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The performer on the organ, who for the time he is playing by himself, hath the minds of the congregation under his hand, should take care not to mislead the ignorant into vain fancies, nor to offend the judicious with unseasonable levity. In the tone of the diapasons of the church organ, there is nothing noisy and military, nothing weak and effeminate, but a majestic sweetness, which is fittest to dispose the mind of the hearer to a devout and holy temper. If the diapasons could speak in articulate words, there is not a text in the Bible which they would not utter with dignity and reverence; and hence their music is of excellent use to prepare the people for the hearing of the Scripture. Many here present must have felt the effect of it: and I hope I shall give no offence if I add it as a suspicion that they who do not feel the power of slow harmony upon the organ, have not the right sense of musical sounds. The organist should, therefore, by all means cultivate that style of harmony which is proper to this noble capacity of his instrument.
The Psalmody of our country churches is universally complained of, as very much out of order, and wanting regulation in most parts of the kingdom. The authority of the minister is competent to direct such music as is proper, and to keep the people to the ancient forms. A company of persons, who appoint themselves under the name of the singers, assume an exclusive right, which belongs not to them but to the congregation at large; and they often make a very indiscreet use of their liberty; neglecting the best old Psalmody, till the people forget it, and introducing new tunes, which the people cannot learn; some of them without science, without simplicity, without solemnity; causing the serious to frown, and the inconsiderate to laugh. I have frequently heard such wild airs as were not fit to
be brought into the church : through the ignorance of the composers, who were not of skill to distinguisb what kind of melody is proper for the church, and what for the theatre, and what for neither. If any Anthems are admitted during the time of divine service, country choristers should confine themselves to choral harmony, in which they may do very well; and our church abounds with full Anthems by the best masters*. No solos should ever be introduced without an instrument to support thein; and besides, these require a superior degree of expression to make them tolerable. The Psalmodists of country choirs may with care and practice sing well in time and tune; and
* We labour under one inconvenience in respect to our Psalmody, which might be removed. Our Psalm tubes have undergone so many experiments, that there is great diversity in copies and editions, some of them very false and bad; whence it happens too cften, that the organist plays one way, while the congregation sings another, and a confusion arises which should always be avoid. ed. I have known even the 100th Psalm tune, common as it is, materially affected by the blunders of incompetent editors. An eminent master (the late Dr. Boyce) furnished our cathedrals with a correct and valuable copy of the best Services and Anthems from the Reformation to the beginning of the present century.
It is to be wished that all the Psalın-tunes of the first merit and authority were published in the like compleat form by as faithful
An original edition by Ravenscroft, himself the greatest author of our ancient Psal nody, was published in four parts, but is rarely to be met with, and, in its present form, is not very intelligible I te common singers. To render the old Psalm tunes more geneTally useful in congregations, a learned friend of mine hath published a very good collection of them in three parts very lately, under the title of, Select Portions of the Psalms of David, for the use of Parish Churches : and though I am precluded from saying any thing in praise of this edition, I shall veuture to recommend it as the most correct and convenient work of the kind. I am witnese also, how rapidly it hath advanced the just performance of Psalmo, dy in a parish of my own,
in choral music, or music of several parts, the want of due expression is compensated by the fulness of the harmony: but they can never attain to the speaking of music without being taught. There is an utterance in singing, as in preaching or praying, wiich must be learned from the judgment of those who excel in it. A man can no more sing a solo for the church without a musical education, than a clown can speak upon the stage for a learned audience in a theatre.
When we consider the performance of sacred music as a duty, much is to be learned from it. If music is a gift of God to us for our good, it ought to be used as such, for the improvement of the understanding, and the advancement of devotion. Services, Anthems, and Psalms should be understood as lessons of purity in life and manners. Rejoice in the Lord, O
ye righteous, saith the Psalmist, for it becometh well the just to be thankful. What! shall we praise God with our lips, while we blaspheine him with our lives? Praise, saith the son of Sirach, is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner, for it was not sent him of the Lord. Praise to the Lord is proper to those only who derivelblessings from the Lord; it is impertinent and false when it comes from those who are never the better for him. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy : but let not them say so, who have given themselves up to a state of captivity under sin and folly. Some there are, who are very loud and forward in singing, while they are insensible of the greatness and the value of those subjects which our music celebrates; like the sounding brass of a trumpet, which makes a great noise, but feels nothing. Others there are, who are not chargeable with this error: loose, ir
religious people, who have an absolute dislike and contempt for divine music: and they are right; for it would carry them out of their element. But God forbid that we should be where they are: no; let us keep our music, and amend our lives. It must be our own fault, if our music doth not contribute to our reformation, and we may have it to answer for in common with the other means of improvement which we have abused All our church music tends to keep up our acquaintance with the Psalms, those divine compositions, of which none can feel the sense, as music makes them feel it, without being edified. The sacred harp of David will still have the effect it once had upon Saul; it will quiet the disorders of the mind, and drive away the enemies of our peace.
Another excellent use of music, is for the increase of charity; and this in more senses than one.
When Christians unite their voices in the praises of God, their hearts become more united to one another. Harmony and Charity never do better than when they meet together; they are of the same heavenly origipal; they illustrate and promote each other. For as different voices join together in the same harmony, and are all necessary to render it complete; so are all Christians necessary to one another. The high and the low all meet together in the church of Christ, and form one body. As those who perform their different parts in a piece of music, do all conspire to the same effect; so are we all members one of another; and as such, are to be unanimous in the performance of our several duties to the praise and glory of God. And as a greater heat arises from a collection of a greater number of rays from the sun, so more Christians, united in charity and harmony, are happier than fewer. The most critical judges of music must deny their own feelings if they do not allow that the effect of music is wonderfully increased by the multiplication of voices. Indeed the principle is attested and confirmed by the grand performances of the present age, so greatly and skilfully conducted of late years to the astonishment of the hearers. Magnitude of sound will strike the mind as well as sweetness of harmony; and this is one reason why we are all so affected with the sound of thunder, to which the sound of a great multitude may well be compared. Thus it comes to pass in the union of Christians: the joy and peace of every individual increases in proportion as charity is diffused and multiplied in the church.
But there is another sense in which charity is promoted by music. This happens on those occasions, when music is promoted with a charitable intention. Very considerable sums are raised from the contributions of those who come to be treated with sacred harmony. The poor are fed, the sick are healed, and many good works are carried forward. Blessed be the art, which from the hands and hearts of the wealthy and the honourable, can draw relief for the poor and needy! The widows and orphans of the poor clergy of this church were the first objects relieved through the medium of church music : and let us hope they will rather be gainers than losers by all improvements in this way: for they who are related to the church have, undoubtedly, a priority of claim upon the music of the church.
I am now, lastly, to remind both my hearers and myself, that all our observations upon this subject will be to no purpose, unless from the use of divine music, and its effect upon us, we learn to aspire to the felicity of heaven, of which it gives us a foretaste. While we are in this lower state, there is no vehicle like