HYMNS FOR YOUTH, Compiled and Edited by John E. Hamersma, et al; published by The National Union of Christian Schools and Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. (264 pages; 184 songs; price not indicated.)
The preface of this hymn book informs us that the songs in the book have been carefully sifted out of the great body of hymns of the past and present, and that the texts of the songs have been weighed for meaningful content, Biblical soundness, and clarity of expression.
For the most part, this reviewer found this to be true. The content of the songs is more sound, solid, and therefore more edifying, than that of most hymn books. Many of the lyrics have been taken directly from the Psalms or other passages of Scripture and set to appropriate music. The caliber of the selected tunes and harmonizations may be characterized as worshipful. Many are taken from the Genevan Psalter of Reformation times, and there are many other lofty and singable melodies from other lands and eras of history. In other words, this is no ordinary book of sentimental “ditties” of shallow content and form.
In fact, I would suggest that many of these songs merit the attention of the adult who is looking for sound content and dignified music for his worship and song. But the book is primarily intended for our youth. And although some of the harmonizations may seem strange at first, I believe they are readily singable by children of any age group.
In my opinion, the liturgistic and symbolic art work with which the book is liberally sprinkled definitely detracts from the beauty of an otherwise well-executed publication. In fact, I find especially the colored art work rather hideous. With the exception of a few questionable selections, this book can find good use, both in our schools and in our homes, where, incidentally, family and group singing has become too much of a lost art.