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words; but they will not do them.—And lo, thou art unto them as the very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not.'
We therefore fall greatly below the true and legitimate purposes of this exercise, unless we consider it as uniting the efficacy of devotion with that of rhetoric. It brings direct praise and offers direct petitions to the Most High. It is therefore prayer. And whatever reverence of mind, whatever concentration of thought, humility of feeling, and effort to engage the miud are necessary in the prayers of the sanctuary, are to be esteemed no less necessary in the performance of those hymns which are of a devotional character.
We do not however assent to the position maintained by some, that music is in no case to be used in the public assembly but as an offering of direct worship, and that no hymn should be sung, which is not in form an address to the Deity. For this seems to us to be going to an extreme, and robbing this delightful art of one large province of its power. It may exert a most valuable, religious, and even devotional influence over the soul, by bringing to it holy reflection and devout sentiment, though not in the form of address. Thus the bounds of its operation are enlarged; it acts on a greater variety of subjects; it helps in the enforcement of a wider circle of religious truths; it is adapted to the character, wants, and circumstances of a larger number of persons. An important sentiment, thrown into verse and sent home to the feelings by music, may oftentimes make an impression which it could not otherwise have done, and which could not be given, were all hymns confined to the work of prayer and praise. What is a hymn? It is a sacred ode or song; and it certainly is not essential to the nature of the ode or song that it be in the form of an address. It may be the expression of any thought, feeling, sentiment, which is proper to be conveyed in verse; descriptive, narrative, or didactic, addressed to others, or spoken to one's self. Whatever is adapted to this class of poetry, is for the same reason adapted to music; and there are surely many topics connected with the government and character of God, the works of Jesus Christ, the truths and hopes of the gospel, the state of the soul, and the condition, the wants, the emotions, sorrows, joys, desires, despondencies, exultations, of the religious life, which may naturally and properly be woven into verse, and which can in no way be more effectually brought home to the heart than by the instrumentality of music. When therefore there are so many orders of hymns, some more suited to some minds and some occasions than others; why should the power and persuasion of music be limited to one class only, or any portion of the advantage be thrown away, which might be derived from giving it a more extensive range?
We may find a confirmation of these remarks in the psalms of David, which he poured forth from a spirit full of the inspiration of poetry and devotion, which grew out of his own personal or public situation, and were adapted to every variety of private or general occasion, which he probably sung himself to the accompaniment of his own harp, and which were used in the national worship of the temple. We cannot have safer guides to the true nature and character of such compositions. But when we examine them, we do not find them exclusively addresses to the Deity. A large proportion of them are so, and they all recognize his hand and are concerned with devout subjects. But many contain no address to Him. They are odes on a great variety of subjects, expressive of the sentiments and feelings which belong to the occasions which called them forth; expressive of contrition, trust, joy, hope, gratitude, delight in goodness, abhorrence of sin, and all the variety of emotion and vicissitudes of mind, which mark the course of a religious man's pilgrimage. If we build on these best of models, we shall set no limits to the fashion and form, or to the subjects of our sacred odes; but shall suffer them to embrace, as widely as possible, the whole circle of divine truths and religious experience. The apostle Paul instructs us to the same purport in the two passages in which he exhorts believers on this head.* He does not tell them that the only purpose of their sacred songs is to address the Lord in praise and prayer; but that they are for their own edification, admonition, and comfort; leaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. Why should we restrict ourselves from a liberty which the Christians enjoyed under the eyes of the apostles?
We have confined ourselves in these remarks to a few general views of the object and design of church music, without
* Eph. v. 19; Col. iii. 16 vol. III. No. vI. 63
descending to a consideration of its condition and defects as it exists in our congregations. There is much to be said on these points, for which we may perhaps find opportunity in a future number. Before we close the present article, written for those who have a taste for music and an interest in it, we would add a word for those who have no perception of musical sounds, and who are ready to think that they have no concern in this part of worship. This would be true, if the musical effect were all; or if its rhetorical effect were alone to be considered; for they have been denied by nature all capacity for being operated on in this way. But regard it as one mode of prayer and praise, as designed to affect the understanding and heart by the sense of the words as well as by the melody of the sound, and in fact calling on the mind to exert itself in a devout act; then they have something to do; though they cannot relish the music, they can enter into the subject, can join the praise, and devote themselves to the meditation. With their eyes upon the book, and their thoughts upon the hymn, they can make melody in their hearts, and the season will not be lost to them, nor tedious. Ear and voice may fail them; but the music of the soul may be theirs, heard and accepted in heaven, though inaudible to man.
Art. XV. Revue Protestante. Tom. I. Tom. II. Livraisons 1. 2. 8. 4. A Paris. 1825. The Protestant Review. Vol. I. Vol. II. Numbers 1. 2. 3. 4. Paris. 1825.
We have had some vague notions about the toleration of protestantism in France, since the restoration of the Bourbons, but have known little concerning the actual state of the protestant communion. The term Quietism, we had supposed, till within a recent period, expressed sufficiently well the general state of its members; and presumed, that, unmolested by the ruling powers, and not debarred from the right of private judgment, they had not been forward to agitate this great doctrine of the reformation. But it affords us much satisfaction to find, without regard to their particular theological dogmas, whether they be the old Genevan, or the new Genevan, or neither, that they acknowledge no master but Jesus Christ, and come forward fearlessly as members of the true catholic church, the church universal. Their zeal, however, is a temperate zeal, and their firmness is neither violent nor uncourteous. The business of reform in France, from a change of circumstances, must indeed be a very different thing from what it was in the time of Calvin. There is not the same amount of papal abuses to contend against; nor are the remaining abuses or absurdities sanctified by a like degree of ignorance and consequent superstition. There must be no small number of people in the bosom of the catholic church in France, who are not duped by its superstitious ceremonies and observances, who are protestants at heart, and want only a little more illumination and stirrings of conscience, to become protestants in profession. But we will leave this speculative ground, and see what the writers in the Protestant Review say in their own cause.
In the introductory article, written by Charles Coquerel, the principal editor, we are presented with his opinion of the true end of a Protestant Review.
'The attempt we make is great and delicate ; it is no small affair to explain protestantism, such as it should be understood at this day. We wish our pages to be open to all reflections emanating from a spirit of examination applied to the gospel, that great and fruitful principle, which was proclaimed in the sixteenth century, and whose promulgation has been the occasion of most of the great benefits which have meliorated the state of Europe in modern times. We could wish that no work should appear in Europe, and no event should happen, interesting to the protestant cause, without at least being mentioned in our collections. At this day we are permitted to speak freely ; otherwise we should choose to be silent. If we may compare ours with the touching situation of the children of Israel, we, the protestants of France, have at length taken possession of the promised land, the land of toleration, which our old men, the ancients of our tribe, have seen only afar off, and after many wanderings in the desert. This state of things, owing to the spirit of the age and the wisdom of our government, gives us great resources, and devolves upon us new duties. To feel all their importance, let us imagine that we inherit the zeal and prudence of our reformers, with the immense advantage of the greater light of our times, and the improvement of the laws. Let us suppose those great men spectators of our labors. I am pleased to see, in imagination, Theodore Beza, and Calvin, and Claude, and Saurin, and many other great men, passing through our churches, and inspecting our clergy. I figure to myself those illustrious disciples of free inquiry, enjoying with delight the accomplishment of their work, and the success of their mission. I see them contemplating the great communion of Paris uniting together in peace, not far from the very street where Coligny was murdered, and near the Louvre which Saint Bartholomew's stained with our blood. 1 see them visiting the church of Rochelle, rising prosperously from tho ruins of three sieges; the church of Metz, where Leclerc, the fir-t martyr of the reformation, was burned; the church of Toulouse, where three noblemen were beheaded, in 1762, for no other crime than being protestants ; those ofMeaux, Montpellier, Sante-Foi, Marseilles, Rouen, and the rest of our churches, which have all had their martyrs, and in which so many disciples of the liberty of examination perished, the victims of the noble sentiments they had embraced.* Above all, I seem to see our reformers casting a look of satisfaction upon all the prosperous communions in the South of France, at this period so tranquil, independent, and pious, after those times of desolation, when the faithful were divided into two parties, one of which bore to a distant land, the torch of reformation, agitated but not extinguished by the storm, while those of the other, in spite of persecution, attached themselves to their ungrateful country, which rejected them from its bosom. Often, in those times, the gloomy tower of Constance, in which the noise of the winds and waves only was heard, swallowed up forever, young females, who were taken by surprise at their prayers ; oftentimes a man convicted of singing a hymn in a desert place was chained to the galleys for the remainder of his life; and often the cries of grief and of fear were raised with those of prayer, in the secluded spots in which our noble ancestors, retiring among the dreary rocks, celebrated their proscribed and solitary worship under the canopy of heaven.' Vol. I. pp. 2, 3, 4.
Notwithstanding the tribute of respect which is here paid to the spirit of the age, and to the wisdom of the present government of France, yet there is a freedom of language in the expression of opinions, and in allusions to past history, which few Catholics can listen to with much complacency, and which, to the bigoted, must be in the highest degree revolting. To the last it must be about as offensive, as the generous avowal
* A succinct and interesting account of the principal facts here alluded to is given by the Rev. Dr Holmes, Corresponding Secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society, in a memoir communicated for the volume of the Society's Collections, which is now in the press. It is entitled, 'A Memoir of the French Protestants who settled at Oxford, in Mass. A. D. 1686; with a sketch of the entire history of the Protestants of France'