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EDWARD HODGES, Mus. Docт.
OF SIDNEY SUSSEX COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE; AND ORGANIST OF THE CHURCHES OF ST. JAMES
"And let the roring organs loudly play
The choristers the joyous antheme sing,
RIVINGTONS, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD.
CHILCOTT, PRINTER, BRISTOL.
CHURCH MUSIC, &c.
THERE is no science, human or divine, of such universal acceptation among mankind, as that no man can be found to impugn its pretensions. In this age of subversion, therefore, wherein all religion is denounced as priestcraft, and civil government as tyranny, we are not to wonder that music also should have its adversaries. And yet, if, in the whole range of human contemplation, there be any one thing which would seem less likely than all others to stir up strife and contention, that subject is the science of sweet sounds. Man, in all ages, from the infancy of the world to the present day, has recognised its power, and bowed to its influence. In In every clime, from the frigid regions about the poles, to the burning plains of the torrid zone, music has been appealed to as the laborum dulce lenimen, the joy of buoyant youth, the solace of declining age. Practised by saints and angels, lauded by sage philosophers, encouraged by grave legislators, and sanctioned not only by the usage of time but by almost an identification with the most solemn offices of our most holy religion, it has come down to us to be aspersed and vilified in this our day as a pursuit utterly unworthy of an intellec
tual being, and in its noblest exhibitions to be stigmatized as a profanation of our ecclesiastical edifices.
Now although nothing has been recently alleged against church music which has not been adduced and triumphantly refuted, again and again, in past times; yet forasmuch as it is possible that some persons may be carried away by the specious plausibility with which old sophistries have been tricked out, I have thought it not amiss, in the absence of a better champion, to attempt a brief reply to what modern gainsayers continue so pertinaciously to advance. This is the more necessary inasmuch as the opposition at present is principally conducted by two most respectable public prints, viz. the STANDARD, which may be considered as the organ of the high-church section of Toryism, and the RECORD, which may with equal truth be deemed the representative of the opinions of the so-called Evangelical party in the establishment. Had the "railing accusation" been confined to that portion of the public press which trades in sedition and revels in the imaginary perspective of the progressive destruction of all our venerable institutions, civil as well as sacred, the reproach might have been borne with honour, and suffered to pass unheeded as the idle snail which leaves its slimy track upon the village steeple. Every Christian musician (and I trust there are many such) feels on the occasion with David, the man after God's own heart, and yet the most musical king the world ever saw, when he bemoans himself in Psalm LV, "For it was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have borne it; neither
was it he that hated me, that did magnify himself against me, then I would have hid myself from him :" a psalm appropriately addressed "To the chief musician on Neginoth." Still I should not have had recourse to this method of defending the science which I have the honour to profess, had not the editor of the STANDARD refused to insert a short communication which I addressed to him in reply to some of his animadversions; contenting himself in his notice to correspondents with calling me "an enthusiast," and informing the public that "he could not accommodate his conscience to be the means of disseminating opinions which he believed to be erroneous,"1 although the letter referred to consisted principally of a statement of facts. Although this conduct of the editor would seem to be a departure from that straightforward rule of rectitude which I would fain believe has been and is generally his actuating principle, I cannot be very angry with him on the occasion, as it has afforded me an opportunity of throwing into a more permanent shape the few arguments which I hope shortly to bring forward.
The STANDARD from time to time, for many months last past, has dropt hints of its antipathy to music. At length it began to speak more distinctly, and under date of the 26th March has a passage of this sort:
Sensuality of every kind, feasts and festivals, whether culinary or musical, for both are alike sensual, ought to be for ever excluded from the seats of learning and religion."
1 As this quotation is made by memory it is not likely to be verbally correct, but I believe that the sense is accurately preserved.