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We have seen, in the preceding history, that the religious inAuences of sacred music were the offspring of religious motives, purposes, and affections, in the persons of those who became the successful instruments of edification. We do not assert that what the profession have so long claimed was never in any given instance realized—for even actions which were wrongly intended have sometimes been overruled for good. But we say such things are not to be expected. Religious results are to be sought for only in a religious way.
This is the constituted method of obtaining them; and when a different method is substituted, we have no right to look for a blessing upon our exertions.
Here, then, is seen the great source of misdirection from which the countless abuses have arisen. That which claims to be sacred music, among the distinguished cultivators of the art and their countless imitators, is not adapted with sufficient strictness to religious purposes; it is often nothing better than secular music in disguise. Yet, since it has its peculiar attractions, it is adopted more or less by all classes, and executed, almost as a matter of course, in accordance with the design, the motives, and the sentimentalities of the composer.
But before we proceed to speak more specifically of a remedy, we must be allowed to offer a single word on the dramatic use of religious subjects. When we consider that in the higher departments of sacred music there is now, and usually has been in modern times, a general absence of religious motives, purposes, and affections, as well as a want of just conception, both in composers and performers, how can we avoid the suspicion that there is something even worse than the negation of religious influences connected with these branches of cultivation ? If religious themes are liable to be abused in speech, why not in song? If they are desecrated by furnishing unhallowed quota.. tions in speeches and dialogues, why not by an irreverential utterance in recitatives, airs, and choruses? To our own mind, the principle is perfectly plain. The whole system of dramatizing religious subjects, without any proper recognition of religious responsibility in the parties concerned, is, in our view, an abuse which ought never to be countenanced in a Christian community. In the expression of this opinion we do not stand alone. It did not even originate with us. To say nothing of our own countrymen, in this relation, the opinion has been supported by the Cowpers, the Newtons, the Cecils, the Richmonds, of England, some of them, at least, men of refined taste, who lived many years where abundant opportunities of information were enjoyed. There is something in the very bistory of oratorios which should excite our suspicion. To say nothing of their origin and progress in a Catholic country, the consideration that they have been generally employed in England as a substitute for other amusements in the time of Lent, and performed by gay and thoughtless executants, not unfrequently in the theatre, and in immediate connexion with secular songs which were of more than a questionable character, would surely seem sufficient to put good men upon their guard. The power of the music upon the initiated class in community is unquestioned; but is this power rightly applied, and does it really produce legitimate results ? Does it reclaim wicked men, and make good men better by promoting their growth in grace ? Does it not rather have the opposite tendency? Does it not tend indirectly to lessen the devotional influence of church music? and does it not produce upon a large and respectable portion of the religious community, a strong reaction against the propriety of church music?
These truly are momentuous questions, well worthy the attention of the first minds in the community. But however they may be disposed of, one thing is certain, that sacred subjects, whether in speech or song, ought always to be treated in a sacred manner. From this one decision there can be no appeal. And here we take our stand. With this principle we would begin and end the entire process of cultivation in regard to sacred music. The highest and most important uses to which this department can be applied, are the sincere worship of the heart-searching God, and Christian instruction and edification. Let us, in all our efforts towards improvement, limit its application to these purposes, and be watchful over the attendant influences, with a due sense of our obligations and responsibilities. This, and this alone, will lead effectually to the cure of evils and prevention of abuses.
Pieces for practice, in a period like the present, should be selected with the utmost care and discrimination. This is a task which is not likely to be executed by the press. It must be done by individuals whose influence will be felt. Concert music applied to sacred subjects should ever be regarded as a misnomer. It is, morally speaking, nothing better than secular music in disguise. A practical test is always at hand. The
sentiments of the words which form the basis of our songs are to be illustrated and enforced, as by the power of impassioned oratory. That music which does this, and that alone, can properly be regarded as sacred. We are not for laying aside the compositions of the great masters. We would employ them in sacred departments just so far as they can be made to answer the purpose required. We would have them treated as the classics in literature are treated. Shakspeare and Milton are often quoted with propriety, even in the sacred desk ; but this is a different thing from converting the pulpit into a play-house or a chair of rhetoric.
Performers should also remember that, if in sacred music they would become real worshippers, they must diligently seek to cultivate the true spirit of praise as well as the right manner
Both are essential, and neither can be omitted without serious injury to the cause. The voice of prayer as well as of p: aise should be heard in our schools and rehearsals. Let the whole effort be fully Christianized, and then we may, with humble confidence, look for the divine blessing.
Secular music has its own specific claims and advantages, and we have no desire to lessen it in the public esteem. art, it is worthy being better understood and more extensively patronized. Still it is not without its attendant evils. Among the wealthier class in the community, this branch of the art is almost universally pursued to the neglect of sacred music, properly so called. It is regarded simply as an elegant accomplishment. Time and expense will be devoted to it, year after year, while, perhaps, not a solitary hour is given to the systematic practice of devotional music. If sacred music is occasionally taken in hand, it is usually that of the concert style, as if no other could be worthy of a moment's attention. Persons thus educated, are quite indisposed to the practice of psalms and hymns. They not unfrequently acquire such a disgust for the whole subject of church music, as no strength of religious principle is afterwards sufficient to overcome. Or, if stirred up to duty, and induced to commence in earnest the work of praise, then all their habits and notions are found to be at variance with the prevailing style. One of two extremes they are always prone to pursue. They incline either, on the one hand, to apply secular melody with its light, unballowed associations to sacred words; or, on the other hand, to discard every appearance of melody, in favor of tunes so chastised in simplicity as scarcely to retain any measure of interest, save that which is derived from antiquity. Such persons, in the nature of the circumstances, must either exercise a controlling influence upon those around them, or retire altogether from this important field of cultivation. In either case, their course has a tendency which is exceedingly disastrous, especially as the influence of their example is seen to descend through all ranks in society.
Such a course of instruction as we have here been exposing has been extensively pursued, even in Christian families. But it is evidently wrong. It is as if our children were to be so exclusively trained to the fascinations of light reading, as to unfit them for the profitable perusal of the Holy Scriptures. We say, again, the most important objects to which music can be applied, are those of spiritual worship and religious edification. These appliances of the art will never be promoted through secular cultivation. They require specific instructions and practice. The devotional claims of the art are not met in the usual instructions for the parlor. The church must have a system of cultivation of her own, and one which is specifically adapted to her own circumstances. Such a system will never spring up spontaneously. It will never be established by the musical profession as such. It must be planted and nurtured by her own care, and maintained by her own activity and perse
When she arises to build with her own hands, and with purposes and affections fully consecrated, the cause will be seen to revive and flourish. Till then, it will continue to languish even in the midst of seeming prosperity.
1844.] Notes on the Septuagint Version of Ps. I. II.
NOTES ON THE SEPTUAGINT VERSION OF PSALMS I. II.
By Josiah W. Gibbs, Professor of Sacred Literature, Yale College, New Haven, Conn.
It is proposed in the following notes on the Septuagint or Alexandrine Greek version, (1) to notice the deviations from the Hebrew text, with their probable reasons; (2) to notice the peculiarities of Greek usage and construction, and to illustrate them from our latest Greek grammarians; and (3) to refer to analogous usages and constructions in the New Testament which may be illustrated from the Septuagint. The Greek text will be exhibited continuously, and will be quoted line by line, as divided on the principles of the Hebrew poetic parallelism.
Versel. Maxdolos avno, not a simple declaration, the man is happy; or a mere wish, as if in the optative mode, may the man be blessed; but an impassioned declaration, as if paxdolos were an interjection, happy the man! a fair exhibition of the original Hebrew.–The student should observe here the collocation of poexdolos, which is that of the predicate or attribute adjective in Hebrew, (for a definition of the term see A. Crosby, Gr. Gramm. § 647,) and the peculiar use of drug as a determinative pronoun, correlative to the subsequent relative pronoun, (comp. J. C. A. Heyse : deutsche Gramm. p. 533.) Comp. uaxógios åvýg employed in a similar way in N. T. Rom. 4: 8. James 1:12.
"Os oux énopeu on év Bovlī esefov, who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, as in the Hebrew.—The Greek aorist is here used to express habit, where we commonly use the present tense, (see R. Kühner : Gr. Gramm. § 442.) Walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, i. e. after the Hebrew idiom, conducts not himself according to the counsel of the ungodly ; (comp. 2 Chr. 22:5. Mic. 6: 16; and in N. T. Luke 1: 6. 1 Pet. 4:3.)-Tlopeúquai is here construed with év, as the metaphor is continued.