« PreviousContinue »
ness and affection; or the solace, perhaps, of some anxious, lonely hour. I believe that music stands thus in many families, entirely divested of every injurious application, and administering to one part of the Creator's purpose—the happiness of man. But I do question whether it is made anywhere, so much as it might be, subservient to the other: the service and honour of the giver; or even to the first, in the best and the highest sense of the word,“ happiness.”
To consider it first in private. Do we not all know how difficult it is to keep God always in our thoughts, to cultivate perpetual intercourse with him in our hearts, and to have before us such an abiding sense of his presence, as to be our guardian at once from danger and from sin? To do this is the prevailing desire of every Christian bosom : and yet, while surrounded with things sensible and earthly, it is the most difficult task we have to perform. If music is the resource of our lighter hours, might it not be the means of bringing God into our thoughts, rather than of driving him out of them by the introduction of other images ? If it be the solace of our sadness, might it not better serve the purpose, by bringing, together with its soothing melody, the remembrance and images of joys yet unseen, and hopes as yet unrealized : in which, rather than in the mere physical impression of the sound upon our outward organs, the mind might forget, or find a sedative for its anxieties?
Might not music, by those who like it, be had recourse to, for these express purposes, whenever the bosom seems to need it ? If music, under some of its forms, is calculated to excite the passions and intoxicate the spirits, it is, in others, eminently calculated to allay and pacify, to soften and subdue them. I believe it is capable of exercising a permanent and
essential influence on the character, in awakening the gentler dispositions of the mind, and putting to rest the more turbulent. I should in this persuasion be extremely anxious to cultivate a love of mu
sic in young people, whether they play themselves
made of more importance. The younger part of the
or not, and be very sorry if they showed a dislike
there are more Listeners
In family devotion music might be made far more
In our public service, the musical department is indeed deplorable. Our psalms and hymns are solemn prayers or devout praises, as much addressed to Heaven as any part of the service. As such, it is difficult to understand why the minister is not responsible for the performance of this, as well as the remainder of the holy ministration ; that it should seem to be the business of the clerk, often an illiterate, and not always a pious man, and perhaps some dozen idlers, his companions; on whose taste and feeling is to depend this part of our devotions. The congregation may join, it is true: that is, they may if they can: but I must confess that, from the choice of tunes, or the method of execution, it is not always possible. I doubt not there is in every village, parish, or congregation, musical talent enough, and dearly enough purchased to make melody meet to be offered as prayer in the courts of the Most High; to instruct those who are willing to be taught, especially the children ; and why not others, their neighbours and dependents ?-no unfavourable opportunity of teaching them to understand and feel this part of the service. And if, under the sanction and direction of the minister, the charge of the psalmody were thus put into their hands, without preventing any one from joining, I think they might defy the clerk and his companions to destroy their harmony.
Perhaps our female friends will say this rests not with them—they cannot assume a charge not offered them. But I can imagine a case in which the minister, whose approbation was necessary, would be their father or their well-known friend; or where their rank and influence in the church would secure a glad compliance, should the proposal come from them. And then how potent is example! Success.
ful and approved in one congregation, it would come to be earnestly solicited in another; and the ladies might as in most cases they ought to, wait the request. But even where the direction of the singing is not in their hands, but conducted on the present system, we still do not see how the musical ladies of a congregation could better use their expensive accomplishment, than by teaching the children of the Sunday-schools, and others, to join with feeling, correctness, and moderation; by which the clerk might be even yet outsung.
If it be thought that I have been dreaming, instead of listening, and mindless of what is daily before my eyes and in my ears, have let imagination range in things that have no reality; if it be said that music is an innocent plaything of man's secular estate, in which we may expend as much time as we please, and as much money as we please, and need render no account, it being only intended for our amusement; I think that such an opinion is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture, to our condition on earth, and preparation for eternity; and I believe that God will some time vindicate his
purposes in all that he has created, material or intellectual, and convince us that he gave us all the powers we have for better uses than we have made of them. When the children of Zion were captives in Babylon, they hung their harps upon the willows, and forgot their country's songs—how could they sing the Lord's song in a strange land ?-their hearts were unstrung and tuneless, as their barps. But when they returned to Jerusalem, doubtless they strung the chords afresh, and learned anew the forgotten music, and sang again the song that Moses taught them; the psalms their kings and prophets left them. So, if the corrupted world return again
to the God it has forsaken, and the knowledge of him be established in all the earth, and sin and Satan be expelled from it; this talent, and every other, will find the use for which it was intended : will be made to subserve the holiness, as well as the happiness of man, and, before all things, the glory and worship of the Lord. How shall we think, then, of the long misuse ? Or, if we never see a time when the earth shall be the Lord's, and the fulness of beauty with which he filled it be recovered from corruption, should we not as individuals, restored ourselves, endeavour to restore every thing to the holy purpose of its first creation ?