Excerpt from
Catalogue of American Universalist Hymn Writers and Hymns

Compiled for the Hymn Society of America (for the proposed Dictionary of American Hymnology)
by Henry Wilder Foote
Cambridge, Massachusetts January, 1959


(1) Historical Introduction (Pages 1-2)
(2) Annotated List of American Universalist Hymn Books (Pages 3-5)
(3) Universalist Hymn Writers: Biographical Sketches and lists of hymns (Pages 6-35)

American Hymnody

Historical Introduction:

The Universalists have published a long succession of hymnbooks (see list) since John Murray, q.v., established their first
church in this country at Gloucester, Massachusetts, and reprinted in 1776 James Relly's Christian Hymns, published in England in 1770. A second edition of this reprint, 1782, included five hymns by John Murray, signed "J.M." Until near the middle of the 19th century the successive collections were generally the work of individuals representing somewhat varying points of view and they included a large number of hymns written
by the compilers. Some of them, notably S. & R. Streeter's The New Hymn and Tune Book designed for Universalist Societies, 1829; A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for the Use of Universalist Societies, by H. Ballou, 2nd, 1837; and Hymns for Christian Devotion, by J. G. Adams and E. H. Chapin, 1846, were widely used in Universalist churches, until they were superseded in the last quarter of the century by the successive editions of Church Harmonies, published by the Universalist Publishing House, Boston, which followed more nearly the pattern of hymn-books of other denominations. This tendency culminated in Hymns of the Spirit, 1937, a joint publication prepared by a Unitarian and a Universalist Committee for use in the two denominations.

Very few of the many hymns written by the earlier generations of Universalists passed into other hymn-books, or have survived in present use, because they were usually too personal to reach an adequate standard of literary excellence. The best were a few by Rev. George Richards, q.v., which were still in use at the end of the 19th century. Nine hymns by later Universalist writers are included in Hymns of the Spirit, but no hymns by Universalists now living have come into use.


Universalist Hymn Books

Relly_Hymn.jpg (63804 bytes) 1. Christian Hymns, Poems and Sacred Songs, sacred to the praise of God, our Saviour. James Relly. Printed at Burlington, New Jersey, in 1776, a reprint of the book J. Relly had prepared for his Universalist congregation in London, 1770. A second reprint appeared in 1782 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with the addition of five hymns written by John Murray, minister of the first Universalist church in this country, at Gloucester, Massachusetts.

2. New Hymns on Various Subjects, viz: On the Creation of the World; and the Formation of Man--the State wherein He was Created, and his Sad and Shameful Fall. On the Early and Extensive Promises of God--the Coming of Christ, and the Completion of the Father's Promises: or, the  Eternal Redemption and Victorious Salvation of Mankind Through Him. Silas Ballou. Worcester, 1785. Again in Newbury, Vt. , 1797.

3.  Evangelical Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Selected from Various Authors. Philadelphia, 1792. Compiled by Universalists in that city. It contains 35 hymns by Silas Ballou.

4. The Universalist Hymn Book: Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs: Selected and original, Boston, 1792. It contains 52 hymns by Rev. George Richards.

5.  A Collection of Hymns, Dover, New Hampshire, 1801, by Rev. George Richards, included 6 more of his hymns, and an enlarged edition, 1806, another 26.

6.  Hymns composed by different authors, by order of the General Convention of Universalists of the New England States and others. 1808. A collection of hymns most, if not all of which were written by the compilers, Hosea Ballou, Abner Kneeland, Edward Turner and Sebastian Streeter.

7. The Universalists' Hymn Book: A New Collection, 1821.  Edited by Hosea Ballou and Edward Turner.

8. Christian Hymns adapted to the worship of God our Saviour.  Boston, 1823.

9. The New Hymn Book designed for Universalist Societies by Sebastian and Russell Streeter, Boston, 1829.  This book reached a 35th edition in 1845.

10. A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for the use of Universalist Societies and Families, by Hosea Ballou, 2nd, Boston,
1839. This book was widely used in Universalist circles.

11.  Hymns of Zion with appropriate music. Philadelphia, 1839, edited by Abel C. Thomas.  The first Universalist hymn-book to provide tunes.

12.  Hymns for Christian Devotion, Boston, 1845, edited by Rev. John Greenleaf Adams and Rev. Edwin Hubbell Chapin. This was perhaps the most notable American Universalist collection published in the 19th century.

13. Universalist Hymn Book, Cincinnati, 1845, edited by Rev. George Roberts, in which he included 26 of his own hymns.

14. The Hopedale Collection of Hymns and Songs, for the use of practical Christians. Hopedale, Massachusetts, 1849.  Edited by Adin Ballou.  By "practical Christians" the editor meant persons who were seeking to apply Christian teachings to the social problems of the time.

15. The Gospel Psalmist, a collection of Hymns and tunes, 1861. Edited by John Greenleaf Adams, who also published in 1868 a smaller collection entitled Vestry Harmonies.

16.  Hymns for the Church and Home: with a selection of Psalms:  Portland Collection. Boston, 1865. Compiled by Dr. F. C. Bolles and Israel Washburn, Jr. 

17.  Church Harmonies. Universalist Publishing House, Boston, 1873.  This book is an enlarged edition of No. 14 and includes more
than 1000 hymns. The names of the compilers are not given.

18.  Church Harmonies New and Old; Universalist Publishing House, 1907.  1895. A revision of No. 16, edited by Charles R. Tenney
and Leo R. Lewis. The Index of Authors and Translators is the best source for concisely detailed information about the Universalist hymn writers whose hymns are included in the book, which was reprinted in successive editions as late as 1911.

19.  Hymns of the Church, with Services and Chants. Universalist Publishing House, Boston, 1907. Edited by Charles Conklin, Stephen H. Roblin, and Cornelius A. Parker.

20.  Hymns of the Spirit, Beacon Press, Boston, 1937.  This book is a joint Unitarian-Universalist production, compiled by editorial committees appointed by the two denominations. Ref. Benson, The English Hymn, pp. 327, 421-425, 481-482; J. 58.

ADAMS, REV. JOHN COLEMAN, S.T.D. (son of John Greenleaf Adams, ??), born in Malden, Massachusetts, October 25, 1849, died
in. Hartford, Connecticut, June 22 1922. He graduated from Tufts College A.B.1870; B.D. 1872; and in 1888 his Alma Mater gave him the honorary degree of S.T.D. Entering the Universalist ministry he held pastorates at Newton, Massachusetts, 1872-1880; Lynn, Massachusetts, 1880-1884; Chicago, Illinois, 1884-1890; Brooklyn, New York, 1890-1901; and Hartford, Connecticut, 1901-1922. He wrote a few hymns for special occasions, one written in 1911 for a church anniversary begins,

We praise Thee, God, for harvests earned, The fruits of labor garnered in.

It is an unusually fine hymn, suitable not only for occasions like the one for which it was written but for any Thanksgiving service, and is a stirring challenge to face unfinished tasks. It deserves far wider use than it has yet had. Included in The New Hymn and Tune Book, 1914, and in Hymns of the Spirit, 1937.



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