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It overlooks the constitution of our nature, and tortures the language of the Bible into senses which only the greatest violence could ever make it bear. Its influence we should deplore, as its prevalence we must deprecate. We reason with the sinner of “a judgment to come,” and entroat him, as he would avoid shame and suffering in the world to which he is going, to turn from his evil ways, and cleanse his heart; for the character he shall bear into that world must decide the condition on which he shall there enter. Death will not change the character. If we have chosen to live without God here, we cannot dwell in the joy of his presence hereafter. Fearful beyond all other description is the view which we take of the lot of the impenitent, for we say that material images do but faintly represent spiritual loss and anguish; and as certain as is another state of existence, do we make the experience of its retributive scenes, for this experience follows from the laws of our being, and is announced by the warnings and exhortations of Scripture.
And now what remains, but that we dedicate this house to the purposes contemplated by its builders? To religion and its uses we dedicate it to the worship and glory of the one living and true God. To Christianity and its influences we dedicate it-to the exposition and enforcement of that gospel which is the rule of life and the charter of salvation. To the well-being of man we dedicate it-in his preparation for the duties of this life, and the enjoyment of the life to come. To truth, and love, and peace we dedicate it, and invite them to dwell within its walls as the guardians of its sanctity. To holy prayer we dedicate it; to religious instruction we dedicate it; to sacred song we dedicate it. Here may devotion breathe its sublimest hopes, and wisdom utter its choicest counsels, and music pour forth its sweetest strains. Ilere may our friend long be permitted to refresh his spirit in the labours of the sanctuary. Long may this memorial of Christian zeal stand, to gather many into the sympathies of fraternal union. As in tranquil dignity it looks down upon the crowded ways of life at its feet, may it seem to speak of a higher and calmer existence. Here inay an influence begin, that shall be extended through the city, the neighbourhood, the province, in which, in respect to the peculiar character which we have seen to belong to this house, it now stands alone; an influence that shall become deeper as well as wider with every year of its exercise. We enjoy the smile of Heaven upon our work of to-day, in the bland sunshine which has softened every unfriendly element of the season. Let us interpret it as the promise, in our spiritual husbandry, of a fruitful summer and an abundant harvest. May souls here grow into a ripeness for a better world. As the Father shall here be worshipped, and the Son be honoured, may the spirit of grace from the Father
and the Son descend in unseen influences, that shall not, like the visible flames on the first Christian Pentecost, cease to rest upon the brethren at their departure from the place of their assembling. And when, in the course of time, this structure shall give place, as we trust it may, to one of ampler dimensions, may its history be invested with associations that shall cause its remembrance to abide with those who shall have then entered the " temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Father Almighty! hear thou our desires, and grant them fulfilment. To thee, in the name of thy dear Son, we consecrate these walls, these seats, this altar. Thine be the glory of their fresh beauty, and thine the richer glory of their decay!
The writer of the following observations has long felt a great want in the observance and performance of this most important portion of public worship; but his attention was more particularly drawn to it lately, by reading an article, entitled, “ Church Music,” in the Boston Christian Examiner, of July last. Soon after, he heard the subject accidentally introduced into conversation, by members of four different congregations, all of whom expressed themselves most anxious for its improvement.
It is not intended to attempt entering into the subject either scientifically, or in the form of a regular essay, but to draw public attention to it, by a few plain observations, suggested by expressions which are frequently and popularly used in reference to public worship; and to give some short hints on the performance generally, and to such as lead the music.
There are two or three different modes of expression popularly used, in speaking of public worship, which every one must have heard; and they very naturally point out the importance which those who use them attach to the different portions of the Sabbath services.
Some speak of “going to prayers," or "attending on public worship;" while others say they are “ going to sermon;" and what exact influence these phrases may have had, and continue to have, on the minds of those who use them, or how far the former may have arisen from a greater regard for the devotional services—the singing and prayer-and the latter from a simple desire to hear a well composed and well delivered discourse, it is impossible to judge. Both parties deserve due credit for using the language which best expresses their feelings, and for aoting accordingly; and this being done, it is pretty evident that very opposite effects must arise, in retarding or improving the psalmody, from the influence of these expressions.
Some have gone so far as to say, and the inference is certainly not a forced one, that those who act under the influence of the former expression and feeling, are to be found in their pews before the minister enters the pulpit, and endeavouring to compose their minds for the proper performance of prayer and praise, with which the services commence,—the only parts of it which constitute worship, and in which all should join, --while the latter, in perfect consistence with their mode of expression, are to be seen conversing in groups till the sermon is about to commence, when they “ drop in ” to hear it. Need we be surprised, then, that those who never attend public worship, are found scoffing at these inconsistencies, which many, probably from habit, persevere in, never having duly considered the influence their example has on the public? With these preliminary observations to draw attention to the subject, the next question which arises is,- What is the specific and proper intention of congregational psalmody?
The simple answer is, to warm and quicken tho better feelings of the heart, and deepen the impression already made by the reading of the hymn, by all who can sing joining harmoniously in the praise of God, or rather in a combined expression of prayer and praise, which almost every hymn conveys. It may be fairly asked, however, judging from the appearance of any congregation, how often our devotional feelings are in a better state at the close of the psalmody than they were at the commencement?
Nor need we be surprised at this, when we consider what has been stated; and the additional influence which such quaint truisms as “singing and prayer are not preaching," continue to produce on the rising generation and on all. If these observations are of any use in drawing attention to the devotional parts of the Sabbath services, their object will be answered; and we may soon hope to experience a rapid improvement in psalmody, when the congregation is assembled in proper time, and have their hearts in a proper state for devotional feelings before the services commence. Then may we hear all joining in singing one of our most beautiful hymns :
“Lord, how delightful 'tis to see
With a few hints on the performance, we hasten to a conclusion.
1. To every one who is in the habit of leading, or who wishes to lead in public worship, but more particularly to those who offer themselves as musical instructors, it is recommended that they make themselves perfect in a correct pronunciation of the English language, for unless the words be well pronounced, they can never give that form to the voice (if we may so speak) which prepares it for blending harmoniously with other well-trained voices. Incorrect pronunciation grates as much on the ear of some as inharmonious sounds, and disturbs—even destroys-all devotional feeling.
2. It is impossible to harmonize different voices, till by much practice of the different notes, they are modelled to a ready production of the most agreeable sounds, by which the car is also trained to a ready perception of excellence or defect in harmony or melody. Need we wonder then that we so often hear singers who perform very tolerably alone, when they attempt singing together in parts, so heedless of combining or harmonizing their voices, that each appears to be sustaining a “solo.” The best remedy for this, when each has learned to sustain his part, is to pay a professor of music, who, in one lesson accompanied with a lecture on harmony, will do more to improve the taste and restrain irregular flights than many months of practice without his aid could accomplish. When congregations take up this matter, we may expect feelings of pleasure, where our ears are now doomed to suffer pain; and the fire of devotion, instead of being damped, will be kindled into an ardent flame.
3. A choir should speak their words so distinctly that every person present would understand the sentiment of the hymn or anthem.* Instead of this being general now, how liable are we to lose the words even with the book before us, and to experience difficulty in catching any articulate sound from the choir to put us right. This neglect cannot be too strongly condemned, as all the specific and powerful effects arising from the distinct and clear utterance of sentiment, in connexion with musical tones, is completely lost.
4. Psalmody should always produce the greatest possible devotional effect, and therefore every singer should study the natural diversities of different tunes, in respect to the sentiments they are best suited to express, which is called "musical expression.” On the contrary, how often do we find choristers, and even compilers of music, apply tunes to sentiments which they never can be made to express.
5. This short notice prohibits farther reference to “musical expression," than to point out that it is twofold, general and particular; the former referring to the sentiment to be expressed; the latter to the words with which it is to be combined. The latter should always harmonize with the words, and thus the whole benefit of combining music with poetry depends on the coincidence of “emphasis” in both. A good singer, therefore, must be a good reader, and must make himself acquaiuted with "emphasis and rythm," or he will neither know where to lay the verbal emphasis or how to bring that of the music
• There is no fault more common, even among those who think themselves good singers, than that of speaking their words so indistinctly (or mouthing them) that their meaning is wholly lost. This is most unpardonable, and degrades the human voice to the level of an instrument. habit of slurring or drawling, where no "slur" is marked in the music, destroys the expression intended by the composer, and admits of no excuse.
to coincide with it. Thus, we see the study of emphasis and expres. sion is as necessary in music as in elocution, and without them the finest musical compositions fall pointless on the ear.
6. In adapting a hymn to any tune with a “repeat,” let due atten. tion be paid to each stanza, that the object of the composer of the music be answered, which is that some striking circumstance should be expressed in the words repeated. On the contrary, how often do we find precentors commence a repeat before they have pronounced the last syllable of a word, and after going twice over the same syllables with all the energy they can give to a “forte,” it happens that they have expressed nothing.
We conclude with stating, that, as the public taste for improved congregational music advances, the choirs will spend more of their "practice hours ” in learning to give truer expression and emphasis to old or congregational tunes in which all can join, and be less led away by desire of novelty, in obtaining a superficial acquaintance with
THE EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE.
Our readers have probably seen, of late, notices in the newspapers of an “evangelical alliance," which is in progress of organization, designed to include all those Christians wlio hold what certain parties presume to pronounce the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and thus to form a large and united society for the putting down of Popery on the one hand, and Unitarianism and infidelity on the other. There is certainly much need for such an alliance, if the object be desirable and the means efficient, for Popery is not only not yielding to the violent assaults that have been hitherto made on it by the pseudoProtestantism of Exeter Hall and Conservative associations, aided by the bigotted tirades that have so often disgraced Protestant churches and Presbyterian meeting-houses, but it has, on the contrary, made fearful progress, despite of such unhallowed opposi. tion. Look at the long catalogue of ministers and members of the established church, who have lately returned to the bosom of the Romish church, and these converts not among the ignorant and unprincipled, but among the educated and religious. Nor is this retrograde movement confined to England. In America the tendency is in the same direction; and, on the continent of Europe, in Genevathe cradle of the reformation-Popery has, of late, spread to an amazing extent. Against such a state of matters the “Alliance” is raising itself, and it has certainly a mighty work before it—too mighty for a confederation which, as we shall presently see, is based on mero sectarian distinctions, and is destitute of the freedom and love which the gospel breathes.