Treasure No 13: “Julian”

Treasure No 13: “Julian” by Erik Routley:
An article from Bulletin No. 48, July 1949

What is Julian?
The year 1891 was a great year for hymnology; you might say that in that year hymnology graduated from the status of a hobby to that of a science, for it was in that year that the house of John Murray published A Dictionary of Hymnology, by the Reverend Doctor John Julian, Vicar of Wincobank, Sheffield. Two supplements added to this already formidable volume make the book which now stands on my shelves; it measures, in inches, 9½ by 6 by 3½ it weighs five pounds, it contains 1,768 pages and three indexes, and in it you can read the first and last words on hymnological learning available in the year of its final edition, 1907. You can read of any hymn conceivably available to Protestant congregations at that time; you can read of Watts and Wesley, and, if you choose, of Valentin Thilo and William Morley Punshon. You can read the almost incredible fact that over thirty hymns of William Chatterton Dix were in common use in 1900. In fact, if you respect hymnology as being more, than a pastime, you must have Julian.

Why this notice?

Now consider the following facts.

  1. Julian’s last edition was published 42 years ago.
  2. The study which was in its infancy when the book was first published, and to whose development it so largely contributed, has during these sixty years made great advances. These, and the large quantity of new material which has been written in the twentieth century, especially in America and in the younger churches, detract from the almost proverbial infallibility and exhaustiveness justly credited to Julian on its first publication.
  3. My copy, for which I have had to wait many years before securing it six months ago, cost me forty-five shillings.

Julian, in brief, is unwieldy, out of date, and out of print. Now you will read in the document which presents the aims of this Society that we are pledged to remedy this; and for the twelve years of our life as a Society this pledge has weighed on our consciences. How, then, can we revive, renew, and re-publish Julian?


Up to now we have talked much, and the perplexities and difficulties which we have encountered only we know who have attended the conferences. We of the Executive, who met at Jordans during the last week in June, 1949, wish to take you into our confidence without being tedious, so we will mention summarily the questions we have tried to answer. Are we to print a third Supplement? Or shall we print a new book of a popular kind at a fairly low price? The first would be increasingly unwieldy; those who use Julian would then have to consult four indexes. The second, we felt, hardly carries out our pledge. So we have decided that our best plan is to publish a new book, called, perhaps, Julian Revised, which shall contain all the information which is normally required to-day by the serious student of hymnology. It will give, first, everything in the old Julian that is required for ordinary information, together with information about material written since 1907. It will contain new articles incorporating the results of the most recent research, and re-written articles and notices correcting what are now found to be certain inaccuracies in the older book. But for the more obscure details and obiter dicta it will provide references to the old book, which can still be looked up in the libraries.

The Publisher.

Now at this point we must hear the Publisher. We have already had a personal consultation with Sir John Murray, who has always taken a lively interest in Julian and has given us all the encouragement which, in the present awkward times, he can give with honesty. Sir John has quite properly declined to go further with the matter unless we can find the sum of £2,000. This would leave a sum of about equal size to be found by the publishing House; the proposition is therefore not only legitimate but also generous. It will be quite clear to all readers that the book will not pay for itself, if it pays at all, for many years after its publication.

Our own Finances.

Our Treasurer tells us that we have £360 in the fund set aside for the Julian revision, and that with our other funds we should be able to increase the money available to something over £500. Therefore we have to find £1,500 of new money. You must know this and bear it in mind, but we are not now asking you to find this money for us. We have five years’ work before us and until we are able to say that only the lack of money stands between us and publication, we are making no financial appeal. But if any reader, having read the rest of this report, is satisfied that he could properly make a donation now, or if any feels moved to plan a subscription to be sent annually for the next five years in order to encourage the new editors, no such contribution would be received otherwise than with great gratitude.

Editorial Work.

Turning now to the work that lies before us, we begin by reporting a piece of news so grievous as to be all but crippling. Dr. Phillips, who last year agreed to act as Editor-in-Chief, has had to resign this commission because of a serious collapse in health, and we may not hope that he will be able to take it up again. Dr. Phillips’s learning and enthusiasm, which he so generously placed at our disposal at Oxford, are virtually irreplaceable, and at this moment we have been unable to think of a successor to the editor-ship.

But we have not despaired, and we propose to enter on the first stage of the work immediately, which work I must now describe. And here, having (I hope) won the sympathy of the reader by refraining from a financial appeal, I propose to disconcert him with an appeal of another kind. We must have help in this work.

The first stage, on which we are about to embark, is to go through the latest edition (1907) of Julian assessing its contents under the following categories :

  1. That which we must retain unaltered;
  2. That which we can omit from the new book, referring to it by a page-reference to the existing Julian, and
  3. That which must be corrected in detail or entirely rewritten.

Now we have no editor-in-chief to whom we can depute this work But in the first instance we can do it by team-work. Mr. Frost, Mr. Bunn, and the Editor of the Bulletin are prepared to take a hand in it, but if it is left to them each will have to read and assess nearly 600 pages of double-column printing in small type. If, therefore, we could gather a team of, say, ten readers, the work laid on each would be substantially reduced. We do not, of course, need a very large team, and I must make it clear that the work does require a fairly wide and accurate knowledge of the field in addition to a good deal of patience and critical sense. But if any reader, having properly paused over these pre-requisites, feels able to take even a few pages and read and assess them, sending his results in by the 1st of June, 1950, he is asked to write to the Editor of the Bulletin at once. We want to start on the work by September, and when the team is gathered we shall apportion the work, giving to each member a group of alphabetical sections to work through in each of Julian’s three parts. Full instructions will, of course, accompany the assignment.

One modification is required, of course, to this preliminary scheme. There are certain subjects upon which certain people are acknowledged specialists and authorities. To such of these people as would join us we will give their own subjects to read and assess throughout the book, and the specialised material so assigned would, of course, be carved out of the assignments given to unspecialised readers. When you reply, therefore, will you kindly state whether you wish to be regarded as a specialist or as an ordinary reader?

By the way, it should be made quite clear that the fact that replies are in this case to be addressed to the Editor of the Bulletin does not imply that he is acting, or is willing to act, as Editor of Julian Revised. On the contrary, he is unable, having neither leisure nor qualifications, to undertake this work.

For the Future.

We should like to have this first stage completed before next year’s Conference if at all possible. When it is completed we shall hand the results to our editor-in-chief, whom by then we hope to have appointed, and he will be responsible for collating the old material and getting the new and corrected material written. The result will be Julian Revised, a book which will be adequate for all ordinary purposes, and which will refer the reader to the older book for such out-of-the-way information as is to be found there. It will be, we intend, scholarly and authoritative, easily referred to, properly indexed, and trustworthy. It will not, of course, be in any sense “light” reading.

When this work is completed we propose to show it to the Publisher and simultaneously to launch an appeal for financial backing.

Our friends in America will, we hope, be interested in these matters. We hope they will feel able to co-operate with us in the later stages of the work; probably their distance from us will make it unlikely that they will be called in for the preliminary hack-work which I have been describing. But they may be assured that we shall consult them at every stage and rely on them for their indispensable help in our adventure.


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