The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXVI. Patriotic Songs and Hymns

§ 8. Hymns

For various reasons no selection of American hymns can quite compare in certainty with the choice of patriotic songs. As expressions of religious feeling hymns belong to an unnational language, and the most excellent are sung without regard to authorship. The best American hymns have, therefore, to meet the challenge of the best from every other Christian source, and the process of grouping them together is arbitrary and local rather than logical. Moreover, the traditions of worship have been responsible for the iteration of a great deal of bathos, since the convenience of public worship has made the hymnal far more of an instrument than the song book in conserving words and music that ought to have gone to oblivion. Yet though the fields of secular and religious song are very different, the outstanding types and the drift of development are quite comparable.