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“ The people sing in answer-
“Hallelujah! &c., &c. “Or the Priest reads—(which is the common use, says the Adjunct)
66. Let us thank and praise the Lord.' 6 And answers himself
"To the Lord be thanks and praise.” The reason for this distinction on the part of the people, making them repeat the responses when sung, which one might think few could do well, and be silent when they were said, when all could answer with lip as well as heart, appears to me most extraordinary.
The service concludes by the Priest saying“ Bow down your hearts unto God, and receive the blessing :” which is given in the form of that of Moses— "The Lord bless thee and keep thee;" the people, it is to be hoped, bowing the heart, but certainly not the knee; for though they always bend the head at the name of Jesus, they sit still, and sit always, as stiff as any descendants of the Covenanters can do. Yet, never were two people much more unlike, except in this one respect, of an uncommon prejudice in favour of their own religion-because it is their own.
I am sure the Swedes will be very angry, if they know I do not like their Psalm-bok; and I know if I say anything against it or anything else that is Swedish, they will say, “She knows nothing at all about it.” But I cannot even get off with this gentle reproof, since my Adjunct has been helping me to discover its beauties, which he of course knows. The fact is there will be, most probably, another alteration in this form of service, which has been already altered so often, that I believe the last compilation is not much more than forty years of age; not so much I think.
The three offices of the Church are Morning Song, High Mass, and Even Song. The vestments worn by the Priests upon officiating at the altar, sometimes contrast strikingly with their appearance at other times.* The Alb, or Surplice, called in Swedish the Mass-shirt, is often trimmed (I speak of the fine churches of the capital) with lace or embroidery; the rich Cope of crimson velvet bears a broad gold cross from top to bottom; and every part of the dress is as rich, and indeed richer, in the National Lutheran Churches, than it is in the Queen's Roman Catholic
* And strangely enough, too, at the same moment. I have seen at Holy Communion, one priest attired as above; and another, who has preached, wearing the black gown.
Chapel. Yet in winter, in one of the largest churches of Stockholm, I saw the Priest in the pulpit wearing only a plain large great coat. I was told he could not get any other robing over it, although the black gown is considered the most important dress; and indeed, in the intense cold of the churches, it was necessary to make himself rather bulky.
The service called High Mass is that which I most like to attend; and I generally come away just when most Swedes like to come in—at sermon time. There is a rather impressive moment at that time too; it is when the priest says “secretly " the Lord's Prayer, while the congregation sit in deep stillness, and he prays to himself, with his face to the altar.
The Swedish version of the commandments is the same as the Roman Catholic; that is to say, regarding the Second Commandment, which we generally say, the latter Church took away in order to be at liberty to worship graven images; but the Swedes have no fancy for graven images, and yet have done the same thing.
The Fourth Commandment also is much shorter, and counted as the Third. “Remember to hallow the rest-day,”and the explanation of its meaning given in the Catechism is We should
fear and love God; so that we despise not preaching and God's word; but consider that holy, hear it willingly, and learn."
So that the Swedes are taught to keep the Sabbath-day as, generally, they do keep it,—that is, in deeming it right to go to church in the morning, whether they do go or not; and in spending the rest of the day (both priests and people) as their opportunities or inclinations allow or dictate; in smoking, or playing bagatelle or backgammon, as I have seen country Parsons do; in knitting and “laying Patience,” like my old hostess; in feasting, walking, driving, dancing, going to the lesser theatres or the royal opera, and many et ceteras. Yet a Komminister of that Church has lately written the words which have just now met my eyes, and which I transcribe here. “Although,” he says, “the Swedish Church has outwardly much remaining which owns a Catholic basis, and would not willingly renounce such, still we are of opinion that with respect to its actual teaching (and this is, after all, the chief thing in our church), it stands on a completely Biblical, or Protestant, and not on a Catholic basis."
And is it to Biblical or Protestant teaching that what we, English Protestants, term “Sabbath desecration” is then to be traced ? Is what in France we trace to a Popish origin, to be traced in Sweden to a Biblical and Protestant one ? Alas! how the mind gets perplexed by such vain contradictions ! England and Sweden both appealing to the Bible and Protestantism ! Does the Protestant teaching of the Swedish Church tend to the omission of the Second Commandment, which we say no Church would give up which did not want to worship images? What strife of words, of tongues, of pens, has raged among us on such questions ! Who then would remove from the true Catholic basis whereon, only, the mind can find rest? That basis has not been removed from the English Church; may she never remove from it!
In fact, if Biblical teaching be the basis of the Swedish Church, it must be lamented that the Bible itself is but little used by its members ; a corroborative proof of which may be found in the nickname of Läsare, or Reader, given to those persons who have turned their minds more to serious religion and Bible reading. I have visited houses in almost all parts of Sweden, from south to north; everywhere, almost in the poorest, I have found a Psalm-book; seldom, seldom indeed, have I seen a Bible. Ask the Priests to give you information as to the benefits obtained by the