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exclaimed; she reaffirmed. There was nothing for it but to put the burning question to the proof. Quietly, by the fire, we staged a little contest. We sang our Gospel Hymns; and she-well, she sang dreadful things. There was in particular a hymn to St. Joseph, beloved of sodalities. No, I think her 'exhibit' was really worse than ours. It had the rag-time flatness without the rag-time catchiness, or the crooning negro quality. Bred up in part on such modern by-products of the Holy Catholic Church, no wonder that she succumbed utterly to my husband's rendition of "Throw Out the Life-Line.' 'I think it's lovely,' she said; siding with me, to his great chagrin. How I wished that our friend of the 'conventicles' were there to decide between us
he who in his youth was forbidden to accompany his friends to Y.P.S.C.E. meetings as he might have been forbidden to go to dime-museums. But he has no ear - ‘sensual' or other. Perhaps he could not have helped.
Our Catholic friend's exhibit gave me pause. I knew that in France they sing, nowadays, hymns unworthy of Gothic architecture. Not so many years ago, in a beautiful French cathedral which I was by way of frequenting, I heard the children of some sodality or confraternity pouring forth as poor a piece of holy rag-time as any conventicle has ever echoed. It jerked me back into the past, violently, as Hassan's carpet must have jerked its fortunate owner through space.
Vierge, notre espérance,
Ne l'abandonne pas,
Ne l'abandonne pas.
So we sang it, too, at the Assomption, in happier days, each with a veil and a candle, winding in and out among the green alleys of the convent park. But the young Tourangeaux
went on to sing worse things: songs less catholic, more evangelical, with words more bitter and tones more shrill. I escaped, to return only at the hour of Benediction, when I knew that the 'O Salutaris Hostia' and 'Tantum Ergo' would mount again with the incense toward the rich medieval windows.
I fear it is true, as our Catholic friend said, that the Church has fallen musically, as it has done architecturally, on evil days. Well: these shrill and senseless tunes are their equivalent for our Moody and Sankey. Even in conventicles, we have more dignified hymnbooks for use in 'church' as opposed to Sunday-school or Y.P.S.C.E., and the like. And as our Primary Department (of the Sunday-school) was handed over to the works of Fanny Crosby (did she write
Roses in bloom,
Filling the room,
With perfume rich and rare.
I wonder? Anyhow, she wrote most of them), so the young Catholics in both France and America are handed over to the musical divagations of ill-educated priests. It is a pity; for they have a tradition that cannot be bettered. My ancestors sang lustily out of the old Bay Psalm Book:
Ye monsters of the mighty deep,
But, at the same period, their ances-
to sing and monotonous to hear. But in the very church that these poor French infants are innocently desecrating, a few hours, more or less, see a whole congregation chanting, with passionless and awful reverence,
'Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo; nec in æter
num irascaris nobis.'
Whoever has heard that welling slowly from crowded choir, nave, and transept, the coifed peasant and the trained séminariste singing in unison (no staginess of part-singing there!), and has joined his voice to the multitudinous supplication, will not cease to regret that modern vulgarity is as Catholic as it is Protestant.
It was the most delightful of Huysmans's perversities to contend, in all seriousness, that the devil, driven out of an immemorial haunt of his own near Lourdes by the advent in that spot of the Blessed Virgin, took his sullen revenge on the æsthetic sense of her priests. He could no longer hold his filthy Sabbaths there; but he could and did bewitch the clergy into making Lourdes a thing of ugliness. Their taste went wrong with everything they touched in Lourdes; and while Satan could not prevent the Blessed Virgin from working miracles, he could still bring it about that the faithful should
be healed amid the most hideous architectural surroundings. Perhaps Huysmans would have credited the modern Catholic music unhesitatingly to the devil.
But certainly Moody and Sankey were not clerics of Lourdes. Nor could the Presbyterians who first sang the rhymed version of the Twenty-Third Psalm to the air of 'So bin ich vergessen, vergessen bin ich' be suspected of any part in the devil's private feuds with the Virgin. Indeed, the particular Presbyterians whom I have heard sing it thus had not, I fancy, much more reverence for the one than for the other.
I do not think that we can account for Gospel Hymns, No. 5 by the Huysmans formula. Even the hymn to St. Joseph, beloved of sodalities, is, I believe, mere modern pandering to the uncultured majority: revivalism in essence, like Moody and Sankey and the Salvation Army and Billy Sunday. But at least the Catholics have this advantage: that though they too have indulged in operatic music and have even sunk to 'Vierge, notre espérance,' they still hear from their choirs the ancient music and the ancient words. You lose the sodalities and confraternities when you hear once more the familiar 'Tantum Ergo' (I do not mean the florid one that they sing at St. Roch in Paris, and elsewhere); the new vulgarity is forgotten, as many vulgarities have been touched and then forgotten by Rome, in her time.
I used to think that the worst of our bad Protestant hymns was their ignoring of the human intelligence.
Many giants great and tall,
If met by Daniel's Band.
(My fortunate husband sang it in his youth.) But even that, while it could have a religious meaning, I should say, only for a sub-normal intelligence, is not a deliberate and explicit defiance of the intellect of man.
Verbum caro, panem verum
Tantum ergo sacramentum
Præstet fides supplementum
It took St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor
preme utterance, the whole case against would be strange if some one were not
the Higher Criticism.
No, I do not think that the sense of a hymn counts so much. The mediæval 'Ave Maris Stella' has not much more to recommend it, philosophically speaking, than the hymn with the 'Im-macu-late, Im-mac-u-late' refrain. A poem, even a religious poem, is good poetry or bad poetry, and that is all there is to it. 'From Greenland's Icy Mountains' is a silly poem, and 'The Son of God Goes Forth to War' is a rather fine poem; and Bishop Heber wrote both. But the permanent superiority of the latter is in the music to which it is set. One Presbyterian sect sings, I believe, nothing but the Psalms, rather unfortunately metricized, to be sure, their church singing is the dreariest in the world. Yet the Psalms are rated high. 'Onward, Christian Soldiers' gets its appeal from Sir Arthur Sullivan and not from the author. I do not believe that 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' would have been the favorite hymn of the late President McKinley were it not for the slow, swinging tempo, which needs only a little quickening to be an excellent waltz, with all the emotional appeal of good waltz music.
On the whole,. Hymns Ancient and Modern are far better, from the point of view of poetry, than Gospel Hymns, No. 5-but they have not converted half so many people. The elect, the high-brows, may say what they like: if you are doing your evangelizing on the grand scale, the 'sensual ear' must be pleased. I do not believe that the music I have referred to, of the "TantumErgo' or the 'Parce, Domine,' would ever convert the crowd in a tent or a tabernacle even if D. L. Moody or Fanny Crosby wrote new words to it. But if you let a grammar-school pupil hack words out of the New Testament and set them to the tune of 'Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground'-well, it
converted. You may be very sure that the Roman Catholic Church has not taken to vulgar and catchy hymns without a set purpose of winning souls. At the Cross, at the Cross, where I first saw the light
And the burden of my sin rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day. The last line might almost have been lifted bodily from one of Stephen Foster's negro melodies. It has the very lilt of
My old Kentucky home far away. And it is only one of many in Gospel Hymns, No. 5. That is why my husband remembers them, in spite of himself. He may contemn them, but he cannot forget. There is hardly one of them that would not consort happily with the right kind of brass band. They connote crowds and the 'emotion of multitude.' So, to me, does the 'Parce, Domine' connote crowds-but crowds awe-struck, unweeping, and in no mood for stimulation by a cornet accompaniment. There is a cardinal difference. The success of almost any Gospel Hymn depends on an emotional appeal very like that of Kipling's banjo:
And the tunes that mean so much to you alone, Common tunes that make you choke and blow
I can rip your very heartstrings out with those.
Whatever Bach and Palestrina and Scarlatti and good Gregorian do to you - well, it is not that. Whereas almost any good Gospel Hymn gets you, if it gets you at all, in the banjo way. There is the revivalistic essence in all of them. And when the Catholics wish to be revivalistic, they imitate, rather badly, the Protestant 'hymn-tune.'
Most of my friends (including, obviously, my husband) are so truly high
brow that they cannot be 'got' in the banjo way. They do not like cornet solos; and brass bands playing negromelodies leave them dry-eyed. They honestly prefer the Kneisel Quartet or a Brahms symphony. Their arid and exquisite æstheticism rejects these low appeals. Did I not say that my husband loathes 'Throw Out the LifeLine' even while he is reducing me to an emotional crumple? I refuse to admit that I am incapable of that same arid and exquisite æstheticism; but the lower appeal reaches me too. I do weep over the brass bands. I do choke over the flag appropriately carried. I do fall in love (if I am careful to shut my eyes) with a good tenor voice. And while there are, luckily, a great many people like my husband, there must be millions more like me. He remembers the Gospel Hymns; but I like them.
Not quite to the trail-hitting point; but then I fancy the hymns of the tabernacle are less good than they used to be. I do not know the tune of 'Brighten the Corner Where You Are.' Though my six-year-old son has learned it from the cook, I do not believe he has the tune right. He cannot have it right: if it were right, there would be no sawdust trail. Nor do I know the music of 'The Brewer's Big Horses Cannot Roll Over Me.' But I have a suspicion that Billy Sunday's hymns are nothing like so good as Moody and Sankey. The dance music of the day always has its effect on popular airs of every kind, even religious. I venture to say (pace the shade of Lord Byron) that the waltz, throughout the nineteenth century, had a strong religious influence. Every one knows that good waltz music, if played slowly enough, is the saddest thing in the world. The emotion aroused by good waltz music well played is bloodbrother to the emotion aroused by 'God Be with You Till We Meet Again' and 'For You I Am Praying, I'm Praying
for You.' Waltzes and Gospel Hymns reinforce each other which is probably why the unco' guid object to dancing. But with all due allowances for mob-emotion and the sensual ear, I cannot believe that syncopation serves the Lord. People's eyes do not grow dim as they listen to a fox-trot. It does nothing to bring forth that melting sense of universal love which the old popular music did. All waltz music was in essence melancholy; and all sentimental melancholies meet together somewhere in the recesses of the vulgar heart. Yes: when popular composers were writing good waltzes, it was easier for the Sankeys and Blisses to write good hymns. The Y.P.S.C.E. must have had easier work with the young people who were singing 'Marguerite,' than it has now with the young people who are singing 'At the Garbage Gentlemen's Ball.' I have a notion that the young people who are singing 'At the Garbage Gentlemen's Ball' do not go to Y.P.S.C.E. meetings at all. Well, you see, those who sang 'Marguerite' did.
Those who know say that we are growing more vulgar all the time. Perhaps the difference between D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday is a good index of that degeneration. Certainly the silly young things who wept while they sang 'God Be with You Till We Meet Again' would not have pretended to call Christ up on the telephone - or have permitted any one else to do it in their presence. But, thank Heaven, the conventicles are like to outlast the tabernacle.
At all events, I am sure of one thing: that my husband will not be persuaded, twenty years hence, to 'oblige' with "The Brewer's Big Horses.' But I hope he will continue at intervals to oblige with 'Throw Out the Life-Line.' For, so long as he does, I shall continue to be evangelized.
BY ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER
Now shall your beauty never fade;
Of fairer gardens unforecast,
Now never shall your glorious breast
Forever shall you be your best
Nay, far more luminously shine
Than when our comradeship was blessed
By what of earth seemed most divine,
Before your body passed to rest
With what I then supposed this heart of mine.
Now shall your bud of beauty blow
Far lovelier than I dreamed before
When, such a little time ago,
I looked upon your face, and swore
That Helen's never moved men so
When her white, magic hands enkindled war.
As you sweep on from power to power,
Shall every earthward thought you think
Irradiate my lonely hour,
Until I taste the golden drink
Of Life, and see the full-blown flower
Whose opening bud was mine beyond the brink.