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4. Sacred Harmony, 396 pages, by Lane & Tippett, 1848. 5. Devotional Harmonist, 424 pages, by Lane & Scott, 1849. 6. Hymns and Tunes, Hoyt, 224 pages, by Carlton & Porter, 1853.
7. Lute of Zion, 351 pages, by Carlton & Porter and Huntington, 1853.
8. New Lute of Zion, 368 pages, by Carlton & Porter and Huntington, 1856.
9. Hymn and Tune Book, 368 pages, by Carlton & Porter, 1857.
10. Cottage Melodies, 320 pages, by Carlton & Porter, 1859. 11. Church Singer, 418 pages, by Carlton & Porter, 1863. 12 and 13. Sunday-School Harmonist and Singer, Carlton & Porter, 1863-4.
On what principle Gould, in his "History of Church Music in America," published in 1853, omitted the "Harmonist," "Sacred Harmony," "Devotional Harmonist," and "Lute of Zion" from his "List of Collections of Sacred Music in the United States since 1810," we cannot divine, as these works all contain "over three hundred pages each," the only limit by which he professed to be guided in his selection.
Moore's Encyclopedia of Music, 1854, under the head Psalmody, gives a large and exhaustive list of American publications, in which, of all the successive issues of the Book Room above named, only one finds a place, and that is the edition of the "Methodist Harmonist," bearing the imprint 1831. "David's Companion," which Leach's forty-seven original tunes might have rescued from the tomb of the Capulets, is ignored: "Watchman" might have acted the part of a lifepreserver to the name and fame of poor Leach, as "China" and "Windham" have done for Swan and Reed. The entire "Harmonist" family, the sole musical progeny of the Methodist press for thirty years, are put aside as contemptible compilations, with not even a "Leach" to save them from oblivion.
Yet this entire series of publications abounds in substantial music. No books in the country are freer from "fugue tunes" or "ballad airs." Whatever Wesley may have thought of light airs he abominated fugues. Fugues were the passion of the last age. Hogarth ascribes the decline in the music of the Romish Church to their abandonment in this. However suited
to the organ and the sublime genius of Sebastian Bachs, they are doubtless ill-fitted for Church singing. Wesley was right in his appreciation of them. The day of their supremacy has been styled the "dark ages" of American Church music. The fugues of Billings and his successors were vicious compositions. Instead of being single melodies, sustained, in whatever clef they might chance to take refuge, by the other parts as an accompaniment, they were really three or four separate and independent melodies moving side by side, with very little reference to the laws of harmonic combination, "each part," says Billings, "straining for mastery and victory," "now the solemn bass, next the manly tenor, now the lofty counter, now the volatile treble, now here, now there, now here again: rush on, ye sons of harmony!" How truthfully this description applies, those distracting medleys of separate airs, "Ocean," "Sherburne," "Exhortation," once so popular, evidence. There is no doubt that these lively fugues were a wonderful improvement upon the drawling psalmody which they displaced, and they are certainly more soul-stirring than the insipid harmonizations that, without "air" enough to entitle them to the breath of life, have been called "tunes" during the last generation. Most of these flat compositions deserve the fate of the anthem submitted for criticism by Dr. Green to Handel. "Did you say it wanted air?" said the composer. "Yes," replied Handel, "and so I threw it out of the window."
To some of these wild and rousing fugues the Methodists have given countenance by extensive use; but in this they only shared in the partiality of the whole country for this species of music, until changing times changed the fashion and brought in other modes, which in their turn will one day give way to newer if not higher styles.
During the last thirty years, the Methodists have been extensive patrons of the new books and new modes with which the country has been flooded. A "singing school" has been an annual necessity with every society, and a "new book" as great a necessity as the school. Every important orchestra in the country has stacks of discarded books, each best in its turn, and each forced to give place to the latest novelty. The sprightly melodies of Hastings, and the not over-original compositions of that great musical editor and engineer, Mason, are
everywhere familiar with Methodist congregations. In one respect the adoption of outside musical publications has had an injurious tendency. The Methodist hymn book has forty particular meters, a large number of which are found in no other collection of hymns, and for which no compiler makes provision, unless he is arranging music expressly for the Methodists. A large number of his pages are of no use to any other denomination, and by as much as his book is improved for their specialuse it is injured for general circulation. Many of Wesley's finest hymns, in particular meters, are lost for two reasons: first, the use of outside publications; secondly, the tunes with which they are associated in our own books are utterly unworthy of the poetry. In the ordinary meters, long, common, and short, there is no lack of tunes. The felt want is in the domain of the particular meters. Where these meters are common with those of the German and English hymnists there is no lack; but where they become peculiarly Wesleyan there is a chasm which no one has yet successfully bridged. From Handel and Battishill down to the "W's" and "Y's" of the Hymn Tune Book no composer has yet struck the popular vein, and given undying music to some of the most beautiful strains of Charles Wesley's muse. Had his son Samuel, one of the "greatest of English musicians," instead of writing services for the Church of England and masses for the pope of Rome, caught the celestial fire of his father's lyrics and set them to music for the common people, his biographers might not perhaps have written of "great talents lost to the world," "a memorable example of an abortive vocation," "name and works extin- . guished with his life."+
It is extremely doubtful whether many of these Wesleyan songs will ever be worthily set to music. For want of better tunes the people have set popular airs to many of them; and though these airs may be objectionable on account of vulgar origin or secular associations, they are infinitely preferable to the flat compositions in remote meters, made to hire, that disfigure our note books. It seems to be fated that words and music shall never be properly associated in this world. Fulk Greville, the patron of Dr. Burney, once "wondered at the extraordinary phenomenon of a union of sense with sound." + Schoelcher.
Mendelssohn's beautifully-wrought-out conception of " songs without words" seems almost a satire upon songs with words. Poetical inspiration and musical are essentially different, and, when of equal force, seldom take the same channel or expend themselves upon the same theme. In dramatic music it is seldom that the names of a great poet and a great musician are combined. There are few Metastasios. If the music is grand, ten to one the libretto is nonsense; if the words are poetry, the music falters. Milton's Comus will live forever; the music with which it was furnished by Lawes and Arne has already perished forever. The nearest approach to the sublime in the union of sense and sound is found in Handel's oratorios, the themes of which are taken from the words of inspiration, and the music itself often seems inspired. Yet this musical Briareus, who, when composing that most wonderful of terrestrial harmonies, the Halleluiah Chorus, "saw all heaven before him and the great God himself," when called on to give to saved millions a little song that should sing in the heart through all time, in that yearning outgush of Charles Wesley's experience "O love divine, how sweet thou art!" failed utterly.
That incomparable hymn is yet tuneless, and perhaps, like Milton's Comus, will always remain so; but it is one of those heart-songs that the Christian masses will sing, though compelled to borrow for its musical expression a ditty from the nearest bagpiper.
Charles Wesley's "Wrestling Jacob" is yet tuneless. "Jesus, lover of my soul," has found its way into all the hymn books in the world, but has yet to find a suitable musical companion. The new year's hymn, "Come, let us anew our journey pursue," is yet balladized. So are scores of beautiful hymns that we need not now particularize. One of the facts in the life of the great English musician Battishill is that he "condescended (!) to set to music a collection of Charles Wesley's hymns." The hymns live, but where is the music that cost the great composer such a self-denying piece of condescension that his biographer must give it to the world as one of the events of his existence!
Methodism has had one of the greatest hymnists in the world; will it ever know a musical genius of equal capacity and equal spirituality? We fear not. Musicians, like poets,
aspire at once to the epic and dramatic, oblivious to the consideration that a successful lyric may immortalize. “The Burial of Sir John Moore" and the "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" will be repeated when Southey's ponderous epics are forgotten. A cabinet chef d'œuvre is preferable to West's square acres of battle and allegory. Christian lyrics are cherished by millions who know nothing of Dante or Milton. The simple chorals of the Church are sung by myriads who never heard of Pergolesi or Haydn or Rossini. Yet poets will not stoop to lyrics, musicians will not stoop to chorals, and psalmody is left to the mercy of dullness or mediocrity; yet neither dullness nor mediocrity is aware that it requires as much genius and talent to compose a choral of four lines as an anthem of twenty pages. A canon of six bars was the composition Haydn sent to the University of Oxford as a test of his musical science when a candidate for the degree of doctor in music. Yet the world is full to-day of mediocre tune-mongers, who think it the simplest thing in the world to "make a tune," who, having thrown together some of the musical phrases floating in the brain of the century as common property, or distorted the strains of some old composer, associate their limping minims and crotchets with the standard compositions of the old masters, and sell the whole as a collection of new music! Poor "Old Hundred " has stood sponsor for scores of worthless collections; and so necessary is the well-known face of this battered veteran to the sale of new publications, that these ephemeral issues might as well honestly once and forever be entitled "Old Hundred & Co." He who has bought twenty music books has bought Old Hundred, and Mear, and a few other old stand-bys, twenty times over, and when he has taken these pearls out of his purchase probably the balance would scarcely be worth the paper and the binding. If Methodism has given the age no musical composer, it is at least saved the reproach of flooding the country with stale productions that will mostly die by the time the ink has dried upon the page. Saving for our precious particular meters we have no need of a composer, and to these none but a Wesley in the domain of music, inspired of the Holy Ghost, will ever do justice. Tunes, like everything else, follow the fluctuations of fashion; but it is not necessary that the Church seek, like the makers of women's