I love hymnals. What can I say?
I’m sure my wife wishes she could believe that Choice Gospel Hymns (1923) would be my last hymnal. She has nothing against song books, but – you see – we’re running out of room in my office to store them. As of today I have seven bookshelves full of hymnals and books on various aspects of church music. From a recent buying and hunting spree there are an additional ten books at my feet, waiting to be catalogued. I have another four boxes (sixty or so books) that I’m not looking to keep (more on that later).
Choice Gospel Hymns is a very important book for me right now. I’ve spent years developing a collector’s list of hymnals from the churches of Christ in the United States. I’ve talked with hymnbook compilers and editors, church music experts, songleaders, and music teachers – all to get their personal list of the pivotal, defining books from which the church has sung. I’ve had most of them for years now, but in the past few months I’ve gotten closer and closer to my goal: to own every one of them on the list. Granted, the three earliest ones (1865, 1882, 1882) had to be reprinted, but I still owned them, I could still look at them and hear the voices of past generations of worshiping saints. Choice Gospel Hymns, however, had continued to evade me. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t even find much record of the book, let alone a copy for sale. Last week that changed. Unless something goes terribly awry, in a few days’ time my list will be complete. I will be able to put a check mark next to “1923 Choice Gospel Hymns (Charles Mitchell Pullias, Gospel Advocate Co.).”
No, Choice Gospel Hymns won’t be the last hymnal I buy (in fact, I wrote to two publishers today for more information on their upcoming books), but it will feel good to have a complete collection.
P.S. I still have to buy Hymns for Worship, Revised (1995). I already have the original (1987), so it doesn’t really count that I don’t have Revised. Does it? Oh well, maybe that will be my “last” hymnal.