The New Believers Hymn Book

700 Hymns, Hardback. Published by John Ritchie Ltd, 40 Beansburn, Kilmarnock, KA3 1RL. ISBN: 978-1-912522-38-5.

Hymns and hymnbooks, suitable for the regular meetings of the Lord’s people can be a very sensitive, and on occasion, controversial subject. In many places today there is an inclination toward the use of twenty-first century arrangements, many of which were written for solo voice or guitar accompaniment and do not readily adapt for congregational singing. Many simply have repetitive lyrics and lack the doctrinal accuracy and scriptural depth evident in the writings of previous generations.

A new edition of the well-loved and widely used Believers’ Hymn Book, first published by John Ritchie Ltd in 1884, is now available, having undergone a major revision. The revisers have acknowledged that around 80 hymns in the present edition are seldom used and retain archaic sentiments which would find little resonance with many believers today; these have been removed. They have, however, expanded the book to include more than 300 other hymns, making a total of 700 in all. Among these are some ninety poetic works from Remembrance Hymns by Isaac Ewan.

The hymns are arranged in alphabetical order and a subject index is added with rather more detail than in the previous edition. A comprehensive metrical index is also included, invaluable to the hymn precentor. An index of first lines is given as in all hymn books together with a separate list of authors. However, the list of first lines of all verses other than the first is omitted, presumably to avoid making the book too bulky.

The choice of hymns is primarily those with suitable sentiments for the Lord’s supper, but the selection would be equally appropriate for use in ministry meetings and conferences.

A music edition is not yet available, nor a large print edition. At present, the publishers are considering a leather bound version, a little smaller than the production edition, as many believers prefer a personal copy.

The publishers of The New Believers Hymn Book have successfully provided a balanced and widely acceptable selection, though any compilation of hymns will inevitably attract criticism from some quarter. We need to allow for a certain amount of poetic licence and remember that we draw our theology from the scriptures and not from the hymn book!


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