Little Flock hymnbook

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The Little Flock hymnbook is in common use amongst Exclusive Brethren in various editions which nevertheless derive from a common source. It exists in almost as many variations and editions as there are distinct groups of Exclusive Brethren.

Early history[edit]

In 1838 (and again 1840) the Central Tract Depot published George Wigram's Hymns for the Poor of the Flock. This was followed in 1856 by his Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock which gathered together hymns from diverse collections used among Brethren and on which all subsequent versions are based. This was revised in 1881 by John Nelson Darby, an edition which is still in print, published by Bible Truth Publishers of Addison, Illinois, USA and available from Chapter Two, etc. William Kelly revised the hymn book in 1894 and Thomas Henry Reynolds produced his edition in 1903.

Raven/Taylor editions[edit]

Amongst Raven–Taylor Brethren, every new doctrinal development has been reflected in renewed activity in hymn composition in English and other European languages. Doctrinal shifts were often followed by marked re-editing of the hymns themselves to bring them into line with current ministry which often necessitated the production of a new edition. The main editions are 1903, 1932, 1951, 1962, and 1973, of which there is a Taylor/Symington (1973 Amendment) edition and a separate Kingston Bible Trust (1973 Re-Selection) edition. From the 1940s, foreign language editions were gradually brought into line with English editions so that Brethren could, where possible, sing together the same hymns in the same metre. The 1962 hymnbook thus appears in varying quality in 10 or more languages. The Swedish editions in particular have a long tradition of translating English hymns, especially gospel songs for outreach. The English editions themselves have included translations from Swedish, French, Spanish and German. Taylor/Symington/Hales Brethren use their English hymnbook universally regardless of the local language.

A new edition, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Flock of God, was published in New Zealand in 2001 by R.D. Church and E.J. Forrest through the Joseph Bywater Trust. This collection is based on the 1951 edition and gathers together many hymns from all the pre-existing collections, restoring hymns to their original wording where possible and adding some new compositions.

Kelly/Lowe/Glanton editions[edit]

The KLG grouping have had two major hymn books since William Kelly's Hymns Selected and Revised in 1894 edition. Following the reunion of 'Kelly' (1894 users) and 'Lowe' Brethren (1881 users) in 1926, the 1928 edition was compiled by William John Hocking and is still in use by a few 'Kelly' and Open Brethren meetings. The 1978 edition followed the 1974 reunion with both 'Glanton' Brethren (1903 users) and 'Grant' Brethren (1881 users) and is used by these "reunited" Brethren. This latter book has drawn more widely from hymns in common use but does not contain hymns addressing the Holy Spirit in line with traditional Darbyite teaching. Foreign language editions have developed and continued in their own distinctive traditions.

Gospel hymnbooks[edit]

Gospel hymnbooks have been produced by most branches of Exclusive Brethren. The Little Flock editions have always contained a selection of gospel hymns, but both Raven/Taylor and KLG wings of the movement have from time to time used separate (sometimes privately printed) collections of gospel hymns in the gospel and outreach meetings. Chapter Two have re-published The Evangelists' Hymnal, edited by Walter Thomas Prideaux Wolston. This book is used by some Glanton and some Open Brethren assemblies.

Tune books[edit]

Little Flock Tune Books have been published in 1883, 1904, 1932, 1954, 1965, and 1979. Charles Theodore Lambert's edition of 1932 published both words and tunes with an appendix "Containing a few hymns suitable for the Christian Household". It is still published in Tonic Sol-Fa by the Symington/Hales Depot. The other Tune Books had tunes only, listed in metrical order. The KLG 1978 hymn book and the Gospel Hymn Book were both published with a music edition. All editions (but especially the 1965 edition) have drawn on Exclusive Brethren tunewriters and musicians to produce collections of a high calibre both in terms of musical editing and in the quality of the compositions themselves. Composers of note include Thomas Willey, T. Collins, Miss Marian La Thangue, Miss S.M. Walker, Charles Leflaive, C.T. Lambert, Benjamin Christiansen, R.A. Evershed, Peter S. Pope, Eric Carrén, John F. Harvey, and Gordon Millar.

Historical and critical apparatus[edit]

An Access database of all first lines and metres of hymns with limited biographical and bibliographical material is held at the Christian Brethren Archive in the John Rylands University Library, Manchester.

Gordon Rainbow has collated some historical material on the Little Flock Hymnbook. This contains links to all the prefaces to the early hymnbooks and from 1903 follows the Raven/Taylor line of hymnbooks. Various accounts of new editions of the hymnbook were published and these are given in full.

An account of all the major developments in the tradition was published in Frank Wallace's The History of the Little Flock Hymnbook (it does maintain an anti-Taylor bias). Also by Frank Wallace, Spiritual Songsters contains biographies of many hymnwriters found in the Little Flock tradition and is published by Chapter Two.

Adrian Roach wrote a History of the 1881 edition containing much biographical information on the hymnwriters. It is published by Bible Truth Publishers.

A text of the 1978 Kelly/Lowe/Glanton edition is available online where there is a large amount of biographical material and a first line index of the 1881 "Darby" edition

List of English editions[edit]

Title Date Location Compiler/Editor Publisher Number of Hymns Used by
Hymns for the Poor of the Flock 1839 London George Wigram Central Tract Depot Plymouth Brethren
Hymns for the Poor of the Flock 1840 London George Wigram Central Tract Depot, Warwick Square 377 + 73 + 40 Plymouth Brethren
A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs. Selected ... for the Little Flock 1856 London George Wigram G Morrish, Paternoster Row 340 Exclusive Brethren
A Few Hymns and Some Spiritual Songs. Selected ... for the Little Flock, Revised 1881 London John Nelson Darby G Morrish, Paternoster Sq 341 + 85 Exclusive Brethren & Tunbridge Wells Brethren
Hymns Selected and Revised 1894 William Kelly Kelly Brethren
A Few Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Selected ... for the Little Flock, Re-arranged and Further Revised 1903 London Thomas Henry Reynolds 402 London/Raven Brethren & Glanton Brethren
Hymns Selected and Revised 1922 [Amended Edition] London F.E. Race C.A. Hammond Trust Kelly Brethren
Hymns Selected and Revised 1928 London William John Hocking C.A. Hammond Trust Bible Depot 436 Kelly/Lowe Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock 1932 London James Taylor Snr & 9 others Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot 382 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock Revised 1951 Kingston upon Thames A.E. Myles Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot 480 Raven/Taylor Brethren/Pre Aberdeen "Outs"
Hymns and Spiritual Songs Selected 1958 Manchester James MacDonald 400 Anti-Taylor Raven Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock. Revised 1962 Kingston upon Thames James Taylor Jnr Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot 456 Taylor Brethren/Renton Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock Reselected 1973 Lancing Robert Stott Kingston Bible Trust 480 Frost/London/Oxted Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock Amended 1973 Kingston upon Thames Bible and Gospel Trust 417 Taylor/Symington Brethren
A Few Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Last Days Compiled 1974 Horsham, Sussex J.F. Trussler 401 Hamilton Brethren
Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs Selected 1978 Wooler, Northumberland Central Bible Hammond Trust 500 Kelly/Lowe/Glanton ("Reunited") Brethren
Supplement to Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock Additions 1984 Lancing Kingston Bible Trust 22 Frost/London/Oxted Brethren
The Companion Hymn Book 1997 Croydon G Bacon, A Sheldrake The Whytecliffe Trust 95 Oxted Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Little Flock Amended 1990 Hounslow Bible and Gospel Trust 420 Taylor/Symington/Hales Brethren
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Flock of God 2001 Auckland, New Zealand R D Church, E J Forrest The Joseph Bywater Trust 633 Raven/Taylor Brethren

Scandinavian editions[edit]

Title Edition/Date Location Compiler/Editor Publisher/Printer Number of Hymns Used by
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1877 Exclusive Brethren
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1879 Exclusive Brethren
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1892 København Norrebros Bogtrykkeri 130 Exclusive Brethren
Tros-Sånger n.d. [3rd Edition?] [Göteborg] A B Petersons Förlag 159 Exclusive Brethren
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1901 Exclusive Brethren
Tros-Sånger 4th Edition 1907 Göteborg A B Petersons Förlag 218 Raven/London Brethren
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1914 Exclusive Brethren
Tros-Sånger 5th Edition 1916 Göteborg A B Peterson 255 Raven/London Brethren
Psalmer och Lovsånger 1939 Göteborg A B Petersons Förlag 315 + 89 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1949 Exclusive Brethren
Psalmer och Lovsånger 1955 Göteborg E Carrén A B Petersons Förlag 480 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Psalmer og Lovsanger for Guds Forsamling 1952 Exclusive Brethren
Lovsånger och andliga Sånger för den Lilla Hjorden 1962 Göteborg A B Petersons Förlag 456 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Lovsanger og Åndelige Viser for den Lille Hjord 1962 Drøbuk OB Hansens Bogtrykkeri 456 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Salmer og Lovsange for den Lille Hjord 1962 456 Raven/Taylor Brethren

Spanish editions[edit]

Title Edition/Date Location Compiler/Editor Publisher Number of Hymns Used by
Himnos Y Canciones Espirituales para la manada pequeña 1937 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Himnos Y Canciones Espirituales para la manada pequeña 1958 Rosario, Argentina Deposito de Biblias y tratados Darragueira 480 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Himnos Y Canciones Espirituales para el Pequeño Rebaño 1962 Buenos Aires Reuniones Evangélicas 456 Raven/Taylor Brethren

German editions[edit]

Title Edition/Date Location Compiler/Editor Publisher/printer Number of Hymns Used by
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1899 Altenvoerde Christian Schatz Verlag Christlicher Schriften. Printer: Oscar Brandstetter, Leipzig 170 + music Raven Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1909 Hildesheim Richard Arras August Mann 188 + music Raven/Taylor Brethren and Raven/Glanton Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1921 Hildesheim (Germany), Interlaken (Switzerland) August Mann (Germany) / Adolf Steiner (Switzerland) 200 (text only) Glanton Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1922 Leipzig Richard Arras F H Rückbrodt 196 (text only) Raven/Taylor Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1926 Leipzig Richard Arras F H Rückbrodt 209 + music Raven/Taylor Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1934 Leipzig Richard Arras F H Rückbrodt 227 (text only) Raven/Taylor Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1936 Leipzig Richard Arras F H Rückbrodt 227 + music Raven/Taylor Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1948 reprint + Appendix Leipzig F H Rückbrodt 227 + 65 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Loblieder und Geistliche Lieder für die kleine Herde 1951 Leipzig Alfred Wellershaus, Wermelskirchen F H Rückbrodt 480 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Geistliche Lieder und Gesänge 1952 Interlaken (Richard Arras) F. A. Burri 204 + music (Little?) Glanton Brethren
Loblieder und Geistliche Lieder für die kleine Herde 1962 Kingston upon Thames Kingston Bible Trust 456 Raven/Taylor Brethren
Loblieder und Geistliche Lieder 1997 Probably Waldemar Schubert 849 (!) Raven/Taylor Brethren (rejecting J. Taylor jun. and his followers)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  • STEM Publishing has the 1881 edition available online, with words and music.