London: Sampson, Low, Son and Marston, 1867. First edition. Octavo (9 inches tall), original green pebbled cloth, extra gilt spine, gilt-and-blind-stamped beveled boards, yellow coated endpapers, all edges gilt. Bookplate, bindery ticket. Very gentle bumping to corners. About Fine. Item #1025
"BISHOP HEBER'S HYMNS ARE TREASURED AS SACRED HOUSEHOLD WORDS WHEREVER THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS SPOKEN" Victorian edition of Bishop Reginald Heber's lavishly illustrated Hymns—a bright, fresh example of the stunning original extra-gilt binding. "England has been blessed in a tradition of hymn writers of unusual insight and skill" (David Daniell). Despite the reluctance of the Anglican hierarchy towards singing in churches, the nineteenth century was a golden age of hymnody and Bishop Heber was one of the first High Church Anglicans to write his own hymns. Heber "tried to get a hymn-book authorized for use in the Church of England, but both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London repulsed his approaches." Heber wrote several dozen hymns, mainly between 1811 and 1821 before (full of "missionary fervour") he departed for India. "The finest of them is 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.' It breathes awe and adoration" (Arthur Pollard). Heber was appointed as Bishop of Calcutta before he died in 1826, at age 42. The collection was eventually published posthumously as Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year (1827). Heber "combines reverence and mystery with warm devotion and worship" (Arthur Pollard). This edition is "interleaved" (with blank leaves alternating with the printed leaves) and illustrated throughout with a portrait of Bishop Heber, an illustrated title page, and numerous wood-engraved illustrations by artists of the day. With a short introductory publisher's note ("Milton House, Ludgate Hill / September 1866"), a Contents page (arranged according to the Calendar), and a lengthy List of Illustrations by various artists ("engraved by James D. Cooper"). Daniell, The Bible in English; Pollard. English Hymns, 31-34. A splendid book.