« PreviousContinue »
organ; and the “learned” Benchers thought they had done the right thing; but it was still left an imperfect, ill-balanced instrument, utterly incapable of having ordinary organ-music performed on it. That the Benchers should have allowed the celebrated Temple organ to have been so dealt with, is the strongest possible evidence of their entire ignorance both of music and musical instruments, and of their duty as trustees for the Societies. As an illustration of this absurd waste of money, and the obvious imperfections of these improvements, it is within our knowledge that when Mendelssohn was in England, he was invited to play on some of the finer organs in London, and amongst others he was asked to try that of the Temple ; but, on being informed what was its scale and arrangement, he peremptorily refused even to look at it. The most renowned organist in Germany, Hesse, did afterwards come and look at the celebrated instrument, but disdained to touch it; remarking, that to play organ-music on such a thing was ganz und gar unmöglich. As time went on the Banchers seem to have been better informed; and during the last few years, and at the cost of several hundred pounds more, the instrument has been at last rendered so far complete, that we believe an organist may henceforth venture to play on it music written for the organ. The clever devices which we frequently heard Mr. Hopkins resort to before these last improvements were made, in order to cover the defects of the instrument, were very amusing. With two or three hundred pounds more, properly laid out, we might obtain what the church ought to and could possess—viz., a complete instrument which we might be proud of. A late addition to the works is the beautiful hydraulic machine which works the bellows; for it is a remarkable fact that the bellows are now worked from the source of the New River in the Eastern counties.
We may in passing remark, that the “raryetie” of the quarter notes is merely a musician's conceit; practically they are of no
; The organ is now, we think, tuned in equal temperament, like the piano; and, even if it were not, the two additional tones introduced within each octave would be as great an evil as benefit on the whole. This addition of two pipes in each octave through
out all the stops, adds one-sixth more to the number of the pipes. Being curious, however, they have been retained throughout all the alterations and improvements of the instrument.
In connection with the musical service of the church, the story of the Anthem Book is worth recollecting. For some time the congregation did without any books, but in 1845 a special edition was prepared for the use of the church ; we believe the late Mr. Burge volunteered to edit the collection. As it is now withdrawn from use, we should not refer to it as being certainly the very worst collection ever made, if it were not to give another, though it be but trifling, example of the folly, squandering, ignorance, and presumption of those who assume the direction and management of the affairs of the hon. Societies. This edition was printed by Pickering, and affected to be every thing that it was not. The Benchers, however, at last actually found out that the defects of the Anthem Book were intolerable, and they ordained that a new edition of " Anthems, Psalms, and Hynons, for the use of the Temple Church,” should be prepared ; for doubt it was thought that such a body as that of the Templars ought, in a literary point of view, to command an edition as perfect as possible; so in 1856 a new book of Psalmody was ordered. The part devoted to anthems is very fairly executed in this latter edition, so far as we have observed, and it probably answers the purpose of the congregation very well; but the psalms and hymns have been collected and edited with extreme carelessness, gross ignorance, and bad taste. Carelessness is exhibited in the printing,' and in extracting from unauthentic sources the psalms and hymns; the ignorance is evinced in the editor not knowing the vast field of English sacred song; and bad taste by omissions and insertions, as well as in alteration of the originals. Not only in a literary sense is the collection absurd, but, musically, it is beneath contempt.
As examples of crassa ignorantia of the first principles of psalmody, we quote the following lines, in which musical rhythm
1 We see it was taken to Scotland to be printed. Who was the clever instigator of this :
would require the words, when sung, to be accentuated as is indicated:
« Authòr of faith, eternal Word,” No. 489.
Pardòn, and holiness, and heaven," Id.
&c., &c., &c., &c. Next we will illustrate, by a few casual examples, the utter incompetence of the editor of the psalm and bymn department in other points.
At page 204 there is a hymn numbered 541, said to have been found in “ Wesley's collection.” This so-called hymn consists in reality of five verses of a psalm known to every charity-boy (Psalm 106, new version). The attentive reader will, in fact, find this hymn repeated in the collection, being, with a slight variation, again placed among the psalms at page 243.
The hymn 492, also taken from Wesley's collection, is nothing else than an outrage upon religious feeling and poetical sense. We omit for obvious reasons the first three verses. The last verse is as follows:
“God is in heaven, and man below :
Be short our tunes, our words be few !
And praise sits silent on our tongues.” How appropriate is the second line after a choral service of an hour and a half's duration, and before a sermon which it would be unamiable to say we had ever timed ! The rest of the verse requires no comment.
One of the finest of our English psalm tunes is Handel's * There are in this collection of hymns at least half a dozen in which the word “ Father" occurs thus wrongly accentuated. Was the editor aware that this hymn, No. 491, and some others in the book, attributed by him to Steele, are not the composition of Sir Richard, but of the devout Mrs. Steele ?
it would have been judicious to have intimated the fact. * The nearest approach towards rendering the last two lines musically, was attempted by the organist on a late occasion, by his suddenly shutting off at this part all the stops but one.
Hanover,” to which, however, owing to its peculiar rhythm, one psalm only can be properly sung-viz. the 149th. The sagacious, editor has given but one verse of this with the Gloria Patri. The sharpest curate in London could not shift his vestments, attend to his private devotions, and slip his sermon-case out of his pocket, before the time was exhausted which this abbreviated psalm could occupy. We presume the fastidious selector of spiritual
song for the honourable Societies objected to the phrase in the second verse of the psalm, in which the worshipper is enjoined to extol the deity "in the dance.” If so, the same delicate sense of
s the offensive in poetry should have induced the omission at p. 193 of
6. The barren wilderness shall smile
With sudden greens." As an example of the frequent carelessness in punctuation, we may refer to the second verse of the Advent hymn--always difficult to read or sing, but here made worse than meaningless by the full stop after the fourth line.
“Every eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty ;
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing. Amen." As Wesley's collection has afforded so much material to the editor, or the committee of Benchers, or the beadle, or whoever (modestly concealing his name) undertook the supervision of the book, why were not a few more added to suit all tastes, and all shades of doctrine ? Thus, for the suspected Socinian there might have been introduced the hymn
« Lord thou art one, and only one,
Let the heathen say what they like,” &c. &c. The next Sunday the orthodox Trinitarian might have his hymn taken from the same collection, in which occurs the beautiful prayer
66 The Unitarian fiend expel,
And hurl him howling down to hell.” 1 1 In the collection in which we have seen this hymn, the line runs we think somewhat differently, thus" And drive his doctrine back to hell,"_Ed. L. M, and R.
Another hymn, quite worthy of the Temple collection, and which we commend to the editor for a supplement, begins, if we remember right
- Father of all,
Of old and young, Thanksgivings accept from a stammering tongue,” &c., &c. It would be tedious to enumerate further the blunders committed throughout all this part of the volume. The omissions of almost all that is beautiful in English sacred song is flagrant, and the insertion of the poor and paltry is lndicrous. The puerilities of Dr. Watts exceedingly abound; so much so, indeed, that it
1 was suggested that a few more of his would make the volume, at all events, far more complete. How edifying it would be, for example, to hear a bench full of sessions counsel, who have been quarrelling the whole previous week with each other and the chairman, singing forth
“Let dogs delight to bark and bite ! ” or a few hard-working, grubbing, money-making conveyancers and pleaders, soberly moving their lips as the choir sang
“ How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour!" Not only the absurdities of Watts and Wesley, but specimens of the antiquated nonsense of the new version, are also ingeniously here collected.
As if the miserable blunders in the inside of the new “Anthem Book” was not enough, the intelligent managers of the business contrived one on the outside. It was desired to stamp the symbol of the Middle Temple on the binding. A sagacious Bencher (of the Inner Temple, we believe) forthwith orders a die to be made for the purpose. A stupid, spurious design is adopted, most offensive to heraldic learning, and therewith all the books are stamped, and beautifully gilt. When this in due course was detected, each copy was sent back to the binder, and the
1 Something was the matter with a foreleg of the lamb, and its flags were not right. The old die was all the time lying in the office.
VOL. VIII. NO. XVI.