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and colour the language without in any way withdrawing the poem as a whole from that common stock of Christian literature in which all may find sympathy and interest. In compiling this work, I have never, in the writings of any century, found the slightest difficulty in selecting passages which would not be likely to jar discordantly with the distinctive religious or ecclesiastical opinions of the great majority of my readers. Though I have always kept this purpose in view, I have hardly ever found that it formed any hindrance to the choice of such lines as seemed to me on other grounds most adapted for quotation, eithe for the interest of their thought, or the beauty of their language, or as characteristic and illustrative of their writer.

The earliest English is of course to all practical purposes a different language from our own. Fundamentally the same from the very beginning, its identity is so disguised by disused inflections, by changed orthography, by obsolete words, by local dialect, and by all the manifold changes which attended a language in full process of growth, and perpetuated, until the invention of printing, only by manuscript or word of mouth,—that all the earlier portion of these volumes would have been, to a great extent, unintelligible to other than learned readers, if I had quoted passages in their original form. I have therefore rendered them into ordinary English, endeavouring always to make as little change as was compatible with converting them into a thoroughly readable form. I have, however, made

it a general rule to give in a footnote the first line or two of each extract in its original form. I have continued to the last to give the modern spelling. I thought on the whole that some loss of freshness and individuality would be more than compensated by the convenience of reading without any needless distraction in the form. As regards early English and its dialects, I should add that I have no pretension to personal scholarship on this subject, but that the admirable glossaries provided by the Early English Text Society and by other editors greatly facilitated a task which otherwise might have been beyond my power. As it is, I do not think I have made any serious mistakes in my renderings.

I have pleasure in mentioning the special thanks I owe to Mr. Palgrave, Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford, for some valuable suggestions and information, and for the kind spontaneous loan of many of his books. I have made some, but only a very sparing use of his excellent Treasury of Sacred Song. Indeed, I had very nearly completed my task prior to the publication of that work.

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