In this book I have sought to trace the course of our religious poetry
from an early period of our literary history.
This could hardly be done without reference to some of the principal
phases of the religious history of the nation. To give anything like a
full history of the religious feeling of a single county, would require a
large book, and--not to mention sermons--would involve a thorough
acquaintance with the hymns of the country,--a very wide subject, which I
have not considered of sufficient importance from a literary point of
view to come within the scope of the volume.
But if its poetry be the cream of a people's thought, some true
indications of the history of its religious feeling must be found in its
religious verse, and I hope I have not altogether failed in setting forth
My chief aim, however, will show itself to have been the mediating
towards an intelligent and cordial sympathy betwixt my readers and the
writers from whom I have quoted. In this I have some confidence of
Heartily do I throw this my small pebble at the head of the great