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Great Songs Of The Church (1921-2021) 100th Anniversary News (1920)

by E. L. Jorgenson

   

Elmer L. Jorgenson (1886-1968)

  “I am glad to see the enthusiasm over your song book,” writes a northern evangelist in today’s mail. Really, the favor already accorded the forthcoming book has completely passed my expectations. This too, is from the Lord, and the praise is His. Numerous advance orders, ranging from one to two hundred copies, have come in since last month’s report. All orders help, and especially those with checks enclosed—as readers may realize when told that my expense will average about $50 a day for the next three months! If. someone whom God has prospered desires to help temporarily in this financial burden, well and good; if not, our bank will finance the book, but interest will mean added expense.

     “Enthusiasm!” I should say so, on my part at least—since what happened a week ago! “What happened?” Why, the most significant thing that has occurred in song book circles in the last two decades. In the April issue I spoke of a peculiar kind of competition making certain songs impossible to secure by anyone, at any price. All that is altered now. For the first time in about twenty years, the greatest copyrights of both Mr. Excell and Mr. Alexander will appear side by side, in the same book! No other book can ever make this remarkable claim. I am profoundly thankful to the Lord, that, in His over-ruling providence, this remarkable advantage has been sent our way. It removes the last obstacle in issuing the greatest Hymnal ever put out, an obstacle that for ten years discouraged my efforts. Besides, the choicest copyrights owned by about thirty other composers will appear.

     One hundred and twenty titles have been suggested by this time. Here are some sent in since last report:

“Prayer and Praise in Song,” “Make Christ King,” “Songs that Glorify God,” “Heart Melodies,” “Anthems,” “Love Divine Songs,” “The Gospel’s Power in Song,” “Jewels,” “Jewels of Christ,” “The Heart Searcher,” “Anthems of Praise and Thanksgiving,” “Melodies of Praise,” “The Jorgenson Hymnal,” “Excelsior Hymns,” “Song Jewels,” “Inspiration in Song,” “Make His Praise Glorious,” “Praise Ye Jehovah,” “Songs of Grace and Deliverance,” “Shout the Tidings of Salvation,” “Rose of Sharon,” “Worship in Song,” “Redemption Songs,” “Songs of Salvation,” “Songs of Triumph,” “Harvest Hymns,” “Abiding Hymns,” “Homeland Hymns,” “Awakening Songs,” “Songs of the Cross and of Glory,” “Great Christian Hymns,” “Great Songs of the Church.”

  1. Send in the best name that you can think of for such a book; at least, express your preference between the two to which I now incline
  2. Ask your congregation to let you place an advance order for a hundred copies, more or less, of the song and hymn book which is to contain ALL the greatest songs of the church. If you fail in this, send for a copy individually to show to the brethren. Payment in advance would be greatly appreciated, but not required. On my part, I will undertake to deliver the book by August or earlier, and to take the full shipment back without question, if it is not exactly what you want.

Address me, care of Word and Work, Louisville, Ky. “Do it now.”

      While I shall not decide finally as long as titles are being sent in, I may say that I am strongly inclined toward the last two, “Great Christian Hymns,” and “Great Songs of the Church”— titles that are at once dignified, and indicative of the book’s content. Which of the two do you prefer?

     

  The following article appeared later in the year.

CONCERNING THE SONG BOOK

E. L. Jorgenson, September 1920 Word and Work

A GOOD SURPRISE.

Last May, when the typesetters promised to make me four pages a day, I saw nothing to hinder delivery of the new song book sometime before the end of August. It is necessary now, however, to fall back on my original promise, “sometime during 1920,” though it seems that two months should complete the work. It is in this line of work—as in other lines now-a-days —difficult to secure what one wants. Instead of four pages a day, the plate-makers have averaged less than two.

THE GOOD PART ABOUT IT.

But back of this reason for delay are reasons in which our readers will actually rejoice! Even at the rate of two pages a day, the book as originally planned would be ready. But two unexpected things occurred which added greatly to the labor, as well as to the value of the undertaking. The first was this: One day a friend who had examined the songs, remarked: “The  ——————–Company of New York are the logical publishers for such a work.” The company which he named ranks, I believe, as the leading publishers of America; and one advantage that occurred to me was that through them the book would not only reach many circles otherwise inaccessible, but through their London and Edinburgh branches, it could be put within reach of the British churches; and it also turned out that a few desirable copyrights, otherwise unobtainable (such as “In the Garden”), became obtainable with the provision that a house of this rank be selected as publishers.

Such a prospect, together with the many encouraging letters, advance orders and checks, coming in from individuals, churches and some of the leading Christian schools—altogether it was enough to put a man “on his mettle” in an effort to furnish something worthy. I enlarged my plans. I determined that not a single song of first rank should escape, free or copyrighted. The result is the “Cream” of some two hundred American, Canadian and British books. Mediocre songs and even good songs, there are in the world by thousands; but the greatest and best, both of hymns, and songs with choruses, come easily within our figure, 400. I think I may modestly say—and I shall be glad when others are in position to do the necessary talking—I think I may modestly say, the hook is well worth waiting for; and my feeling is, that when a man is accomplishing that which is not for a few days or years, but for generations (if God will), a few months’ postponement is a small matter.

BUILT ALPHABETICALLY, LIKE A DICTIONARY.

Of special interest—and this is one of the “surprises”—is the point that, at much extra labor and expense, the book has been built alphabetically! I suppose it is the only song book in the world built that way. I did not know it was “impossible,” and so I did it! There is the regular index (besides the topic and scripture indexes), but it is almost useless. Should you lose it, as happens in old books, it matters not. One simply turns to the desired song alphabetically, as you would to a word in the dictionary or encyclopedia. Or, the song leader may start up a piece without announcement, or “change the invitation song:” one quickly turns alphabetically to the song beginning with the first few words from his lips. No announcement of the number is needed.

Well, some of these days we will be singing its praises together; I mean its songs of praise to Him who alone is worthy, and who has enabled me and led me step by step, from one good fortune to another in this work of love. The price will be 60c or a little more. Cash advance orders are now being accepted at 50c in any quantity, in order to meet the plate-makers’ monthly bills. Address Word and Work, Louisville, Ky.

     The price will be the lowest possible. Not over 50c, I think, in the finest art-cloth binding; at least advance orders (with payment accompanying) will be filled at 50c, though hymnals of its size and claims are selling at a dollar.

  1. L. Jorgenson, September 1920 Word and WorkThe price will be the lowest possible. Not over 50c, I think, in the finest art-cloth binding; at least advance orders (with payment accompanying) will be filled at 50c, though hymnals of its size and claims are selling at a dollar.

WHAT YOU CAN DO.

  1. Send in the best name that you can think of for such a book; at least, express your preference between the two to which I now incline
  2. Ask your congregation to let you place an advance order for a hundred copies, more or less, of the song and hymn book which is to contain ALL the greatest songs of the church. If you fail in this, send for a copy individually to show to the brethren. Payment in advance would be greatly appreciated, but not required. On my part, I will undertake to deliver the book by August or earlier, and to take the full shipment back without question, if it is not exactly what you want.

Address to me, care of Word and Work, Louisville, Ky. “Do it now.”




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