San Francisco: The Church Book Shop, 1932. Small quarto (8 1/4 inches tall), original white card pasted in original decorated dust wrappers, uncut. Very mild wear to corners. About Fine. Item #1064
"KEEP THOU THE RADIANT VISION OF THY FACE / UNDIMMED BEFORE MY SIGHT"
First edition of this Octave of Hymns and Spiritual Songs by J. Wilmer Gresham—this copy inscribed for Christmas by the longtime Dean of San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. With Gresham's Dedication: "To Thee, O Spirit, / at whose living touch / slumbering melodies in the / human heart awaken, / these songs are / dedicated" and a short Foreword by Lee Emerson Bassett ("Stanford University / December, 1931"). Prefaced with a brief note regarding "The Music," these songs consist of a theme at the top of every other page followed by the lyrics to the corresponding musical piece. The hymns often evoke the natural beauty of California, especially in Asilomar, I Love Thee ("pronounced A-sée-lo-mar, meaning Retreat by the Sea on Monterey Peninsula, California") and A Wayside Cross ("on a summit overlooking the Salinas and Cholame valleys. The site is named Invocation Point because it was there that the late Bishop of California would pause and invoke the blessing of God on his far-flung field. A yearly pilgrimage to the Cross is made").
Printed in black-and-red throughout, on laid paper, with title vignette and epigraph: "In hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in your heart" (Ephesians v.19). Bassett's Foreword commends the psychological power of music ("Music and lyric poetry can do what the psychoanalyst cannot do with his probing questions") and seconds the need for the spiritual comforts of nature: "Reverent, devotional, spiritual songs, all of them, quickening our sense of beauty, reassuring to our faith, strengthening to our love, and ministering to our peace. The solace and peace of nature are needed by the souls of men in cities." This copy was inscribed for Christmas presentation (in the year of publication) by Dean Gresham with a flourish: "Maya Fairbanks Colburn / from the Dean / with Christmas greetings and prayers / for her happiness / J.W.G. / Grace Cathedral / San Francisco /1932." Printed by Taylor & Taylor of San Francisco (with a colored colophon) for the Grace Cathedral Book Shop. A lovely copy.