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music is to put it into a somewhat similar position with other depart. ments of Christian work and worship. It has generally, though no doubt unintentionally, been neglected or dealt with in an empirical and haphazard manner, and it will take some time to bring about an effective change.
Our first suggestion is that the music of the church should be put into the care of a competent, Christian musical director, - we emphasize Christian,- one who is in sympathy with the work of the church, and who will co-operate sympathetically with the pastor in the different phases of his work, both working together, each in his own sphere, for the one common end — the building up of Christ's kingdom in the hearts of men. He should give his time — if practicable, his entire time — to the Christian development of the musical interests of the church. He should seek out among the young people of the church those who have musical talent, and from the best of these organize a choir. From those not yet ready to join the choir should be organized one or more classes, as necessity may require, for instruction preparatory to admission to the choir at a later period. If the musical director be a thoroughly educated musician, competent to give sound instruction, as he should be, he can, at least in many cases, provide for the necessary solo singing by giving private instruction to some of the more talented singers on the respective parts. In this way the compensation which the church could make, instead of being paid to a quartet of solo voices, can be used in developing the musical talent of the church.
Music has always been regarded as an important factor in religious work, but, singularly enough, our churches have generally been satisfied with whatever came to hand, and hence our church music is largely the result of a series of accidents, more or less happy, rather than of systematic, organized, and intelligent purpose. Suppose that the course pursued by the Church in regard to her ministry had been similar to that pursued in regard to music; that instead of making suitable provision for the preparation of young men for this office, the Church had been content to supply the pulpit from the ranks of men who might chance to possess some skill in public speaking, with little regard to other qualifications. Such a supposition seems almost inconceivable, and yet this is analogous to what our churches, though with some notable exceptions, have been content to do for the musical part of their worship. The young man of musical talent is left to educate himself as best he can, in his own way and at his own expense. He seeks instruction with special reference to what he fancies he may need as a musician, with little thought as to what he needs as a man, still less a Christian man. The associations arid which he lives and grows artistically are in no sense religious. In the course of time he becomes a musician, and the church, unable to find a man better fitted for the work, places him in charge of this part of their worship, without regard to his spiritual experience, if not without regard to his moral character. It is easy to see that, aside froin his musical qualifications, he is likely to possess little that will be of value in this important office. His deticiencies are both seen and felt, and the good people in the church are amazed at the depravity of musicians, and sometimes are driven to such straits as to feel that they might better do without music. This is unfortunate alike for people and musician, but it is precisely what should be expected. Devout musicians do not grow without nurture, any more than devout ministers. Surround the two classes of men with the same kind of influences during the educational period of their lives, and they will not be so unlike when they become men.
In closing this report your committee desire to express their conviction that no one plan for the improvement of public worship can be formulated for the Congregational churches by the Council or by any committee of the Council. This would be foreign to the genius of our order. We can only offer these general suggestions, not as a basis for any uniform liturgy, not even for adoption as general principles by the Council, but for public discussion in the methods customary among us, through the denominational press, and church, associational, and conference meetings.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SABBATH
THE question of a right observance of the Christian Sabbath grows more urgent and important with each passing year. The National Council does well seriously to consider it.
We assume that the validity of the decalogue is not a matter of debate here or in any evangelical assembly; We do not stop to prove that the fourth commandment in the ola binding force upon the conscience and life of every man who waits upon God reverently and obediently to know his will. Written by God's own finger upon tables of stone, and yet more deeply graven in the constitution of man and the subject animals, its uses for necessary cessation from the ordinary toil of life and the education of the religious nature, are too well established in all human experience to require further proof that the Sabbath is of divine appointment and of perpetual obligation. Nor is it deemed needful to take more than a passing notice of the effort to wrest that saying of our Lord, “ The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath,” from its manifest inculcation to a shallow and superficial defence of all manner of desecration. Nor yet again are we
frightened by the bugbear of “ a Puritan Sabbath” as something to be feared and carefully avoided. There may be the remotest possibility that the great command can be too strictly and literally observed, but the probability is not dangerously imminent. And from that same Puritan Sabbath and the godly men and women who held sacred its every hour, has come down too large and goodly an inheritance of every blessing that can endow a nation with enduring riches, to lead us to despise their example or to lessen our heed that we walk in their footsteps.
I. The fact of an increasing disregard of any proper observance of the Christian Sabbath is too apparent to require more than its assertion. Especially is this true in all our large cities. Excursions by boat and train abound during the entire warm season of the year, and are patronized by scores of thousands of people on every Lord's Day. All sorts of enterprises with political, philanthropic, social and sometimes even with religious ends in view, using the Sabbath as their day of opportunity, appeal to the thoughtless and excitement-seeking public for countenance and aid. Theaters, concert halls, and freak exhibitions flaunt their attractions and prosecute their regular business precisely as on any other day. Base-ball and other athletic clubs play their games and gather their noisy crowds. Passenger trains on all our leading railroad lines increase in number, while the belated freight traffic is expedited with enlarged right of way. The Sunday newspaper is vociferously cried from early morning till midday, and even thrust into the faces of those on their way to the house of God. The drinking saloon, of course, plies its destructive trade, openly or by stealth, unceasingly day and night.
Nor is this all or the worst. There are yet other alarming indica. tions of a careless and indifferent sentiment regarding the sacredness of the Lord's Day that are well calculated to awaken anxiety as to where all this drift is to end. The infection has spread to the ranks of professing Christians. To some extent although we may hope quite inconsiderably — these may be found participants in most of the forms of desecration already noted, but in a far more noticeable degree in one other direction, viz. : that of Sunday travelling. This is deliberately and intelligently planned for. In the prosecution of business and for no other purpose, trains are taken on Saturday night that speed on their way all day Sunday and reach their remote destination late that night or in the early part of Monday. Thus a day is “saved” to business at the expense of a riolated command. In other instances noon or afternoon trains are taken on Sunday, involving travel for the remainder of the day and into the night or following morning. Return trips are planned and carried out on the same basis. This has come to be of so common occurrence as to attract no attention and provoke no comment.
And in steadily increasing numbers church members are contributing to this form of Sabbath desecration, and do it with apparent unconcern. There are, we apprehend, few if any members of this Council who cannot bear testimony to this lamentable fact. A case is within knowledge where a church member, with all his family, left the house of God at the close of short introductory service and sermon preceding the communion, in order to take a one o'clock train on which the remainder of the day and night was spent, and which enabled him to reach his destination a business day earlier than otherwise he could have done.
The fact of a somewhat noted doctor of divinity, — not of the Congregational denomination, a year or two ago, may be recalled by some. Reaching New York by steamer from Europe Saturday noon, he took a later train, travelled all day Sunday and reached his distant home in time to appear before his admiring flock at the evening service, and effusively to inform them that his love for them was so consuming that he could do no other than hasten with all speed that he might look into their faces once more. In the presence of such shameful transgressions, how impressive is the reading of this simple narrative of the acts of the first disciples immediately following that transcendent sacrifice which stands unique and alone, alike in the annals of earth and heaven.
" And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment."
Even ministries for the dead that could be reasonably postponed were not suffered to invade holy time!
II. Turn we now from this somewhat disheartening retrospect to inquire as to the cause of this alarming increase in the partial or total disregard of any proper observance of the Lord's Day. It is not far to seek. It is the love of money, as to which we have
inspired authority that it is the root of all evil. Take away the gain that comes to every form of Sabbath-desecrating business, and it would shrink to proportions too small to be noticed. Excursions by rail and boat would cease. Athletic games would come to an end, and no longer would street-car companies encourage them and actively interfere, as they do now, to defeat all efforts to secure their discontinuance through the operations of the civil law. Even the Sunday newspaper the necessary advocate, apologist, and defender of all forms of Sunday desecration, since it is conspicuous in the same condemnation — would discontinue its issues in thirty days after the fact was established that it did not pay in vulgar dollars and cents. We should no longer be treated to the shallow and silly pretence that it is engaged in doing an invaluable moral work. Its back would be turned on its vaunted mission of beneficence the moment its profits disappeared from view — and these depend wholly upon its advertising. Railroad traffic would be reduced to the minimum of absolute necessity, for already intelligent managers are not slow to discover that their employés are positively benefited by a seventh day's rest from their exacting labors, and that their corporations share in the benefits through an increased efficiency.
Linked to this greed of gain and largely contributing to its encouragement, is the desire for recreation to be found among the laboring classes. Closely confined to their toil during the six working days, they clamor for the enjoyment which they think to be within their reach in the unoccupied hours of the Sabbath. And so they thoughtlessly insist that no inconsiderable number of their fellow workingmen shall be deprived of all Sunday rest and compelled to work seven days in the week, to minister to their desires, not discerning that every barrier that is broken down in this direction destroys one more defence erected between them and their exemption from similar demands. Nor can any candid and observing person among them deny that the recreation derived from Sunday excursions, to which they mainly resort, is a costly cheat and a disappointing sham. Whoever has witnessed the home-going of one of these expeditions — men, women and children fagged out, fretful, and utterly uncomfortable, more tired than from the hardest day's work must admit that the idea of there being any real rest or profitable recreation in such use of the Sabbath is a delusion and a snare of massive proportions. There surely is a better way.