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VI. REVIEW OF DR Cox's SERMON ON REGENERA
TION, AND THE MANNER OF ITS OCCUR
currence. A Sermon from John v. 24.
VII. REVIEW OF DR GREEN'S LECTURES ON THE
Presbyterian Church in the United States
VIII. LETTER OF DR CookE, AND REPLY OF THE
IX. SELECT LIST OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.
312 314 315 316 317
The Review of “ Essays and Dissertations in Biblical Literature,” which was promised in our last Number, did not come to hand in time to be inserted. We regret that such has been the case ; and the article (which has been delayed in consequence of the distance of the writer from the press) may be expected in the number for July.- Ed. Bib. Rep.
BIBLICAL REPERTORY, AND THEOLOGICAL
FOR APRIL 1830.
How shall a reform in the music of our churches be effected?
In a former number of this Journal, we endeavoured to show, by comparing the original design of church music with the art in its present state, that a reform is both necessary and practicable. The argument, thus far, we presume, has been satisfactory. But here, in the minds of many, a serious difficulty presents itself. A good thing, which is in its own nature practicable, cannot always be carried into effect against the habits and prejudices of the community. To obviate this difficulty, it is necessary to show, somewhat in detail, how a reform can be effected. This is the object of the present article.
We shall take it for granted that in the present day of activity, some share of enterprise and self-denial might be easily enlisted in favour of a reform in church music, if once its full importance were to be distinctly seen.
There are men in our country who know how to give an impulse that will be felt in every portion of the land. Only let it be seen that such an impulse is really needed, that the best interests of religion and of good order in the community require it, and the thing will be certainly done.
Time was, within the period of our own recollection, when this position would not have been granted us. Who would have believed, thirty years ago, for instance, that missionary, Bible and tract operations could have been carried forward to such' an extent and with such rapidity ? Who could have believed that theological seminaries, Bible classes, Sunday schools, infant schools, societies for African colonization, for the observation of the Sabbath and for the promotion of “ entire abstinence" would have thus succeeded? But times have changed. Every good thing which is taken in hand at the proper season, and urged forward with christian principle and pious zeal, is found, under the blessing of God, to prosper. Prejudices and habits, are every where to be encountered, but they form no insurmountable obstacle. Nothing of this nature can stand before an impulse which has once been given. The prevailing motto is Onward. Nothing is now seen of a retrograde movement in all this mighty field of effort.
And who that has clearly reflected upon the subject will say that a reform as to the praises of Zion's King is unworthy to be made the object of christian enterprise? Is there any portion of public worship which may continue to be offered in an empty, formal, thoughtless manner, without offending the great Master of assemblies? Yet we have seen distinctly that there is one portion of the exercises of the sanctuary which does in general bear these exact characteristics. Church music, according to the design of the institutions, requires peculiar solemnity, fixedness of thought, and elevation of feeling; but for the most part it is associated with special indifference, and often with weariness and disgust. The words have been instituted as the very basis of song, but these are seldom heard in singing. Music should be superadded to the words in such manner as to operate like a refined species of elocution ; yet, in singing, we destroy the character of the words even where the enunciation is in some measure preserved. It is in fact the tune that we are endeavouring to sing, and often a most miserable one it is, and wretchedly executed; while, at the same time, characteristic expression and pious emotion appear to be considerations of no more than secondary interest. Musical cultivations in the Jewish and the apostolic times, and in the days of the reformers, was conducted, as we have seen, under the special guardianship of the church ; and men of
ardent piety, as well as of respectability and influence, had the entire charge of it; but for these many years past the reverse of this state of things has been witnessed. Not only the higher ranks of cultivation, but all the subordinate ranks have been occupied by men of the world, and men too, who, to say the least, have generally exerted an anti-religious influence. Quite at the head of the musical list stand a class of artists who are generally destitute of religious principle, and often grossly immoral, like the Byrons and the Moores of a sister art. Next stand the class of professional performers, who spend most of their life in the theatre. Next in order are the celebrated conductors of concerts and oratorios, and the professional organists, who are all more or less associated with theatricals, copying their style and manner, and too often their licentious practices. And as for the teachers of our psalmody, the greatest proportion of them are either, on the one hand, the pupils of this same school of the theatre, or on the other, the imitators of self-taught men, who are alike destitute of almost every requisite qualification. Church music, which originally emanated from the schools of the prophets, has now, properly speaking, no school of its own. Our primary singing schools have indeed been, in every point of view, so miserably conducted, that men of distinguished piety have uniformly looked upon them as serious hinderances to the progress of vital religion. And it is nor surprising that they have thus regarded them, when the whole business of management has been conducted chiefly on the principles of amusement and display, and associated more or less with ignorance, lightness and profanity. Publishers, also, have largely participated in the degeneracy. Up to the present time their chief object has been to make books which would sell ; and for this purpose catch-pennies have hitherto proved the most valuable. The church has its authorized selections of psalms and hymns; but nothing that answers to them which she can call her own in the musical department. The latter, by common consent, has been abandoned to the mercy of the booksellers. Add, also, to the list of musical grievances, that the clergy are in the habit of sanctioning them by complimentary addresses, as often as they are officially called upon for this purpose, while at other times they treat the whole subject with marked neglect; and it is easy to see that the reform for which we are here pleading is one of no common character. If it is