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The Ecclesiologist, Vol. 3 (Classic Reprint)

The Ecclesiologist, Vol. 3 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The Ecclesiologist, Vol. 3

We have seen a publick Baptism performed under a western gallery, and we doubt whether any more painful sight could be witnessed : the people in the body vainly attempting to pierce the gloomy recess, (in this case the part under the gallery was groined in plaister, and was like a crypt), and the people above in the gallery-truly it was a publick Baptism to them! We have thus shown the evils of each position, and we shall be justly asked, "What place then do you recommend?" At one time we felt some difficulty in answering this question; we were alive to the inconveniences of every ordinary situation, but did not clearly see how they could be avoided.

The subject of Church musick is one which has always occupied much of our thoughts, more particularly as bearing upon this point in the arrangement of churches, although we have hitherto only touched upon it en passant in the Ecdesiologist. This might arise, perhaps, from the disgraceful neglect of this church-art in our University. A few miserable and effete singers running about from choir to choir, and performing, to a crashing and bellowing of organs, the most meagre and washy musick; how could Churchmen learn anything, under such a system, of the depth and majesty and sternness and devotion of true church musick ? But the exertions of the Motett Society * of London, the example of S. Mark's Training College at Chelsea, and the high principles respecting this art maintained by our contemporary the English Churchman, have already done wonders in showing what are the nature, rules, and requirements of old church musick. It is now beginning to be recognised that church musick is almost exclusively vocal: at any rate the Gregorian chants, the canto-fermo, and the responses, according to the original musical notation of our Prayer-book (beautifully edited by W. Dyce, Esq. and published by Mr. Bums), clearly are better without any instrumental accompaniment whatever. It is said, we know, that an organ is necessary to lead, and keep together, and give body to, the voices. We reply (1), In practice it is not necessary, as may be shown 'by experience. We might refer to the success which has for some time attended the efforts of one of our members, the Rev. E. Shuttleworth, of S. Mary's, Penzance, where we have heard the whole service intoned admirably without instrumental accompaniment. (2), Were it necessary now-aniays, it would be open to grave objection; both from the positive evils thus introduced, and because it can never be allowed to patch up one wrong by another. Church musick was a part of church worship ages before the organ was brought to its present perfection: therefore there can be no h priori necessity for an organ in church musick. We confess we can see no objection to the use of a violoncello or horn to steady the chant in some cases. "But the organ is an improvement." In what respects ? In that it drowns the voices, that it gives such opportunities of display

We must take this opportunity of acknowledging for ourselves, and making known to our country readers, the extreme courtesy with which strangers are always permitted to attend the meetings for practice of this Society.

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