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The genius and spirit of Watts seem to have commended themselves so thoroughly to Presbyterians as to show a characteristic likeness. His traits, accordingly, are clear doctrinal statement; Scriptural imagery; the atonement as central to Christianity; reverent devotion; a lofty but steady and serious imagination, and a subdued feeling, as fearing to overstep the limits belonging to the sinful creature. It were well if Presby. terians could borrow from other Churches a more social and cheerful spirit, more simplicity and affectionateness, and if they could gain in richness what they might healthfully lose in formality. In carefully avoiding everything sensuous, Presbyterianism sometimes degenerates into dryness, and in instinctively informing its services with manliness carried to severity, it loses in sweetness and tenderness.
We are greatly delighted that our Church has taken up with unanimity the subject of chanting the psalms, and that it is committed to so competent a person as Dr. Duffield. We hope that this work will speedily be issued by the Publication Committee, and that provision will then be made for its introduction into all our churches. The chants ought not merely to be used as voluntaries by the church choirs, but should be introduced occasionally in place of the regular psalm or hymn. Our service needs to be enriched without losing its simplicity. The accord of the people can best be given in our service through its musical form. The same chant being sung to the same psalm, it will soon be caught up by the people. .
Chanting, perhaps, comes nearest to the ancient choral service. It is singular that those whose principles require them to adhere to the words of Scripture, should object to that worship which uses the ipsissima verba of our common Bible. It is a source of much pleasure to us that our Church is not so fettered but that she can use whatever is valuable in other forms of worship, provided only they are for edification among her own people.
There is but one other topic which we desire to include in this Article. It is the necessity and duty of congregational singing. We have no hesitation in stating our opinion in the
broadest and most unqualified manner. It is, that there is no suitable worship unless the whole congregation sing. In all churches which have liturgical services there is an arrangement for the people to join in the worship audibly. They pronounce the Amen; they murmur the Lord's prayer; they repeat the creed; in some services they make other responses. Presbyterianism rejects the whole; the minister conducts the entire audible service. Still, there remain the praises of God in the sanctuary, the highest effort of which humanity is capable, sustained by all the power of poetry and music, and the devotion of an ardent spirit. If a thousand voices swell together in harmony to God, we can dispense with the audible sound in the responsive service.
When a choir is composed, as we have seen one, of near fifty persons, there is some excuse for it, but even then it is the wrong way. We may endure it, but we never can make it right. The people of God, old and young, rich and poor, should sing the praises of God. If they are not taught in music, they ought to be taught. Six hundred performers sing and play in Handel's Creation; why not train' a thousand men, women, and children, to sing the praises of God? It matters not how much time it takes to train them. Take the time. It matters not how much it costs. Pay the price. Jehovah is worthy of it, and human beings can be engaged in no nobler work.
We know that there are many objections. We do not care for the objections. A small choir to sing for God's people is wrong, and it cannot be made right. We have no kind of objection to a choir as a leader of the congregation, provided always that it does not exemplify the political motto, “Power is always stealing from the many to the few." We are perfectly inflexible in this matter; the whole congregation ought to sing, and some plan must be devised to accomplish it.
Here, as elsewhere, there are two feelings that are perfectly distinct. One is a refined sentiment. This is gratified by exquisite singing—the highest form of art, such as is attained by the opera. This steals into Christian congregations insidiously, and finds its gratification in scientific playing and singing. It is the sentiment of the few and not of the many. The other feeling is that of the vast majority of mankind. It does not reject science or art. It is not opposed to a grand organ or to music of a high order. But it considers these to be mere accessories. The Christian, besides worshipping God in secret and in his family, desires to praise him worthily in the great congregation. That this may be done, some worthy method must be found to unite multitudes together in one act of devotion. All hearts must be lifted up together. But it will not accomplish the full desire of the soul, if they be lifted up silently ; praise must have voice as well as gesture. The model is in the Apocalypse. “And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures, and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.” This is the beginning of the praise sung by the ransomed Church. Now the angels mingle with the strain. “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” Now the universe join the Church and the angels. “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.”
The fitting representative type of this in our temples, upon which gold and art and eloquence have been lavished without stint to make them worthy of their Divine inhabitant, is considered to be the hiring of the voices of-two women, a man, and a boy. We hope the anticlimax will do some good.
We are opposed to paying the members of choirs, except the organist and the leader. Let them cultivate music and teach the people. But God's Church should sing themselves. If some half dozen singers are hired, the “young men and maidens" will not sing with them, and the whole becomes a “performance," paid for and duly executed.
The praises of God cannot be suitably sung without volume as well as melody. Say what we may of the heart, no man worships thoroughly who does not use his voice. Why not receive the communion with the heart only? These fashions of letting the minister stand up by himself to pray as if it were his business, and three or four people in the gallery to sing as if it were their business, are ruinous to the very idea of devotion. When God's ambassador says, “Let us pray," let the people rise and stand up uncovered and reverent before God; aud when he says, “Let us sing to the praise of God," let a thousand voices swell to heaven like the sound of many waters. We go to church to worship God; to worship together; that heart may enkindle heart; to feel the communion of saints; to gaze at the throne of our Father, Saviour, Comforter, through tears of joy and longing. A cold, formal service robs God and man; as a bright, rich and affectionate one, makes the church the home of God, and the very gate of heaven.
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S ANSWER TO THE PROTEST ON
ONE principal object in the establishment of our Review, was to preserve the passing facts of Presbyterian history for future reference. A newspaper is ephemeral; its files very perishable. A Quarterly can be bound and preserved. We have kept this constantly in view, in the insertion of Articles which some of our readers may have deemed heavy. To show how mistaken even sensible men may be, we will here mention that we recently received a letter from one of our ministerswho in this perhaps speaks the sentiments of others—objecting to our Articles on the General Assembly, as merely reprinting the Minutes. Now, in our last Article on this subject, the following documents are found, none of which are in the Assembly's Minutes: The Report of the Committee on Bills and Overtures, Mr. Cutler's Paper, Dr. Allen's Paper, as presented before Mr. Kendall's Amendment, and the Call for the Southern Convention. Each one of these is an essential step in the progress of history, and without them, the action of the Church, in this most eventful year, cannot be understood. But only a person who has searched for such documents, knows how difficult it is to find them when a few years have passed.
In No. XXII of the Review, p. 243, in printing the Answer of the General Assembly to the Protest of the Southern members, we made an alteration, on the authority of Judge Allison—who was one of the Committee that drew up the Answer to the Protest—stating, at the same time, in a note, the fact of the alteration, together with the authority on which it was made. We have received letters from Drs. Patterson and Allen, who were also upon the Committee, stating their opinion that the paper, as printed by the Stated Clerk, is correct, as adopted by the Committee, and sanctioned by the Assembly. We submitted these letters to Judge Allison, who has given