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music, strictly speaking, could be called Church music unless written in the pure vocal or Italian style. But, probably in consequence of the small quantity of music of this school available for English use, the French school was afterwards included, brought in under the wing of Purcell. The next step could not, of course, be logically avoided, and the English school of last century was also included in their repertory. But beyond this they resolutely refused to enlarge their definition of Church music. The whole musical power of our cathedrals was, until quite lately, in the hands of organists holding these opinions; and so unreservedly did they abuse new anthems that they succeeded in making the word 'modern’ almost synonymous with secular. The result might have been anticipated. These purists gradually pared down their lists of 'real' Church music until a mere handful of anthems were in use, and were repeated week by week ad nauseam. Of course, in deference to the wishes of some ladies who attended the cathedral services regularly, Mendelssohn's
Oh, rest in the Lord,' and Spohr’s ‘As pants the hart,' were occasionally heard, but with a few such exceptions nothing was allowed to disturb the dull and cold respectability of an attenuated cycle of old favourites.'
We ought to say, however, that two additional facts deserve to be recorded in this sketch of the musical state of our cathedrals just prior to the present renaissance. First, each organist made a mental reservation that his own compositions did not contain the vices of modernism, and they were performed much to the delight of regular worshippers, who hardly could find words wherewith to extol the talent of their local musician, who could positively produce some music which was not exactly like that by Blow or Green. The second fact, if less amusing, is of more importance-namely, that the small quantity of the music used in a regular routine became so familiar, both to singing-men and singing-boys, that the organist could always on week-days be absent from his post, either for his pleasure or profit, leaving a youthful articledpupil to preside at the organ; moreover, no full choir-practices could be needed, or demanded, when the music was so often repeated that it ‘taught itself,' and the labour of training the choir boys was in the same way reduced to a minimum. Thus the purity of taste on which such champions of the old school so prided themselves not only saved them a vast amount of trouble, but added largely to their income.
As to the canticles, but little need be said. It is probable that from the year 1600 to 1800 not more than six or eight settings of the Te Deum were produced, which are barely tolerable. The causes of this are identical with those just pointed out as rendering anthem music so long stationary and soulless. In some cases the cathedral ‘services,' as canticles are called, are framed for the purpose of getting through the words with undue haste ; in others they are mere concatenations of exercises in close imitation; in scarcely any is an attempt made to do justice to the words, while in several, positive violence is done to their meaning. In this departe ment also living Church composers have made a praiseworthy, and on the whole a successful effort to fill up the gap caused by the idleness or want of taste of their predecessors; and here again they have sometimes laid themselves open to the charge of being too realistic, and of having attempted to drive home the meaning of the words by wedding them to music so descriptive or picturesque as to tempt hearers away from their consideration rather than attract them towards it. The same excuse must again be made; at the present time a very necessary reaction is taking place against the old theory that all kinds and characters of words-prayer, praise, or narrative -can be worthily sung to the same style of music, because that style happens in itself to be pure. In the sister art of painting a similar theory was brought forward, and maintained almost to an absurdity, some years since. It may be remembered that Sir Joshua Reynolds found serious fault with the painter West for not having dressed Penn and the Indians like Greek gods and goddesses. Reynolds had long made up his mind that no more elegant or artistic dress than that of the Greeks had ever existed ; therefore, why not put it on Quakers and savages in a picture? The analogy is apparent. The Italian style of vocal part-music is pure and artistic; therefore, why not clothe words of all kinds in it? So things stood half a century ago, and the least that can be said is that a revolution in our cathedral system of music was inevitable ; the only question was whence should the revolution cone, and in what direction would it tend.
As not uncommonly happens, it commenced in a quarter, and arose from causes, from which it was least expected. The increased activity in Church work, and growing interest in its services, which constituted a 'revival' in this century, naturally led to the formation of a large number of parish choirs. While cathedral music slept, these choirs had been quietly but steadily improving. The directors of these hard-working and often enthusiastic bodies were not hampered by those noble traditions whose loss we are so often asked to
deplore ; moreover, they could see and appreciate the fact that the cathedral purists, in their great anxiety to train the growing sapling of Church music into a straight tree, had so bound it round and round with their rigid rules of conventional art that it was fairly throttled. Tasteful critics pronounced it, indeed, to be most correctly straight, but it was lifeless. The parish choirs worked on their own lines; from time to time several of them desired to join for a service of united praise. When the selection of music was made, an anthem was required; the nearest cathedral organist was duly and respectfully consulted; he promptly referred them to the works of Blow or Green. What could be better? A musical setting of the canticles was required; the same authority referred them to Gibbons. Some parish choirs had the audacity to start a choral celebration of Holy Communion. Where was the music for the Sanctus and Gloria in Excelsis ? Here the cathedral musician was for a time puzzled ; he had never heard of such a thing as a choral celebration. But his purity of taste came to the rescue ; he could recommend the Sanctus and Gloria by Thomas Tallis. It was true that this was probably written about the year 1550, and might be a little antiquated; it was also in the key of D minor Dorico, a somewhat obsolete scale ; but the music was in the real Church style. It is needless to say that neither parish choirs nor parish congregations were willing in this their youth of spiritual life to embrace music which offered correctness of diction in the place of fitness of thought, and, instead of beauty in art, presented them only with ingenuity in artifice. Young composers were then appealed to, who, despite the adverse criticism of the old cathedral organists, which they knew awaited their productions, did their best to supply music bright and melodious, true to the gist of the text, free from difficulties of performance. If all the works written with these ends in view may not be of the very highest type, it must still be acknowledged that it was to this alliance of young composers with parish choirs that the present renaissance of Church music entirely owes its existence. The credit must not be given to a certain few well-known men, albeit full of genius, who, while calling loudly for progress, and while uniformly depreciating other men's efforts, successfully avoided the soiling of a shoulder against the rut-locked wheel. For ten or fifteen years the only good cathedral service in London was to be heard in a small, insignificant-looking parish church in Wells Street, Oxford Street. Let parish choirs see to it, lest history rob them of their due reward for having put
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cathedrals to the blush by their noble example. The sort of music required by these churches was soon forced upon cathedral notice, and has tended in no small degree to mould what may be called the modern school of cathedral music. The first way, therefore, in which we may hope for the special culture of Church music in our cathedrals is, as may be gathered from the above historical sketch, by encouraging modern writers, while at the same time preserving and doing justice to the best specimens of former schools of music.
Next in importance to this stands unquestionably the duty of encouraging congregational music: a duty the true weight of which has only comparatively lately forced itself upon any of our cathedral authorities. The easiest and best means would seem to be to establish one service on each Sunday, probably in the evening, at which the words of the hymns should be gratuitously distributed, headed by a special invitation to the congregation to join in the singing. To get hearty hymn-singing is not so easy in a cathedral as in a parish church. In the latter, familiarity with the position of their seats and the faces of those around them, also with the clergy and the method of conducting the services, tends to make all worshippers tolerably at their ease ; while in the former, people always seem to consider themselves more or less as visitors, and, on finding themselves surrounded by strangers, feel chilled by a sense of propriety and need of decorum, which makes them dread lest by singing out boldly and loudly they may appear ridiculous. When once these groundless misgivings are removed, it will be discovered that hymn-singing in cathedrals is not only a source of genuine edification to the singers, but also of sublime musical effects. There is one further advantage in these congregational services which must not be overlooked ; by their means it is possible to interest a large number of amateur musicians in cathedral work. To lead the voices of the congregation, a voluntary choir should be formed. If the material which comes to hand is not of the best, a few professional singers may be with advantage added. It will, however, always be found difficult to sustain the existence of a voluntary choir for any length of time, if simple music to the canticles, and hymn tunes, are the only inusical sustenance provided for them. In order to retain a hold upon them, it will be found almost necessary to introduce at the weekly rehearsals the study of glees, madrigals, cantatas, and oratorios. The interest thus excited will prove of twofold benefit. In the first place, it will ensure regularity of attendance on the part of
the members of the choir ; next, it will, by educating and elevating their musical taste, act indirectly in a most favourable way on the general excellence of their performance in the cathedral. Into these congregational services no cathedral music proper should be admitted; for, if once this is done, the congregation will immediately constitute itself an audience, and continue for the remainder of the time obstinately silent. Under the most promising conditions it is often a matter of no small difficulty to get an English congregation to sing properly. By the vast number of people it is considered etiquette to keep the head well down whilst joining in a hymn, and to make no effort whatever to articulate the words. To watch such persons would almost give the impression that they were holding secret conversation with the buttons of their waistcoats, But, happily, this tradition is on the wane, and we may yet in time hold our own against the hearty singing of the Germans in their chorals. It would be hardly fair to leave this portion of our subject without suggesting that the broadest and grandest tunes should be selected for large congregations in preference to the sweet or sentimental. Composers of the present day have been much blamed for allowing their tunes to drift into 'sacred part-songs.' But surely authors and translators of words must share with them the discredit of this decadence of style. If any hymnary be examined, it will be observed that the music has a great tendency to rise and fall with the merits of the words. Give a composer stanzas of weak sentimentalism, and he will, with an eye to congruity, very naturally clothe them in that weak sentimental music which his good sense would never permit him to attach to straightforward masculine thoughts.
There still remains a third way in which the culture of Church music may be furthered by our cathedrals, although it is to be regretted that opinions as to its advisability are not at one. The real question at issue is this : Ought the concert room or the church to be the home of the oratorio? On the orie hand, it is an indisputable fact that these great musical works were first produced in churches, deriving, as they do, their very name from the Church of the Oratory of S. Philip Neri in Rome; and it may, therefore, be assumed that they were cultivated with the primary intention of enforcing in a musical and quasi-dramatic way the doctrine and teaching of the Church. On the other hand, we in these days have to face the fact that the long association of oratorios with our concert rooms has environed them with secular associations, which are with difficulty dispelled. Unfortunately, the public