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subject among those who are competent to judge. We, therefore, leave the foolish discussion entirely in the hands of objectors. The twisted arguments commonly adduced against instrumental music, on examination will be found—especially when from Scripture—to be equally applicable to vocal praise ; for vocal and instrumental are never dissociated.
If it be contended that some things are lawful and right in themselves that circumstances for the time render inexpedient, the matter then assumes quite another aspect, and we can only wish for more light to dissipate the ignorance and prejudice which may, under any circumstances, render such admirable assistance unavailable.
The human voice, when properly trained in choir, is doubtless finer than any musical instrument, that is, provided it be true, and sustained at the right pitch. We entirely concur in the following remark—one of the “eight reasons” given by Bird “for learning to sing:” “There is not,” says he, "any musicke of instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces of men, where the voyces are good, and the same well sorted and ordered.” The finest performance of sacred music in the world, to call it by no higher name, is to be heard in the Sistine Chapel at Rome, where there neither is, nor ever was an organ, there being little need of its assistance; but such musical education and training it would be Utopian ever to expect in ordinary congregational singing ; and the employment of professional singers from the theatre, in church choirs, merely for their skill, quite irrespective of moral character, is a flagrant abuse of the service-a desecration not to be tolerated by right-thinking men. Jeremy Collier has well said :-“The end of church music is to relieve the weariness of a long attention, to make the mind more cheerful and composed, and to endear the offices of religion. It should, therefore, imitate the performance of the Jewish tabernacle, and have as little of the composition of common use as possible. There must be no voluntary maggots, no military tattoos, no light and galliardizing notes--nothing that may make the fancy trifling, or raise an improper thought, which would be to profane the service, and to bring the playhouse into the church. Religious harmony must be moving, but noble withal-grave, solemn, and seraphic, fit for a martyr to play and an angel to hear. It should be contrived so as to warm the best blood within us, and to take hold of the finest part of the affections; to transport us with the Beauty of Holiness, to raise us above the satisfactions of life, and make us ambitious of the glories of heaven.
"And, without doubt, if the morals of the choir were suitable to the design of the music, it were no more than requisite. To come reeling from a tavern, or a worse place, into a church, is a monstrous incongruity. Such irregular people are much fitter for the exercises of penance than of exultation. The use of them dissevers the interests of Religion; and in effect is little better than singing the praises of God through the organ of the devil.”
The organ, then, with a fitting organist, is at once the best and most practical means of outwardly elevating the character of our psalmody. No valid objection ever has been or in the nature of things can be urged against its introduction, unless it be the subsequent invention of some nobler and more suitable instrument. The Scripture command, that all things should be done decently and in order, is all the warrant that is required in a religious point of view, and ought at once to settle the question to the satisfaction of all thinking minds. Prejudice must and will give way, improved musical services being only a matter of time and enlightenment. The adoption of the organ, where it is not already in use, is a step in the right direction; such an instrument being eminently fitted to sustain, strengthen, and enrich the voice, assimilates it to its own true tones, thus attuning, leading, and harmoniously binding together, “with music's strong and saintly song,” heart and thought, and enabling all to unite “as with one voice” in that deepest, purest, and highest, because most unselfish form of worship, the ascription of praise in “ministries of heart-stirring song !”
It need scarcely be remarked that the natural tendency of the unaided human voice is to fall. Even the most accomplished professional singers find, that the effort to sustain their voices at the true pitch, without instrumental assistance is too great a strain on their powers; consequently they seldom or never make the attempt if the piece be long. Leaders of church music, perfectly aware of this tendency of the voice to fall, make use of the pitch-fork or pitch-pipe for sounding the first note, so that they may be able to reach the other notes, and not exceed the register of their voices. But even with such assistance at starting, a considerable fall is quite perceptible by the time that the last line of the psalm or hymn is reached. The organ not only gives the first note truly, but all the notes so as at once effectively to lead and sustain the voices of a whole congregation in perfect time and tune. It has been frequently remarked that evil example is more potent than good. In acoustics it certainly is so; for one discordant voice will disturb, and ultimately put out ten which are good and true, while the good apparently produce little sensible influence on the bad, else they would sing in tune. From such grievous annoyances and hindrances to devotional feeling, we are, in a great measure, saved by the full tones of the organ.
Such being the valuable assistance it is capable of rendering -kept in its own place—there is no drawback whatever connected with its use. Psalmody is a commanded part of worship: here, as elsewhere, God is entitled to our best. Instead of musical proficiency interfering with devotional feeling--as is frequently asserted—were it general, as it ought to be, the various parts of harmony would be sung, in perfect time, tune, and expression, with no more effort than that required to follow the letters or spelling of words, in reading the page of a book.
Too frequently are the devotional feelings of those, whose ears can appreciate and distinguish between harmony and discord, disturbed and utterly disconcerted by harsh guttural singing, or rather noise, “squeaked out,” as Shakspere hath it, “without any mitigation or remorse of voice," till one, spite of place and time, recalls, and is almost tempted to indorse Coleridge's epigram
“Swans sing before they die, 'twere no bad thing
Should certain persons die before they sing." The best remedy for this evil would be, that, made duly alive to the bounden duty, each for his own. sake,
as well as for the help he may afford to the devotional feelings of others, would learn to know what is truly excellent in music, and, to sing it well. This cannot be done without time and attention, but the means of such attainments are within the reach of all. “ As it is commanded of God,” says Jonathan Edwards, “that all should sing, so all should make conscience of learning to sing, as it is a thing that cannot be done decently without learning. Those, therefore, who neglect to learn to sing, live in sin, as they neglect what is necessary to their attending one of the ordinances of God's worship."
The high service of "tuneful and well-measured song” is, surely, pre-eminent among the “all things” we are commanded to "do” for “the glory of God.”
Bishop Porteus remarks, that where there is an organ, the player of it "must not drown or overpower the singers by the unremitted loudness and violent intonations of the full organ, but merely conduct and regulate, and sustain their voices in a low and soft accompaniment, on what is called the choir organ." The Rev. William Jones of Nayland writes, “There is as much incompetent and erroneous judgment in music, as in any art whatever; and it cannot be corrected but by infusing more knowledge into those who are capable of it, and willing to receive it. Of this we have many lamentable examples amongst the psalmodists of the country, who bestow great labour on music not fit to be introduced into the worship of God, and conceive a higher opinion of it, than of the best compositions of our greatest masters, who being truly learned in their profession, know how to adapt their music to the nature and dignity of their subject, aud have inspired the hearers of it with