:
N 28 Saviour and Lord, we love to sing
Of all Thy wondrous suffering,
When sin had done foul wrong to God,
And Thou in grace didst bear the rod. . . .

N 40 Father and God, Thy grace we own
In Jesus Thy loved Son made known;
Not heaven can boast such wondrous love
As now on earth 'tis ours to prove. . . .

N 178 Unending praise be Thine,
 Eternal Son, we say;
Who came to bring the true God nigh
 And put all sin away. . . .

N 191 Everlasting praise to Thee,
 Holy father of our Lord;
Joyful let the faithful be,
 Resting on Thy perfect word. . . .

N 124 Father and God, we glad confess
 The grace and truth in Jesus shewn;
'Twas not enough to save and bless:
 By us Thou wouldst Thyself be known. . . .

N 244 Father, we joy in Thine own name
 The only Son revealed to us;
For fully knowing Thee He came,
 Himself Thy revelation was. . . .

N 254 Father, what depths of sovereign grace
To give Thy saints the nearest place,
Since they beheld the Saviour blest
Who made the Father manifest! . . .

N 257 Lord Jesus, 'tis our joy to know
Thy love, that rests upon us now,
 Is ours for evermore;
Not this the manner of vain man—
Thou lovest as God only can
 Ages on ages o'er. . . .

N 413 Saviour, we would extol Thy name,
Come down, as Man, to bear all shame;
Yet hadst Thou spread the heavens abroad,
And formed the earth, as very God. . . .

N 436 Ye trembling saints, why longer doubt?
 The Saviour's on the throne;
God's Lamb, He suffered for your sins,
 The Father's only Son. . . .

Mr Kelly's edition was used throughout the British Isles, West Indies, North America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. It was twice reprinted and slightly revised in 1907, when it was referred to as a 'New Edition' explained thus:


The only change of importance in this new edition is the substitution of an altogether new hymn (265) for what will be found elsewhere in the book (295), the double insertion under 265 being a former inadvertence.

The hymn “Lord of life, and King of glory” (108) has been altered to “Prince of life, and Lord of Glory,” as more in accordance with the New Testament Scripture. The remaining few alterations are chiefly printer's errors now corrected, which it is hardly necessary to detail.

Ironically, the hymn accidentally omitted in the original edition was another by Mr Kelly:

N 265 Saviour, though the world despised Thee,
 All God's angels to Thee bow;
And the Father's glory raised Thee,
 When man's hatred laid Thee low;
 Lord of glory,
 Blessèd evermore art Thou. . . .

The hymn-book was reprinted again in 1911 and 1919. Twenty different styles, including a large print edition, were available from F. E. Race, its earliest publisher.


The 1903 Revision

WE now return to those brethren who were using Mr Darby's 1881 revision. In 1890 there was, sadly, another controversy over doctrine which resulted in a division between 'Raven' (or 'Greenwich') brethren and 'Lowe–Continental' brethren. Both companies continued to use the 1881 revision but eventually, amongst the Raven brethren, there was talk of revising it. Was another revision necessary? Many brethren were of the opinion that it was. One particular piece of information is found in a letter from F. E. Raven to Dr van Someren of Australia:


Dr. van Someren. July 25th, 1901.

. . . We have been recently having a meeting at Burford, and had a talk as to the hymn book. I think that the general feeling of brethren is against any great disturbance of Mr. Darby's work. If a few hymns that are never used can be eliminated and some more suitable ones put in their place, well and good, but the dislike is against any drastic treatment. I hope that Mr. Reynolds61 will take in hand what is to be done; he is the brother and will command most confidence. The collection of additional hymns has not commanded general satisfaction, they are felt to be too much 'to order.' There are a few of them62 that may be selected. 63

The expression 'the collection of additional hymns has not commanded general satisfaction' needs some explanation. Before 1901, a selection of hymns was in circulation amongst the exclusive brethren. It was called Some Additional Hymns for the use of the Church of God. It was published by G. Morrish, 20 Paternoster Square, London. The preface to the selection is as follows:

This selection of hymns has been made in the hope of meeting in some measure a long expressed desire that more hymns might be available in keeping with the light which God has graciously given in His Word as to what Christianity really is; hymns which give expression to feelings inwrought by the Spirit, as the counsels of the Father and His love revealed in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, are before us.

A sense of their deficiency is indeed recognised, but such as they are, they are commended to the Lord's grace, in the desire that His love, and the response which that love awakens and cherishes, may be better known and increased by their means.

As to the difficulties in compiling them, a reference to the preface of the “Little Flock” Hymn Book will supply all that need be said.

It will be seen that not only hymns specially suited for worship, but for other occasions when gathered together, have been thought of. They have been before several whose judgment would have the confidence of brethren generally, and the suggestion has been made that the hymns should be printed, and thus submitted to the judgment of a wider circle, and for use if desired, before an alteration is attempted with the “Little Flock” Hymn Book. 64

Mr Raven's letter and the preface to Additional Hymns indicate that Mr Darby's compilation was no more successful than Mr Wigram's in satisfying the desires of the brethren. The expression in the preface 'long expressed desire' shows that for some time there had been an exercise among the brethren for more changes to the hymn-book in general use. T. H. Reynolds, a well-known brother in the gatherings, was asked to undertake the important task.

The Editor and His Work

Thomas Henry Reynolds was well qualified to be entrusted with the revision. According to Napoleon Noel, he was

. . . born in March, 1830, at Burford, Oxfordshire, where he lived until the time of his death, in February, 1930. At the death of his father, he having inherited his business,65 took charge of it, but on the death of his mother, he sold it, but remained in the employ of the local gas company as secretary.

In his childhood he attended the services of an Established Church, where, however, the congregation was somewhat Evangelical. The minister, being a godly man, and possessing light, brought the true believers together in prayer meetings, and issued identification tickets to them, his purpose being to prevent unsaved people from participating in the Communion.

When this Evangelically inclined minister was succeeded by one who was termed “high and dry,” a secession followed, and the Evangelicals assembled in various private homes, dividing themselves into three companies, in order not to contravene the Conventicle Act, which was still in force, and made the assembling together of twenty or more persons for religious services illegal, unless they belonged to some recognized sect. One of their number, Mr. William Tuckwell (Mr. Reynold's uncle), used to read a sermon from time to time in these assemblies, and ultimately minister the Word to them. While Mr. Reynolds was absent in London, one of the early “brethren,” Mr. George Page of Cheltenham, hearing in his travels of this community at Burford, visited them, with the result that they came into fellowship with “brethren.”

Mr. Reynolds became connected with “brethren” in his youth, and would relate how, after the divergence of 1848, he gathered with a company of those who met in separation from the Newtonians, in a small Room over a bible truth depot at Bristol. When Mr. Darby returned to England, after a season of labour for the Lord on the Continent of Europe, he met with them in this Room, and, speaking on Matt. xviii. 20, strengthened and edified them, and said to them: “If we have lost our brethren, we still have the Lord.”

Mr. Reynolds was a diligent student of Scripture, acquainted with the Hebrew as well as the Greek, and often contributed to magazines, notably to “A Voice to the Faithful,” edited by J. B. Stoney, both he and Mr. Stoney being in the Raven communion. Latterly, he was unable to attend conferences, but had continued ministering in his local assembly until within three or four years of his decease, in his ninety-ninth year. 66

It was reported that he had asked the Lord to take him home to glory before he reached the age of 100. He did not want the publicity that such a distinction would bring.

Harold St. John (a well-known 'open' brother, who as a young man 'had been brought up, and exercised his early ministry, in a circle of Exclusive Brethren, often called after one of its leaders, Mr. W. J. Lowe,'67 recalled:

. . . some of you may remember the late Mr. T. H. Reynolds of Burford; he loved to tell how he came into fellowship. He was eight years old and was taken to the Breaking of Bread by his aunt. As they sang “When I survey the wondrous Cross” she noticed that the child's eyes filled with tears. Later, as the bread was being passed round he touched his aunt and whispered, “May I?” She was about to shake her head when a quiet voice said to her, “Whosoever shall stumble one of these little ones that believe in Me”. . . and she nodded assent. Little Thomas took his place that morning, and ninety years later he passed into the presence of the Lord he had remembered so long. 68

The new revision was entitled A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs, Selected 1856, for The Little Flock. Revised 1881. Re-Arranged and Further Revised, 1903. Mr Reynolds included Mr Wigram's account of the 1856 edition and Mr Darby's preface of 1881 and added his own:


A desire having been expressed that there should be a further revised edition of “The Little Flock Hymn Book,” the present editor in undertaking it felt that nothing has more contributed to the desire than Mr. Darby's own work of 1881. That revision (containing many more of his own hymns) has supplied those who use the book, with the means of uttering in song a response to the Father's love, and to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, much more in accordance with the revelation of that love and grace than before. Hence there has been a desire that more might be done in that way.

The plan adopted by the present editor, in conjunction with many of his brethren, has been to expunge some forty hymns from the body of the book which are rarely or never sung. (A few of those expunged it was deemed better to omit than to alter.) Other hymns, the best which the editor could select, have replaced those omitted. The numbers of the hymns retained remain substantially the same. In a few cases a change of place has been adopted for the sake of fitting in the pages better.

It should be remembered with regard to alteration in some of the hymns retained, that the object in compiling such a hymn book as the present, is not to give a collection of original hymns, but to provide, as far as may be, utterances suited for singing in the assembly. Other collections supply hymns of piety for private use and comfort.

An Appendix has been dispensed with, and the numbers of the hymns now follow consecutively; those more suited for prayer or reading meetings or for the gospel will still be found at the end of the book.

The book is still “The Little Flock Hymn Book,” that is, it is a continuation, so far as grace has been given, of the labours of G. V. W. and J. N. D., and in no sense a new collection of hymns. The notice of G. V. W. as to the edition of 1856, taken from the cover of the “Present Testimony,” December 1857, is here given, so that those who use it may have before them, with Mr. Darby's preface (save that part which refers to the arrangement of the edition of 1881), a complete history of the book.


Features of Interest

The preface may be a little misleading when it states that forty hymns were expunged 'from the body of the book' and 'An Appendix has been dispensed with'. 'The body of the book' refers to the main part of the 1881 edition. About thirty-five of the eighty-five hymns in the appendix where omitted also, those retained either replacing ones omitted from the main part or remaining at the end of the book (but numbered consecutively). Of the 426 hymns in the 1881 edition, 354 were retained in the 1903 edition—188 unaltered and 166 with over 300 separate alterations.

Mr Reynolds introduced fifty-three new hymns into his revision, four of them he composed himself:

N 53 Blest God and Father, in Thy sight
 We bow and own Thy grace;
We worship in thy glorious light,
 Which shines in Jesus' face. . . .

N 59 O God, Thou hast engaged our hearts
 With Christ Thy well-belovèd Son;
Thy love a holy joy imparts,
 A joy which He for us hath won. . . .

N 233 Jesus, Lord, we come together
 In the bonds of thine own love;
Thou hast drawn our footsteps hither,
 Its deep meaning now to prove.

Closed the door—we leave behind us
 Toil and conflict, foes and strife;
And within, Thy love doth bind us
 In one fellowship of life.

Here together we recall thee,
 In Thy presence break the bread;
Never more can grief befall Thee,
 Thou art risen from the dead.

But Thy love remains, that entered
 Into death to make us Thine;
In that death all love was centred—
 Thankful now we drink the wine.

Thou dost make us taste the blessing,
 Soon to fill a world of bliss;
And we bless Thy name confessing
 Thine own love our portion is.

Sweet it is to sit before Thee,
 Sweet to hear Thy blessed voice,
Sweet to worship and adore thee,
 While our hearts in thee rejoice.

N 372 Saved for glory! yes, for glory!
 By the work of God's blest Son;
Saved for glory, wondrous story,
 We believe what Christ has done.

Saved for glory, saved by Jesus,
 All our meetness His alone;
Meetness which the Father pleases
 Ours should be, in Christ the Son. . . .

These four hymns were well received by the users of the 1903 edition. Mr Darby's hymns were increased by seven. They were a valuable addition to the new book:

N 81 O Lord! Thy glory we behold,
 Though not with mortal eyes;
That glory, on the Father's throne,
 No human sight descries. . . .

N 114 Lord Jesus! source of every grace,
 Glorious in light divine,
Soon shall we see Thee face to face,
 And in that glory shine. . . .

N 137 We praise Thee, Lord, in strains of deepest joy,
(Adapted) Responsive to thy voice of holy love;
We hail thee, source of bliss without alloy,
Bright inlet to the light of heaven above. . . .

This hymn has a verse that addresses the Father.

N 160 Oh bright and blessèd hope!
 When shall it be,
 That we His face, long loved,
 Revealed shall see! . . .

N 206 Where the saints in glory thronging,
 Where they feed on life's blest tree—
There is stilled each earnest longing,
 Satisfied our souls shall be. . . .

N 346 O Lord! 'tis sweet the thought
That Thou art mine!
But brighter still the joy
That I am Thine. . . .

N 348 Blest Lord, Thou spakest! 'twas Thy voice
 That led our hearts to Thee;
That drew us to that better choice,
 Where grace has set us free. . . .

The numerical structure of the new book closely resembled the 1856 and 1881 editions, 292 hymns retaining their number in the 1903 book.

There were 402 hymns in the new edition, a reduction of 24 from the edition of 1881.

Twenty-six hymns were selected from the Additional Hymns collection and they proved to be popular with the users of Mr Reynolds' revision.

Appraisal of the New Book

No hymn-book revision is ever satisfactory to everybody. Mr Wigram's edition did not receive wholesale recognition, neither did Mr Darby's. It would have been amazing if Mr Reynolds' revision had received universal acclaim from those who used it or from others who examined it. The following remarks (from one of the latter group which still used the 1881 revision) give some indication of the new hymn-book's appeal:

"In 1903, in a purported revision with the object of bringing the “Little Flock Hymn Book” into agreement with Mr. Raven's denial of the unity of the Person of Christ, his followers omitted therefrom hymn 61, containing the verse:
His Glory not only God's Son—
In Manhood He had His full part—
And the union of both joined in One
Form the fountain of love in His heart." 69

And also:

" Mr. F. E. Raven having, in 1890, introduced new doctrines, his followers revised the book in 1903 to make it conform to his new teachings; and Mr. T. H. Reynolds having been the father of it and written the preface to it, we may call it the Reynolds hymn book." 70

This is a very hostile reference to the 1903 edition.71 It is regrettable that Mr Noel did not give any further specific evidence for his serious allegation that the 1903 edition contained teachings peculiar to F. E. Raven. In 1978 when a new revision was made, 335 hymns from the 1903 edition were incorporated. None of the sixty-seven hymns omitted from the 1903 edition were excluded because of any doctrinal defect. Brethren who had enjoyed happy and profitable fellowship with Mr Noel's company of brethren did not point out any doctrinal defects in the 1903 hymns when the 1978 edition was being compiled.

An endeavour to augment the 1903 edition was made by the publication of Supplementary Hymns. It was published by The Central Bible Truth Depot, 5 Rose Street, London, EC4. The Supplement contained thirty-three hymns, and was to have been fixed into the 1903 edition. Later, another attempt was made to provide additional hymns for the use at Bible readings, prayer meetings, farewell meetings to the Lord's servants, meetings for young believers, marriages, and other special occasions. In 1921 a kind of appendix to the Little Flock hymn-book was published. This collection of 107 hymns, like its predecessor, did not become popular and its use was discontinued. Its foreword is as follows:

This book is not intended in any way to be a substitute for the well-known “Hymns for the Little Flock.” Its main object is to provide some hymns for use at Bible readings, prayer meetings, farewell meetings to the Lord's servants, meetings for young believers, and other special occasions. To provide additional hymns for singing at the Breaking of Bread has been quite a secondary aim. But it was thought that while making a collection of hymns to use, where it is desired, as a kind of appendix to the Little Flock book, some of the new hymns that have appeared of recent years in magazines and elsewhere might with advantage be included. It will thus be possible to use both books together, a hymn being given out from either. 72

Five of the hymns of the first supplement were included in the 1978 edition.

The 1903 edition of Mr Reynolds had a life of seventy-five years for its users. This alone gives some indication of the worth of its varied hymns. Those who used it appreciated the dignity, value, and doctrinal worth of its contents; and the response to the Father and the Son in the Spirit's power was enriched by it.

It was first published by G. Morrish, then (after 1932) by The Central Bible Truth Depot of 11 Little Britain, London, E.C.1.


The 1928 Revision

IN 1926 a reunion took place between brethren who had been separated from each other since 1881. Some of them ('Lowe–Continental' brethren) were accustomed to sing from Mr Darby's revision of 1881, the others ('Kelly' brethren) from Mr Kelly's revision of 1894. An exercise arose for a new hymn-book and W. J. Hocking, a Cornishman from the latter company, was asked to be responsible for the revision. Called Hymns Selected and Revised in 1928, N. Noel said of it:

The brethren who refused F. E. Raven in 1890, became reunited in 1926 with those from whom they had been separated since 1881, and this book revised in 1928 contains a selection of 426 [sic, should be 436] of the best hymns from the former book of each company, but mostly from the Little Flock hymn book. 73

The Editor and His Work

William John Hocking was well-qualified to do this service for his brethren. He had been amongst 'brethren' for over forty years and was a widely respected teacher of the Holy Scriptures—many regarded him as the spiritual successor to William Kelly. His own recollections are of interest here:

In that year [1883] I sought fellowship in a large London gathering. For some four years as a young congregationalist, I had been deeply exercised by N.T. teaching on the subject of the assembly. I had become conversant with the writings of the leading brethren and was convinced of the evils of sectarianism in Christendom, against which the “brethren” were witnessing. After receiving my credentials as a believer, the elder brothers who saw me inquired whether I accepted the Park Street judgement. I confessed my ignorance, and explained my lack of opportunity to learn the facts. They however, were most emphatic that I must decide before I could be received. This staggered me. I had encountered the very thing I had just abandoned—a humanly constructed barrier to fellowship. I was subsequently directed to another company (with whom W.K. met) where this test was not applied. 74

From about 1909 he edited The Bible Treasury. Mr Kelly, its previous editor, had died; F. E. Race, the next editor, had to retire because of health problems. When The Bible Treasury ceased publication, Mr Hocking edited another magazine called The Bible Monthly. Perhaps the best-known book he wrote is The Son of His Love, a defence of the eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In July 1883 he started as a Clerk in the Royal Mint, rising to the position of Superintendent of the Operative Department (one of the top three senior officers) in 1919. In 1918 he was awarded the CBE (Commander (of the Order) of the British Empire) and in 1926, when he retired from the Mint, he was awarded the CVO (Commander of the Royal Victorian Order).

The four brothers involved in the 1978 revision of the Little Flock hymn-book received a letter from Mr Stanley Hocking, W. J. Hocking's son, stating that his father's health had been badly affected by the strain involved in the revision work.

It is difficult to find much information about this revision; apparently no detailed account of the work was left on record. However, we do know that Mr Hocking referred to a collection of over 170 hymn-books during the preparation of his book.

Features of the 1928 Revision

Evidentially, Mr Hocking based his revision primarily on Mr Kelly's 1894 book, omitting fifty-six hymns and substituting fifty-six new ones (mainly from Mr Darby's 1881 book). Amongst these were eight by G. W. Frazer, ten by Miss C. H. von Poseck, and some by Mrs J. A. Trench. One was by Mr Hocking himself—a beautiful hymn for Prayer Meetings:

OUR God and Father unto Thee
As pilgrims weak we now draw near
To breathe our prayers on bended knee,
And supplicate Thy gracious ear.

In former days Thou oft hast heard
And amply answered in Thy grace;
By those rich bounties deeply stirred
We bless Thy name and seek Thy face.

Though granted much, we still need more,
For some are weak and some have grief;
Supply us all from Thy rich store
With grace and strength and glad relief.

Our prayers we bring in that great name,
The name Thou gavest to Thy Son;
In Jesus' name we mercy claim,
And humbly say, “Thy will be done.” 75

He had four others in the 1894 revision, which he retained. They were:

N 194 Lord and Saviour, we remember,
In that hour of shame,
Thou to God Thyself didst render:
Praise Thy name. . . .

N 232 Gathered to Thy name, Lord Jesus,
Gathered here with one accord
Thine own self we own among us,
Faithful to Thy promised word;

May our eyes on Thee, blast Saviour,
Rest with one unceasing gaze,
And our hearts, with Thee enraptured,
Overflow with songs of praise. . . .

both hymns for the remembrance of the Lord Jesus; and:

N 247 Gladly let us join to sing,
Heart and lips united bring,
In a strain of sweet accord
To our Saviour, Christ the Lord. . . .
a hymn of praise; and

N 392 O Gracious God, our Father,
We thank Thee for Thy word,
To every saint so precious,
That speaks of Christ the Lord;

We thank Thee for Thy Spirit
That moved those men of old
Who in the holy record
Thy truth and love unfold. . . .
a beautiful hymn for Bible readings or ministry meetings.

Mr Hocking left over 200 hymns from Mr Kelly's revision unchanged, but about 170 had numerous changes; words altered, singular changed to plural, and a few spellings were altered. This is one example of the alterations he made:

N 265 by W. Kelly, verse 3—
Oh, for grace to share Thy sorrow
In the world that cast Thee out;
Whilst we wait the cloudless morrow
By Thy work secured from doubt.
When our Saviour,
Thou hast us to glory brought.

In 1928—
Oh, for grace to share Thy sorrow
Where Thou, Lord, wast crucified;
While we wait the cloudless morrow
When Thou reignest glorified<;
Thy confessors,
Now Thy body, then Thy bride

He altered some hymns from the 1881 edition too. An example is:

N 35 (App) by Mrs J. A. Trench—
All the path the saints are treading,
Trodden by the Son of God:
All the sorrows they are feeling,
Felt by Him upon the road:
All the darkness and the sorrow
From around and from within;
All the joy and all the triumph,
He pass'd through apart from sin.

In 1928, N 35—
All the path the saints are treading,
Trodden by the Son of God:
Sorrows too which they are feeling,
Felt by Him upon the road:
All the bitterness and trial
From around and borne within;
All the joy and all the triumph,
He passed through, apart from sin.

In many hymns, verses were added (about fifty verses in all) and in a few, verses were omitted (about six). Mr Hocking followed Mr Kelly's numerical structure closely—both had 436 hymns. He brought back thirteen hymns rejected by Mr Kelly in 1894. One of these (N 366) was Sir John Bowering's hymn 'We cannot always trace the way'—Mr Kelly had called it a hymn of an unbeliever.

The 1928 edition is unique among those being considered in using the spelling 'fullness' instead of 'fulness'. Also, 'O' and 'Oh' were carefully distinguished. 'O' is used when forming a vocative and when it is closely associated with and not separated by punctuation from what follows. 'Oh' is used as an independent exclamation, followed by a comma or exclamation mark. An example is hymn N 67 (1928) 'Oh, for a robe of whiteness, to walk with Christ in light!' N 148 (1881) has 'Oh for a robe of whiteness'.

How the Revision was Received

The revision was generally well-received and the brethren who used it appreciated it during its fifty years of use until it was incorporated in the revision of 1978.

The 1928 Revision is still in use in various fellowships, particularly those 'open brethren' meetings once associated with W. W. Fereday, who had a very high regard for Mr Kelly's ministry.


The 1978 Revision

The Reason for the Revision

IN 1974 another major healing took place among brethren who for many years had not enjoyed practical fellowship with each other. The reunion caused much thanks-giving to God but one of the problems that it created concerned the use of the Little Flock hymn-book. The brethren involved were using three different versions of the Little Flock hymn-book. Some still used Mr Darby's 1881 edition; some used Mr Reynolds' 1903 edition, and others used Mr Hocking's 1928 edition. Many felt that a new revision was necessary. Those who used the different editions had not expressed any dissatisfaction with them but it was felt desirable to have one hymn book to avoid confusion and to remove one of the reminders of a previously divided state. An opportune moment arrived that set in motion the work of a new revision. Stocks of the 1903 edition became exhausted and those responsible for its publication raised the matter of a new revision. When it was agreed to have a new revision, four brothers were asked to undertake the work involved. They were John Blackburn (Stockton-on-Tees), Bert Moss (Bromley), Bert Nunn (Upminster), and Frank Wallace (Port Seton).

The Work of the Revision

As the four brothers represented many thousands of English-speaking brethren it was of the utmost importance that they were aware of the desires of their brethren about the revision. To gain an accurate understanding of their desires, sheets were printed containing the first lines of all the hymns to be considered for the new revision. These sheets were sent to all the gatherings affected by the revision. Well-used hymns were to be marked for retention. Seldom-used or never-used hymns were to be marked for exclusion. Area meetings were held and free discussions took place, which were helpful in forming the character of the new hymn-book. Generally speaking, there was firm consensus of opinion as to which hymns should be included in the new book and which ones should be excluded from it. Many requests were made for new hymns to be included.

When the four brothers had all the information they required to guide them in the revision, they began the work in earnest. In all, six lengthy sessions were held, usually at Primrose Hall, Enfield, but also in rented premises in Stockton-on-Tees. These concentrated work periods were prefaced each day by sincere prayer for help and guidance from the Lord Jesus for this important task. The utmost harmony prevailed in these studies. There was a united desire to provide a hymn-book that would be a valuable aid in the gatherings of the saints and also for use in their homes and on other occasions. Apart from the efforts of the four brothers when together, a great amount of work was done privately at home. This work involved reading many original compositions, hymn-books from various sources, and many books of poetry. The most perplexing matter of the work of the revision was the vast number of changes that had been made to the hymns under consideration. Each edition was different in the rendering of many hymns and it was difficult to decide which was best.

The Preface to the 1978 Revision

The preparation of this new hymn book was felt by many to be necessary to replace the earlier hymn books published in 1903 and 1928 which were in use by different meetings now in fellowship with each other. Four brethren in Great Britain were invited by the publishers in the UK to share in this task, and at about the same time five brethren in the United States were asked by the brothers in conference at Kenosha to participate, including also consideration of the 1881 book in use in some meetings in America. Harmonious co-operation was experienced throughout, with the benefit also of help and advice of brethren in Australia and New Zealand. The needs of the meetings in the Caribbean area have also been constantly in mind. We write with deep gratitude to the Lord who has sustained us in the work now concluded.

The circumstances prompting the start of this revision necessarily imposed the result that the overwhelming bulk (436) of the hymns in the new book are taken from the three earlier books. Our aim was to ensure that no hymn in regular use would be lost. Only hymns we are assured are never or hardly ever sung were to be eliminated. Users of the new edition will thus be enjoying the benefit of a century's use proving by experience that the hymns retained are really used, and have therefore been found of spiritual value. It is fitting to remark that the deeply instructed spirit of devotion to the Father and the Son, and of reliance on the Spirit, marked out in the 1881 preface, is still bearing its fruit with us through the retention of these hymns. “A basis of truth and sound doctrine . . . the Father's love, and Christ, developed in the soul's affections, rising in praise back again to its source . . . in a vast number of hymns there is real piety in the affections, but connected with statements which . . . are unscriptural. . . . Many such have been eliminated. . . . Hymns should be simple, full of Christ an the Father's love.” It was our constant prayer that the Lord would enable us to maintain these standards in additional hymns, although our scope was a little wider than that delineated in the 1881 preface. (The prefaces to the 1856, 1881, and 1903 editions are available in the 1903 edition.)

In our wide-ranging discussions with the brethren, the impression was sometimes received that the hymn book should provide only for worship in the assembly. Without attempting to specify which is, and which is not, an 'assembly' gathering, it came before us that in this century of experience in the use of hymn books in the meetings, those we are considering were the only ones available to the saints meeting together for any purpose as saints. In particular the needs of prayer meetings and ministry should be provided for, the latter including exhortation as well as teaching. Accordingly, in the selection of additional hymns (there are only 64) we have endeavoured to make such provision, as well as maintaining the standards of the earlier books. Desire for hymns for other occasions, i.e. gospel, weddings, funerals, valediction to missionaries, was strong in some countries, and it was to meet these urgently expressed needs that some hymns of this character have been included. It will not be forgotten that, over and above the 64 'additional hymns', 1928 users have more than 60 hymns from 1903 and 1881, and so with the other books.

Editing hymns, especially where the same hymns occurred with different words, was often a perplexing problem:
(1)The first criterion was always purity of doctrine and adherence to truth, so far as it was given to us to judge of these.
(2)The original author's words were always consulted, if available, and they were chosen where there seemed insufficient reason for the change which had been made.
(3)We have in general adhered to the principle that hymns for singing in the assembly are more fitting in the plural.
(4)If the Lord tarry, future editors will find on record our reasons for these decisions, briefly stated.76

In considering the numbering of hymns consideration was given to an alphabetical order, and also to a classification of subjects. It was decided that a continuation of the well-known framework of numbering would best suit the way hymns are selected during our actual gatherings.

The book now has a title which has the great virtue of being simply Scriptural. 'Spiritual Songs' is printed in large type to suggest that brethren might wish to use the phrase as the short title. The only widespread comment on this has been to question whether the use of the word 'Psalms' is appropriate. Our decision rests on the conviction that the 'psalms' of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 cannot be Old Testament Psalms. There is general acceptance of the view that the word means 'expression of feeling' as a result of experience in the pathway. There is considerable expression of such Christian feeling in all our hymn books.

A sincere attempt has been made to obtain permission to publish in those cases where hymns chosen are subject to copyright. Any omissions are matter for regret, and would be rectified at the earliest opportunity.

Our thanks are due to several brothers and sisters who have undertaken sections of the heavy burden of work which has been involved. Above all, we render thanks and praise to God for answering prayers for grace, guidance and support through to the completion of the work. We pray for His blessing on this hymn book, and perhaps might be permitted to add, in quotation of Romans 15:31, that our “service . . . may be accepted of the saints”. 77

Features of the Revision

The preface refers to the perplexing problem of the differences found in many of the hymns in the three hymn-books under consideration. Some changes were only slight but others involved whole lines. The following table {omitted} shows the [number of] hymns omitted, retained, unchanged, changed, number of changes, and new hymns included. The figures were compiled after careful checking of the hymn-books involved. As there were over 1200 hymns to check it will be appreciated that it was a time-consuming job. It would be foolish to claim one hundred per cent accuracy but every endeavour was made to be correct.

A notable feature of the new revision was the increased number of hymns. The 500 hymns made it much larger than any of the preceding editions of 1856, 1881, 1903, and 1928. This enlargement provided a greater variety of hymns from which to choose.

About one fifth of the hymns in the book are by sisters. Their hymns are compositions of spiritual worth. Mrs Frances Bevan and Miss Hannah Kilham Burlingham translated German hymns into English and some of these are in Spiritual Songs. N 254 is part of a composition that Janetta W. Taylor (who later married John Alfred Trench) wrote for her own baptism. N 186 was composed by Mrs Hazel Dixon of Stockport and is a beautiful exposition of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1–9). Miss C. Anne Wellesley, a relative of the Duke of Wellington; Frances Ridley Havergal; Mary Bowly (Mrs Peters); Miss Catherine Helene von Poseck (daughter of Count Julius Anton Eugen Wilhelm von Poseck); and many other sisters have enriched Spiritual Songs with their hymns. Thank God for singing women as well as singing men (Nehemiah 7:67).

A few original compositions were included in the new book: N 186 by Mrs Hazel Dixon, 'Sower divine send forth Thy word'; N 260 by Leslie M. Grant, 'Father, Oh, what boundless glory'; N 395 by William Anglin, 'O Saviour, we would contemplate Thee'; and N 494 by Norman Anderson, 'Lord, in Thy grace and truth our souls delight'.

N 308 by Miss Ora Rowan 'Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?' is a poem written by her. It was considered to be worthy of a place in the new hymn-book. It has proved to be popular and is often sung in the gatherings.

These and other new hymns, which were not in the 1856, 1881, 1903, or 1928 editions met specific exercises and have proved useful in the gatherings. A few are given here with the specific features attaching to them:

N 30 'We praise Thee for Thy Spirit, Lord'
(the Holy Spirit)

N 41 'Low in the grave He lay'
(the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus)

N 42 'Lord Jesus Christ, our Living Head'
(the Headship of Christ)

N 74 'May the mind of Christ my Saviour'
(for personal commitment)

N 87 'Jesus shall reign where'er the sun'
(the world to come)

N 89 'Blessed be God, our God!'
(an appreciation of God the Blesser)

N 90 That pathway! O let it be treasured'
(the pathway of the Lord Jesus)

N 112 '“Buried with Christ,” and raised with Him too'
(a baptismal hymn)

N 169 'There is rest for the weary soul'
(rest for the soul)

N 190 'Break Thou the Bread of Life'
(an appreciation of the Holy Scriptures)

N 199 'Man of Sorrows! what a name'
(an appreciation of the Saviour)

N 217 'Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armour on'
(a call to defend the truth)

N 258 'O Jesus, Thou hast promised'
(a desire to be faithful to the Lord Jesus)

N 262 'O Jesus, Lord, Great Shepherd of Thy sheep'
(the Great Shepherd)

N 272 'Revive Thy work, O Lord'
(a prayer for revival)

N 282 'Christian, seek not yet repose'
(the necessity to watch and pray)

N 289 'Be still my soul: the Lord is on Thy side'
(patience and confidence in God)

N 293 'Jesus calls us; o'er the tumult'
(a call to discipleship)

N 299 'The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want'
(a favourite hymn for varied occasions)

N 306 'What a Friend we have in Jesus'
(the value of prayer)

N 332 '“We rest on Thee,” our shield and our defender'
(God our shield)

N 344 'Not I, but Christ, be honoured, loved, exalted'
(Christ only)

N 357 'Thou hast stood here, Lord Jesus'
(for burials)

N 374 'Go, labour on; spend, and be spent'
(a call to serve Christ)

N 395 'O Saviour we would contemplate Thee'
(the Lord's pathway of sorrow)

N 494 'Lord, in Thy grace and truth our souls delight'
(for weddings)

N 500 'At the name of Jesus'
(the name of Jesus)

The lists of authors in previous revisions were checked carefully and many discrepancies and some errors were discovered. Most have now been corrected in the 1978 revision (Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology being invaluable for this research) although a few more have subsequently come to light. In an article about Robert Hawker (1753–1827), who wrote hymns N 104 and N 379, the author pointed out that:

No, 61 “How wondrous the glories that meet” is attributed to R. S. Hawker, the grandson of Robert Hawker above. His dates were 1804–1875 (not 1873). The dates in the back of Spiritual Songs, therefore, are wrong and the two Hawkers have been confused. 78

And a month later, a brother wrote:

I much appreciate your remarks on 'Spiritual Songsters' given regularly in Tidings, but in the July issue there seems to be a confusion between F. C. Burkitt and F. G. Burkitt. The latter was a gifted teacher and writer among the so-called “Lowe brethren” when they were united with the “Kelly brethren” in 1926, I met Mr. F. G. Burkitt personally and heard him give two excellent addresses on Heb. 1 & 2. These were afterwards published in the magazine “Bible Monthly”. Our brother was himself editor, just prior to his death, of the magazine “Words of Help”79 and his literary contributions included an excellent treatise on prophecy entitled “Behold, He cometh” and a very helpful “Brief Notes on the Epistle to the Hebrews” entitled “Christ our Sacrifice and Priest”.

At the reunion of K/L brethren in 1926, Mr. Hocking was asked to revise the two hymn books, and the 1928 edition was the result when Mr. F. G. Burkitt's two hymns were added, numbers 33 and 78.

In view of the above, I respectively [sic] suggest that the mention of F. C. Burkitt for no. 33 in “Names of Authors” in the current “Spiritual Songs (1978)” is a misprint,80 and has nothing to do with Francis Crawford Burkitt in Julian's account. You will forgive me, I am sure, in my desire to put the record straight! 81

A pleasing feature of the new hymn-book is the number of hymns written by previous editors of the Little Flock hymn-book.

G. V. Wigram has four (Nos. 72, 91, 132, and 330). J. N. Darby's contribution is twenty-six hymns (Nos. 12, 14, 25, 64, 76, 79, 81, 101, 139, 160, 169, 235, 247, 270, 314, 331, 343, 348, 356, 187, 400, 406, 431, 450, 452, and 453). Only two of Mr Kelly's hymns appear (Nos. 422 and 438). T. H. Reynolds, like G. V. Wigram, has four hymns (Nos. 53, 59, 233, and 372). W. J. Hocking contributes five hymns (Nos. 194, 232, 305, 420, and 462). The hymns of these well-known brothers are rich in truth and poetic feeling. Most of them, if not all, are sung often in the gatherings throughout the world.

The non-sectarian character that marked the revisions by G. V. Wigram, J. N. Darby, T. H. Reynolds, and W. J. Hocking was preserved in the 1978 revision. Hymns were included for their truth and spiritual content. No prejudices were shown against hymn-writers because of their ecclesiastical connections.

Whatever criticisms have been made of G. V. Wigram's 1856 Little Flock hymn-book, the fact remains that 224 of the 340 hymns (66%) from his edition are retained in the 1978 revision.82 It is a powerful testimony to his wise and intelligent selection. Although many of the hymns included in the 1978 revision from the 1856 edition have been altered, they are substantially the same hymns. That these hymns have been used continually by brethren for over 140 years is evidence of their spiritual content and usefulness in private and collective worship.

In 1987 the trustees of the Christian Outreach to the Handicapped embarked on a project to produce a giant print edition of the hymn-book. After consultation with the publishers and potential users, the project was realized in 1988 (the ISBN is 0-90186-007-7). The print size is suitable for visually disabled and those with learning difficulties. Interestingly, young children also find it helpful when they are still learning to read.

The raising of appropriate tunes is an important service in the gatherings and, because of the large number of new hymns in the hymn-book, a music edition was prepared in North America and published in 1981. With a tune for each hymn in the 1978 revision and also some alternative tunes, the tune book helps greatly not only those who lead the saints in singing but also any who can follow music. A compact edition (the same size as the text edition) was printed in 1993. Brethren visiting from abroad especially value this as the majority of Continental brethren are used to having the tunes printed in their hymn-books.

How the Revision was Received

Not all were satisfied with the 1978 revision. As with previous revisions, there were those who were annoyed that hymns they liked were not retained. Others were disappointed that the hymns they had offered for inclusion were not accepted. Some were even of the opinion that the revision was unnecessary. The latter were ignoring the healing that had taken place amongst the brethren. Eventually, some who were opposed to the new book began to recognize its spiritual worth and were happy to use it. A few assemblies continued to use the older editions (as do some who were not part of the reunion, for example, some 'open brethren' meetings). In the main, the revision was well received and as brethren grew more familiar with its hymns it became a well-used vehicle for the Spirit of God to use in the gatherings for worship, prayer, and ministry.

A hymn-book is not inspired as are the Holy Scriptures and so it is inevitable that mistakes and blemishes will be found in such compilations. The 1978 edition is certainly no exception and so the following examples, which have been suggested or pointed out by various brethren, are given. The reader can decide whether these amount to anything more than the inevitable individual preference.

The last line of verse two in N 3 follows the 1881 and 1903 editions in reading 'Thy sons and daughters—bought with blood' rather than 'Children beloved, and . . .' as in the 1894 and 1928 editions (see Mr Kelly's remarks on this phrase).

Some brethren consider that, in N 42, the phrase addressed to the Lord Jesus 'To Thee as God we bow' would be better if it read 'To Thee, O God, we bow' because the Lord Jesus is God. Of course, we are sure that the author, Dr C. C. Elliott, never intended to suggest that this is not the case.

In the second verse of N 61 . . . there is the serious, classical error concerning the Lord's Person (Monophysitism), where the two natures (Godhead and Manhood) are both joined in one nature, whereas they remain distinctively two, and are joined in His Person; that is He is one blessed Person, with two natures.

This could easily be corrected by giving the word “one” a capital “O”, making it a pronoun representing the Lord Himself. This is as it is in all other hymns such as 6,8,39,50,124,143,150,174, etc.

Line 4 of verse 2 also presents a difficulty as the “fountain of love in His heart” is not formed by the union of the natures in one Person, but has been eternally existent in His Person before the incarnation. Changing the word “forms” to “shows” would put this right. 83

In N 140, the first line reads 'O Lord, our hearts are waiting the archangel's heaven-sent cry'. However, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 it is 'the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel'. It is the Lord's voice but having the characteristics of the archangel's voice. Perhaps 'O Lord, our hearts are waiting that loud triumphant cry', as some other revisers rendered it, would be more accurate?

In N 478, the second line of verse one 'All God's angels to thee bow;' should have a capital 'T' for 'Thee'. This printing error originated in the 1928 edition.

The earliest words-only edition do not contain a metrical index and the metres shown by each hymn are sometimes inconsistent (and occasionally incorrect). Although the latest words-only economy edition now includes a metrical index, it retains the inconsistencies and errors (the music editions contained a more accurate one from the start).

However, when a hymn-book contains hymns that the Holy Spirit can use to glorify the Father and the Son and to be a source of inspiration, comfort, and encouragement to the believers who use it then it justifies its existence and demonstrates its value. So despite these very few (debatable) points there is no doubt that the 1978 edition is a valued improvement on its predecessors—and worthy to be considered as the current Little Flock hymn-book.

Part 2

The Divergent Taylor Revisions

(Only  the introductory and concluding remarks of this section are given here. The history of this branch of the hymn book may be of interest to historians, theologians and may help some who are still associated with those brethren, but it is felt that it is not profitable for wide publication. Any one who feels it needful to see this section should contact Chapter Two Publishers, which, to date: 1999-2012 have not yet issued this work. Ed. STEM)


A HISTORY of the Little Flock hymn-book would be incomplete without reference to the revisions done by the Taylor brethren since 1932. Any inaccuracies in this account are the responsibility of the author (when he is not quoting the sources of his information). It may be that others will be able to give added and valuable information (not merely rumours or hearsay) about the Taylor editions from 1932 to 1990 if another edition of this book becomes necessary. The term 'Taylor brethren' has been used to designate the company involved and is not used in an offensive or disrespectful way.

The author of this History was twelve years among the Taylor brethren (1949–1961) and learned to love and esteem many upright brethren among them. He has no desire to stir up controversy but, as far as his information allowed him, to give a factual account of the different editions.

To write an account of the revisions of the Little Flock hymn-book by those known as 'Taylor brethren' is not easy. Such an account has, unhappily, to refer to departure from major doctrines and to sectarian practices. From 1856 to 1978, all the editions of the Little Flock hymn-book were free from such blemishes. Not so the editions issued by Taylor brethren and seceders from them. No doubt, the account entitled 'The Divergent Taylor Revisions' will be criticised and its assertions perhaps denied; so be it. Every effort has been made to give verbatim accounts from the published writings of the Taylor brethren and those who seceded from them. The author is responsible for the account and any observations he has made about the various editions. Someone with more ability in research and literary form would no doubt have produced a more readable account. However, it is hoped that this attempt at an account of the Taylor revisions will enable the readers to understand why the revisions were done.

The Taylor Revisions

In all the revisions of the Little Flock hymn-book from 1881 to 1978 there was a constant exercise to improve it by removing certain expressions that did not present the truth clearly. None of these expressions were destructive of the great fundamental truths revealed in Holy Scripture. Many new hymns were added during the various revisions until the collection became a suitable vehicle for the service of praise and worship. Hymns were included because of the truth they expressed not because of the author's ecclesiastical connection. The revisions were not the result of controversies or divisions.

The Taylor revisions of 1932 and 1951 were connected with two major truths of Christianity—the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. The 1932 revision was done principally to exclude all reference to the 'eternal Son' and the 1951 revision was done to include hymns addressed to the Holy Spirit. The revision of 1958 and the re-selection of 1973 were the result of divisions among the Taylor brethren. The amendments of 1962, 1973, and 1990 were made principally to exclude hymns by authors who had left the Taylor brethren.


Concluding Remarks

The consideration of the 1990 amendment of the Little Flock hymn-book makes sad reading. There cannot be any doubt that it is the result of gross sectarianism and deserves to be considered as a grave divergence from the earlier editions of G. V. Wigram and J. N. Darby. Perhaps the following poem is not out of place here:

Believe as I believe, no more, no less;
That I am right, and no one else, confess;
Feel as I feel, think only as I think;
 Eat what I eat and drink what I drink,
Look as I look, do always as I do,
 And then, and only then, I'll fellowship with you.

When we believe the Truth, no more no less,
 And seek to follow Christ and Him confess;
His sheep will love and pray for their success.
 That free from sin, the world, and Satan's power,
We'll walk together, fed from Heaven's store,
 And long to be with Christ in glory evermore.


The Lord is coming! That great day will bring to an end the use of hymn-books for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The redeemed throng in glory will sing a new song. J. N. Darby imagined the great chorale when he wrote:
“Praise the Lamb,” the chorus waking,
All in heav'n together throng;
Loud and far each tongue partaking
Rolls around the endless song. 177

Hasten that glorious day! Until that day arrives, the 1978 revision of the Little Flock hymn-book will play an important role in helping believers to sing hymns of truth and spiritual worth. Whether there will be another revision is uncertain. If there ever is, it is hoped that it will preserve the truth and character that has marked the Little Flock hymn-book from 1856 to 1978.


Music Editions

1856 Selection

G. Morrish of 20 Paternoster Square, London published Music arranged for a few Hymns and some Spiritual Songs. Selected 1856, for The Little Flock. The compilation consisted of 124 tunes arranged in metrical order preceded by an Index entitled 'Hymns suitable to each tune', then by one entitled 'Tunes most suitable to the hymns'. There is also an untitled preface, which contains the following useful advice:

Unmeaning repetition of words, for the sake of musical effect, seems little suited to the congregational singing of hymns. The Compilers of the following Collection of Tunes have, therefore, excluded all such as require this, with one exception, “No. 87,”[178] which is frequently sung in different parts of the country, and almost always incorrectly. The repetition of a very short line is sometimes, however, inevitable.

Congregational singing would be much better if those who lead were careful to avoid all notes, turns, and slurs which are not essential to the melody; and also to sing softly.

1881 Revision

In 1883, G. Morrish published a tune book for use with the 1881 Revison, entitled Melodies and Chants, adapted to “Hymns for the 'Little Flock.'” compiled by Dr Thomas Willey (1847–1930). It contained five tunes composed by the compiler himself, Crucifixion, Deliverance, Light Divine, Remembrance, and The Master's Return. The preface reads:

THIS Collection of Tunes has been brought together, as its name describes, for use with the book known to many of the Lord's people under the title of “A Few Hymns and Spiritual Songs for 'The Little Flock,'” as revised 1881. It is issued with a desire that it may lead to a better appreciation of an exercise which, when carried out in accordance with the apostle Paul's twofold description, “with the spirit and with the understanding,” is peculiarly elevating and refreshing, and one whose distinctive place, both in the assembly and the home, is freely and heartily recogised in the New Testament.

The Compiler has not limited himself to any special style, but has left himself free to collect from all available sources, old and new, whatever was in character with the hymns under consideration; taking as a guiding principle that just as the setting of a diamond should be so simple as not to divert attention from the beauty of the gem which is enshrined in it, so a tune should contain nothing which would interfere with either the words or the spirit of the hymn with which it is being sung.

It will be readily discovered which of the tunes are more suited for the home-circle than for the assembly, and they will be used accordingly.

The Compiler has to acknowledge with many thanks the courtesy and readiness with which applications for the use of copyright tunes have, with a few exceptions, been acceded to (see Index No. 2). Every effort has been made to prevent infringement of copyright; but if in any case this as inadvertently occurred, it shall, if desired, be rectified in a future edition.

It would be superfluous to offer any thanks to those who have so kindly helped in various ways in the production of this book, inasmuch as their service, like that of the Compiler himself, has been rendered for the sake of One who will take due note of this or any other “work of faith” or “labour of love” done either for Himself of those dear to Him.

May He re-kindle and keep bright in all our hearts the hope of a speedy fulfillment of His loving promise, “I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am ye may be also”!

London, May, 1883.

The collection was later enlarged and was issued as Melodies and Chants, adapted to “Hymns for the Little Flock.” as Revised 1881. With Supplement added. It was issued in a brown hardcover and consequently became known as 'Brown Willey'. The book contains a Notice which reads:

An enlargement of “Melodies and Chants” having become necessary, this “Supplement” is now added, the whole book being arranged so as to constitute a companion to “Hymns for the Little Flock.”

The desire has been to collect together tunes which have been, from time to time, brought into use, and have become familar, and also to introduce a certain amount of freshness by gathering tunes from other sources, new and old. In this, as in all else, the Lord's gracious guidance will be looked for and obtained. . . .

In 1964, Bible Truth Publishers of 239 Harrison Street, Oak Park, Illinois 60304, USA produced Little Flock Hymns with Optional Tunes 1881 edition. The Foreword to the 1964 Edition with Optional Tunes reads:

THIS hymn book, especially prepared for use in the home, definitely not in the assembly, provides a carefully selected and comprehensive repertoire of melodies that includes at least one suitable tune for each of the 426 hymns and spiritual songs contained in the Little Flock Hymn Book (1881 edition). This collection, largely composed of many of the finest melodies long in use among Christians generally, is believed to be representative of the preferred musical accompaniments of the brethren in Christ who have utilized the Little Flock hymn book in Canada, England, and the United States for more than fourscore years.

To insure the maximum convenience, the tunes are printed with the hymns for which, generally speaking, they are commonly sung.

A plurality of optional tunes has been supplied, the number thereof per hymn varying, as nearly as page arrangements have permitted, according to the relative degree of usage of the hymns themselves: those that are sung more often, therefore, have three, four, or even more optional melodies printed with them.

There are a number of tunes so commonly used as to necessitate their being printed with several hymns in order that these latter may be enjoyed as they should.

In addition to the optional tunes printed with the hymns, cross references are subjoined for other suitable optional melodies printed elsewhere.

Some hymns, of course, have but one universally used tune; others that are sung very little have likewise but one melody printed with them.

Anyone looking for a tune for any particular hymn which is not printed with it nor cross-referred, can consult the metrical index for all of the melodies available for its meter. Likewise, anyone calling to mind a melody by its name may locate it from the alphabetical index of tune names.

The pitch of each tune has been carefully checked. Some have been transposed to lower keys to make them more “comfortably singable” by the greatest number of voices. One or two have been pitched a little higher. Quite a few had harmonic defects which have been remedied. A few melodies that have been published in other hymnals present two or more variations and are not, therefore, sung everywhere alike. No fixed rule has been followed as to the one version printed herein; generally it is the version apparently most used.

If anyone does not find some favorite melody, the reason is either that it was so little used by others that it did not warrant inclusion, or that it did not appear in the lists of suggested tunes that all of the brethren179 were invited to contribute some time ago.

Certain refrains not contained with their respective hymns in the Little Flock collection itself but always sung to melodies especially composed for these refrains have, therefore, been incorporated into this home edition with music. Then, too, an entire stanza occasionally serves as the refrain to the other stanzas of some hymns sung to certain melodies; and four-line stanzas are often combined to double-meter tunes.

Furthermore, seeing that there are some variations in the texts of a few of the Little Flock hymns themselves in editions extant, these have been duly weighed in the light of the Scriptures and renderings adopted as herein printed.

Finally, although the greatest care has been exercised in the preparation of this music edition and in heartfelt dependence upon the Lord, it cannot be more than a “help” which is doubtless imperfect in some respects. Others, indeed, might have done better. But it is commended to our God who “giveth songs in the night” with the earnest hope that brethren in Christ, their families, the aged, the shut-ins, and other saints to whom the Little Flock Hymn Book itself is a new compilation of hymns and spiritual songs, will find it a practical, inviting, and valuable aid to “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19.

As far as could be ascertained by a thorough search, there is no copyright music in this entire collection. If any such rights have been unwittingly infringed, due amends therefore will gladly be made upon advice.

 We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the many brethren in Christ in various places who sent in lists of tunes used in their local assemblies, and of the brothers and sisters who so generously gave of their time and effort in the preparation of the materials for publication.

E.E.B. 1964

This large-format book, which contains six useful indices in addition to the hymns and tunes, was reprinted in 1976 and is still in available.

1903 Revision

In September 1903, following the 1903 revision, G. Morrish issued a little collection of eighteen tunes entitled Appendix to “Melodies and Chants.” for use with the “Hymns for the Little Flock,” As Revised 1903. Its Notice explains:

 THIS collection is intended only to supply what is needed for such metres in the revised “Little Flock” hymn-book as may not hitherto have been familiar to those by whom the book is used. A few tunes of ordinary metres are added, some of which are already known.

It is proposed (D.V.) to incorporate the whole in a revised Edition of “Melodies and Chants” later on.

Care has been taken not to print copyright tunes without obtaining the consent of the owners. If, in any case, this rule has been inadvertently broken, the matter will be rectified in a future edition.

September, 1903.

In 1904, the intended revision of Melodies and Chants was issued. The Notice in Melodies and Chants, adapted to “Hymns for the 'Little Flock,'” As Revised 1903. With Supplement Added reads:

A REVISED Edition of this book having been called for, it is now re-issued in the form originally published in 1883, with such alterations as were rendered necessary by the revision of “Hymns for the Little Flock” in 1903. A Supplement is added, which, it is hoped, will make the book of still further use as a companion to the revised Hymn-book.

Every care has been exercised to avoid infringement of copyright; but if any such have inadvertently occurred, it shall be rectified, if desired, in any subsequent edition.

A notice in reference to copyright tunes inserted in the Supplement will be found at the commencement of that part of the book.

December, 1904.

1928 Selection

In 1929, C. A. Hammond of 3 and 4, London House Yard, Paternoster Row, London, E.C.4 published The Botley Tune Book comprising Selected Hymn Tunes suitable for use with Hymns Selected and Revised in 1928. The Prefatory Note reads:

 THE following collection of hymn tunes has been compiled with the object of affording assistance in making a suitable choice for singing at home or in public. The task of compilation is rendered more difficult because of the wide divergence in musical taste, whereby some tunes which are much appreciated and enjoyed by many are less agreeable to others. The accompanying collection must therefore be regarded as a series of suggestions of tunes considered to be appropriate to the recently issued “Hymns Selected and Revised in 1928,” to which it is hoped it may become a recognised companion.

To secure variety, a sufficient number of tunes is included, so that not more than two hymns need be sung to any particular tune. At the same time, some well-known tunes are omitted because it is assumed that they are already quite familiar to all, while their omission reduces to that extent the bulk of the collection.

It is particularly desired that the issue of these tunes may not be taken to be in any way an attempted infringement of the liberty of the Holy Spirit in guiding at times to the use of other tunes for collective singing.

Care has been taken to obtain permission for such copyright pieces as have been chosen. Should any copyright tunes be inadvertently included without the necessary permit, the error will be corrected, if so desired, in any future editions.

In 1970, Believers Bookshelf, Inc., USA published a music edition of the 1928 hymn-book entitled Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, the result of the labours of a committee of nine brothers comprising: C. Nicholson, T. Howson, C. Schafer, O. Kaiser, E. Gast, G. Kashel, L. Muntz, J. Redekop, and T. Knapp. The preface reads:

"This edition of the 1928 hymnbook, which links precious hymns with melodies appropriate to their meaning, fills what has been a long felt need. This harmonization of words with melody will better enable us to “with one voice praise God.”

Careful consideration has been given to the selection of the melody to accompany each hymn. It is suggested that the hymn be sung to that tune. In most cases alternate (sic) melodies are provided which may be better known in a particular assembly.

The text and numerical sequence of the hymns in this edition follow that of the 1928 edition so that both can be used interchangeably.

A combined alphabetical index of both the first line of each hymn and the first line of each following stanza is provided.

Alphabetical and metrical indexes are supplied, which will be helpful in making the fullest possible use of the hymnbook. Due recognition is given to authors and composers in numerical and alphabetical listings.

It is believed that all of the melodies used in this edition are in the public domain. Should there be any unintended infringement of copyright, indulgence is requested.

Grateful acknowledgement is given to all those who have served the Lord faithfully in the production of this hymnbook. Their aim and prayer have been to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and to encourage more singing with grace in the heart to the Lord."

1932 Revision

In 1932, Charles Theodore Lambert (1890/1?–1959) compiled a music edition of the 1932 hymn-book. He was well-suited for the task—in 1916 G. Morrish had published fifteen of his compositions in a book of tunes called Making Melody. The 1932 music edition, entitled Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock with Tunes, 1932, was published by Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot. Some additional hymns, which did not appear in the words-only edition, were included in a supplement. The Preface reads:

It has been a privilege to be entrusted with the work of compiling this book of tunes and distinct help has been received in many unexpected ways which can only be traced, with thanksgiving, to the Lord's gracious hand. It is earnestly hoped that it may be of some service to a few of those who love the Lord Jesus and result in a better knowledge of suitable tunes, so that the collective service of praise to God may be continued in a living way without the hindrance that sometimes arises from a lack of order and unity in singing.

The results of the labours of the late Dr. Willey, embodied in the book known as “Melodies and Chants,” are in no way superseded by the new collection. That work, containing as it does many well-known tunes that are not found elsewhere, remains of permanent value and has been of great assistance in the making of the present compilation.

The main objects in publishing this book have been as follows:—
1. To provide, for home use, a book that would contain words as well as tunes, each hymn being printed below or opposite the appropriate tune or tunes.
2. To ensure that tunes would be available for all the new hymns in the hymn book which has just been revised.
3. To endeavour to set to each hymn the tune, or tunes, most suitable to the words, without using the same tune twice.
4. To collect in one volume all the best tunes, of a suitable character, in use in various parts often very locally) with a view to their being more generally known.
5. To add an Appendix containing hymns (and tunes) suitable for individual or family use and for children, thereby obviating the necessity for having a number of different books in the house, perhaps for the sake of two or three hymns in each.
6. To produce the book on a voluntary basis, at the lowest possible price, so as to bring within the reach of all.

In allocating tunes to hymns, in the main, the best known tunes have been set to the gospel hymns, old tunes to old hymns and new tunes to new hymns. It should, however, be clearly understood that this allocation of tunes to hymns, though very careful consideration has been given to it, is merely on the line of suggestion and imposes no obligation on anyone to use a particular tune to a certain hymn. But it was felt that there is, perhaps, a need for more recognition of a suitability of a tune to a hymn. It should help to convey the spirit and character of the hymn, and correspond with the words in rhythm as well as metre. For instance, a triumphant hymn needs a triumphant tune, and so forth. The idea of a tune being “wedded” to a hymn has been advocated by many, and where accepted greatly helps in remembering both hymns and tunes and in securing mutuality in singing. It is hoped that, in course of time, if the Lord tarries, this book may afford real help on these lines, as the tunes are learned.

The principles governing the selection of tunes have been as follows:—
1. To reject poor tunes or those too rich in harmony, etc., to be easily memorized for singing in meetings where no instrumental music is used. Also to refuse those having secular associations (such as “Prospect” and “Resignation”)180 or being in other ways unsuitable to the dignity of the service of God.
It was decided to write all the tunes uniformly in four-part harmony, for ease in singing, and in time, etc., suited to the dignity of the service of praise. Alterations
2. To use as many as possible of those tunes that have been specially composed for the hymns in this book, provided that they be moderately good and suitable.
3. To include all the most important old tunes and such others as might be obtainable from the well-known books, particularly those that could be easily memorized owing to their simplicity of melody, harmony and rhythm.

It was decided to write all the tunes uniformly in four-part harmony, for ease in singing, and in time, etc., suited to the dignity of the service of praise. Alterations have been made wherever thought necessary or desirable, and harmonies have been carefully revised, as far as may be, according to recognised rules.

The invaluable assistance rendered by many in finding, copying out, playing over, contributing, composing and re-writing tunes, sending in lists, revising harmonies, typing, preparing MSS. for Printers, and, last but not least, providing funds for initial costs, etc., so that the book might be sold at a low figure, is very gratefully acknowledged. No names need be mentioned as the friends who have thus helped would prefer to receive their reward in a coming day from the Lord, who takes notice of the smallest service done in His name.

Of the 500 tunes in the book (there are 78 alternative ones) the majority are either voluntary contributions composed for the hymns or well-known old ones. The former are available for any use in the interests of Christ and no copyright would be claimed for them.

By desire of many, a few widely-known copyright tunes have, however, been included, and the kind permission to use them which has been granted (in some cases without payment of a fee), is very thankfully recognized. The proper acknowledgement of these, and the names of the copyright owners, are printed below the respective tunes. The greatest care has been exercised to recognize copyright where it existed, and if, through oversight, there has been any failure to acknowledge it, the omission would be much regretted and will be rectified in any future edition there may be.

For an account of the collection of hymns reference may be made to the full preface to the small revised hymn book. But it may be said here that several brothers accepted responsibility for the revision and were helped in the work by many others. It was decided by them not to include any hymns for which copyright was claimed. Therefore, as far as is known, no acknowledgements are necessary. The “Prefatory Note to the 1932 Revision” concludes :—

“For convenience of reference, all gospel hymns are now placed together in the latter part of the book, and arranged in alphabetical order. The words “For the Little Flock” are retained on the title-page to distinguish this hymn book from others; they are not used in any narrower sense than attaches to the Lord's words to His disciples in Luke xii, 32.”

As a matter of general interest as many dates as possible have been ascertained and are given in the body of the book. The actual or approximate (“c.”) date of composition is given in some cases, in others the lifetime of the composer or author (e.g., 1800–1882), or, where this was not known, the date of birth (“b.”) or death (“d.”).

At the end of the book are Indexes of (i) Hymns, (ii) Authors, (iii) Tunes, (iv) Metres, and (v) Composers. Many tunes are known by two or three different names and these alternative names are given, for convenience of reference, in the Indexes of Tunes and Metres.

In conclusion it may, perhaps, be good to be reminded that he words, having true spiritual value, are the all-important part of this book. The tunes have not been chosen merely for the sake of music but for their adaptability to the hymns. What the living God looks for is that living praise which flows from the heart in the power of the Holy Spirit. Tunes with a measure of music are only necessary in order that the praise might be vocally expressed in a united, orderly and suitable manner and with the right spiritual feelings.
March, 1932. C. T. LAMBERT

1951 Revision

The 1951 edition contained some new hymns in unfamiliar metres. Consequently, a number of small collections of tunes in suitable metres were produced. One of these was called Hymn Tunes for use in conjunction with Hymns for the Little Flock, 1951 by H. Poulton and W. C. Fursland. This had the following note on the front cover:

'This booklet is distributed in the earnest hope that the tunes included may be usable in the service of praise in the assembly, and for encouragement for the Saints in the households. The compilers commit this matter to the Lord and count on His blessing'

Another collection was produced by the Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot of 5 Fife Road, Kingston-on-Thames, entitled Supplementary Tunes for Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock, 1951. This had a Preface as follows:

The 1951 revision of “Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock” has necessitated some new tunes being made available, owing to the fact that about twenty fresh metres have been introduced into the book.

Various persons, qualified to express an opinion, were therefore called together to consider how this should be done and to decide which tunes should be included. It was felt that a Supplement to the 1932 Tune Book, giving tunes to cover all the additional metres would satisfactorily meet the present need. Furthermore, in view of there being a good many new hymns to be learned, it was thought well to keep the number of new tunes, published at this time, to a minimum. For this reason, only one tune has, in the main, been provided for each metre. It was also felt that the issuing of this Supplement would render the reprinting of a completely new Tune Book unnecessary for some considerable time.

In the selection of these tunes it has been particularly in mind that they should be in keeping with the theme of the hymns concerned and that they should be suitable for unaccompanied singing, but it is not suggested that they should be used exclusively if suitable alternatives are known. The numbers given over the tunes correspond to the hymn numbers in the revised book.

The question of Copyright has been carefully looked into and the necessary permission to print several tunes has been obtained. If any rights have been inadvertently infringed, it is much regretted and will be corrected in any subsequent editions.
July 1951.

Eventually, in 1954, Stow Hill published the Little Flock Tune Book containing tunes for every metre used in the words-only edition. The tunes were not set to any particular hymn but were arranged in metrical order. The Preface explains:

'This book provides a selection of tunes covering the metres of the hymns in the 1951 Edition of “Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock”.'

It is clear that for the right use of the Hymn Book, there must be dependence upon the Spirit of God. In like manner it has been in mind, in compiling this Tune Book, that the best use of the music can only be made in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. In this way tunes most suitable to the words at any particular time will be selected and raised.

In view of the exercise as to the universal character of the Hymn Book, the choice of tunes has been made after careful enquiry from many using the book in different parts of the world, and, while individual judgment varies, express their wishes. Many hymn tunes from French, German and Scandinavian sources have also been examined and several have been included.

The question of Copyrights has been gone into thoroughly and permission to print a number of tunes has been obtained. Should any rights have been inadvertently infringed, it is much regretted and the publishers would be glad to be notified so that the matter may be corrected in any subsequent edition.

More than half the tunes in this book have been carried forward from the corresponding tune book published in 1932. The labours then of the compiler of that book, supplemented as they have been by much help from him at this time, have provided the foundations for this collection. Many others have devotedly helped at all stages of the work.

That what has been done may, in some little way, stimulate the response that now ascends to God from His people, is the desire and prayer of all those who have been privileged to have a part in the preparation of this volume. G.H.S.P. 1954

Interestingly, this book was known colloquially as 'Blue Willey' no doubt because it was considered as a successor to 'Brown Willey', the 1883 tune book compiled by the late Dr Willey. The book is still in print, now published by Bible and Gospel Trust, 99 Green Lane, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW4 6BW.

In 1965, Stow Hill issued the Little Flock Tune Book Supplement in a maroon cover. Its Preface explains:

The present Supplement to the Little Flock Tune Book has been prepared with a view to giving a wider circulation to certain tunes which have already become well known and are regarded as suitable for use in assembly service and on other occasions, and opportunity has been taken to include also certain other tunes which, as they are made use of, may be found equally serviceable. The Supplement is the outcome of the labours of many who, in a co-operative way, have devoted themselves to completing this task.. . . A.J.G. R.S. 1965 A.J.E.W.

This book became known as 'Red Willey'. Again, it is kept in print by the Bible and Gospel Trust.

1973 Re-selection

Following the 1973 Re-selection, Kingston Bible Trust of Rear of Wembley Avenue, Lancing, Sussex, BN15 9LX published the Little Flock Tune Book Revised 1979 with a green cover. The Preface reads:

This book provides a selection of tunes covering the metres of the hymns in the 1973 Edition of “Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock”.

The tunes have been selected from the previous “Little Flock” tune books published in 1904, 1932, 1954 and 1965 with the exception of tune No, 129 taken from “Redemption Songs”. . . .
J.M. A.H.B. F.B.F. 1979.

1978 Revision

In 1981, Believers Bookshelf updated their 1970 music edition to reflect the changes made in 1978. Entitled Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs Selected 1978, Music Edition, its Preface reads:

 Brethren from U.S.A. and Canada in conference at Kenosha, Wisconsin, decided that work on this music edition should be undertaken as soon as the text edition of Spiritual Songs (published in Great Britain) was completed. Five brothers, in consultation with the assemblies, have worked purposefully to add appropriate tunes to the hymns. Their aim has been to select tunes which enhance the message of the hymns, are dignified but simple and are commonly known or easily learned.

It is suggested that, so much as is possible, each hymn be sung to the written tune. Suitable alternate (sic) tunes, which may be better known or preferred, are indicated beneath many hymns.

Complete alphabetical and metrical indexes of tunes are provided. Also a numerical index of composers is given, showing the dates of their birth and their death, where known. An alphabetical index of authors has also been added.

Wherever ownership of copyright was known, permission for use has been secured and is acknowledged. Any omission is regretted and, if drawn to the publisher's attention, will be rectified in any subsequent edition.

The brothers involved in this production wish to offer grateful thanks for the support and assistance given in this work. It is their desire that the users of this edition may, in the power of the Holy Spirit, bring glory, praise, thanksgiving and worship to God our Father and our blessed Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

A compact edition, the same size as the words-only edition, was produced in 1993 making it much more convenient for use in the meetings.

Extracts from William Kelly's Letters

. . . Oblige me with your hymns marked in a hymn book. . . . (23rd June, 1893.)

 . . . The hymn book goes forward satisfactorily, some that objected helping now. I hope to send you the first sheet as a sample, which you can show to others. There will be a fair proportion of fresh ones; and others not in our book, but good; not a few to the Father, which is now a lack.

Do not forget that next Lord's Day notice is given for collection on the following Lord's Day on behalf of Free Distribution. We did well comparatively last year; so I hope for better still. (2nd October, 1894.)
(6th October, 1894)

Mr Dear Brother,
I am writing to you on a returned letter (which failed to reach the person meant); as I think it may interest you. Your little favourite, “Jesus only” will be No 50 in the New Edition, many good pieces not quite the thing for the Lord's Table, like 54, 82, &c being after 340, but continuing the enumeration thenceforward alphabetically, which is not the case before 340 in order not to disturb the familiar order.

 We propose an issue of 3,000 as the first to be paid ready money to Printer and Cloth-binders, all uniform for supplying meetings at the lowest direct through F.E.R[ace].: The money advanced to be taken out in copies or repaid after sale.

Let Guernsey and Jersey &c take heed.

Afterward the Hymn book will be sold, enlarged at 9d, or with Glad Tidings Hymn book at 1/– cloth boards; and as usual in costlier bindings.

I am so glad that you met J.B. as you did, though wishing love to prevail and continue; but we cannot sacrifice truth, or humour flesh. He is at Braintree, and to be at Exeter. I saw him, B, and F. and read to them the proposed emendations of the first 150 (we had time for no more).
 . . . Love to all the house
Yours affectionately, W.K.
(17 October, 1894.)

. . . Further, I told him that 28 was removed because it was already in the Glad Tidings Hymn book, and that 30 (an old hymn of Sir Edward Denny's as far from Park Street ritualism and inflation as can be) is reserved for a central group of Lord's Supper hymns, and would be carefully cleared of every questionable word there. The reason why the old 30 is displaced, is because it is only a sermonatte, addressed to “Jesus”, and teaching Him or us the difference between the Levitical dispensation and Christianity, with a hymnal preface and close. This we do not like in a hymn for the assembly, but do not so much object to its place in those after 340. By grace we shall have the best hymn book yet.

The valid objection is to have “Jesus” with “Thy” immediately after as unscriptural and irreverent, no matter how common a way of addressing the Lord of Glory. We may speak of Victoria, but we do not address her as Victoria. . . .
(31st October, 1894.)

My dear H.
. . . Our hymn book goes on in spite of the usual inertia of some, and the unusual ill-feeling of others; but by grace it will be far better than any we have had yet.
Ever yours affectionately, W.K.
(6th December, 1894.)

Dear Brother,
If any intelligent brother had been at the Manchester Conference, it would supersede your letter and my reply. For 20 years the 1856 Hymn Book was known to require revision; blunders of grammar and even bad doctrine, exaggerations and spurious sentiments are a disgrace to us all, if they can be corrected, as they surely may. But for the Division we should have had it. Park Street seized the opportunity, and did it badly.181 This is no reason why we should stick to positive error, or not do better by grace. Brethren are loud enough against tradition in others, and ought to be ashamed of setting up their own against God's Word.
{*Yet a careful study of Mr Kelly's revision shows that he adopted many of Mr Darby's arrangements.}

We waited however, till at the most representative meeting of the year it was demanded, without arrangement, that there should be no more delay; and the editing was confided to me, who only took it on condition of general fellowship, and the co-operation of any able to help. Mr B. proposed a month; I gave near six, during which we had it before us in London at the general Monthly Meeting repeatedly, as the country spoke at Manchester. This altogether more formal and distinct than ever before. I am the only surviving reviser of 1856, when nothing of the kind took place. Mr W. edited the book; and not even the revisers saw a proof-sheet till the book was complete and published. There are in Great Britain even now some two hundred meetings. A printer thinks six proofs too many and would charge heavily for more. Real critics are rare. I send you my last proof; please return.

I think brethren forget that there is such a thing as confidence in love and truth, and conscientious skill which very few have. Our last Hymn Book (1856) was the best then, but loudly objected to when it appeared. We have learnt a good deal since, and are responsible to speak and sing accordingly. We should be unworthy of the truth if we persevere in what does not express it. I spoke to an Anti-Raven leader, who is not at all satisfied with the Park Street Revision, any more than 1856; so that that objection is quite unfounded.

There will be no copy for a while; and long before there can be, our first issue at 6d cloth, will be exhausted; after which they will be sold through the trade at 9d. We are striving to help the meetings by ordering in quantity beforehand of Mr S., with cash at that rate, to pay ready money and get the best terms. Those that wait and trust themselves will pay dearer. We are correcting slowly and hope to publish in January when it will be sold as usual. The book is sure to be adopted. . . .
Ever yours affectionately, W.K.
(6th March, 1896.)

My dear J.
. . . The Brendon's have printed the index of a larger revised Hymn Book with author's names, which I hope are more correct than usual. Some we cannot trace; but what is sure has its interest. We do not bring men's names into the Book itself. . . .
  Much love to you all.
  Yours affectionately, W.K.

 . . . Nobody that I know has an idea of the assailant of the Hymn book. Nor does this matter. It is one apparently so ignorant as not to be aware of many hymns by sisters in all hymn books; so that the advocate of no change would here make a great change. It is otherwise beneath notice. Anybody can find fault. The last hymn book introduced great change and made large omissions. . . .
Yours ever affectionately, W.K.


John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology. Revised edition, with new supplement. London, John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1915. 1st edition Jan. 1892. 2nd edition June 1907, reprinted March 1908, reprinted 1915.

Henry Pickering (compiler), Chief Men Among the Brethren. Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0–87213–798–8 (First published in 1918)

Letters of J. N. Darby. 3 volumes. Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 22 Paternoster Row, London EC4.

Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, 34 volumes. Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 2 Upper Teddington Road, Hampton Wick, Kingston on Thames, vol. 13, 1964, vol. 16, 1962.

William Kelly (editor), The Bible Treasury. Chapter Two, 13 Plum Lane, London, SE18 3AF, 4th edition, 1995. ISBN 0–85307–120–X

Letters of F. E. Raven. Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 2 Upper Teddington Road, Hampton Wick, Kingston on Thames, 1963.

Napoleon Noel, History of the Brethren. 2 volumes. Chapter Two, 13 Plum Lane, London, SE18 3AF, 1993. (First published by W. F. Knapp, 120 West Maple Avenue, Denver, Colorado, USA, 1936)

Rev John Wesley, A Collection of Hymns. Wesleyan-Methodist Book Room, 2 Castle Street, City Road, London, EC. Sold at 66 Paternoster Row, EC, Oct, 28, 1779. New edition 1876.

E. E. Cornwall, Songs of Pilgrimage and Glory. In two parts. The Central Bible Truth Depot, 5, Rose Street, Paternoster Square, E.C. 4., London, 1932.182

Sir Edward Denny, Hymns and Poems.

James G. Deck, Hymns and Sacred Poems. Chapter Two, 13 Plum Lane, London, SE18 3AF, 1995. ISBN 1–85307–104–8 (First published 1876, 2nd edition 1889)

Eleanor Porter & Mary Abbott, Yeomen of the Cotswolds, Images Publishing (Malvern) Ltd, Upton-Upon-Severn, Worcestershire. 1995. ISBN 1–89781–748–7

W. G. Turner, John Nelson Darby, Chapter Two, 13 Plum Lane. London, SE18 3AF, 1990. ISBN 1–85307–000–9 (1st edition 1901, 2nd edition 1926, 3rd edition 1944)


Chapter 1
1 Andrew Miller, “The Brethren:” (Commonly So-Called), (G. Morrish, London, 1879), pp. 40–42
2 c.1828–1848
3 The hymn-writer Kelly, referred to throughout this article, is here correctly identified as Thomas (not William)—see later remarks
4 A Dictionary of Hymnology, edited by John Julian (John Murray, Albemarle Street, London, 1892), p. 898
5 Latin for 'twentieth'
6 Napoleon Noel, The History of the Brethren, ed. by William F. Knapp, (First published by W. F. Knapp, Denver, Colorado, USA, 1936; reprinted by Chapter Two, London, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 58–59
7 Often attributed to Miss F. T. Wigram (born in 1831). However, it is unlikely that she would have composed it at such a young age. Alternatively, the author may have been her mother Fanny (Mr Wigram's first wife) or another of the family, possibly a sister of Mr Wigram.
8 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), p. 176
9 Letters of J.N.D., (Stow Hill edition), vol. 3, p. 45

Chapter 2
10 The details of which are to be found in Napoleon Noel's The History of the Brethren, vol. 1, pp. 150-271
11 From the cover of The Present Testimony, 1857
12 J. N. Darby has a note in his translation, 'There is an emphatic article, impossible to translate into English: “[you who are] the little flock.” It is the character Christ gives to them as attached to Him in the midst of the world.'
13 This hymn was sung at his burial—see Noel's The History of the Brethren, vol. 1, pp. 60–61, where it is attributed to Mr Wigram
14 Letters of J.N.D., (Stow Hill edition), vol. 2, p. 346
15 Kelly himself was one of them
16 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), p. 176
17 Even though he, too, was one of them—see his letter of December 1894 in the Appendices

Chapter 3
18 Edward Denny, Hymns and Poems, New edition, (G. Morrish)
19 E. E. Cornwall, Songs of Pilgrimage and Glory, (The Central Bible Truth Depot, London, c.1933), Part II, p. 68
20 Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists, (London, October 20th, 1779)
21 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), p. 175
22 Songs of Pilgrimage and Glory, Part II, p. 9
23 She went to China in 1896
24 As corrected in a letter two months later
25 In fact it was Mr Kelly who made the alteration when he included the hymn in his 1894 Selection—Mr Hocking simply carried it over in 1928. It may be that Miss von Poseck was unaware of Mr Kelly's part in it
26 Letter of 3rd June 1998 as it appeared in the Tidings circular (No. 881, July 1998),
27 James G. Deck, Confession of a Verbal Error in a Hymn (J. B. Bateman, Printer, 1, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, 1850)
28 T. H. Reynold's Preface to the 1903 edition of the Little Flock hymn-book

Chapter 4
29 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), p. 175
30 Letters of J.N.D. (2nd edition, G. Morrish), vol. 1, p. 502, or (Stow Hill/Heijkoop editions), p. 412
31 Letters of J.N.D. (Morrish edition), vol. 2, p. 416
32 Letters of J.N.D. (Morrish edition), vol. 2, pp. 572–3, or (Stow Hill/Heijkoop editions), pp. 475–6
33 Hymns for the Poor of the Flock (1838) and Appendix (1841), compiled by G. V. Wigram
34 Hymns for the Little Flock (1856)
35 To C. McAdam, Letters of J.N.D., (Morrish edition), vol. 3, p. 53
36 Letters of J.N.D., (Morrish edition), vol. 3, p. 110, or (Stow Hill/Heijkoop editions), p. 92
37 Letters of J.N.D. (Morrish edition), vol. 3, p. 130 or (Stow Hill/Heijkoop editions), p. 110
38 Letters of J.N.D. (Morrish edition), vol. 3, p. 206 or (Stow Hill/Heijkoop editions), p. 170
39 Letters of J.N.D. (Morrish edition), vol. 3 , p. 225 or (Stow Hill/Heijkoop editions), p. 189
40 The Collected Writings of J.N.Darby (Morrish edition), vol. 13, p. 572
41 Collected Writings of J.N.D. (Morrish edition), vol. 16, p. 156???
42 This shows that other brethren made suggestions
43 A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs. Selected 1856, for the Little Flock. Revised 1881 (G. Morrish), pp. iii–viii
44 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), p. 176

Chapter 5
45 See Kelly's letter of December 1894 in Appendix A
46 'Jesus! how much Thy name unfolds' altered to 'Jesus—how much the name unfolds'
47 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), pp. 175–6
48 The Bible Treasury, No. 464, (January 1895), p. 206
49 The Bible Treasury, No. 465, (February 1895), p. 223
50 The 'Revision' was Darby's of 1881; the 'Re-revision' may refer to the correction of printing errors Darby refers to (and the addition of an author's index?)
51 'O Lord, Thy love's unbounded' by J. N. Darby
52 The Bible Treasury, No. 462, (November 1894), p. 176
53 Stanza 2. 'By weakness and defeat' (1856), 'Through all that seemed defeat' (1894)
 Stanza 3. 'He Hell in hell laid low' (1856), 'He Satan's power laid low' (1894)
54 The Bible Treasury (January 1895), p. 206
55 'Bear with joy Thy cross and shame' altered to '. . . the cross . . .'
56 The Bible Treasury, p. 207
57 The Bible Treasury (March 1895), p. 239
58 W. J. Hocking altered this to 'Resolved the cross to bear' in his 1928 revision
59 The Bible Treasury (January 1895), p. 206
60 N 172, Hymns Selected and Revised in 1894—slightly amended in the 1928 revision and now N 422 in Spiritual Songs (1978)

Chapter 6
61 F. E. Raven's son married T. H. Reynolds's daughter Mary at the end of 1902
62 26 out of 54 were included, all of which remain to this day!
63 Letters of F.E.Raven., (New Series, Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1963), p. 177
64 Some Additional Hymns for the use of the Church of God, (G. Morrish, London)
65 A brewery
66 Napoleon Noel, The History of the Brethren, ed. by William F. Knapp, (First published by W. F. Knapp, Denver, Colorado, USA, 1936; this edition Chapter Two, London, 1993), vol. 1, pages 101–102
67 Patricia St. John, Harold St. John, A Portrait by his Daughter (Pickering & Inglis Ltd, London), p. 105
68 Patricia St. John, Harold St. John, A Portrait by his Daughter (Pickering & Inglis Ltd, London), pp. 107–8
69 Napoleon Noel, The History of the Brethren, ed. by William F. Knapp, (First published by W. F. Knapp, Denver, Colorado, USA, 1936; this edition Chapter Two, London, 1993), vol. 2, p. 513. Interestingly, Noel quotes the 'One' with a capital 'O' but all Little Flock hymn-books have 'one'—see W. R. Dronsfield's remark about this in chapter 7
70 The History of the Brethren, p. 627
71 In a review of The History of the Brethren, W. R. Dronsfield explains:
Napoleon Noel was a man who carefully noted in his diaries all the incidents and dates in the affairs of “Brethren” during his lifetime, and also kept copies of letters and statements made, so he was well qualified to compile this factual history. For the student who wishes to know the factual details of the various unhappy divisions that Brethren have suffered, this work is extremely useful.
However, Napoleon Noel's own opinions are far less reliable. In the Raven controversy it is clear that Mr. F. E. Raven was in error as to the Lord's Person, but N. Noel's handling of the matter is very muddled. To sort through that controversy required a person who had studied ancient heresies and the scriptural refutation of them. Such a person N. Noel certainly was not. For example, he calls a perfectly orthodox statement by T. H. Reynolds, “The New Formula” and the chapter shows on both sides an inability to distinguish between personality and essence which is very confusing. ('Book Reviews', Tidings circular No. 822, August 1993, p. 7)
72 Hymns of Praise and Power, (Central Bible Truth Depot, 1921)

Chapter 7
73 The History of the Brethren, vol. 2, p. 629
74 W. J. Hocking in a letter to Charles A. Sibthorpe, dated 7th July 1939 (at the time leading up to the reunion with 'Tunbridge Wells' brethren)
75 N 305 (also in Spiritual Songs, 1978)

Chapter 8
76 These records are held at Scripture Truth Publications (Central Bible Hammond Trust Ltd) in Morpeth, now in Crewe.
77 Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Selected 1978 (Central Bible Hammond Trust Ltd, Wooler, 1978)
78 Frank Wallace, 'Spiritual Songsters', Tidings circular No. 809, (July 1992), p. 8
79 In The History of the Brethren, vol. 1, p. 144, N. Noel tells us that 'Mr. Francis George Burkitt of St. Leonards-on-Sea took over the editorship thereof, in December, 1926. Mr. Burkitt was called to his home above on May 23, 1929, in his 74th year'
80 The 1928 edition correctly has F. G. Burkitt as does the music edition of Spiritual Songs
81 Letter to the author from Arthur Creeth of Portsmouth (10th July 1992) as it appeared in the Tidings circular No. 810, (August 1992), p. 7
82 125 hymns from Hymns for the Poor of the Flock (1838, 1841) are still to be found in the 1978 hymn-book
83 Editorial note by W. R. Dronsfield, Tidings circular No. 809, (July 1992), p. 8

177 Hymn N 14 v. 2, Spiritual Songs, (1978)

Chapter 16
178 a tune called 'Head of the Church' (, no longer in current usage
179 amongst so-called 'Tunbridge Wells' meetings
180 associated with 'Drink to me only' and 'The Red Flag' respectively

Extracts from William Kelly's Letters
181 Yet a careful study of Mr Kelly's revision shows that he adopted many of Mr Darby's arrangements

182 E. E. Cornwall has a note in the front of his book: The desire to collect material relating to the history and literature of these hymns, came to the compiler of these Notes over a quarter of a century ago (1902), while staying at a cottage at Westerham (Kent), after reading in an old book the following sentence: “During Mr. Darby's residence at Pau (S.W. France) in the years 1879–1881, the thought of hymns addressed to the Father was much present to his mind.”