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their having been the result of pleasing toil, renders them of superior value to me. A small portion, obtained by ourown labour, is sweeter than a large inheritance bequeathed by our predecessors. Knowledge, thus obtained, will not be always accumulating, but of special use in times of trial; not like the cumbrous armour which does not fit us, but like the sling and the stone, which, though less brilliant, will be more efficacious.
I may add, it were well for those who can find leisure, to commit to writing, the most interesting thoughts which occur at these seasons. It is thus that they will be fixed in the memory; and the revision of them may serve to rekindle some of the best ser, şations in our life.
THOUGHTS ON SINGING.
I have long considered the manner in which our singing is conducted, as equally contrary to scripture and reason. The intent of singing is, by a musical pronunciation of affecting truth, to render it still more affecting. To accomplish this end, the music ought, at all events, to be adapted to the sentiments. As in cominan speaking there is a sound, or modulation of the voice, adapted to convey every sentiment or passion of which the human soul is at any time possessed; so'l conceive it is, in a considerable degree, with regard to singing : there are certain airs, or tones, wbich are naturally expressive of joy, sorrow, pity, indignation, &c. and the grand art of psalmody seems to consist in applying these to the sentiments required to be sung. When David hac composed a divine song, it was delivered to “the chief musician," who set it to sacred music; and the Levites and the people would probably, learn both the song and the tune, and sing them on the days appointed for public worship.
Our method of singing is the reverse of this. Some person who has a taste for music composes a tune, a mere tune, without any sentiments to be expressed. He divides and subdivides his empty sounds, into lines, and bars, &c. The poet, instead of going before the musician, comes after him ; and a hymn is conformed to the tune, instead of a tune to the hymn. The tune being composed to four, six, or eight lines, is applied to any song that is written in these respective measures, and repeated over, without any regard to the meaning, as many times as there are stanzas to ve sung!
I do not mean to object to the division of music into parts, or breaks, so as to afford proper places for pausing ; but this division ought not to be uniform, but governed entirely by the matter to be sung. There ought, I conceive, to be no pauses in music, any more than in speaking, but at the conclusion of a sentence, or of some lesser break in the division of it: and the length of the pause ought to be governed by the meaning, in some proportion as it is in reading. Those notes also which belong to words of but little meaning, the mere particles of speech, should be short; and those which belong to words of full meaning, should be long and full of sound. Nothing can be more unnatural than for a congregation to dwell in a long swelling sound upon such words as that, it, and, from, to, &c. while they skip over words expressing the very burden of the song, as if they were of no account : yet this will frequently and almost constantly be the case, while we make hymns to tunes, instead of tupes to hymns. · Our anthems appear to me to approach the nearest to the scriptural way of singing : only they possess too much levity for worship, and abound with a number of unnecessary, because unmeaning repeats.
I have long wished to see introduced into the churches, (and I almost believe it will be at some future time,) A SELECTION OF DIVINE HYMNS or songs, taking place of all human compositions. By
divine hymns or songs, I mean the pure word of God, translated without any respect to rhyme or numher, afier the manner of Lowth's Isaiah, and set to plain, serious, and solemn music, adapted to the sentiments.
It has been observed, by some of the ablest critics, that the spirit of David's psalms, (and the same would jhol. I true of the other poetic parts .of scripture,) can never be preserved in a translation of them into modern verse, but in a translation like that in our common Bibles, or that of Lowth's Isaiah, it is generally allowed, I believe, that the spirit of them is well preserved. Why then do we not set them as they are, to sacred music? It is of a thousand times more importance to preserve the spirit of a psalm, or scripture song, than to have it in numbers, even supposing a uniformity in numbers were of advantage.
What is the reason that Handel's Messiah has had so great an effect? It is in part owing to the scriptures appearing in their native majesty, without being tortured into rhyme and number; and set to music adapted to the sentiments. I do not mean to say that Handel's music is in general adapted to divine worship: it was not designed for it; but rather for a company of musicians, who should display their skill. But the same words might be set to plaio music, without any of those trappings which recommend it to the attention of a merely musical audience. Such a sweetness and majesty is there in the poetic language of scripture, that if there were nothing' offensive in the music it must needs recommend itself 10 a serious mind. Without disparaging the labours of any one, there is as great a disproportion between oor best compnsitions and those of the scriptures, as between the speeches of Job and his friends, and the voice of the Almighty.
I am persuaded there are but few, if any divine subjects, upon which a hymn, or song, might not be collected from the poetic parts of scripture.' In many instances the whole song might be furnished from a single psalm or chapter : and in others it might be collected from different passages, associated together and properly arranged.
Taken from Rev. 5.
Thou art worthy to take the book,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
[The whole intelligent creation in full chorus.]
[Redeemed sinners close the song in humblest prostration.]
The first should be sung, I think, with a soft tenor only, rather increasing in vigour and rapidity in the fifth and following lines. The second, in bold, loud, and animated notes ; but not quick. There ought to be a full swell of sound to each of the seven ascriptions. The third, in full chorus ; yet not so loud as the second, but more pathetic. The lust, in which they who began conclude the song, though it be only one word, yet the notes to il should express a heart full of humility and gratitude.
ON RECOVERY FROM SICKNESS.
I said in the cutting off of my days,
I reckoned till morning, as a lion
Oh Lord! By these things men live,
* I recollect, some years ago, when in a very dejected state of mind, hearing some turtle-doves cooing to one another. Their mourning notes made a deep impression upon my heart, their tones being, as I suppoge, in unison with its feelings. Had I so much skill in music as to compose a túpe to this song, 1 would ingraft the very moan of the turtle to those words, I did mourn as a dove