It should be clear by now that I love Gadsby’s collection of hymns. William Gadsby offers some explanation for publishing his own collection of hymns in the preface to the last edition and these are precisely the same reasons why I love this little book so much.
First, he wanted to guard his flock against hymns that taught legalism. Secondly, the collection was complied as a way to standard Joseph Hart’s hymns. Thirdly, Gadsby wanted to remove any hymns that contained or hinted at Arminianism.
“Suffice it to say, that the church and people over which the Holy Ghost has made me overseer, and has been in the constant habit, ever since I came among them, of using Dr. Watts’s Psalms and Hymns, Rippon’s Selection, and Hart’s Composition. But though some of these hymns are big with the important truths of God, there are others, especially among Dr. Watts’s and Rippon’s, which give as legal a sound as if they had been forged at a certain foundry. This was one reason which induced me to publish a selection. Another was, we had three editions of Hart’s Hymns amongst us, either differently arranged or differently paged; so that when any of those hymns were given out, one part of the congregation was unable to find them. These circumstances, together with a desire in my own breast and the express wish of others to have a selection of hymns in one book free from Arminianism, and sound in the faith that the church might be edified and God glorified, were what induced me to attempt this work.” Manchester, November, 1838