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divine bjmns or songs, I mean the pure word of God, translated without any respect to rhyme or number, after the manner of Lowth's Isaiah, and set to plain, serious, and solemn music, adapted to the sentiments.
It has been observed, by some of the ablest critics, that the spirit of David's psalms, (and the same would Jhol I true of the other poetic parts of scripture,) can never be preserved in a translation of them into modern verse, but in a translation like that in our common Bibles, or that of Lowth's lsaiah,«it is generally allowed, I believe, that the spirit of them is well preserved. Why then do we not set them as they are, to sacred music? It is of a thousand times more importance to preserve the spirit of a psalm, or scripture song, than to have it in numbers, even supposing a uniformity in numbers were of advantage.
What is the reason that Handel's Messiah has had so great an effect 1 It is in part owing to the scriptures appearing in their native majesty, without being tortured into rhyme and number; and set to music adapted to the sentiments. I do not mean to say that Handel's music is in general adapted to divine worship: it was not designed for it; but rather for a company of musicians, who should display their skill. But the same words might be set to plain music, without any of those trappings which recommend it to the attention of a merely musical audience. Such a sweetness and majesty is there in the poetic language of scripture, that if there were nothing offensive in the music it must needs recommend itself to a serious mind. Without disparaging the labours of any one, there is as great a disproportion between onr best compositions and those of the scriptures, as between the speeches of Job and his friends, and the voice of the Almighty.
I am persuaded there are but few, if any divine subjects, upon which a hymn, or song, might not be collected from the poetic parts of scripture. In many instances the whole song might be furnished from a single psalm or chapter: and in others it might be collected from different passages, associated together and properly arranged.
Taken from Rev. 5.
[Redeemed sinners signified by the living creatures and the elders.]
THou artworthy to take the book, And to open the seals thereof: For thou wast slain, And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, Out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God, kings and priests: And we shall reign on the earth. [Thousands of thousands of angels join the song with a loud voice.] Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, To receive power, and riches, and wisdom, And strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing ! [The whole intelligent creation in full chorus.] Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, Be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, And to the Lamb for ever and ever! [Redeemed sinners close the song in humblest prostration.] AMEN.
The first should be sung, I think, with a soft tenor only, rather increasing in vigour and rapidity in the fifth and following lines. The second, in bold, loud, and animated notes ; but not quick. There ought to be a full swell of sound to each of the seven ascriptions. The third, in full chorus; yet not so loud as the second, but more pathetic. The last, in which they who began conclude the song, though it be only one word, yet the notes to it should express a heart full of humility and gratitude.
I said in the cutting off of my days,
* I recollect, some years ago, when in a very dejected state of mind, hearing some turtle-doves cooing to one another. Their mourning notes made a deep impression upon my heart, their tones being, as I suppose, in unison with its feelings. Had I so much skill in music as to compose a tune to this song, I would ingraft the very moan of the turtle to those words, I did mourn as a dove As I do this day. standing of any particular doctrine, that we enter into the connexions in which it is introduced in the scriptures. We have seen, in a former essay, that divine truths are not taught us in a systematical form, and also the wisdom of God in scattering them throughout his word in a variety of practical relations. What these relations are, it becomes us to ascertain: otherwise we may admit the leading truths of revelation as articles of belief, and yet, for want of a close attention to these, may possess but very little scriptureknowledge; and the doctrine which we think we hold may be of very little use to us. ''^When I was a youth, (said a minister lately in conversation,) I admitted many doctrines, but did not feel their importance and practical efficacy."
The father to the children shall make known thy truth.
The Lord was present to save me.
I will conclude with two or three remarks :—(1.) It is impossible, whatever skill a person may have in music, to compose a tune properly, without entering into the spirit of the song.—(2.) It is manifest, from these examples of sacred song, that the original singing was much of it responsive; and that justice cannot otherwise be done to it.—(3.) The criterion of a good tune is, not its pleasing a scientific ear, but its being quickly caught by a congregation. It is, I think, by singing, as it is by preaching : a fine judge of composition will admire a sermon, which yet makes no manner of impression upon the publio mind, and therefore cannot be a good one. That is the best sermon which is adapted to produce the best effects ; and the same may be said of a tune. If it correspond with the feelings, of a pious heart, and aid him in realizing the sentiments, it will be quickly learnt, and sung with avidity. Where this effect is not produced, were I a composer, I would throw aside my performance, and try again.
THE CONNEXIONS IN WHICH THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION IS INTRODUCED IN THE HOLY SCRIPUTRES.
It is generally allowed, that to understand the scriptures, it is necessary to enter into the connexion of what we read : and let it be considered whether it be not equally necessary to the under
It would be a good work for a serious, thinking mind, carefully to inquire into the various connexions in which acknowledged truths are introduced in the scriptures, and the practical purposes to which they are there actually applied. 1 shall take the liberty of offering a brief specimen, with respect to the doctrine of election. The truth of the doctrine I may in this place take for granted, as a matter clearly revealed in the word of God, observing only a few of its principal connexions.
First: It is introduced to declare the source of salvation to be mere grace, or undeserved favour, and to cut off all hopes of acceptance with God by works of any kind.—In this connexion we £nd it in Rom. xi. 5, 6. Even so then, at this present time also, 'there is a remnant according to the election of grace: and if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work. All compromise is here for ever excluded, .and the cause of salvation decidedly and fully ascribed to electing graoe. With this end the doctrine requires to be preached to saints and sinners. To the first, that they may be at no loss to what they shall ascribe their conversion and salvation, but may know, and own with the apostle, that it is by the grace of God they are what they are. To the last, that they may be warned against relying upon their own righteousness, and taught that the only hope of life which remains for them, is in repairing, as lost and