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BOOK OF GEMS;
A Selection of Sacred Poetry.
The Muse is never so much in her element as when Religion is the theme of her song; and it may be said with truth, that the library of Christian poetry is more lofty in its feeling and more beneficial in its influence, than any other library that can be named. Prose works admit of more logical connexion, and more close and lengthened train of thought ; and thus they address themselves to the understandings of the learned in perhaps more congenial manner than the lighter effusions of the sacred bard. But these latter speak directly to the heart, and win their way with the unlearned as well as with the learned ; and we may challenge contradiction when we say it, that probably more have been at first attracted toward the paths of wisdom and truth by sacred poetry than by all the erudition of the more learned divines.
To contribute in some measure to this purpose is the object of the present collection, which has been selected with much care from very many of our best composers of sacred song. The individual pieces have been selected for their piety, their kindly feeling, and the purity and simplicity of their style. They are such as all may read and understand, and many must admire; and if they shall impart to the reader, especially to the young reader, a portion of that spirit which they breathe, the fondest wish of the compiler will be accomplished, and he will have the satisfaction of knowing that the pleasing task which he has undertaken has not been performed in vain.