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only. Iobject to hymns, 1st, because having an inspired psalter we have no need of them. The Lord's people in our land, for ages past, have felt that the Psalms were sufficient to express all their spiritual necessities in praise : Is our faith stronger—is our zeal more ardent that we require additional words? I trow not. I object to hymns, 2ndly, because they have been made the vehicles of false doctrine. In illustration of this, I need only refer you to the third hymn printed at the end of our own Psalm books. Further, the selection of hymns suitable for the service of the sanctuary, appears to be a work of very great difficulty. I had almost said an insurmountable barrier to their use—if not, why this perpetual altering and tinkering at their hymn books, which we see going on in all the Churches ? The following quotation is from Dr. Lee's book, to which I have already referred. To me it seems to reprove his own public conduct. He says—" To express my own opinion freely, I do not see any necessity or much advantage in going beyond the Scriptures themselves for our psalms and hymns. If we only know how to adopt and use them, the contents of the Old and New Testament are abundantly sufficient for expressing every feeling of faith, hope, love, patience, submission, and every holy aspiration which we should seek to express and cherish in our songs of praise. No words are so appropriate, so solemn, so beautiful, or so touching, as the words of Holy Writ. Even if other expressions, equally good and suitable in themselves, could be found, none other can ever possess the same power to move our hearts, for none other can ever come to us charged with the same associations. For the use of public worship, I doubt if the most diligent search could discover a score of really excellent modern hymns in the English language." I think all of us will be able to say amen to these opinions.
A few years ago, I chanced to be in the U.P. Synod, when a discussion was going on as to the necessity for a new hymn book. Dr. Taylor, now secretary to the Board of Education, in the course of a few remarks he made on the question, said, in effect, that in their hymn book, there were many very beautiful hymns, whilst others, as everybody knew, were the veriest rubbish. I inwardly said-My friend, have you and your Church, for the last quarter of a century or more, been praising (iod with the veriest rubbish, then I am deeply thankful that we in our humble way have been praising Him with something very different. After considerable labour, the U.P. Church has lately published a new hymn book. In my judgment it is no improvement on its predecessor, and without setting up for a prophet, I predict for it a shorter life.
I have heard people argue that hymns in general were much more easily understood by children
than the Psalms, and that, therefore, they could sing the former more intelligently. To all such I say—compare this latest effort of hymn compilers with the Psalms of David, and for ever hold your peace. In one of the hymns you will find at the end of each verse, this line,
“Blessed Son of Mary, hear.” I know not whether this song will be often sung, to me it would have an awkward ring in a Presbyterian Church. Has not the Church of Rome grievously sinned against the Most High, by offering idol worship to the mother of our Lord. In view of this fact is it not the plain duty of the Church of God, in so far at least as their worship is concerned, to say of her, though highly favoured among women, as did Jesus himself, “Woman, what have we to do with thee ?" A United Presbyterian friend informs me that this hymn was omitted in the proof copies, from which I infer that the compilers themselves did not altogether like it. In point of real poetic feeling and expression, there are no hymns in the book finer than two from the pen of Sir Walter Scott, which appear also in the former hymn book. One is the hymn of Rebecca, the Jewess, from the novel of Ivanhoe, beginning,
“ When Israel, of the Lord beloved,
Out of the land of bondage came,
An awful guide in smoke and flame."
" That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
How shall he meet that dreadful day.” Of these, however, and most of the others, I think it may safely be said, that we have the same ideas better expressed in the book of Psalms. The writer of these two beautiful songs certainly never intended that they should be used in the worship of God. He has left on record his intense admiration of our metrical translation of the Psalms, and his earnest wish that it should not be altered.
Again, I object to the use of hymns because they practically oust the Psalms from the service of praise. Dr. Lee, to whom I have already referred, published some years ago a book of praise, still used in the Greyfriars congregation. It is composed of hymns and some portions of the psalms. In a few introductory remarks in the book he takes credit for leaving out parts of the Psalms which he says are didactic (a reason we should have thought for retaining them) or Jewish in their tone ; or are more strictly prayers. (Why should they be left out ?) He also wishes our worship more refined. It is curious to mark the Psalms which in his wisdom he would leave out, the 14th, for example, beginning,
“ That there is not a God the fool." Now, on turning to the 53d Psalm, which he also omits, we find that the words of it are nearly the same as the 14th. The sacred penman, therefore, has thought it doubly worthy of insertion. Why should Dr. Lee wish to omit it? Is it not refined enough for him ? or is it because the plain story there of the fallen state of man, will not square with the easy Arminian doctrines prevalent in the school which he represented ? The same may be said of the 101st Psalm, which he also omits. Turning now to the 119th we find him putting in, as worthy to be sung, 48 single verses, leaving out 84. Now let any man calmly read that beautiful Psalm. I am persuaded he will find every line of it immeasurably superior for purposes of praise, to nine-tenths of the hymns which are now set up alongside of it. And do not the children of God see tender sacred memories clustering round these songs of Zion? Far up into the dim distant past, do we not hear them sung by God's ancient people—at times a plaintive cry for help and deliverance :-"O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation which thou hast purchased of old : this Mount Zion wherein thou hast dwelt;" and anon a tumultuous song of confidence and praise, “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.” Again, are not these songs interwoven with the whole history of the Church in our land? Calderwood tells us that three hundred years ago, our King, at the urgent entreaty of the inhabitants of this city, ordered the return from banishment of John Durie, one of their ministers. He was met at the gate by a multitude of the people, who escorted him to the great Kirk singing as they went,
May say, and that truly,
Had not our cause maintained;
Had not our right sustained,
With their proud swelling waves,
O'erwhelmed in the deep.
Who doth us safely keep."
The people were much moved themselves, says the historian, and so were all the beholders. The Duke of Lennox (then ruling in the city) was more afraid at that sight than at any thing that he had ever seen before in Scotland.
Again, when our fathers were shortly afterwards engaged in a death struggle against Popery in the Church and tyranny in the State, did they not cheer themselves with these very Psalms that we have so often sung? And to come down to our own day, have we not heard many of the children of God refreshing themselves with these songs of Zion? Some of them have crossed the river. Under the guidance of the great Captain of Salvation, they have reached their desired haven. They are in through the gates into the city, and stand before the throne, dazzled for a while, it may be, with its exceeding brightness. Think you, will they at times sing one of the old songs? If it should be our lot to reach that happy shore, our hearts will be in tune to join them as of yore; yes, and in the New Song of the Zion above, we shall recognise the hand of that God who indited our songs in the Zion below.
We say then to all who differ from us in this matter, Choose ye how ye will praise the Lord, as for us we can say, “Thy statutes, yes, Thy statutes, and in the very words which Thou Thyself hast inspired, will be our songs, in the house of our pilgrimage." In connection with this subject, I would recommend all, especially young men, to read a book published by the late Dr. James Gibson of Glasgow, entitled, “The Public Worship of God : its Authority and Modes.”
In regard to music, I hope we are all prepared to give it its due place; no doubt there is room for improvement in some of our congregations. In this, as in all matters pertaining to the service of God we should endeavour to give no occasion to others to find fault. We must, however, guard against the idea, that fine cultivated music alone will make praise acceptable to God. As has been well said, “emotion is not devotion.” Why, I have heard music. In lofty cathedral, surrounded by all that art could do to adorn the bouse of God, amid incense smoke and prostration of assembled worshippers, I have heard a choral song, which filled the breast with emotion, and the knees with trembling, and which will linger in my ears as long as life itself shall last. As one has said, the voice of seraph before the throne alone, could strike a higher note, and yet this praise was offered by that Church, whom the Lord has assured us He will destroy with the brightness of His coming. Yes, and in synagogue at close of day, when the Jewish Sabbath had begun, I have heard the daughters of Judah sending forth a cheerful voice, singing loud to God their strength; and as memory recalled
their painful history, theirs was truly a heart moving song; but ah, they have rejected the Messiah, promised to their fathers; what wisdom therefore is in them? Again, in a humble Church adorned only by an assembly of believing worshippers, I have heard a song of inexpressible sweetness, it was a song of love, and it seemed as if in that sanctuary the goings of our God were to be seen, and His steps of majesty. It seemed as if God was there worshipped in spirit and in truth, which we must believe is a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to Him. As has been well said by our own poet,
"Compared with this how poor religion's pride,
In connection with music, you will no doubt have noticed frequently, advertisements to the effect, that in a certain Church, what might be called a sacred concert would be given, consisting of organ recitals, selections from well-known oratorios, or it may be from musical masses composed by Mozart and others. As you may have noticed from the words, the most sacred mysteries of our faith are spoken of on these occasions. As no one pretends that these meetings are held for the praise of God, but rather for recreation or amusement, I do not think that our principles will allow us to countenance them.
In passing from this part of my subject, I shall read to you the following sentences from Romaine's works, which I think are in entire harmony with our views. “Harmony in sound is pleasant in our ears, but harmony in affection is the music which enters into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. “My son, give me thine heart, He will have no service without it. I have scarce ever seen a congregation in which every one joined in singing. This is a very great abuse, because it is defeating the end of God's institution, He commanded Psalms to be sung for mutual edification. It was to be the service of the whole Church, all were to join, whereas among us it is performed by some few, and they are sometimes set by themselves in a singing gallery, or in a corner of the Church, where they sing to be admired for their fine voices, and others hear them for entertainment. This a vile prostitution of Church music, and contrary to the letter and spirit both of the Old and the New Testament. We know from profane history that the