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fallen into disuse, which, for their intrinsic excellence, ought never to have been displaced as standard congregational tunes; and the whole forms a body of sacred music which has no ordinary claim, both from its general style, and the name of its Compiler, to be regarded as the guide cf our taste and practice in this department of our devotional services, in public and in our families.
Certain it is, that since the airs in the "Sacred Harmony" have been suffered to fall into neglect or oblivion, the character of our congregational singing has not generally improved. That many tunes, composed by men celebrated in this species of musical composition, and which have held an eminent place in church music almost since the time of the Reformation, have been in frequent use, and that some compositions of much more modern date, formed on the style of the solemn and noble psalmody of ancient times, have been employed in aid of our devotions, we gladly acknowledge; and in those congregations where this taste has most prevailed, the singing has been most devotional and edifying; but it must be lamented, that the rage for new tunes which was for many years indulged, and the eagerness with which every collection was bought up and introduced, deluged the Connexion with base, dissonant, unscientific, and tasteless compositions, utterly destructive of that rich and solemn melody, which best becomes religious services, and most powerfully excites those emotions which act subserviently to edification, by giving force to the words sung, and fixing the attention more directly upon thein.
One great reason of this evil has been the inattention of Ministers themselves to this part of the service of the sanctuary; for what primitive bishops and general councils did not think it unimportant to regulate or improve, has been too often left among us to the leaders of tunes, and to choirs of singers. The consequence has been, that every tune which recommended itself to a false, a vulgar, or a light taste, or which was adopted for no other reason than its novelty, has been employed to
spoil the effect of the finest sacred poetry, not inspired, ever put into the lips of religious worshippers; and not unfrequently to silence whole congregations, for the sake of the exhibition of the orchestra.
This evil, like many others, has served to work its own cure by the re-action of its very excess. A better taste is growing up, and in this tendency to recur to the principles on which the "Sacred Harmony" was compiled, its republication may be considered as timely. But much remains to be done to impress upon those who have the conducting of this branch of worship, that what is new is not always an improvement, and that the true principles and practice of this great art were known and exercised centuries before they were born.
In those ages when poetry and music jointly produced their most powerful effects, the artificial refinements of modern times were not resorted to. Harmony or counterpoint was unknown, and the effect was produced by the sweetness and simplicity, or the nobleness and spirit, of the air, giving emphasis to the conceptions of the poet, by corresponding with them. There is an immutable truth in nature; and it is in the melody, or air, that we are still to look for the true power of music to excite emotion, and to give effect to poetry. This is more especially the case in the "singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs;" where the music in all cases ought to be adapted to the sentiment, and resorted to as an auxiliary to awaken attention, and to produce an emotion, not to be sought for its own sake, however pleasurable, nor to be rested in as an end; for, in itself, the excitement is purely natural, and might be as forcibly produced at an opera, or by the use of a vain song. If it be sanctified at all, it must be by the sentiments which it more deeply impresses, and the praise to which it gives an intenser ardour. Like the fire of the altar, it differs not from the common element, until it receives the incense, and at once perfumes itself, and spreads the odour through the temple.
Hence the singing of the Jews
must, from the very structure of their poetry, have been a kind of recitative, or, at most, a chant, varied occasionally with alternations and responses. The singing in the ancient Greek and Roman temples appears also to have been of the same simple character; and according to the learned MARTINI, the music of the first five or six ages of the primitive church consisted chiefly in a plain, simple chant of unisons and octaves, of which many fragments remain in the canto fermo of the Romish Missals. The character of the primitive singing is strongly marked by the Gregorian Chant, which was an improvement upon the Ambrosian Chant established at Milan about the year 386, and may be considered as a primitive air; for EUSEBIUS tells us, that ST. AMBROSE had his melodies from the church at Antioch, where he long resided. The Gregorian Chant is a plain and dignified melody, formed on these primitive models, and was designed to banish a lighter style which had crept into the church; for ecclesiastical writers seem unanimous in allowing, that GREGORY, whose pontificate commenced in A. D. 590, collected the musical fragments of such ancient psalms and hymns as the first fathers of the church had approved and recommended to the first Christians; that he selected, methodized, and arranged them; and banished from the church the canto figurato, as too light. It is added, that his own chant was called canto fermo, from its gravity and simplicity.
In after ages an artificial and complex mode of singing obtained in the Western Church; for the universal departure from simplicity in other parts of worship could not but affect church music. This was among the offences given to the spirit of piety at the Reformation; and the leading Reformers exerted themselves to remove it. LUTHER composed services, more in the style of the first ages of the church; CALVIN, in his establishment of the Genevan Church, excluded the elaborate music of the Papists, and adopted that plain metrical psalmody, which is now in general use among the reformed
churches abroad, and the parochial churches of our own country. Soon after the Reformation commienced in England, eomplaints were made by many of the dignified clergy, and others, of the intricacy and difficulty of the church music of those times; and several reforms were the consequence. The thirty-two Commissioners, to whom EDWARD VI. committed the compilation of a body of ecclesiastical laws, condemned figurative and operose music, or that kind of singing which abounds with fugues, responsive passages, and a commixture of various and intricate proportions.
In the best ages of the Church, and by the judgment of the most eminent and pious of its Ministers, simplicity has therefore been thought the most appropriate character of sacred music; and every thing intricate and light, injurious to the genuine spirit of devotion. In this sentiment MR. WESLEY cordially concurred, and strenuously opposed light and intricate performances. In his Journal he remarks, 8, 1781, I came just in time to Warrington to put a stop to a bad custom which was creeping in here. A few men, who had fine voices, sang a psalm which no one knew, in a tune fit for an opera, wherein three, four, or five persons sung different words at the same time! What an insult upon common sense! What a burlesque upon public worship! No custom can excuse such a mixture of profaneness and absurdity." Many similar observations on abuses in singing may be found in his works: and it is a circumstance of greater importance than will appear to superficial minds, that as we have, through the special goodness of GoD to us, a collection of the best hymns, we have also been frequently and seriously admonished to sing them so as to render them helpful to our piety, by "making melody in our hearts to the Lord."
By the rules which are supplied by the practice of the Church of CHRIST when most influenced by the life and power of religion, and the opinions of her most eminent Ministers on the right performance of this sacred service, all new tunes ought
to be tried, and admitted or rejected by those to whom God has given the charge of his courts; and who are responsible both to him and to the public for the manner in which public psalmody is conducted."Psalm-tunes,' says an eminent Divine," ought to be solemn and grave; not vain, light, and airy, as if they were only designed to please and gratify a wanton and sensual mind. This would be to turn one of the most noble and spiritual duties of religion into a mere entertainment for the senses and fancies of carnal men,-to turn GoD's house into a theatre; and would desecrate his sacred worship, and make it distasteful to pious minds. The power of music is very great, and may be abused to bad purposes, as well as improved to holy ones; and therefore only such tunes must be used in God's house, as become his Majesty and Holiness, and the gravity and the spirituality of the worship in which we are engaged."
"All wise and sober persons," observes BISHOP TAYLOR," do find fault when the Psalmody, which is recommended by the practice of CHRIST and his Apostles, does sensibly pass farther into art, than into religion, and serves pleasure more than devotion; when it recedes from that native simplicity and gravity, which served the affections and holy aspirations of so many ages of the Church; when it is so conducted that it shall not be for edification; that is, when it is made so accurate and curious that none can join in it but musicians, and they also are not so recitative, they do not sing and express the words so plainly, that they which hear do understand; for by this means the greatest benefit and use of edification is lost."*
Let nothing, however, which has been said be construed into an intention to discourage the cultivation and improvement of this part of divine worship, both in families and in congregations. On the contrary, it is a religious ordinance of so high an antiquity, one which has been so signally owned of God for comforting and edifying his church, and for alluring even those who are without
• Ductor Dubitantium.
to her services, that too great care cannot be taken to render it attractive, so that our "praise be comely" and devotional. As a holy means to great and noble ends, science is sacredly employed in giving it as much perfection as possible; for unless singing be so ordered as, in some measure, to be grateful to the ear, the ordinance will be exposed to contempt. “GOD is the GoD of order, and not of confusion." Simplicity excludes not genius, but is the effect of it; and those modulations which form the best examples of psalmody, are all the productions of eminent genius, under the guidance of a proper sense of what is fit and becoming in the worship of GOD. Such must have been the airs in which the primitive Christians celebrated the praises of CHRIST; for Pagans were attracted by their singing to their churches, and were often deeply and effectually wrought upon by the service. By the musical services of the Roman church, before they became elaborate and artificial, powerful effects were produced upon those barbarous nations of Europe, whose conversion was effected by her missionaries. The music of LUTHER is well known; and many of the compositions of LEWIS GUADIMET, the ASAPH of the Genevan churches, have great merit. Nothing but the productions of real genius could have called forth those emotions which rendered psalmody so popular a service among the adherents of the Reformation, and so attractive to Papists themselves, that the singing of psalms was prohibited throughout France by a royal declaration.† And we have all witnessed the effects produced on whole congregations, when all have joined in a well
+ That was a noble act of a pious artizan of the town of Castres, in Upper Languedoc,
who, when an officer showed him the declaration against singing psalms, in order to silence him, wrote at the bottom of the act
the French version of Psalm xxxiv. 1: 1 will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shail
continually be in my mouth:"
"Jamais ne cesserai
De magnifier le Seigneur:
En ma bouche aurai son honneur
In the English version of Tate and Brady:
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ." Many were grievously persecuted on this
VOL. I. Third Series. JANUARY, 1822.
adapted tune, and especially Luther's Old Hundredth Psalm Tune, to sing the high praises of our God.
Neither genius in composition, nor skill in execution, are therefore discouraged by the recommendation of simplicity in singing. This is a common mistake. It is in complex airs that genius is usually most absent; and in a rattling and noisy execution, that skill in execution is least employed.
Delightful as this service is, it has its corresponding dangers. The very means we take to engage our hearts with ardour to "give thanks unto God," may, by their appeal to steal our senses, away our attention, and leave our worship a "sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal,"
"Vox, et præterea nihil."
"Let us take care that we be sincerely devoted to that GOD whose praises we sing. Let every grace have its proper and lively exercise. We must offer a reasonable service, understand and attend to the sense of what we sing, lest we be no wiser than the fowls of heaven,' who sing they know not what. We must set ourselves as in the presence of an all-seeing God, that a sense of his inspection may awe us into a decent reverence, and make us watch against every thing unsuitable
to the solemnity of his worship, be-
On the contrary, we know, that if rightly performed, nothing is more acceptable to GoD our SAVIOUR. Wonderful, indeed, is his condesons of scension, that when the the morning" still sing together, and surround his throne with hallelujahs, he should say to a child of earth, "Let me hear thy voice, for it is pleasant!" "Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me."
The Sacred Harmony," in the present edition, is put into a form more convenient for general use; and it has been carefully revised and figured for organ, harpsichord, or piano-forte, by MR. CHARLES WESLEY.
London, Nov. 3, 1821.
LETTER FROM THE REV. J. WESLEY TO MR.
has taken the charge of between thirty and forty children. There is therefore great need that God should put it into the hearts of some to come over to us, and labour with us in his harvest. But I should not desire any to come, unless on the same views and conditions with us,-without any temporal wages, other than food and raiment, the plain conveniences of life. For one or more, in whom was this mind, there would be full employment in the province, either in assisting MR. DELAMOTTE or me, while we were present here, or in supplying our places when abroad, or in visiting the poor people in the
smaller settlements, as well as at Frederica, all of whom are as sheep without a shepherd.
By these labours of love might any that desired it be trained up for the harder task of preaching the Gospel to the heathen. The difficulties he must then encounter, GoD only knows; probably martyrdom would conclude them: but those we have hitherto met with have been small, and only terrible at a distance. Persecution, you know, is the portion of every follower of Christ, wherever his lot is cast; but it has hitherto extended no farther than words, with regard to us, (unless in one or two inconsiderable instances:) yet it is sure, every man ought, if he would come hither, to be willing and ready to embrace (if God should see good) the severer kinds of it. He ought to be determined, not only to leave parents, sisters, friends, houses, and land, for
his Master's sake, but to take up his cross too, and cheerfully submit to the fatigue and danger of (it may be) a long voyage, and patiently to endure the continual contradiction of sinners, and all the inconveniences which it often occasions.
Would any one have a trial of himself, how he can bear this? If he has felt what reproach is, and can bear that for but a few weeks as he ought, I shall believe he need fear nothing. Other trials will afterwards be no heavier than that little one was at first; so that he may then have a well-grounded hope, that he will be enabled to do all things through CHRIST strengthening him.
May the GOD of peace himself direct you to all things conducive to his glory, whether it be by fitter instruments, or even by your friend and servant in CHRIST,
LETTER FROM THE LATE LADY MARY FITZGERALD TO MRS. FLETCHER.
Dec. 25th, 1797. MY VERY DEAR AND MUCH-VALUED
YOUR welcome letter did not reach me till long after the date. Many thanks for the account of those two happy boys, who have so soon finished their course, and are safely arrived out of all danger, to be for ever with our adorable SAVIOUR, whose presence makes fulness of joy. You ask me what the LORD has been speaking to me of late? Indeed, I seem to be only just beginning to peep into the wonders of redeeming Love. I am stupid, andslow of heart to believe; but he is so gracious, he will not give me up, and now and then gives me such glimpses of the astonishing transaction we are now commemorating, that I am for a moment lost in wonder, love, and praise; and my soul longs to be a temple for my GoD,-to be continually swallowed up in that one thought. But oh! what cause have I to complain of coldness and deadness, who ought to be burning with a flame of gratitude and adoration. If such a wretch as I am pardoned, justified, and in a state of salvation, surely heaven and earth must wonder at the
mercy and patience of my GOD,-yes, I trust, my GOD, my SAVIOUR, my REDEEMER, and my ALL. Sometimes I want every atom to be a tongue, to tell of his long-suffering, patience, love, and mercy: at other times I am so basely ungrateful, as to doubt of my interest in that precious, precious, all-atoning blood, though I know it is free for the vilest; and but too often so wandering and dead, that I cannot fix my thoughts: then I long to depart and be free from this burthen of clay, which keeps down my eager soul from mounting to the GOD I love and adore.
But I am ashamed to see how much I have written about myself, which your question has occasioned. By your account of MRS. CHILD, I fear (but, I ought not to say, I fear, though I pity her husband and children,) that she is by this time out of the body;-happy she, if it be so. I am thankful that our adorable LORD has brought ANNA SMITH and family safe through the furnace inwhich they were so long kept. I think I have heard you say you remembered something of MRS. BARR, who had her arm cut off, many years ago, at the shoulder