Review: “The Hymns of Philip Doddridge”
Comp. and ed. Graham C. Ashworth
Soli Deo Gloria, 2010, 215pp., hardback, $24
This beautifully-presented volume is essentially a conservative reproduction of the third edition of Doddridge’s Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scripture, containing 375 hymns divided into sections on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and particular occasions. In addition to the indices, the editor has added appendices with Doddridge’s key dates, additional hymn listings, some tunes in the public domain that could readily be employed, and – perhaps most interestingly – a theological analysis of the hymns. The hymns themselves are doctrinally potent and structurally sound, if occasionally a little clunky. There is an earthy clarity of expression that brings deep theology within reach of our understanding and affections, for these works lack neither breadth of truth nor depth of experience. That the language and range of reference will sometimes defeat today’s reader and singer speaks more, it might be argued, in criticism of us than of Doddridge. One would probably not contend for Doddridge to take his place in the upper pantheon of British hymnwriters, but those wishing to understand the craft, as well as Doddridge appreciators, will find this a stimulating resource.