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SONGS OF PILGRIMAGE.
CHURCHES OF CHRIST.
BY 11. L. HASTINGS.
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.-Psalın cxix, 54.
SCRIPTURAL TRACT REPOSITORY:
MARSHALL Bros., AGENTS,
Sacred song is a divine gift. It is God our and the new song has arisen from the lips of Maker who giveth songs both in the night and those whoni Christ has redeemed by his blood. in the day; and melodious strains have ever pro- It is not a light matter to undertake to preclaimed his glory and his grace.
pare praises for the Most High, and thus guide The first recorded instance of singing by the worship of the people of the Lord; and there the people of God, celebrated the overthrow should be good reasons to justify manuals of of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; song now in existence. The reasons may best but the manner in which that song was sung be inferred from certain general observations gives evidence that among the children of concerning the exercise of Israel praise was no strange exercise. The Israelites were not novices in sacred worship, nor
PRAISE IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP. were instruments of music lacking on that occa- True Christian praise rests upon the firm founsion. The monuments of Egypt show that in- dation of genuine conversion to God. The feet strumental music was known in that ancient must be on the Rock before the new song is put land; and in the still earlier account of the de- in the mouth. The hesitating heart can only scendants of Cain, we find that instruments of utter hesitating and half-hearted songs. But music occupied a prominent position, being per- when unbelief is vanquished, and doubt gives haps a perversion of some still earlier institution place to confidence, and when faith embraces a of worship. For the existence of sacred music living Christ, and hails him, crying, “My Lord can be traced beyond the bounds of human ex- and my God!" then the believer can sing in lofty perience, to that hour when God laid the founda- strains, “We praise thee, O God, we acknowltions of the earth, when the morning stars edge thee to be the Lord. All the earth dotlı sang together, and all the sons of God shouted worship Thee, the Father everlasting.”
The Scriptures perpetually represent The songs of God's people from the earliest the hosts of heaven as uniting in joyous and ages have usually been occasional. The song majestic song; and the advent of the Son of God of the Israelites on the banks of the Red Sea; to our world brought myriad hosts of shin- the Psalms of David in trial and in triumph; ing ones to sing above his manger-cradle their the sighs of the Jewish exiles by the rivers of anthems of celestial praise.
Babylon, and the songs of the ransomed captives The worship in which our Saviour joined dur- as they returned and came to Zion; were suying his earthly sojourn, was largely the worship gested by their surroundings and their experi
The last act of his ministry was to Thus the changeful fortunes of the sing a hymn with his disciples; and his eternal church have ever inspired prayer and praise triumph will be celebrated by anthems of praise among the people of God, and again and again rising from every creature in heaven and on has been heard the joyous cry, “Oh, sing unto earth and under the earth, when “in the midst the Lord a new song": of the church" He shall lead the strain of adora- The progress of divine light and truth in the tion, and give praise and glory unto God. world has ever been marked by fresh outbursts
An exercise which thus antedate all human of praise; and wherever souls have been rehistory, and which shall be perpetuated when deemed from darkness, ignorance, and sin, they heaven and earth shall have passed away, is not have not ceased to sing and give thanks unto a matter of slight concern to mortals, whose God, translating as well as they might into songs, though mingled with sighs and tears, are their own dialects the sacred strains which not only reminiscences of celestial anthems that Israel's Psalmist sang; and also expressing in have floated down from worlds of light and joy, their own words the joyous emotions which but also preludes to that higher and holier serv- spring up in the hearts of the redeemed of the ice when saints redeemed shall sing the song
of Lord. Moses and the Lamb.
Hence in all languages where the name of Christians are especially a singing people. Christ is known, men have prepared praises for Eighteen hundred years ago, Pliny, the Roman the Most High, and new hymns and songs governor of Bithynia, wrote to the Emperor are perpetually rising in honor of his name. "Trajan, that the Christians “ were wont to meet These it is true are often of unequal merit, and together on a stated day, before it was light, and inadequate to the theme, but Ile who out of the sing among themselves alternately a hymn to mouth of babes and sucklings liath perfected Christ as God;” and still earlier than that, the praise, graciously deigns to accept the humble apostle declared, “I will sing with the spirit and strain of many a lowly disciple, which, while with the understanding also,” and exhorted giving honor to the Most High, also cheers the his brethren to unite in “psalms and hymns hearts of those who love and serve him. and spiritual songs,” singing with grace in their Mercies that are new every morning demand hearts to the Lord. And through all the sub- perpetual songs of praise; and the renewing of sequent ages of storm and sorrow, persecution the soul by divine grace ever awakens "thanksand trial, conflict and victory, the voice of rejoic- giving and the voice of melody." He who ing has been in the tabernacles of the righteous, I brings man up from the horrible pit, puts a
new song into his mouth, even praise unto our | Charles Wesley, whose thirteen volumes of God. Pardon brings gladness, and gladness sacred poetry attest both their industry and breaks forth in song. So the Psalmist prays, ability. But in the standard hymn-book com“ Deliver me from blood-guiltiness O God, thou piled by John Wesley in 1779, we look in vain God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing for such hymns as * Jesus lover of my soul,” aloud of thy righteousness."
“Rock of Ages cleft for me," and "All hail the Thus from age to age the tide of song rolls power of Jesus' name.” These hymns were on, fed by the countless springs that break then all in existence, but while hundreds of forth in desert sands; and thus new hymns are compositions thought worthy of insertion in that sent forth, and new collections are formed, each book are disused and forgotten, these three reof which should furnish in its own character a jected hymns are now perhaps the most widely reason or excuse for its existence. What then known of any in the English language. The has been
judgment of any individual weighs little in THE OBJECT OF THIS COMPILATION?
directing the worship and praise of the Church
of Christ. Hence under a due sense of responsiIn preparing this manual of sacred song, the bility, it has seemed right to send forth these compiler has endeavored, First, to collect from new hymns, committing them to the providence the ample treasures of ancient and modern of God and the consideration of his Church. hymnology, a sufficient number of well-known No mortal can measure the power and influstandard hymns and tunes, to supply the ordi- ence of a single hymn upon the hearts and mry needs of those engaged in domestic, social, lives of mankind. It were worth a life-time of or public worship, whether it be used alone or labor to have written one hymn that should live with other collections.
in millions of hearts, and be sung by millions Second, he has endeavored to seek out and of voices from gen ation to generation. Such gather from original sources, other hymns and hymns have been written, some of them by untunes of standard authors, which from various known authors. But though the world forget causes have fallen into disuse, and are less the singer they will not soon forget the song. familiar, though perhaps not less meritorious, For the purposes of public worship, poetic than others, and, which by careful abridgment conspositions frequently require both and revision it is hoped may be rescued from
REVISION AND ABRIDGMENT. oblivion and again made useful in the Churches of Christ.
This is frequently done by the authors themThird, to these he has added a choice selection selves, or with their express sanction. Every of more recent hymns of varied or unknown extensive collection has hymns that have been authorship, many of which have not heretofore improved by judicious revision, without which appeared in manuals of praise, and some of multitudes of valued compositions must have which, being abridged, amended, and arranged, dropped out of use. Some of these alteraare now first fitted to be used in the service and tions remedy rhythmic irregularities, or faults worship of the house of prayer.
of metre; others correct manifest errors, and Fourth, with these are included a number of bring hymns into closer correspondence with original hymns and tunes, which are sent forth that “ word of Christ,” which should dwell in with some sense of the responsibility incurred us richly, as a preparation for speaking to oureither in publishing or withholding them. selves in psalms and hymns and spiritual Hymns from the same source, previously printed, songs.” Hymns also written for special and have been caught up, republished in various local occasions are by slight revision adapted to collections, and widely sung. The reception of wider and more permanent usefulness. those contained in this collection cannot be fore Needless alterations are objectionable, espec
But while many remain unpublished, it ially in familiar hymns; yet Dr. Watts in the has seemed proper to issue these, especially as preface to his hymns distinctly says, " When an through the compactness of its mechanical ar- unpleasing word is found, he that leads the worrangement, the book, though containing some ship may substitute a better, for blessed be God, five hundred hymns not to be found in other we are not confined to the words of any man in collections, still remains portable in form and our public assemblies.” And John Wesley, moderate in price. The unfamiliar hymns by though he objected to the alterations made by well-known and standard authors need neither certain ignorant and incompetent compilers, apology nor recommendation; and if among the did not object to improvements in hymns, for he new hymns there shall one be discovered which himself repeatedly altered the hymns of others, the Church of God will not willingly let die,” | including those of Dr Watts and of his own it will be a justification for the existence of this father; and some of his improvements have volume, and an occasion of devout thanksgiving been generally accepted by succeeding editors. to Him who is both the source and the object of No competent critic would advise a return to the songs of his people.
some of the discarded forms of old hymns, and Which one among all these new hymns may some who earnestly object to alterations in thus prove useful and acceptable, canr:ot now be hymns, are really objecting to the original forms, decided. Perhaps few persons have been better which have been restored, in place of the alterajudges of the value of hymns than John and tions to which they had accustomed themselves.
HYMNS AND MUSIC.
been touched and melted and cleansed by the Articulate sounds express thought; musical power of the Holy Ghost. To the wicked God sounds express emotion. The thoughts embod- saith, “What hast thou to do to declare my ied in sacred poetry may be comprehended at a statutes, or that thou shouldest take my coyglance by appreciative readers, but musical enant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest innotes are silent to most ears, until the voice struction, and castest my words behind thee.” takes them up and translates them and the emo- Psalm 1. 16, 17. tions they represent. Hence, sacred song, com
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF MUSIC. bining both words and music, represents and conveys Christian thought and Christian feeling; Various elements enter into sacred music. thought being conveyed by the distinct enuncia- First, there is melody, a succession of musical tion of the written words, while emotion is sounds rising and falling, thus avoiding the expressed by the utterance of musical tones. dullness of monotone, and expressing the variIf there be no emotion, there need be no sing- ous feelings of the human heart; each emoing. If there is no melody in the heart, why tion having its own especial tone, or shade of should there be music on the tongue?
tone, easily recognized, though sometimes not No person can correctly enunciate sentences so easily recorded or imitated. Second, there which he does not clearly understand; no one is motion, rhythm, or the periodical recurrence can read intelligibly and forcibly in an unknown of accents, which divide the strain of music tongue; no writer can express thoughts which into short and equal portions, or measures, corhe does not comprehend; and so it is impossi- responding in their recurrence to the vital action ble for singers to express feelings and emotions of the human body. This element of time or to which they are strangers. "And if sacred motion is inherent in man's physical and mental music be the expression of Christian thought constitution: the beating of the heart, the process and Christian feeling, then only Christians of breathing, the swinging of the arms, the can really make such music. What had rev- measured tread, being some of the various forms elers of Babylon to do with singing the Lord's in which rhythm naturally expresses itself; the songs? What part have they whose hearts expression varying with varying emotions; grief and affections are of the earth earthy, in expressing itself slowly, and joy more rapidly, the music which floats downward from the in exact accordance with the involuntary action
of the human heart when elated or quickened It is not claimed that devout poesy or devo- by joy, or depressed by grief and anxiety. tional music can never rise except from the This explains why aged persons, whose hearts hearts of true Christians. Many whose lives throb slowly, prefer slow and solid strains of are far from the Christian ideal, yet are not music, while young people, with bounding utterly devoid of worthy and holy aspirations. pulses and vigorous health, prefer a livelier and Even a Saul was once among the prophets; a quicker succession of musical notes. Balaam, uttering exalted strains of sacred As this connection of time with melody has poetry, could say, “Let me die the death of the its foundation in the human constitution, and righteous, and let my last end be like his;” and in the very sources of human life, it is impossiother men, whose lives have by no means been ble that all should be equally pleased with the patterns of Christian obedience, have some- same music; the joyous emotions of the young times sent forth strains of song worthy of de- and vigorous, the sedate and stately movements vout and faithful hearts; being for the time of the mature and strong, and the more depressilluminated by that “Light which lighteth every ing emotions of the feeble and melancholy, man that cometh into the world.” There is a being expressed by music appropriate to the spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Al- character and condition of each, thus causing a mighty giveth him understanding: and many a demand for music of varied character, and resoul not yet liberated from the thralldom of quiring the exercise of consummate skill to find sin, when prompted by the Divine Spirit, has the golden mean, where varying tastes may uttered passionate longings for deliverance compromise and harmonize, under the influence from bondage, and yearnings for the glorious of that “grace whereby we may serve God acliberty of the sons of God. But, as a rule, it ceptably, with reverence and with godly fear.”' may be safely said that they only can truly sing Another element of music is harmony, which God's praise who sing with grace in their hearts. is based upon the fact that certain sounds, differAn undevout astronomer is mad, but an unde-ing in pitch, when heard simultaneously, yield vout worshiper is an impossibility. The vulture pleasure to the susceptible or cultivated ear. If cannot warble like the lark, nor the owl pour a musical tone C be produced by a string which forth the song of the nightingale. No one can vibrates 264 times each second, a shorter string, truly sing unto God who does not adore the producing twice as many vibrations in a secMost High. No mere artistic training of voice ond, i. e. 528, will give the same note an or touch can compass the divine secret of praise. octave higher.' Upon tkis foundation fact rests The man whose heart is hard, and whose spirit the whole theory of harmony; and it is proved is in rebellion against God, cannot truly sing by mathematical calculation and experience, the hallowed songs of those whose hearts have that tones having such an arithmetical relation