Page images
PDF
EPUB

falleo into disuse, which, for their spoil the effect of the Best sacred intrinsic excellence, ought never to poetry, not inspired, ever put into the have been displaced as standard con- lips of religious worshippers; and gregational tunes; and the whole not anfrequently to silence whole forms a body of sacred music which congregations, for the sake of the has no ordinary claim, both from its exbibition of the orchestra. general style, and the name of its This evil, like many others, has Compiler, to be regarded as the guide served to work its own cure by the cf our taste and practice in this de- re-action of its very excess. A better partment of our devotional services, taste is growing up, and in this tenin public and in our families.

dency to recur to the principles on Certain it is, that since the airs in which the "Sacred Harmony”

was the “ Sacred Harmony" have been compiled, its republication may be suffered to fall into neglect or obli- considered as timely. But much revion, the character of our congrega- mains to be done to impress upon tional singing bas not generally im. those who have the conducting of proved. That many tunes, composed this branch of worship, that what is by men celebrated in this species of new is not always an improvement, musical composition, and wbich have and that the true principles and prac. beld an eminent place in church tice of this great art were known and music almost since the time of the exercised centuries before they were Reformation, have been in frequent born. use, and that some compositions of In those ages when poetry and much more modern date, formed on music jointly produced their most the style of the solemn and noble powerful effects, the artificial refinepsalmody of ancient times, have been ments of modern times were not reemployed in aid of our devotions, sorted to. Harmony or counterpoint we gladly acknowledge; and in was unknown, and the effect' was those congregations where this taste produced by the sweetness and simhas most prevailed, the singing has plicity, or the nobleness and spirit, been most devotional and edifying; of the air, giving emphasis to the but it must be lamented, that the conceptions of the poet, by correrage for new tunes which was for sponding with them. There is an many years indulged, and the eager- immutable truth in pature ; and it is ness with which every collection was in the melody, or air, that we are bought up and introduced, deluged still to look for the true power of the Connexion with base, dissonant, music to excite emotion, and to give unscientific, and tasteless composio effect to poetry. This is more espetions, utterly destructive of that rich cially the case in the “ singing of and solemn melody, which best be- psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs ; comes religious services, and most where the music in all cases ought powerfully excites those emotions to be adapted to the sentiment, and which act subserviently to edification, resorted to as an auxiliary to awaken by giving force to the words sung, attention, and to produce an emotion, and fixing the attention more directly not to be sought for its own sake,

however pleasurable, nor to be rested One great reason of this evil has in as an end; for, in itself, the excitebeen the inattention of Ministers ment is purely natural, and might themselves to this part of the service be as forcibly produced at an opera, of the sanctuary ; for what primitive or by the use of a vain song. If it bishops and general councils did not be sanctified at all, it must be by the think it unimportant to regulate or sentiments which it more deeply im. improve, has been too often left presses, and the praise to which it among us to the leaders of tunes, and gives an intenser ardour. Like the to choirs of singers. The conse fire of the altar, it differs not from quence has been, that every tune the common element, until it receives which recommended itself to a false, the incense, and at once perfumes a vulgar, or a light taste, or which itself, and spreads the odour through was adopted for no other reason than the temple. its novelty, has been employed to Hence the singing of the Jews

[ocr errors]

upon thein.

must, from the very structure of churches abroad, and the parochial their poetry, have been a kind of churches of our own country. Soon recitative, or, at most, a chant, after the Reformation comnienced in varied occasionally with alternations England, eomplaints were made by and responses. The singing in the many of the dignified clergy, and ancient Greek and Roman temples others, of the intricacy and difficulty appears also to have been of the same of the church music of those times ; simple character ; and according to and several reforms were the conthe learned MARTINI, the music of sequence. The thirty-two Commisthe first five or six ages of the primio sioners, to whom EDWARD VI. comtive church consisted chiefly in a mitted the compilation of a body of plain, simple chant of unisons and ecclesiastical laws, condemned figuoctaves, of which many fragments rative and operose music, or that remain in the canto fermo of the kind of singing which abounds with Romish Missals. The character of fugues, responsive passages, and a the primitive singing is strongly commixture of various and intricate marked by the Gregorian Chant, proportions. which was an improvement upon the In the best ages of the Church, Ambrosian Chant established at Min and by the judgment of the most Jan about the year 386, and may be eminent and pious of its Ministers, considered as a primitive air ; for simplicity has therefore been thought Eusebius tells us, that St. AMBROSE the most appropriate character of had his melodies from the church at sacred music; and every thing inAntioch, where he long resided. tricate and light, injurious to the The Gregorian Chant is a plain and genuine spirit of devotion. In this dignified melody, formed on these sentiment Mr. Wesley cordially primitive models, and was designed concurred, and strenuously opposed to banish a lighter style which had light and intricate performances. crept into the church; for ecclesias- In his Journal he remarks, “ April tical writers seem unanimous in al. 8, 1781, I came just in time to Warlowing, that GREGORY, whose pon- rington to put a stop to a bad custom tificate commenced in A. D. 590, which was creeping in here. A few collected the musical fragments of men, who had five voices, sang a such ancient psalms and hymns as psalm which no one knew, in a tune the first fathers of the church had fit for an opera, wherein three, four, approved and recommended to the or five persons sung different words first Christians; that he selected, at the same time! What an insult methodized, and arranged them; and upon common sense! What a burbanished from the church the canto lesque upon public worship! No figurato, as too light. It is added, custom can excuse such a mixture that his own chant was called canto of profaneness and absurdity.” fermo, from its gravity and sim- Many similar observations on abuses plicity.

in singing may be found in his In after ages an artificial and com- works: and it is a circumstance of plex mode of singing obtained in the greater importance than will appear Western Church ; for the universal to superficial minds, that as we have, departure from simplicity in other througb the special goodness of God parts of worship could not but affect to us, a collection of the best hymns, church music. This was among the we have also been frequently and offences given to the spirit of piety seriously admonished to sing them at the Reformation ; and the leading so as to render them helpful to our Reformers exerted themselves to re- piety, by making melody in our move it. LUTHER composed services, hearts to the Lord.” more in the style of the first ages of By the rules which are supplied the church ; Calvin, in his establish- by the practice of the Church of ment of the Genevan Church, ex- Christ when inost influenced by the cluded the elaborate music of the life and power of religion, and the Papists, and adopted that plain opinions of her most eminent Minis. metrical psalmody, which is now in ters on the right performance of this general use among the reformed şacred service, all new tunes ought to be tried, and admitted or rejected to her services, that too great care by those to whom God has given the cannot be taken to render it attractive, charge of his courts; and who are so that our “praise be comelyand responsible both to him and to the devotional. As a holy means to great public for the manner in which and noble ends, science is sacredly public psalmody is conducted.- employed in giving it as much per** Psalm-tunes, says an eminent fection as possible; for unless singing Divide, “ought to be solemn and be so ordered as, in some measure, to grave; not vain, light, and airy, as be grateful to the ear, the ordinance if they were only designed to please will be exposed to contempt. “God and gratify a wanton and sensual is the God of order, and vot of conmind. This would be to turn one fusion.”. Simplicity excludes not of the most noble and spiritual duties genius, but is the effect of it; and of religion into a mere entertainment those modulations which form the for the senses and fancies of carnal best examples of psalmody, are all men,—to turn God's house into a the productions of eminent genius, theatre; and would desecrate his under the guidance of a proper sense sacred worship, and make it distaste- of what is fit and becoming in the worful to pious minds. The power of ship of God. Such must have been music is very great, and may be the airs in which the primitive Chrisabnsed to bad purposes, as well as tians celebrated the praises of Christ; improved to holy ones; and therefore for Pagans were attracted by their only such tunes must be used in singing to their churches, and were Goo's house, as become his Majesty often deeply and effectually wrought and Holiness, and the gravity and upon by the service. By the musical the spirituality of the worship in services of the Roman church, before which we are engaged.”

they became elaborate and artificial, “ All wise and sober persons," powerful effects were produced upon observes Bishop Taylor," do find those barbarous nations of Europe, fault when the Psalmody, which is whose conversion was effected by her recommended by the practice of missionaries. The music of LUTHER CHRIST and his Apostles, does sen- is well known ; and many of the sibly pass farther into art, than into compositions of Lewis GUADIMET, religion, and serves pleasure more the Asapu of the Genevan churches, than devotion; when it recedes from have great merit. Notbing but the that native simplicity and gravity, productions of real genius could have which served the affections and holy called forth those emotions which aspirations of so many ages of the rendered psalmody so popular a serChurch; when it is so conducted vice among the adherents of the that it shall not be for edification ; Reformation, and so attractive to that is, when it is made so accurate Papists themselves, that the singing and curious that none can join in it of psalms was prohibited throughbut musicians, and they also are not out France by a royal declaration.t so recitative, they do not sing and And we have all witnessed the effects express the words so plainly, that produced on whole congregations, they which hear do understand; for when all have joined in a wellby this means the greatest benefit

+ That was a noble act of a pious artizan and use of edification is lost."'* of the town of Castres, in Upper Languedoc, Let nothing, however, which has who, when an oficer showed him the decla:

ration against singing psalms, in order to been said be construed into an iu- silence birn, wrote at the bottom of the act tention to discourage the cultivation

the French version of Psalm xxxiv. 1:1

will bless the Lord at all times : his praise and improvement of this part of shall continually be in my mouth :"" divine worship, both in families and " Jamais ne cesserai in congregations. On the contrary,

De magnifier le Seigneur:

En ma bonche aurai son honneur it is a religious ordinance of so high

Tant que vivant serai." an antiquity, one which has been so In the English version of Tate and Brady: signally owned of God for comforting

" Through all the changing scenes of life,

In trouble and in joy, and edifying his church, and for The praises of my God sball still alluring even those who are without My heart rudion e employ."

Many were grievously persecuted on this • Dactor Dubitantium.

account Vol. I. Third Series. JANUARY, 1892.

3

adapted tune, and especially Luther's to the solemnity of his worship, be. Old Hundredth Psalm Tune, to sing lieving and being firmly persuaded the high praises of our God. that we must give an account in the

Neither genius in composition, nor day of judgment. Let us think skill in execution, are therefore dis- within ourselves, that while we are couraged by the recommendation of conscientiously singing the praises simplicity in singing. This is a of God in his church below, we are common mistake. It is in complex training up for that better world, airs that genius is usually most ab- where everlasting joy shall be upon sent; and in a rattling and noisy our heads, and our mouths eternally execution, that skill in execution is filled with the high praises of God: least employed.

and let us not forget to consider how Delightful as this service is, it dreadful it will be, for our cries and has its corresponding dangers. The wailings in hell to receive a higher very means we take to engage our accent from our hypocritical songs bearts with ardour to “ give thanks of praise on earth."* unto God," may, by their appeal to On the contrary, we know, that our senses, steal away our attention, if rightly performed, nothing is more and leave our worship a “ sounding acceptable to God our Saviour. brass and a tinkling cymbal,” — Wonderful, indeed, is his condeVox, et præterea nihil."

scension, that when the “

sons of

the morning” still sing together, and “ Let us take care that we be sin. surround his throne with hallelujahs, cerely devoted to that God whose he should say to a child of earth, praises we sing. Let every grace

“Let me hear thy voice, for it is have its proper and lively exercise. pleasant !” “Whoso offereth praise, We must offer a reasonable service, glorifieth me.” understand and attend to the sense

The “ Sacred Harmony,” in the of what we sing, lest we be no

present edition, is put into a forin wiser than the fowls of heaven,'

more convenient for general use; who sing they know not what. We and it has been carefully revised must set ourselves as in the presence

and figured for organ, harpsichord, of an all-seeing God, that a sense

or piano-forte, by Mr. Charles of his inspection may awe us into Wesley. a decent reverence, and make us

London, Nov. 3, 1821. watch against every thing upsuitable

• Eastcheap Lectures.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

LETTER FROM THE REV. J. WESLEY TO MR.

OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD.

To the Editor.

has taken the charge of between The following Letter of MR. Wes- thirty and forty children. There is LEY, published in the Gentleman's therefore great need that God should Magazine for 1737, (page 575,) may put it into the hearts of some to come afford some useful hints to those who over to us, and labour with us in his are entering as labourers into the harvest. But I should not desire any Missionary field.

to come, unless on the same views London, Thos. MARRIOTT. and conditions with us,-without Oct. 28, 1821.

any temporal wages, other than food

and raiment, the plain conveniences Savannah, America, of life. For one or more, in whom DEAR SIR, Feb. 16, 1736-7. was this mind, there would be full MR. INGHAM has left Savannah for employment in the province, either some months, and lives at a house in assisting Mr. DELAMOTTE or me, built for him a few miles hence, near while we were present here, or in the Indian town. I have now no fellow- supplying our places when abroad, labourer but MR. DELANOTTE, who or in visiting the poor people in the

smaller settlements, as well as at his Master's sake, but to take up his Frederica, all of whom are as sheep cross too, and cheerfully submit to without a shepherd.

the fatigue and danger of it may be) By these labours of love might a long voyage, and patiently to enany that desired it be trained up for dure the continual contradiction of the harder task of preaching the sinners, and all the inconveniences Gospel to the heathen. The diffi- which it often occasions. culties he must then encounter, God Would any one have a trial of himonly knows ; probably martyrdom self, how he can bear this ? If he has would conclude them: but those we felt what reproach is, and can bear have hitherto met with have been that for but a few weeks as he ought, small, and only terrible at a distance. I shall believe he need fear nothing. Persecution, you know, is the portion Other trials will afterwards be no of every follower of Christ, wherever heavier than that little one was at bis lot is cast; but it has bitherto ex- first; so that he may then have a tended so farther than words, with well-grounded hope, that he will be regard to us, (unless in one or two enabled to do all things through inconsiderable instances :) yet it is Christ strengthening him. sure, every man ought, if he would May the God of peace himself dicome bither, to be willing and ready to rect you to all things conducive to embrace (if God should see good) the his glory, whether it be by fitter inseverer kinds of it. He ought to be struments, or even by your friend and determined, not only to leave parents, servant in CHRIST, sisters, friends, houses, and land, for

John WESLEY.

LETTER FROM THE LATE LADY MARY FITZGERALD

TO MRS. FLETCHER.

Dec. 25th, 1797. mercy and patience of my God,-yes, MY VERY DEAR AND MUCH-VALUED I trust, my God, my Saviour, my FRIEND,

REDEEMER, and my All. Sometimes I Your welcome letter did not reach want every atom to be a tongue, to me till long after the date. Many tell of his long-suffering, patience, thanks for the account of those two love, and mercy : at other times I am happy boys, who have so soon finish- so basely ungrateful, as to doubt of ed their course, and are safely arrived my interest in that precious, precious, out of all danger, to be for ever with all-atoning blood, though I know it our adorable SAVIOUR, whose presence is free for the vilest; and but too often makes fulness of joy. You ask me so wandering and dead, that I cannot what the Lord has been speaking to fix my thoughts : then I long to depart me of late? Indeed, I seem to be and be free from this burthen of clay, only just beginning to peep into which keeps down my eager soul the wonders of redeeming Love. I from mounting to the God I love and am stupid, and slow of heart to believe; adore. but he is so gracious, he will not give But I am ashamed to see how me up, and now and then gives me much I have written about myself, such glimpses of the astonishing trans- wbich your question has occasioned. action we are now commemorating, By your account of Mrs. Child, I that I am for a moment lost in wonder, fear (but, I ought not to say, I lore, and praise; and my soul longs fear, though I pity her husband and to be a temple for my God,—to be children,) that she is by this time out continually swallowed up in that one of the body;-happy she, if it be so. I thought. "But oh! what cause haveI am thankful that our adorable LORD to complain of coldness and deadness, has brought Anna Smith and family who onght to be burning with a flamé safe through the furpaceinwhich they of gratitude and adoration. If such a were so long kept. I think I have heard wretch as I am pardoned, justified, you say you remembered something and in a state of salvation, surely hea of Mrs. BARR, who had her arm cut Ten and earth must wonder at the off, many years ago, at the shoulder

« PreviousContinue »