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a solemn fact, that those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth. If it is true that our God is a God of order and not of confusion, that he is a God that searcheth the heart, a jealous God, a God that will not be mocked; then surely the enterprise of restoring to the order and dignity and power of spiritual worship, that which has long since degenerated into lip-service, is worthy of the most serious consideration before we presume to pronounce upon it as hopeless or unprofitable.
We have said that an impulse can be given to the public mind. For this purpose, let the periodical press be put in requisition. Let our quarterly reviews and journals, our monthly magazines and miscellanies, our weekly gazettes, religious, literary and political, be made to speak upon the subject. Let lectures also be given in our theological seminaries, our colleges and academies, and before the various ecclesiastical judicatories. Let the subject be brought up at the anniversaries of our benevolent societies, and presented before the churches in our cities and principal towns; and if it should be thought advisable, let some missionary be appointed for this especial purpose. Let it be the object every where, and by every proper means, to show that psalmody has been prostrated, and that christians are bound to raise it up from its degradation, instead of suffering it to remain in the churches as an instrument of systematic profaneness. Let such efforts as these be continued with earnestness, and with heartfelt dependence upon God, until the consciences of christians are enlightened and brought to feel upon the subject; let all this be done, and our word for it, the work of reform will have been half accomplished. And who will say that there is any insurmountable obstacle to the performance of all that is here proposed ? If the single vice of intemperance, with all its forbidding aspects and disgusting associations, can call forth far more effort than this for years together, till ecclesiastical bodies become temperate societies, and whole towns and counties and states begin to follow the example; if all this can be done, and done with propriety, for the suppression of one single vice in the community, let it not be said that the enterprise of reforming one of the constituted ordinances of the church, which has, by long neglect, and by abuses innumerable, been reduced to empty formality and systematic profaneness,-let it not be said in a land of christian privileges, and in a day
of christian effort, that such an enterprise as this may be lightly esteemed, or accounted too difficult to be undertaken. We are proposing here no useless work; we are pointing out no difficult labour.
labour. We ask for no acts of supererogation, but we plead for the performance of an important duty, which ought to be better known, a duty which cannot be neglected when it is understood, without incurring great criminality.
When the christian community shall have been thus convinced that the work of reform ought to be commenced, then let them begin to act consentaneously and with due intelligence, discretion, energy and perseverance.
Here the first object, and, indeed, the only one respecting which the least difficulty is to be apprehended, is that of making a just, practical discrimination between the style of the church and that of the concert-room and oratorio. These styles should, in practice, be kept as distinct from each other as the style of pulpit oratory is distinct from that of a mere political harangue; and the efforts which have recently been making throughout the country to produce an amalgamation of these styles, have probably done more than all other things combined towards the deterioration of true christian psalmody, and towards destroying the little remaining interest which had latterly been felt in this solemn ordinance. So much, indeed, has been done-unwittingly, as we presume -to corrupt the public taste in this respect, that the very power of discrimination seems to have been lost. The exact lines of distinction cannot at once be drawn. The circumstantials of amusement and exhibition have become so interwoven with the forms of worship, wherever music has been much cultivated, either in composition or execution, that it is impossible for the most accurate observer to say at once what precise features are to be ultimately retained and what rejected. Nor is this necessary at the outset. Experience will decide many a question of propriety, which lies beyond the reach of abstract speculation. A few points of discrimination, however, can be fixed upon at the commencement; and others can be afterwards adopted, as occasion requires. The same identical plan may not be suited to all places or circumstances. Prejudices, habits and practices on this subject are various and contradictory. Different obstacles are to be encountered, opposing interests to be harmonized, and, in not a few instances, it may be supposed that direct hos
tility will show itself. For, depend upon it, an important field, which has so long been held by the adversary of souls in quiet possession, will not be relinquished without a struggle. The contest may, for a time, appear doubtful, but the victory will be sure. Christian effort, rightly conducted in this department, will not be lost. The signs of the times, if we mistake not, already invite us to action; and, in a few instances, the work appears to have been actually begun. What, therefore, we have further to offer, will not be regarded merely in the light of an experiment.
1. Every one acknowledges that union is power. Let a number of religious societies, therefore, comprising perhaps a whole presbytery or synod, be organized into a general association for the cultivation of devotional music, and to this association let the individual churches or religious societies become directly auxiliary. Let the primary object be, not the cultivation of music as one of the fine arts for the purpose of tasteful gratification or display, but chiefly that of redeeming the music of the sanctuary from its deadening influence and unhallowed associations. This point of discrimination, as has been just intimated, must be kept distinctly and constantly in view, or all efforts towards a radical reform will be impracticable.
2. In every auxiliary association, the church, as a body, must become interested. This regulation is evidently one of prime importance. If the office of sacred praise is to be rendered highly spiritual, then obviously the cultivation of it should be chiefly under the guidance of those who are spiritually minded. The same principle holds good in every department of practical religion. The Bible will be read and explained to little purpose by those who have not been taught by the Spirit. The preacher of righteousness must himself be righteous, or at least be esteemed so in the judgment of charity, if he would preach to edification. Nor in social prayer should we think to be edified by the mellifluous tones or the appropriate language of one who makes no pretensions to vital religion. And is church music to be esteemed an ordinance of a less spiritual nature? If it is, then let us no longer embrace in it themes which are pre-eminently spiritual and holy, lest by so doing, our professions of penitence, and faith, and hope, and love, and fixedness of thought and purpose, should prove but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
Devotional music never has flourished, and it never will flourish, without the effective co-operation of christians. And here, as in social prayer, whether they can take an active part in the exercises or not, they must be frequently present, if they would cultivate the habit of social worship. The babitual neglect of any christian privilege will, of course, be visited by leanness of soul. Let the christian neglect his closet, his Bible, his hours of meditation ; let him undervalue the preached word or the ordinance of the Lord's Supper-could he thus maintain the habitual fervour of devotion? The thing would be impossible. In social worship, too, especially in that department of it which we are now considering, much depends on the cultivation of right associations of mind. These, to a certain extent, are favourable to the production of legitimate emotions. They do by no means constitute the essence of religion, yet they are the necessary concomitants of devotion. Nor are they peculiar to persons who have a musical ear, but, on the contrary, may be cultivated by every one who has a feeling heart. The christian, therefore, whether he has musical susceptibilities or not, should be often present at the meetings for musical improvement, if he would learn to derive any advantage from the ordinance of church music.
3. Meetings for improvement should be conducted strictly in a christian manner. Let anti-christian executants and amateurs occupy their own sphere, and let the gay and the thoughtless, and the lovers of pleasure follow in train, enjoy their amusement, and receive all the reward they are seeking. The church is at present in no condition to interfere with them, even if she had the disposition. She must first begin her own proper work, and set the example of reform. She must begin at once in earnest, and with a christian spirit. The voice of prayer, as well as of praise, must be heard at the meetings, or the lovers of prayer will never be edified. The meetings must, on the whole, be rendered profitable in a spiritual sense to those who are spiritually minded, or the latter will soon forsake them, and feel themselves entirely justified in so doing. Here, as in Sunday schools and Bible classes, there can be no amalgamation of conflicting interests without defeating the whole design of the institution. Let the meetings be begun, continued, and ended, strictly in a christian manner, and then the church will be edified; and those who are of a serious mind, even
among musicians, though not real christians, may still remain and assist in the performances with becoming solemnity, while those who choose to separate themselves may do so without finding any real cause for complaint.
The necessity of abiding by this rule is, in every possible case, absolute and indispensable. Not one step can be taken towards a radical reform without it. Set aside this rule, and you open the door at once for every species of influence in the whole circle of musical refinement, which is foreign from the purposes of devotion. Here is the very rock upon which every enterprise of reform has hitherto failed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be effected without the entire predominance of christian influence. Well conducted Sunday schools and Bible classes, and meetings for social religious conference, where the influences of the Spirit are really felt, may serve to exemplify the character of the meetings here required. The christian who lives near to God delights to visit such places when every thing is regular, solemn and impressive; but how is his heart pained when the savour of vital godliness is wanting! He is quick to discover it when it exists, and nothing can satisfy him when it is withdrawn.
4. The exact manner in which religious influence is to be promoted must, in some measure, depend upon circumstances. Then, as in other religious meetings, different persons may adopt different methods, and yet the same ends be accomplished. In all cases, however, the voice of prayer, instruction and exhortation must be intermingled more or less with the voice of song. All who wish to be benefited must frequently meet together at the request of their pastor ; and if any are not willing thus to meet, perhaps the time may at length come when it will be found expedient to request them to remain silent on the Sabbath. Where the singing has been conducted with a choir, a considerable number of whom give evidence of piety, and all maintain a character for decency and outward morality, the choir should have its own separate meetings for improvement, and special efforts should also be made for replenishing its numbers. Most choirs are too small and too little disciplined. Children and youth, as well as adults, should be instructed, and schools for this purpose should every where be constituted under the care of pious teachers, when these can be obtained. At least the teachers should be such as seriously respect religion ; and if this is the case, the clergyman or some of the lay