This is a review of the new edition of Spurgeon’s Own Hymn Book. It is “A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social, and Private Worship.”
The book is published by Christian Focus Publications. It was originally compiled by Charles Haddon Spurgeon for use at the Metropolitan Tabernacle; edited by Chris Fenner and Matt Boswell; Foreword by Tom Nettles (Hardcover 451 pages).
I recall telling someone once that I couldn’t get into the Psalms as much as I should. God is sovereign and within a few weeks that changed. There was also a time when I couldn’t read Spurgeon much. Now I find him very comforting. In fact in a previous post I told the story about how my German Shepherd left me a lasting message using Spurgeon’s book At the Master’s Feet, just before he passed away. I rather think that God orchestrated the incident … and that He has a gracious sense of humor.
Rosaria Butterfield wrote,
Psalm singing is a daily means of grace that I love, embrace and practice. When I don’t know where to turn, I open up my psalter. You always know where God is in your suffering when you sing the Psalms. In the Psalms, God breaks down the steps of your faith pilgrimage. The Psalms take your brokenheartedness seriously. God gave them to you as a love letter to show that he made you and takes care of you… ~ The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
Well, I can’t sing or read music. Moreover it’s difficult to sing the Psalms as you read them from the psalter. Yet Butterfield is correct and her comments are pertinent to Spurgeon’s Own Hymn Book.
We learn in the Introduction and Foreword that Spurgeon placed a high value on doxology in singing hymns, and how they were sung. He loved the psalter. It isn’t surprising then that the first section of the book contains poetical-hymn outlines of each Psalm (1 to 150). Some of the Psalms are represented several times. For example there are seven instances of Psalm 119.
Spurgeon’s Own Hymn Book is divided into several main topics (with many sub-sections): Spirit of the Psalms; Doxologies – The Adorable in Unity; God the Father; Grace; Our Lord Jesus; The Second Advent; The Holy Spirit; Man – Fallen; The Holy Scriptures; The Gospel; The Christian; State of the Lost; The Church; The Lord’s Day; Baptism; Lord’s Supper; Public Worship…and more.
All in all, there are 1060 hymns in this book! It is replete with scriptural references and high theology. And while I can’t sing, and the book doesn’t contain music, I can read poetry. If you don’t like poetry, I suspect this book may well change your mind. I developed a taste for it while reading Spurgeon, as he would intersperse poems throughout his devotionals.
Contributors include Isaac Watts, Wesley, Horatius Bonar, Augustus Toplady, John Newton, and a host of others I’d never heard of before.
Reading the hymns in this book raises my spirit to heaven when it is low. My heart sings quietly. Maybe one day my voice can articulate worship and joy audibly.
I love Spurgeon’s Own Hymn Book. It is a feast!
Come, Holy spirit, Come!
With energy divine,
And on this poor benighted soul
With beams of mercy shine.
From the celestial hills,
Life, light and joy dispense;
And may I daily, hourly feel
Thy quickening influence.
Melt, melt this frozen heart;
This stubborn will subdue;
Each evil passion overcome,
And form me all anew.
Mine will the profit be,
But Thine shall be the praise;
And unto Thee I will devote
The remnant of my days
Benjamin Beddome (Hymn 453)