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SONGS OF PILGRIMAGE.
THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST.
BY H. L. HASTINGS.
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.-Psalm exix. 54.
SCRIPTURAL TRACT REPOSITORY:
H. L. HASTINGS,
MARSHALL BROS., AGENTS,
BOSTON, U. S. A. No. 47, CORNHILL. LONDON: No. 10, PATERNOSTER ROW.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
Sacred song is a divine gift. It is God our Maker who giveth songs both in the night and in the day; and melodious strains have ever proclaimed his glory and his grace.
The first recorded instance of singing by the people of God, celebrated the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; but the manner in which that song was sung gives evidence that among the children of Israel praise was no strange exercise. The Israelites were not novices in sacred worship, nor were instruments of music lacking on that occasion. The monuments of Egypt show that instrumental music was known in that ancient land; and in the still earlier account of the descendants of Cain, we find that instruments of music occupied a prominent position, being perhaps a perversion of some still earlier institution of worship. For the existence of sacred music can be traced beyond the bounds of human experience, to that hour when God laid the foundations of the earth, "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." The Scriptures perpetually represent the hosts of heaven as uniting in joyous and majestic song; and the advent of the Son of God to our world brought myriad hosts of shining ones to sing above his manger-cradle their anthems of celestial praise.
The worship in which our Saviour joined during his earthly sojourn, was largely the worship of song. The last act of his ministry was to sing a hymn with his disciples; and his eternal triumph will be celebrated by anthems of praise rising from every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth, when "in the midst of the church" He shall lead the strain of adoration, and give praise and glory unto God.
An exercise which thus antedate all human history, and which shall be perpetuated when heaven and earth shall have passed away, is not a matter of slight concern to mortals, whose songs, though mingled with sighs and tears, are not only reminiscences of celestial anthems that have floated down from worlds of light and joy, but also preludes to that higher and holier service when saints redeemed shall sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
Christians are especially a singing people. Eighteen hundred years ago, Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, wrote to the Emperor Trajan, that the Christians "were wont to meet together on a stated day, before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God;" and still earlier than that, the apostle declared, "I will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also," and exhorted his brethren to unite in "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord. And through all the subsequent ages of storm and sorrow, persecution and trial, conflict and victory, the voice of rejoicing has been in the tabernacles of the righteous,
and the new song has arisen from the lips of those whom Christ has redeemed by his blood.
It is not a light matter to undertake to prepare praises for the Most High, and thus guide the worship of the people of the Lord; and there should be good reasons to justify manuals of song now in existence. The reasons may best be inferred from certain general observations concerning the exercise of
PRAISE IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP.
True Christian praise rests upon the firm foundation of genuine conversion to God. The feet must be on the Rock before the new song is put in the mouth. The hesitating heart can only utter hesitating and half-hearted songs. But when unbelief is vanquished, and doubt gives place to confidence, and when faith embraces a living Christ, and hails him, crying, “My Lord and my God!" then the believer can sing in lofty strains, "We praise thee, O God, we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting."
The songs of God's people from the earliest ages have usually been occasional. The song of the Israelites on the banks of the Red Sea; the Psalms of David in trial and in triumph; the sighs of the Jewish exiles by the rivers of Babylon, and the songs of the ransomed captives as they returned and came to Zion; were suggested by their surroundings and their experiences. Thus the changeful fortunes of the church have ever inspired prayer and praise among the people of God, and again and again has been heard the joyous cry, "Oh, sing unto the Lord a new song.'
The progress of divine light and truth in the world has ever been marked by fresh outbursts of praise; and wherever souls have been redeemed from darkness, ignorance, and sin, they have not ceased to sing and give thanks unto God, translating as well as they might into their own dialects the sacred strains which Israel's Psalmist sang; and also expressing in their own words the joyous emotions which spring up in the hearts of the redeemed of the Lord.
Hence in all languages where the name of Christ is known, men have prepared praises for the Most High, and new hymns and songs are perpetually rising in honor of his name. These it is true are often of unequal merit, and inadequate to the theme, but He who out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hath perfected praise, graciously deigns to accept the humble strain of many a lowly disciple, which, while giving honor to the Most High, also cheers the hearts of those who love and serve him.
Mercies that are new every morning demand perpetual songs of praise; and the renewing of the soul by divine grace ever awakens "thanksgiving and the voice of melody." He who 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 power of Jesus' name." These hymns were then all in existence, but while hundreds of compositions thought worthy of insertion in that book are disused and forgotten, these three rejected hymns are now perhaps the most widely known of any in the English language. The judgment of any individual weighs little in directing the worship and praise of the Church of Christ. Hence under a due sense of responsibility, it has seemed right to send forth these new hymns, committing them to the providence
Thus from age to age the tide of song rolls on, fed by the countless springs that break forth in desert sands; and thus new hymns are sent forth, and new collections are formed, each of which should furnish in its own character a reason or excuse for its existence. What then
THE OBJECT OF THIS COMPILATION?
In preparing this manual of sacred song, the compiler has endeavored, First, to collect from 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 mary 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 of voices from generation to generation. Such hymns have been written, some of them by unknown authors. But though the world forget the singer they will not soon forget the song. For the purposes of public worship, poetic compositions frequently require both
REVISION AND ABRIDGMENT.
Second, he has endeavored to seek out and gather from original sources, other hymns and tunes of standard authors, which from various causes have fallen into disuse, and are less familiar, though perhaps not less meritorious, than others, and, which by careful abridgment and revision it is hoped may be rescued from oblivion and again made useful in the Churches of Christ.
This frequently done by the authors them
Third, 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 bring hymns into closer correspondence with that "word of Christ," which should dwell in us richly, as a preparation for speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Hymns also written for special and local occasions are by slight revision adapted to wider and more permanent usefulness.
Fourth, with these are included a number of original hymns and tunes, which are sent forth with some sense of the responsibility incurred either in publishing or withholding them. Hymns from the same source, previously printed, have been caught up, republished in various collections, and widely sung. The reception of those contained in this collection cannot be foreseen. But while many remain unpublished, it has seemed proper to issue these, especially as through the compactness of its mechanical arrangement, the book, though containing some five hundred hymns not be found in other collections, still remains portable in form and moderate in price. The unfamiliar hymns by well-known and standard authors need neither apology nor recommendation; and if among the new hymns there shall one be discovered which the Church of God "will not willingly let die," it will be a justification for the existence of this volume, and an occasion of devout thanksgiving to Him who is both the source and the object of the songs of his people.
Which one among all these new hymns may thus prove useful and acceptable, cannot now be decided. Perhaps few persons have been better judges of the value of hymns than John and
Needless alterations are objectionable, especially in familiar hymns; yet Dr. Watts in the preface to his hymns distinctly says, unpleasing word is found, he that leads the worship may substitute a better, for blessed be God, we are not confined to the words of any man in our public assemblies." And John Wesley, though he objected to the alterations made by certain ignorant and incompetent compilers, did not object to improvements in hymns, for he himself repeatedly altered the hymns of others, including those of Dr Watts and of his own father; and some of his improvements have been generally accepted by succeeding editors. No competent critic would advise a return to some of the discarded forms of old hymns, and some who earnestly object to alterations in hymns, are really objecting to the original forms, which have been restored, in place of the alterations to which they had accustomed themselves.
been touched and melted and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost. To the wicked God saith, "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee." Psalm 1. 16, 17.
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF MUSIC.
HYMNS AND MUSIC.
Various elements enter into sacred music. First, there is melody, a succession of musical sounds rising and falling, thus avoiding the dullness of monotone, and expressing the vari
Articulate sounds express thought; musical sounds express emotion. The thoughts embodied in sacred poetry may be comprehended at a glance by appreciative readers, but musical notes are silent to most ears, until the voice takes them up and translates them and the emotions they represent. Hence, sacred song, combining both words and music, represents and conveys Christian thought and Christian feeling; thought being conveyed by the distinct enunciation of the written words, while emotion is expressed by the utterance of musical tones. If 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 upper skies? of the human heart when elated or quickened by joy, or depressed by grief and anxiety. This explains why aged persons, whose hearts throb slowly, prefer slow and solid strains of music, while young people, with bounding pulses and vigorous health, prefer a livelier and quicker succession of musical notes.
It is not claimed that devout poesy or devotional music can never rise except from the hearts of true Christians. Many whose lives are far from the Christian ideal, yet are not utterly devoid of worthy and holy aspirations. Even a Saul was once among the prophets; a Balaam, uttering exalted strains of sacred poetry, could say, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his;" and other men, whose lives have by no means been patterns of Christian obedience, have sometimes sent forth strains of song worthy of devout and faithful hearts; being for the time illuminated by that "Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding: and many a soul not yet liberated from the thralldom of sin, when prompted by the Divine Spirit, has uttered passionate longings for deliverance from bondage, and yearnings for the glorious liberty of the sons of God. But, as a rule, it may be safely said that they only can truly sing God's praise who sing with grace in their hearts. An undevout astronomer is mad, but an undevout worshiper is an impossibility. The vulture cannot warble like the lark, nor the owl pour forth the song of the nightingale. No one can truly sing unto God who does not adore the Most High. No mere artistic training of voice or touch can compass the divine secret of praise. The man whose heart is hard, and whose spirit is in rebellion against God, cannot truly sing the hallowed songs of those whose hearts have
As this connection of time with melody has its foundation in the human constitution, and in the very sources of human life, it is impossible that all should be equally pleased with the same music; the joyous emotions of the young and vigorous, the sedate and stately movements of the mature and strong, and the more depressing emotions of the feeble and melancholy, being expressed by music appropriate to the character and condition of each, thus causing a demand for music of varied character, and requiring the exercise of consummate skill to find the golden mean, where varying tastes may compromise and harmonize, under the influence of that "grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and with godly fear."
Another element of music is harmony, which is based upon the fact that certain sounds, differing in pitch, when heard simultaneously, yield pleasure to the susceptible or cultivated ear. a musical tone C be produced by a string which vibrates 264 times each second, a shorter string, producing twice as many vibrations in a second, i. e. 528, will give the same note an octave higher. Upon this foundation fact rests the whole theory of harmony; and it is proved by mathematical calculation and experience, that tones having such an arithmetical relation