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sic which, while it enlivens and animates the affections, shall be freed from every unhallowed and unpleasant association.
We proceed, as proposed, to point out some of the excelle of the Spiritual Songs," and show its appropriateness to condition of the church at the present time.
1. It contains much new and original malter.
This of itself, indeed, would not be sufficient to commend a b to the christian public. If the matter it contains is not good, as we new and original, its benefit to the public cannot of course be last We regard this, however, as one important excellency of the b before us. In this book-making age, the most that has hereto been attempted by the publishers of music, it would seem, i publish and re-publish the very identical tunes over and o again. Every new editor would present a long list of tunes, best, indeed, that the world has ever seen,) but such as already, for the most part, contained in all the principal collect of sacred music. Old Hundred serves for the introduction, Mear the next, then St. Thomas, and so on; all of which are confesse good old tunes. But we do not wish to be reminded continua of their excellence, by every editor of music throughout length and breadth of the land. We are unwilling to think, some seem to do, that the golden age of music is already passe and that nothing but the relics of antiquity are fit for the use the churches, or for that of private christians.
The plan heretofore proposed, of publishing old tunes, and su only as were designed for a full choir, has been, in our opinio one principal obstacle to the cultivation of the science of sacrt music. Such tunes as were adapted to the private use of chri tians, were, for the most part, already known; and such as were de signed for a choir, and consequently but ill-adapted to private use the common people had no desire to learn. Consequently but fer persons can now be found, who have sufficient knowledge of th science to enable them to sing any other than the most commoi tunes, with which they have long been familiar. Had a differen course, however, been pursued; had the new books, as they ap peared, contained new and soul-stirring music, many would have been eager to learn.
The truth of this remark is, we think, fully substantiated, by the reception which the Spiritual Songs meets with among the more intelligent part of the community. Not a few there are within our own knowledge, now learning to sing, who, had it not been for this book, would have remained in ignorance of the principles of the science. Should editors of music, therefore, now pursue the plan commenced by Messrs. Hastings and Mason in this little volume, of giving to the public their own productions, the period would doubtless soon arrive, when the inore intelligent of
christian assemblies would be able to sing, at sight, plain music, as readily as they now are to read the English language. We do not think this a merely possible case, but we ask, whether such a state of things is not to be expected ?
2. The character of the music. We think that no one who caims the sensibilities common to man, can listen to some of the lules contained in this little volunie, without being struck at once, 10 less with the exceeding richness of their harmony, than with the simplicity and elegance of their movement. The facility and ease with which a tune may be sung, is, in our opinion, no small Excellence in any piece of music. We would not be understood, bowever, to intimate that this characteristic is common alike to all the music of this volume; for we have found the harmony of some of the pieces evidently too fine and delicate to admit of any other than the most perfect intonation in singing. But when the intonation is thus perfect, the effect is enrapturing. Among tunes of this latter class, we might mention such as “The Cross," Blake," and some others. These tunes, it will perhaps be found, are too fine for popular purposes. If, however, our prophecy should prove untrue, (as we most sincerely hope that it may, we think composers will need no longer to complain of the public Laste as being corrupt, or its standard too low.
On the other hand, we might mention tunes of another class, which, unless we are greatly deceived, will be found to possess peculiar excellences for common uses. Among these we will specify, " The Lord is my Shepherd,” “Rock of ages," " In this calm impressive hour,” “The Judgment seat,” “Thou art gone to the grave.” These tunes, as well as many others which might be mentioned, will doubtless be admitted to possess a high degree of chasteness, as well as of simplicity of character, such as must render them adapted for social as well as more public worship.
3. Again, Many of its tunes were written expressly for the social prayer meeting and for family worship. It must rejoice the heart of every devout worshiper, to find in this volume, music adapted to his private wants as well as public. We have often had occasion to grieve at the practical neglect of this part of yorship, both in the family devotions and in social prayer meeings. How
very few are the families in which, occasionally eren, in their devotional exercises, is raised the song of praise to their heavenly Father! Do christians know, are they aware low much interest is lost by such neglect of singing in their woship? Are they conscious of the happy tendency of music upou all the finer feelings of the soul ?-how it is adapted to check and restrain the turbulent passions of the young ?-to soften and reine the social, as well as the moral feelings? We doubt not that if the practice of singing at family worship were more common, christians would
more frequently experience something of those joys which ti the hearts of saints on high, when they raise their song of grat praise to redeeming love. We hail this book, therefore, as be in our opinion, peculiarly adapted to christian worship, both pu and private.
4. Another excellence of this collection over others with wl we are acquainted, is the peculiar adaptation of the tunes to hymns in which they are designed to be sung. By this we do mean, that any hymn has a tune adapted to its meter merely, we refer to an adaptation of a higher kind. There are many hytwhich
be sung in the same music. But it is questiona whether the different states of mind which two different hymns, verses of the same hymn, require, can be produced by the sa melody, or harmony; any more than the sentiments and ideas those iwo verses can be fully expressed in reading, by the sa accent, emphasis, and inflections of voice. This is a point whit so far as its philosophy is concerned, has hitherto received but I tle attention. We are the more desirous, therefore, to awaken i interest upon this subject in the public mind.
In some of the music contained in the volume before us, we a happy to find the principles of this adaptation of which we spea very beautifully illustrated. But whether this coincidence of sout with sense, or feeling, is the result of mere chance, or as som would say, the promptings of genius, concerning which no rule can be given, it is not our intention here to inquire; though w hope to be able, in another place, to exhibit some at least of th principles on which this adaptation, or power of music, rests; an show that rules may be given for this, as well as for every othe. branch of science.
The tunes to which we refer as being peculiarly expressive of the sentiment of their appropriate hymns, are “The Cross," “Solitude," “ The Lord is my Shepherd,” “Go forth on wings," “The Judgment seat.” It may be interesting here to examine some one or more of these, and discover, if we are able, wherein the peculiar excellence consists. The first mentioned tune in this list, we think, cannot be well performed, by note even, without producing a state of mind in the auditor similar to that produced by realing the hymn, or by the contemplation of the dying agonies of our Redeemer. Yet when the hymn itself is sung, and the faind has something on which to rest and meditate, the coincideace of the music with the hymn is at once perceived and felt. Now we seem to see the cross with the bleeding Savior stretched upon it; to hear his groans, and in his agony to behold his languid eye fxed upon his murderers; and in compassion and love we hear him saying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,”—“I die that they may live.”
The next tune which we would mention as possessing this peculiar excellence, is “ Solitude.” In this piece there is not only the sine adaptation of sound to the subject, but there is also a pecula beauty and elegance in the melody of the air, as well as a neliness of harmony between the different parts, which we think cannot fail to please.
We mentioned “The Judgment seat," as another example of this effect. We were the more interested with this tune, on account of its subject being the same with that of another tune hearing the same name, and which is much used in some parts of the country, in seasons of deep religious attention, but which to our own ear is always offensive. This offense arose from the incongruity of the character and movement of the tune with the awful solemnity of the subject. We think, that no person of corfact taste can have heard the tune now referred to, without experiencing feelings similar to those which we have expressed; and were be to hear on a similar occasion the tune in this book, written for that subject, he could never be greatly desirous, we think, to hear the former again. It would seem impossible, indeed, that my person of correct taste and common judgment, could, after a mordent's reflection, suspect even, that such a prancing tune had ever been composed for so sacred and serious a subject, as is that of the judgment. It gives us peculiar pleasure, therefore, to find in this book a tune which may take precedence of that, and which is at the same time so well adapted to popular use, as we think this tube will prove to be. We might proceed in this way in pointing out this coincidence of expression between the tune and its byman, but we refer the reader to the book, where he may judge for himself.
The remainder of this article we will devote to some remarks upon such topics, in relation to the science of music, as are indeed of less general attraction; but which, we hope, may still not prove unintelligible, and altogether devoid of interest, to many of our readers.
1. We would direct the attention, therefore, first, to some of the elements which so enter into the composition of a tune, as properly to express the sentiments of any particular subject.
That certain progressions of musical sounds are adapted to express and excite certain emotions of mind, is obvious to every one who has the least ear for music, and who has given the subject the slightest attention ; nor can it be doubted that a given piece of lyrical poetry demands a given melody, as necessarily as a given reading, for the clear and striking expression of its varying sentiments. This adaptation of musical expression to sentiment, may be clearly seen by examining and comparing some of the tunes of eminent masters.
This expression of sentiment depends on various elements, which a given progression of sounds may be analysed. In en ing upon such an analysis, we will found our remarks on hy! contained in the Spiritual Songs.
We commence with that beautiful hymn, "Rock of ages,' will endeavor to discover what those principles are which sho govern the composer in the adaptation of his music to this hyr His first object, then, is, to determine whether the subject of hymn requires the major or the minor mode. The peculiar char ter of these two modes is so well known, that he would scarcely liable to mistake in deciding this question. And here it mayı be improper to institute a brief inquiry into the principal cause this difference of effect in these two modes.
It may be remarked, in the first place, that there are certi sounds which are common both to the major and the minor mode These are the tonic, its octave, its fifth, and its fourth. If, thes fore, an air was to be composed, into wbich no other sounds shou enter but these, it would possess the character neither of the or nor of the other of these modes. Indeed, it would be impossibi to determine what the mode would be. Consequently the peculi character possessed by each of the two modes, must depend upo some one or more of the other notes of the scale, in addition those already mentioned; for these aforementioned notes are es sentials (or at least some of them,) in every tune.
If, therefore, to these essential notes already mentioned, ani added, in the one case, a note which shall have its pitch of soune a major third above the tonic; and in a second case, a note a minor third above the tonic; and if airs are now formed of these two classes of notes, which differ from each other only in their thirds, we shall perceive a very striking and marked difference in these two airs.
Another, and to some minds a still more striking difference in the two modes, is caused by the change of the upper of the two semi-tones in the ascending scale of the minor mode. This semitone, which, in the descending scale, occurs between the fifth and sixth degrees of the scale, is found in the ascending scale between the seventh and eighth degrees.
The peculiar effect of this change will appear obvious to any one who will take the trouble to sing or play accurately any deeply pathetic minor air, in which the seventh of the ascending scale frequently occurs, which in such case is always sharped a semi-tone. In the first instance, let the seventh be played sharp, and in the second, not sharp, and he cannot fail to perceive the peculiar difference between the two. The next subject requiring the attention of the composer
, after having decided upon the mode best adapted to the hymn, might be the selection of a key in which to write his music.