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Title: Church Singing
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A Plea for Simple Melodies

Henry Ward Beecher is right on the music question. He says; "It is no wonder that singing has died out from the congregation, when a choir is put up to recite words that nobody can understand, to music that nobody knows, and the people are left to listen to newly converted opera airs, which were brougth over by a fresh troupe of foreign singers! And those sweet melodies, that stilted propriety has long ago driven from the churches, but which have gone forth among the people, and rungout gloriously in camp meetings, shaking the forest leaves with the ascending shouts of a mighty people; or which, wore gently, have filled rural school house and humble lecture rooms and village churches, not yet corrupt by the false pretenses of classical music- those sweet melodies that no one can hear with his ear, and not feel his heart beating within his bosom all the faster for the sound- are become the ridicule and comtempt of men who think God must be praised to the sound of Meyerbreer or Rossini, and not to the sweet humble melodies of our own land."

There are some who will not go to quite the extreme that Beecher does in this matter, but in the main he is certainly right. A large proportion of church-going people are perfectly satisfied to have a voluntary or two before the real services actually begin, in which no one else than the members of the choir can join, as the congregation is not disposed to sing at that time.- And again, another might properly enough follow the benediction, as the people are passing out, if the choir is disposed to remain. But, during the services proper why should we not have hymns sung to tunes in which all may join, and which have not been abandoned as soon as the congregation learns them? Not, of course, that there should be no change or advancement, for we see no reason why people should sing well everywhere else and badly at church, for there is certainly no praise in poor singing when better can be done. Church-going people know very well how operatic singing would grate upon the ear and how out of place it would be at a time of deep religious feeling in a congregation, and how the singing of a familiar hymn to a familiar tune, but the whole church audience, stirs up feelings which would remain entirely dormant otherwise.- It is this disposition on the part of church choirs to take the singing almost entirely away from the congregation, instead of being content to lead it, which renders choir singing so unpopular with many persons. Let us have some artistic singing, if the people want it, but let us give the congregation at least half a chance to sing their praise to God, instead of having it done by others.

Date: 9/2/1869
Origin: Warren Republican
Record ID: 00001638
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Warren County Historical Society
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Clippings Scrapbook
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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