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With respect to Church Music and Church Poetry - there is no part of Rituals of which we have need to say less, as to their use, or the character which they ought specially to possess. The use of singing in public worship is always referred, as it should be, to its effect on the mind. Nowhere do the clearest "authority" and the perception of fitness and good results, work together with greater strength and harmony. The general principles, too, that apply to the subject, are almost uniformly admitted, in words at least, if not so much in practice. The chief questions that used to be so hotly discussed, such as, Whether instrumental music were lawfully or properly to be used in Church, and Whether the Organ in particular (being less tainted with depravity than the violin) could be admitted — have been very quietly settled by the practice of the majority of the religious world, at least in this country. “Meeting-houses" have come to call themselves “ Churches," with a perfect oblivion apparently on the part of the present generation how offensive such a change of designation would have been to the Mathers and Chaunceys of a former generation. The studied perversity, too, of the old barn-like form, after mounting a steeple and passing through other changes, is showing a disposition to slip into the “Babylonish” Gothic; the pulpit is now and then blackened with gown and cassock; and the organ has crawled into the gallery over the back of the violoncello which had previously after long repudiation gained admission. There remains nothing for us to say, therefore, in vindication of any thing peculiar to the Church in poetry and music, (for even chanting is heard elsewhere now,) and the more particular discussion of minor conditions arising out of the relations to culture, must be reserved for another occasion.
The same may be said with respect to Church Architecture. We have already shown, by way of anticipation, that the architectural character of the church-edifice ought to join with the other elements of Rituals in aiming to produce a cultivating effect; and, to that end, it should be a high work of Art, specially appropriated to its sacred destination. That Church Architecture admits the employment of the highest and finest powers, and
* It was a Scotchman's argument against the organ- and certainly the very best we know — to call it a “chest full of whistles.” As to the sinful instrument which it supplanted, it was not in a “meeting-house," but a house of worship of another name, that we knew it to be ordered out of doors, by a summary ukase from the pulpit, as an “ungodly big fiddle." But we are happy to relieve the sympathies of our readers, by assuring them that the banishment was not perpetual.
that therefore it may contain within itself eminently the conditions of an agent of culture, can hardly be doubted by any one who is prepared to think on the subject at all. In what manner the mind may react upon it we have already explained. There remains the inquiry, whether any particular order or kind of architecture appears to fulfil the conditions required of any intellectual produetion consecrated to religion better than others; but the answer to that inquiry belongs to that part of our labors, which we have deferred to another discussion. Meanwhile we have only to say, that there is no part of Rituals, which (in most instances) falls so far short of the character it ought to have and for reasons rather to be regretted than wondered at. Specimens of pure and simple architecture in churches are any thing but common; yet when we have met with one at all respectable, we have always been interested to observe, how generally it produces the subdued effect proper to itself: and that effect is not confined to those who have studied the Fine Arts. It is true, those who know nothing of architecture are not offended — they are often pleased — with positive blemishes nevertheless they are not wholly insensible to genuine beauties. The excuse for neglecting correctness of style in building churches, grounded upon the supposed indifference of all but connoisseurs, is therefore, to a great extent, unsound. The truth is, the architectural style of the church must and will be an agency of some sort. Now can we justify it to ourselves, that it shall either negatively or positively teach the people bad taste and confirm them in it, (to say nothing of further evil influences,) and yet we be indifferent because they do not know enough to be dissatisfied? Or ought we not rather to do all that lies within our power to make this agency also an instrument of culture within its sphere? Expense and trouble are no objections ; besides, a good building is often built with less of either than a bad one.
We omit here a view of the details of Church Ceremonies. On reflection, we do not find them occupying so prominent a part of our services as would perhaps be supposed by a stranger. The cross in baptism, the receiving the child in his arms by the minister, the use of the ring in the marriage service, the change of place from the desk to the altar, the bowing in creed — we hardly know any other ceremonies, or symbolic acts, that occur in our Services. They stand upon the same ground as other symbols, and are to be judged by the importance of the truth symbolized, and their appropriateness. Our Lord has made two symbolic rites to remain perpetually in his Church. But besides this, bis instructions partook of the same character largely, as in the washing of the disciples' feet, etc. Doubtless the form was of value in his eyes — it was a cultivating agent in connexion with the truth conveyed — or he would not have deviated from the common way of instruction. There would, indeed, appear to be a difference in the susceptibility of different nations to the cultivating power exerted by symbols. It seems to have been peculiarly strong in Oriental people. Hence it was, perhaps, that ceremonies multiplied so rapidly amongst the early Eastern Christians. For them, doubiless, they were not without instruction, in so far, that is, as they were types of valuable truth. There is not the same susceptibility, it would seem, amongst us of the Gothic race, - a fact that can doubtless be accounted for; and therefore the English Church may not have limited the number of Ceremonies too much. Those we have are clearly agents of culture, as being in themselves products of the idealizing power of the mind, and as being significant of important truth.
We have now gone over the ground that lay before us. Whether our quest has been fruitless or otherwise must now be left to our readers. They will judge, whether the Creator, in placing the creature destined for Eternity, in a world, between which and the human constitution there was such mutual harmony of adaptation, could bave designed the thousand influences of that world — natural and intellectual — to be inoperative upon him, or operative only for evil; or whether He did not intend them to be instruments of culture - a culture far from being disconnected with religion, which was indeed the ivfinitely bigher result of a power proceeding more immediately from above? They will also judge whether the ritual observances of the Church, considered as agencies for human cultivation, and in respect to the principles on which they rest, do not eminently, and with a singular harmony amongst themselves, fulfil the requisite conditions. — And if this be admitted, we would desire our readers — in order that they may the better judge of the whole strength and efficiency of these influences -io conceive of them as being all combined, each co-operating with the other, and brought to bear upon the mind from childhood upwards. At each recurrence of holy time, the general Sabbath feeling is made more definite as we come in sight of the Church tower—- so separate and sacred in its siyle — with
its bells, “ those Sabbath bells ;" we enter the door, and more influences of the finest powers consecrated to religion steal in upon us from every side — from the fit proportions and well-ordered disposition of all, to the sober coloring, that lends to them a solemn unity; a holy instrument lists up its voice, never so heard elsewhere, pronouncing " concords mighty for the sense and soul ;" the minister of religion moves to the desk in those garments of pure and solemn beauty, which bespeak the performance of no duty of daily life or worldly profession; and iben he leads us with him, through that Order of Prayer, which under its simple exterior contains the result of all that martyrs and confessors, the lights of an age bright with unrivalled Christian knowledge and practice, could accomplish, with united effort, in a work so holy, — a variety, in perfect unity, embracing the words of Scripture, of primitive saints, and of Reformers, the voice of people and of priest, and the music of men and of instruments. All these works of consecrated intellect are associated with tbe further exertion of the best powers in presenting and enforcing divine truth. - Consider all these things in such their actual connexion with each other, and it will be seen that they present an extraordinary combination of powerful agencies, all working together for a higher end, which associates with itself the secondary end of human culture. Consider likewise, as we have said, that these influences begin their work upon us with the beginning of our life, and have continued it daily up to this time. And then, if we are ready to admit, as most are, to a faulty extent, that one's intellectual and moral character are at least materially affected by the circumstances under which it is formed ; if we believe (as perhaps every body believes) that the son of the mountain, with its bold scenery and its hardy life, and the native of wide and still plains or the level shores of slow and taine rivers, bear life-long marks of these schools in which body and mind both have been trained ; if we know (as who does not know!) that superior mind exercises power over the minds with which it is brought into contact, so that the intellectual character of a generation is moulded by the pervading operation of a single ruling and plastic intellect; if productive power will make itself felt unseen through its productions, then how can we doubt, for a moment, that the influences which we have been setting forth, the combined and long exercised power of various yet co-operating works of high intellectual power, must make themselves felt deeply and long-must be living agencies in the process of intellectual growth and culture — must help to open a world of new susceptibilities in the child, and invite the maturer mind into one of the richest and most beautiful regions of healthy activity. And if these productions of mind fulfil the conditions required of them in order to their being truly eminent; if they stand in proper separation from the world and in fit relation to religion ; can it be doubted, again, that the influence which they exert has some connexion with man's highest interests? And, finally, if the Christian ought never to be indifferent to any fit means of improving the condition and character of man, although such means belong confessedly to a subordinate sphere ; if he is interested, as a Christian, in the provisions for education and for the mental improvement of himself and his particular circle; can he take credit to himself for indifference to the agencies of culture which are taken into the closest connexion even with the public worship of God and the preaching of His Gospel ?
And thus, as we bring our argument to a close, we are able to show, as we proposed, on what grounds we consider Rituals a worthy and even necessary object of study, especially to the minister of the Church. It will now have been seen, that we do not aim simply at a minister's being able so to conduct public services as to make a decent show for the show's sake, or to induce his people to build a church in purer style, either in order to expend so much money as they are bound to devote to religious uses, or to have matter of boasting over others, or out of that esprit du corps of doing things for the honor of the Church. Neither do we urge this study, chiefly in order that champions may be endued with the requisite qualifications for standing more doggedly upon mere grounds of "authority;" for as much as reasons have ever been more to our taste than bare precedents, however binding. If Rituals are indeed such agencies as we claim them to be, no more words are needed to show them to be a worthy object of study. We cannot but be aware, however, that we expose ourselves to the suspicion of requiring for such study a disproportionate importance and space. Let us be judged by the relation in which we place these agencies to the supernatural agency of Religion. If we have most carefully preserved the essential distinction between them, - if we have referred the subordinate power of culture to an inferior source, and have uniformly made the end, at which they aim, secondary, - we could not be supposed now to claim for the study of Rituals an equal or like importance or proportion of time, with that which is demanded for the vital truths of the Gospel.