Country, Western & Gospel Music

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indefinitely. In the first place, it must be said that the book contains many old favorites by hymn-writers of the eight­eenth and nineteenth century—such as Watt's "There Is a Land of Pure Delight," Toplady's "Rock of Ages," John Mason Neale's "Ah, My Heart," and Keble's "Sun of My Soul." These, however, which are found in many other col­lections, are not the characteristic "Gospel Hymns." The distinctive feature of Mr. Sankey's book is those lively, rat­tling pieces like "Hold the Fort" and "Pull for the Shore" and the crudely sentimental hymns of Fanny J. Crosby, P. P. Bliss, and their imitators. The music, from the point of view of a severe critic, is as contemptible as that of a music-hall ditty; but it has some of the same popular quali­ties. The air is simple, strongly marked, easy to sing, easy to remember, "catching"—just the thing for children and for adults who in their musical taste are still children. And the words fit the music. Many of the hymns are a mere wooden versification of the common-places one hears in the "testimonies" and exhortations at a Methodist prayer meet­ing. This, for example, by Miss Crosby (Mrs. Van Alstyne):
Now just a word for Jesus,
Your dearest friend so true, Come, cheer our hearts and tell us
What He has done for you.
Now just a word for Jesus—
'Twill help us on our way; One little word for Jesus,
O speak, or sing, or pray.
Less badly hortatory, but worse in point of style, are these lines by Mr. Bliss:
Oh, how happy are we
Who in Jesus agree,
And expect His return from above;
We sit 'neath His vine and delightfully join
In the praise of His excellent love.
When united to Him We partake of the stream

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III