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TAE REVERENTIAL STYLE— TRUE EMPHASIS — NAME OF THE DEITY
The question is frequently asked, in what manner should we read the Scriptures and compositions of a sacred character. As a general rule, their meaning and sentiment must dictate, as do those of all other compositions. Where the style is solemn and grand, the voice, time, and movement must be correspondingly so. The name of the Divine Being, when directly addressed, should never be pronounced in the pitches of voice used by the profane and the blasphemous; yet many ministers and preachers of the Word make no difference in this respect. But before the name is pronounced the voice should be fully suspended, and sufficient pause be given to allow an inflowing of reverential feeling. The voice should fall at least from one to two tones lower, as in parenthetical modulations. Yet, instead of being spoken more rapidly, it, on the contrary, should take a slow and tremulous circumflex movement; and this must not be affected, but heartfelt.
“ Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue."
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever! The scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter."
Much difficulty is experienced by many people about finding the true emphasis of such clauses as the following: “I was created by God ;” and “by God and his holy angels.” If “by God” is rendered without emphasis, there is felt a want of reverence; if the preposition by is emphasized, it smacks of profanity; if again, the emphasis is placed on the name of God, it is equally suggestive of swearing; but if we resort to that slight suspension of voice, before spoken of, after the word "by," and pronounce the name God in a grave tone, with a slight circumflexion of voice, nothing harsh or out of place will be experienced. “It was created by-God-and his holy angels,” etc. These are seemingly small matters, but exceedingly important, as they go to make up the aggregate of truthful expression.
The following exercises will be practiced with direct reference to this rest of voice before the clauses and names of the Deity, and with the low, tremulous circumflex which the pronunciation of the name requires :
"3 Hail-Universal Lord! — 3 be bounteous still, and ONLY GOOD."
2 Disperse it now as light-dispels - 1 the dark.”
« 6 Prayer—ardent-opens heaven; lets down a stream of glory—on the consecrated hour of man — 3 in audience with I the Deity.”
“In its sublime research,-philosophy
May measure out the ocean deep,-may count
There is no weight-nor measure: none can mount
Though kindled by thy light,-in vain would try
And thought is lost ere thought can soar so high,
Even like past moments-in ETERNITY.” But there are passages that require rapid and joyful movements of voice. It is always important, as has been before stated, that the subject and sentiment should be clearly defined in the mind before attempting to give them forcible expression.
Passages written under the excitement of exalted imagination, when the soul communes with the spirit of nature, require the identification of one's self with the spirit to render them properly.
The magnificent outburst of joyful emotion exhibited in the selection given below from the Psalms shows a spirit appreciative of the creative forces of all things, and if the student has not the power to enter this exalted state he can not render the words of the great singer. But if, with David, he can behold the great mass of waters surging their vast floods in the rhythm of motion-mighty waves lifting their crested heads in the sunshine, chasing each other with delight—all impelled irresistibly onward by that same power which inspires us with life and impulse—then the imagination can perceive that the floods can clap their hands and the hills be joyful together:
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp and the voice of a psalm.
With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before—the Lord, the King.
Let the sea-roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Let the floods—clap their hands : let the hills—be joyful together
Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity." (Psalm xcviii, 4-9.)
There is a feeling, which quite generally prevails, that in reading the Sacred Scriptures or the Church Ritual elocutionary rules need not be observed. This idea is based upon the supposition that all elocution is an affected, stilted style of reading, which should not be applied to Holy Writ. If this were so, the art of elocution should certainly not be thus applied.
Some believe that the letter of the Word is of little value; that the spiritual meaning only should be brought out, and that this requires some peculiar style. But they fail to inform us what the peculiar style is. These forget that it is only through the letter that the spirit can be embodied, and through the letter alone can we give forth its true expression. It would be a foolish waste of time to utter words only, if these could not be made the interpreters of the thoughts, the affections, the emotions of the soul.
When we attend church for the sake of divine worship, we can but feel sad at the great neglect of the proper reading of the Scriptures and the church service. Ministers and congregation alike seem to be unconscious of the importance of giving their best efforts in such service. The mumbled, hurried, and discordant sounds heard in responses are not worship; they are not even lip-service. Without any desire to be censorious, and with the sincere wish that what purports to be worship should be such in spirit and in truth, we must say that we have listened to responses given in churches which struck the ear more like a dissatisfied grumble than an earnest, hearty outgushing of praise or supplication. It is not well to cherish the idea that this stinted offering is praise or service. He who has so wonderfully constructed the human voice ought to receive as tribute the highest outpouring of soul in sweetest and most harmonious utterances; and they who are devout and reverent should also praise in harmony.
But says the objector, religious expression is an individual thing, and each must be allowed to give it utterance in his own way. Certainly, but his way should be a harmonious one, so long as harmonic laws can be studied by all.
Let us look at the subject of collective and individual worship. For individual worship people do not come into assemblies. The ability to bring one's self into communion with the Divine Spirit is one thing, and the ability to unite with a number of persons, giving mutual strength and assistance in coming into a condition receptive of the inflowing of the Spirit, is quite another thing. It is somewhat like the difference of tuning one instrument to harmony in a certain key, and bringing a great number of different instruments to a perfect accord in the same key.
Individual worship alone does not satisfy; people desire to unite in prayer and praise. Man is socially religious as well as intellectually, scientifically, or musically social. For this reason temples for worship and instruction are reared; and in the union and harmony of the entire congregation is produced the best state for the reception of divine truths. The Spirit of the Lord can only descend in the harmonies, never in the discords.
If this individual indifference and disregard of the laws of harmony and time were applied to singing the hymns, we should see how ridiculous it is; yet the reading, the prayer, and the responses are just as much a part of the worship. Let us tune our voices in unison; get control of the letter of the Word, that we may through that medium give expression to the spirit. People should read in concert, sing in concert, and praise in concert.
Some persons object to teaching any part of the Bible as a readinglesson; alleging that it is of too sacred a character to be used for the purposes of education. We should say that if it is too sacred to be used in instruction, it is too sacred to be read badly: and if people were taught to read the Bible as it should be read, with true spirit and feeling, it would be better valued and appreciated than it is to-day.
SENNACHERIB'S RUIN. ISAIAŁ xxxvi, 13-22; Xxxvii, 1-7, 33-38. Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king,—the king of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us : this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one of the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine,-a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations—delivered his land-out of the hand of the king of Assyria ? Where are the gods of Hamoth and Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim ? and have they—delivered Samaria-out of my hands? Who-are theyamong all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? But they held their peace, and answered him not a word; for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
Then came Eliakim, (the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household,) and Shebna the scribe, and Joah (the son of Asaph,) the recorder,-to Hezekiah-with their clothes rent, and told him—the words of Rabshakeh.
And it came to pass when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, (who was over the household,) and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, (covered with sackcloth,) unto Isaiah the prophet, (the son of Amoz.) And they said unto him,-Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be—the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, (whom the king of Assyria, his master, hath sent to reproach the living God,) and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left. So—the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold—I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into the city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
So Sennacherib, (the king of Assyria,) departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia : and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
PAUL AT CESAREA. ACTS XXV.
Now-when Festus was come into the province, (after three days)—he ascended from Cesarea to Jerusalem. Then-the high priest—and the chief of the Jews — informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favor against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait-(in the way)—to kill him. But Festus answered, -that Paul should be kept at Cesarea, and that he himself-would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man,-if there be any wickedness in him. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days,—he went down unto Cesarea; and the next day—(sitting on the judgment-seat)—commanded Paul to be brought. And when he was come, the Jews — (which came down from Jerusalem) — stood round about, and laid many - and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither