To the Editor of the Times
Sir, - I beg you will allow me a corner in one of your pages to draw attention to the now very prevalent practice of singing in churches from collections, to the almost total exclusion of the beatiful psalms appended to our Book of Common Prayer. What reason can be advanced for the practice I cannot conceive, when all people are exhorted to "sing unto the Lord with cheerful voice", and to "sing praises with the understanding also". When the old version was not considered suitable, a new one was introduced, which, if not (in this age of innovation) considered proper, might again be superseded by another. Each sect of Dissenters has its selection, to where it abides, so that all are prepared to sing at any one of its chapels. Not so with the church; each church seems to have its book and, should you not always frequent one church, you find that you cannot join, and must stand up for form's sake only. Recreation, or a visit to a sick friend, or numerous causes, may call you from your parish church, though they may not occasion you to abstain from going to some church, and unless you "buy my book", or numerous books, a very beautiful part of the service is lost. Besides, in matters of religion, the church professes and ought to study the poor, and these are totally excluded from joining in the psalms, as they cannot afford to buy these books.
Should these lines succeed in attracting attention to this grievance in the proper quarter, I should feel most happy; and you would confer a favour on many by giving then publicity in your paper; and
I am, Sir, yours truly,
ONE OF THE MANY
from The Times, Oct 23rd 1843
NOTE: After 1820, Anglican churches were not bound to sing the psalms and the few prescribed hymns in the back of the BCP, as had been the case before. Many therefore printed their own selections of hymns (and sometimes anthem texts, too) for use in their services.