« ForrigeFortsæt »
lowed by anything better. They continue in that condition for a period and then comes a time when for them there are no more swine to feed, no more husks even to eat and they must needs miserably perish in that far-off country. They never come to themselves from the beginning to the end of their folly. But this prodigal came to himself and said, "I will arise and go to my father," and, apparently, he gave no further thought to swine and the husks that swine eat.
As the prodigal was returning, his father saw him a great way off and ran to meet him and fell upon his neck and kissed him, brought him into the house and put shoes upon his feet, a robe upon his shoulders and a ring upon his hand, thus announcing that he was not a servant but a son and must be so regarded and treated. And then the father directs a feast to be made and commands that they kill the fatted calf. What a noble, generous and forgiving father had this prodigal son and such a father in heaven, this parable clearly teaches, have all the sons of men. But the theologian dwells more upon the cordial reception which this son received, than the lawyer is inclined to do. The lawyer's attention is called away from the feasting, the rejoicing, the father's gladness, to the condition, the legal condition, of the prodigal himself. He had come to himself and was again under his father's roof in his right mind, recognized as a son, wearing the insignia of heirship, a robe upon his shoulders and a ring upon his hand, but what was he heir to? He had already received his portion and had wasted it in that far-off country, strewn it over the fields and along the hedge rows while sowing his wild oats. That portion was all gone, not even a husk from his last meal remained. What then was left? A loving father, sonship, heirship, a warm welcome. This was very much, but the
share of the living, which had been divided at his request, what of that? The parable leaves us in no doubt. The father says to the elder son explicitly, "All that I have is thine. We are not rejoicing because we have an opportunity to divide our living again. What is here is yours. Your brother was lost and is found, was dead and is alive again, therefore we rejoice.'
It does not appear that a single farthing was given to this young man. Certainly not a farthing of the portion wasted could be returned to him, and he had no claim whatever upon the elder brother's portion. He was as poor as ever. There was given him an opportunity to share perhaps in future savings. I am aware that the theologian takes a more hopeful view of the prodigal's situation and the theologian may be right. But assuredly it does not by any means appear clear from this parable that any prodigal who has wasted his love of truth, justice, virtue and decency in riotous living, has fed the unclean swine of depraved human passions and gladly filled his belly with the husks of sin, can by coming to himself and going to his father have the precious gifts of an innocent heart and a pure soul restored to him for the asking and not as a reward for a victory achieved after a long and weary battle. If one walks into the fire and is burned, nature, a kind, and forgiving mother, will assauge the pain and heal the wounds, but a scar remains-and yet the power and goodness of the Almighty may not be measured with a yard stick.
PROF. A. A. STANLEY.
Delivered June 4, 1893.
Christianity has been termed not so much a religion as a revelation of the nature of God, and an unfolding of the purpose of a life held up as the ideal life towards which all lives should turn.
The fullness of the revelation was made possible for three reasons. First, it supplemented and infused new life into the truth which formed the bases of preceding religions, notably Judaism. Second, it came at a time when the longing for immortality found expression in a philosophy which hinted at that which was now clearly revealed. Third, it was a revelation of man to himself. It thus rested upon all that was best in the old religions. It stimulated and gave new direction to exalted aspiration. It emphasized the importance. of man, and revealed to him the true reason for his desire to express through the medium of art many of his finer feelings.
The feeling for the beautiful, one of the purest attributes of the soul, found in this new and more complete revelation of God, a fullersatisfaction than had been given by any preceding religion. Among other expressions of the beautiful we find music. It may be confidently asserted that the possibilities of so subjective an art as music, could never have been developed, had there been no great uplifting of the soul
—such an advancement of ideals as directly resulted from the teachings of Christianity.
As soon as Christianity became the accepted religion, among the many questions of ceremonial observance came that of church music. Three of the earlier Popes, Sylvester, Ambrose and Gregory stand out in bold relief in this connection. Sylvester by his singing schools laid the foundation upon which Ambrose and Gregory reared the structure of Ambrosian and Gregorian song. Properly two independent structures were erected by these men, for the Ambrosian chant with its strongly marked metrical structure differs radically from the slowly moving-non-rhythmical-Gregorian tone. We discover in these two opposing conceptions of the nature of sacred song, the reasons for the two types of church music, which have from that time up to the present day, divided church musicians. The one conception may be observed in the ordinary hymn tune, the other in the German choral.
The inevitable clashing of these fundamentally opposing types of song gave rise to many bitter controversies. These controversies finally resulted in a division of the church in so far as the musical service was concerned. Thus we find at the beginning of the church's history that the problem which confronts us today was considered one of the most important questions pressing for an answer, and that although the conditions differ, the essential points at issue are identical.
That appropriate music is an aid to worship is well nigh universally admitted. That music formed a part of all the ceremonies of the religion of ancient peoples, that the character of the music employed at such ceremonies was discussed by philosophers, goes to prove that while the power of music to
express religion aspiration was recognized, it was distinctly understood that religious music differed from secular. All this proves no less forcibly that the converse proposition that inappropriate music is a hindrance to devotion, must also be true. Historically we find that the various councils of the church recognized these truths, and acrimonious discussions raged on these occasions, the question as to what was appropriate in church music evidently causing as much dissension as any of the theological controversies. At the council of Trent we find the question had assumed such importance that the art music (as the elaborate musical forms created by the Netherlandic school were called) was on trial and stood in danger of being entirely swept out of the church by the reactionary party which called for return to the old Gregorian chant. Strangely enough the Catholic church is in the midst of a similar agitation at the present time.
The masses in use at that time were extremely complicated and utterly devoid of inspiration. As a matter of fact the people took no interest in the music, and accompanied the singing of the masses by ribald songs, and all sorts of blasphemous interpolations. Thus the act of worship had been degraded to a veritable saturnalia. That this revolt of the church dignitaries was timely will be admitted by all. Musicians are particularly interested in this council, for in the course of the discussion Palestrina's music was formally declared to be the purest model of church song. Thus the canons of sacred music were authoritatively decided for the Catholic church. Following out these canons we find that sacred music must possess distinct and individual characteristics, harmonically, melodically and rhythmically. These differences, clearly defined in Palestrina's time became somewhat obliterated by the