Instrumental Music Letters And Articles
Below are a series of articles on the subject of the use of instrumental music. The first article begins with a statement made by "G." It is not known who "G" is. It was common by many contributing writers to papers to use initials or even sign with a pseudonym, rather than their real name. Alexander Campbell then responded to "G's" statement with his own thoughts on the place instrumental music has in the public worship. Campbell died in 1866, but the Millennial Harbinger continued through the editorship of W.K. Pendleton and Chas. L. Loos until 1870.
The second article below was written by Enos Campbell. Enos was several years younger, and the first cousin to Alexander. He was also a preacher in the Restoration Movement. Living in Jacksonville, Illinois, he sent in an article that appeared in the January 1870 issue of the Millennial Harbinger, where he sets out a defense for instrumental music in worship.
The third article below appeared in the March issue of the Millennial Harbinger. It was written by W.H. Hopson, co-editor of the Lexington, Kentucky based paper, The Apostolic Times. It was copied from the March 10, 1870 issue of the Times, where Hopson, makes a rebuttal to Enos Campbell's January article.
The fourth article below appeared in the July 1870 issue of The Apostolic Times. It was a copy of a letter sent to Enos Campbell from the widow of the late Alexander Campbell, Selina Huntingdon Campbell. A copy had been sent to W.H. Hopson to place it in the Times for the public to read. In this open letter, she sternly rebuked Enos Campbell for his January article in the Millennial Harbinger. She further expressed that Alexander Campbell never approved of instrumental music's use in the public worship setting, referring to the first article below. She also warned about other problems, such as using titles, like the word "Reverend."
This series is included here to demonstrate the struggle many churches had with the addition of the instrument to public worship. Note Pendleton's caution about allowing the subject to divide the church, and Selina Campbell's warning that its addition will force churches to divide.
"INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC is entirely in harmony with the most grateful, solemn and happy feelings of which the human heart is susceptible. Indeed, sacred music upon an instrument, tends, in a very considerable degree, to excite solemn and holy emotions; and we cannot forbear to say, that could the music of our churches be improved—could it be accompanied with an instrument, it would add very much to the solemnity of our worship; it would soothe and calm the feelings of the auditors; it would improve the order of the house; it would call into lively action the latent religious emotions of the heart, and add very much to the enjoyment on such occasions.
"Music exerts a mysterious charm upon man—it takes captive the citadel of life—carries him out of himself, and leads him where it will. The shrill fife and the rattling drum, inspire the soldier just about to enter into battle, with a zeal and daring which no hardship can overcome, and no danger intimidate, and causes him to rush headlong into the thickest of the combat, regardless of consequences. If martial music thus inspires the worshippers of Mars, will sacred music do less for the humble followers of the meek and lowly Jesus—the worshippers of the true and living God? No! It will not. It will inspire them, too, with zeal and courage, and impel them on to resist—-not flesh and blood with instruments of death, but principalities and powers—spiritual wickedness in high places, with the armor of God and the sword of the Spirit. G."
The argument drawn from the Psalms in favor of instrumental music, is exceedingly apposite to the Roman Catholic, English Protestant, and Scotch Presbyterian churches, and even to the Methodist communities. Their churches having all the world in them— that is, all the fleshly progeny of all the communicants, and being founded on the Jewish pattern of things—baptism being given to all born into the world of these politico-ecclesiastic communities—I wonder not, then, that an organ, a fiddle, or a Jews-harp, should be requisite to stir up their carnal hearts, and work into ecstasy their animal souls, else "hosannahs languish on their tongues, and their devotions die." And that all persons who have no spiritual discernment, taste, or relish for their spiritual meditations, consolations and sympathies of renewed hearts, should call for such aid, is but natural. Pure water from the flinty rock has no attractions for the mere toper or wine-bibber. A little alcohol, or genuine Cogniac brandy, or good old Madeira, is essential to the beverage to make it truly refreshing. So to those who have no real devotion or spirituality in them, and whose animal nature flags under the oppression of church service, I think with Mr. G., that instrumental music would be not only a desideratum, but an essential prerequisite to fire up their souls to even animal devotion. But I presume, to all spiritually-minded Christians, such aids would be as a cow bell in a concert.
-Millennial Harbinger, 1851, SERIES IV—VOL. 1, pages 581,582.
Music is a science, and therefore God is its author and ordained its laws. All melodies and harmonies dwelt in the mind of the Creator, before the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy;—therefore man did not invent Music, and after 6000 years of trial, he is now only making discoveries in the charming world of harmony.
But what is Music? Music is sound. Air waves, harmonized or made melodious according to the laws of time and tune, trembling along the ether path, coy, timid, shrinking, stealing to OUT ear, half afraid to touch the nerve, yet arousing with their light tread ecstasies in human souls, so rich, so varied, so overpowering, that they paint upon the tablets of our hearts all that we have ever imagined, in our dream pictures, of Paradise. But music has its moods. It does not always steal upon us in zephyr tones. It sometimes comes in its might, and power, and majesty. It thunders forth wonderful harmonies—great volumes of sound— mighty melodies that rush like tempests through our souls, awakening all enthusiasms, and all sublimities, and all great passions, and all wild emotions. Celestial motors, hitherto latent, are aroused, and the whole world within us is shaken, agitated, sublimed, and opened to the reception of thought that lifts us nearer to God and prepares us for the society of supernal hosts.
Music is sound, but all sounds are not music, and yet we are strangely under the control of sounds in nature which cannot be ranked under the head of music. So universally is this felt, that poets call all sounds music, that arouse vivid emotions in the hitman heart.
" "Tis not in the harp's soft melting tone,
That music and harmony dwell alone;
'Tis not in the voice so tender and clear,
That comes like an angel's song on the ear;
They both are sweet, but e'er dale and hill,
For me, there's as beautiful music still.
I hear it in every murmuring breath
That waves the bells of the purple heath,
In the watch dog's bark, in the shepherd's song,
In the rustic's laugh as it echoes along,
In the whirring sound of the wild bird's wing,—
There's music, there's music in everything."
Very many persons are soothed into forgetfulness of all irritations, and even of actual woes, by the sweet, soft sound of summer eves—when the last warble of the birds is heard, ere they drop into their cosy nests, and weird tones rill all the air.—'Tis then that emotions the most tender are aroused in our hearts; Days and loved ones long passed away come back again. We Lose all sense of the present, and live again in the beautiful past, when we were young, and full of life and strength and hope;—when the world was all a beautiful ideal, and the future full of sunny faces and bright eyes, and merry voices—when song and dance and laugh come back to us, and we are again in the midst of' the' loving and beloved, many of whom have passed away to the silence and night of the tomb. We awake from the dream and we see around us only the wrecks of what has been. Graves are at our feet, nature's song is hushed,—the birds have gone to slumber, the soft twilight has disappeared, a solemn stillness is upon all things, and darkness sinks down upon our hearts, as on the face of the world around us.
Others hear strange, wild music, when the winds are high—when the clouds are rushing through the tempest-tossed sky—when the ocean is madly leaping and foaming and singing the anthem of the storms—when lurid lightnings leap from the bosom of black thunder clouds—then, in the jubilee of the tempest, there are great emotions swelling within our souls—emotions of grandeur, sublimity, worship—emotions that humble and yet make us proud. We kneel, and half affrighted, pour forth a prayer. We feel proud to know that He who controls and directs the storm is our Great Father, and that we are the children of his love.
Thus, sounds, mere tremblings of the atmosphere, have a strange power over us. They depress us to sadness we cannot tell why. They bring back the glowing past. They arouse within us enthusiasm, courage, energy for the battle of life. In these sounds there is no human language—not a word to convey a thought—not a single premise laid down, nor a conclusion drawn, yet thoughts whirl through our brain and emotions swell our hearts as we listen. Who has not felt the stirring sounds of martial music—who does not grasp his sword and long for battlefields, as he hears the trumpet call to arms, or listens to the crash of cymbals or to the loud sounding timbrel? Who does not melt into tenderness under the influence of the clear dulcet notes of a human voice? Who does not bow in worship under the touching, thrilling, majestic tones of an organ? In truth, music—sound— has a wonderful power over us whether it comes through a human larynx, or the pipes of an organ, or the strings of a harp; the effect is the same—altogether emotional. Nor are these emotions always pleasant. We thrill with horror under the maniac's laugh; we tremble with fear under the shout of mighty masses of men swayed and governed by dark and dangerous passions; we are aroused to anger by the voice of taunting and insult. The passionate tones of the orator move us to tears, or terror, or fury. In a word, our whole emotional nature is controlled by sound.
Can such a power as this be given to the world merely to amuse it? Was it intended by its author that its influence should be felt by the rich and cultured alone? Was it excluded from hovels and cabins, the abodes of poverty? No; like all of God's great gifts to man, it is universal. Song is everywhere. Sweet sounds, like gushing waters, or gentle zephyrs, or golden sunshine, or beauteous flowers, are penetrating into cottages and palaces alike, making toil more grateful to the serf, and expelling demons from the hearts of kings. (Vol. xli. 2 *)
Man is the only earthly being capable of producing harmony. Animals have their own modes of expressing happiness and it is pleasant to hear them. But music, properly so called, is produced by man alone. Why was this charming faculty conferred on him? It must be intimately interwoven with his well-being—moulding his life—shaping his character—elevating or degrading him. Shall we leave to the developments of chance what should be cultivated? Shall we cultivate this great power as an accomplishment merely,—to be studied or not as we have time or means? Or shall we look upon it as of transcendent importance to the well-being of man?
To place music in its right position it must be made an essential part of a good education. It must come in not as an antagonist, but as the confederate of the most severe and exact sciences. Who originated the idea that music could not exist in the same brain with mathematics? Who gave the thought to the world that music was beneath the attention of the Philosopher? Surely if there be any one who needs the quickening, elevating, soothing influence of music more than another, it is he whose brain power has been depressed and overtaxed by severe application.
"O give me music, for my soul doth faint;
I'm sick of noise and care, and now my soul
Longs for some dying plaint, that may
The Spirit from its cell unsphere."
The effect of this "concord of sweet sounds" is marvelous, electric. The mind leaps up from beneath the pressure, and returns to its toil with renewed life and energy. Music is then nature's great stimulant for a mind depressed, and the want of a knowledge how to use this charming excitant leads many a student to the use of narcotic drugs or to the wine cup, for a renewal of the vital energy of the brain so essential to concentrated thought.
There is, then, no class of men who demand the grateful, cheering, composing influence of music more than patient, laborious, absorbed students, and therefore the University needs its influence more than the Common School or the Ladies' Seminary.
We have degraded music into a mere parlor accomplishment. We deem that strong men cannot condescend to so trifling an amusement, and therefore we have given it over to the ladies.—This we deem to be unwise. God never gave this beautiful talent to humanity to be thus ignored. Many a family has been saved from sorrow and ruin by gathering, at the close of day, the sons and daughters of the household around the piano, organ, or harp, and in the midst of soul-filling harmonies, losing all -wish to visit the theatre, opera, or drinking saloon. O these dark, dismal, cheerless, soulless, inharmonious!, discordant households! What a dismal power they are to urge the young to destruction! No wonder the pleasure-loving buy wishes to escape from the presence of scowling parents—no wonder that he rushes from the deserted fireside, to the society of congenial souls—where he can have bright faces, and wine, and music, and wit, and beauty— no wonder he hates home, and goes forth to the conflict of life without any songs in his heart or tender associations of loving smother and sisters to guard him from degradation and vicious associations.
Germany, deep-thinking and profound, did not overlook this great power, in making out her programme of national culture. All her departments of scholastic training must be interwoven with the charm and life of glorious music. How much the power of endurance of her children in brainwork—the patient research, and the vast learning for which they are celebrated, may be due to the power of this charming renovator, we cannot determine. But that their whole nation is under its influence in their social, religious, and intellectual life cannot be denied, and that in some departments of science and literature, Germany is in advance of the world, is, I believe, generally admitted.
But the question may arise: What kind of music should be introduced into our schools and colleges—vocal or instrumental? I say both, for both are essentially alike. Music is sound, and nothing but sound, turned into harmony or melody, and never was designed for aught else than to arouse and quicken our emotional nature. If this effect is produced upon the human heart, it is I think more critical than wise to contend about the source of the sounds, and insist that to give them a higher spirituality they must come from a human larynx rather than the pipes of an organ.
Can we, then, under any economy of religion praise God upon the harp or organ as well as with a human voice. Certainly, if emotions of praise are awakened in our souls by the music. It is not the air forced through either human lungs or organ pipes, that is the praise; but the emotions of love, and reverence, and tenderness that swell the heart under the quickening influence of the sound, that is the praise. If these conclusions be not correct can any man tell me why was harmonized sound added to the words? It is not pretended that the music gives us any new ideas— these are found in the words we sing and we "can comprehend them intellectually by reading, without the singing. It is admitted I think by all, except those unfortunate persons who are absolutely songless, that the music arouses feelings in the heart, not found there before and that it GIVES to the brain more vivid impressions of the thoughts presented to it than could be possible without its mystic influence. It is assumed that this quickening of the brain and heart comes from the thoughts found in the words and in no part from the sound of the singing. Again we ask, if this be true why was the music added? One of two positions must be admitted, either that there is power in mere sound to arouse brain and heart into earnest, loving sympathy with God and his Christ—or that all music is an incubus in worship and ought to be abandoned. But it is assumed that my singing the sacred words has some power over me that ho other music can produce. Then the consumptive whose voice refuses to sound aloud the emotions of his soul cannot worship. He listens to the sweet harmonies and melodies of the house of God and his soul is melted into love, He weeps, he prays, he rejoices, under the glorious stimulant, but if he cannot sing, he is aroused by the sound of other voices than his own—he is stimulated by the sweet sounds of praise around him. Is this acceptable praise to God who sees the melody within, though the voice is silent? Who dare say it is not? Then I ask if these emotions of praise can be aroused powerfully by means of an organ or harp, would we call the one an animal feeling and the other Spiritual? Sound in both cases has done the work. How are we to make the distinction, if the emotions are the same? I conclude then, that a wise expediency, acting under a general rather than a specific law, will allow all congregations to add that kind of music to their sacred words which will most profoundly arouse within their hearts feelings of praise and worship, and thus answer the design of the Creator in making it a means of moral elevation to his children. Nor should we feel irritated at each other for having different tastes in music. Some have unfortunately no appreciation of music either of melody or harmony. They were born without the faculty, and therefore we may expect to find them actively opposed to that which they cannot understand.— We should sincerely sympathise with all such, and no doubt we would, if they would not insist upon giving us just such learned criticisms on music, as blind men would be apt to make on the Solar Spectrum. Some can understand only simple melody of the very plainest kind. We should not expect them to delight in those beautiful harmonies, which so entrance the soul of the more talented. Now it would be sadly inexpedient to force an organ and a choir upon a congregation largely made up of persons to whom nature has not been lavish of her musical gift,—and on the other hand it would be tyrannical and oppressive if such congregations should put a bar on their more talented brethren and insist that they must worship God in nasal tones utterly oblivious of time or tune and expect them to feel any emotions but those of disgust. " Let us be kindly affectioned one to another," and avoid using harsh epithets about that which we do not understand. Let him who delights in those wonderful conglomerates of sound called music, refresh his soul in that way and manner that suits him best, but surely all men of sense must see that it would be ludicrous to make such music or such men standards of taste. On the other hand—let not the more talented brother he hasty in his condemnation of him who cannot sing, but who can make a joyful noise to the God of his salvation, for, though generally true, it is not always so, that "the man that hath not music in himself nor is not stirred by concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the movings of his spirit are black as night, and his affections dark as Erebus; let no such man be trusted." But of all things beware of making a bond of union of this music question. I cannot call that act by any other name than wicked which would rend asunder a Church of Christ on any such issue.
How wonderful is this whole question of music and its influence. How vast the range of sound over the emotional nature of man and how necessary that it should be cultivated into melodies and harmonies, which are the exponents of something within, and which tend to subdue the fierce, proud, savage spirit which finds embodiment in storms and tempests—the cry of the lonely eagle, or the tumultuous waters of the mountain torrent.
Let there be music in every department of our Universities-— Music of all kinds and suited to all classes, and let the students go forth from their halls with brain and heart and voice all harmonized, and knowing from the pleasant experience of the past, that when dark days lower down upon them, and misfortune seems ready to crush them, and the cold world frown upon them, and all hopes of earth die within them, that in the music that sounds forth from the house of prayer, from the altar of warm hearts, there is a comforter that the world cannot give nor take away.
-Enos Campbell, Millennial Harbinger, January, 1870, pages 15-22.
[The following reply to an article in the January number of the Harbinger, by ' E . , ' is from the pen of brother ' H . , ' of the Apostolic Times. The propriety of using musical instruments in our church worship, is a question of daily increasing practical importance. Many of our congregations already use instruments; and many more, which do not admit them into the worship of the church, encourage or allow them in the Sunday Schools. Many families use the melodeon or piano in accompaniment to the voice in private worship, and thus there is a gradual familiarity with the employment of instruments in sacred music growing up among us, that can scarcely' fail to educate the disciples to the employment of them in the public worship of the congregation. I presume to say that there is equal piety and sincerity on both sides of this investigation, and hope that it will be conducted with the only weapons that can permanently influence minds so trained to independent investigation as are our brethren. The investigation ought not to become a controversy. Let us look calmly and courteously for the truth, for there are good men and argumentative minds on both sides. The question is not to be settled by dogmatism nor denunciation. Ridicule nor sarcasm can neither deter the advocates of this new custom from introducing it, nor silence its opponents in their sincere and deliberate sentiments of resistance. Let us sift it to the bottom, as we have done many another knotty question, and then kindly and fraternally harmonize upon the verdict of the general judgment. We have been free and frank to express our own judgment on the subject, but desire to have all views fairly and fully represented. It would foe well if those who write on the question would clearly define the ground on which they propose to rest the argument, and then adhere logically to the discussion of the definite issue. Is there express and specific scripture teaching against instrumental music in church worship? Or must we rest opposition upon the ground of expediency? Let the writers make their election, and then in discussion adhere to the one or the other issue, or to both, and we may hope to come to some conclusion that will be satisfactory.— W. K. P.]
"In the January Millennial Harbinger for the current year, is an article on the above subject, and signed " E . , " from which I wish to make some extracts and on which I wish to offer a few comments. " E . , " judging from the style of the piece, is a man of scholarly attainments. He writes beautifully and tastefully. But a very unsound doctrine may be written in very graceful language. A most fallacious and untruthful statement may be expressed in an utterance that is verbally, grammatically, and rhetorically, faultless. It is said that fine feathers make the bird.—However this may be, fine clothes do not make the man. Nor does logic, nor reason, nor argument consist in rhetorical flourishes and aesthetical sentences. A chaste diction is not quite synonymous with hard logic among a thinking people. " E . , " opens his battery of the "true, beautiful and good" upon the readers of the Harbinger in the following grand boom:
"Music is a science, and therefore God is its author and ordained its laws. All melodies and harmonies dwelt in the mind of the Creator, before the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy; therefore man did not invent music, and after six thousand years of trial he is now only making discoveries in the charming world of harmony."
This is true. It is beautifully said. Who doubts its truth or the beauty of it? But does it follow that because God ordained music and its laws, that he ordained musical instruments and all the uses to which they are put? Did he ordain the drum and fife to stir up the soldier's blood and excite him to the terrible deed of taking human life? Does he justify the taking of human life in war, because the soldier's emotional nature is stimulated to the deed under the influence of music? Has God ordained the music of the fiddle and the purposes to which the fiddle is devoted? The violin stirs up the emotional nature and inspirits one with an intense desire to participate in the intoxicating dance and the sensuous, yea, sensual waltz. And who that was a devotee of the dance could not speak in wild raptures of the joyous ballroom scene and accompaniments—the queenly beauty of the women, the dazzling show of their diamond jewels, &c., their gracefully floating robes, the poetry of motion, the delirium of joy, the the dream of Paradise, the sweet, soft, delicious music discoursed from Paganini's favorite instrument, and all the spirit-stirring, emotion-exciting, and soul-enrapturing concomitants of the hour? Grand, glorious, beautiful, emotional, ecstatic is that violin music, and that voluptuous dance. So it is. But it is the sensuous ecstasy of a sensuous soul, of the earth earthy, of the flesh fleshy—a worldly bliss of which the heart is so full that there is no room in it for God or the thought of religion.
"Music is a science, and therefore God is its author and has ordained its laws." Most true. But has he ordained, as we have before asked, the various uses to which men put it? That is the question. Has he ordained the music of the "spirit-stirring drum and ear-piercing fife" in war, the "quickening music" of the fiddle in the dance, the deep-toned harmonies of the organ in the worship in his house? Why not all as well as one of these be ordained by him, if because he has ordained the music, therefore he has ordained the instruments and the use of them? Why not, if there be (as " E . " in another part of his article contends) no specific law, but a general one covering the case of music, and that general law, a permission to use it "as man may make discoveries in the charming world of harmony," of the adaptedness of the music to arouse his emotions and promote his enjoyments both in Society and the church. " E . " forgets that worship is specifically ordained of God. He is the author of man, of music and of worship. He thoroughly knows man and his emotional nature. The reading of a novel, the performance at a theatre, and the song at a secular concert may cause the heart to swell with tenderness," and move it even to tears. God made the heart, ordained the laws of emotion, and desires tenderness to spring up and abide in that heart. But has he ordained the novel, the profane song and the theatre to produce that tenderness? Will the tenderness thus produced be religious, and is it in accordance with his will that these instrumentalities, or kindred ones, be brought into use in his house, in his worship, in order to accomplish that result? He knows that music will excite emotions of praise and love to him. He knows that the music of an organ will not excite these emotions, but others purely sensuous—mere counterfeits, spiritually, which our "more talented brethren" mistake for the genuine. He knows that with them, under the plea of musical culture, "religion would degenerate into music," and that all spirituality and love-producing power would be eviscerated from the Christian worship. Hence he has not ordained instrumental music, either wind or stringed, in the worship in his house and among the ordinances of a "pure and undefiled religion." God desires to awake in us "the emotions of love, and reverence, and tenderness that swell the heart;" he aims to do this, in pari, by "the quickening influence of music," but he wills to accomplish it by the music of song—the harmony and melody of sacred vocal music. In proof, he has ordained " singing, making melody in your heart," in the house of God. Again " E . " says:
"It is admitted I think by all, except those unfortunate persons who are absolutely songless, that the music arouses feelings in the heart not found there before, and that it gives to the brain more vivid impressions of the thoughts presented to it than could be possible without its mystic influence. It is assumed that this quickening of the brain and heart comes from the thoughts found in the words and in no part from the sound of the singing.— Again we ask, if this be true, why was the music added? One of two positions must be admitted, either that there is power in mere sound to arouse brain and heart into earnest, loving sympathy with God and his Christ, or that all music is an incubus in worship and ought to be abandoned."
I would remark that the statement of " E . " in regard to what is admitted contradicts his declaration as to what is assumed.— His allusion to the "absolutely songless" does not bring relief in the case. If all admit that " the music arouses feelings in the heart," &c., that could not possibly be produced "without its mystic influence," then there can be none to assume that these feelings are aroused by "the thoughts found in the words and in no part by the sound of the singing." If not inconsistent with the proper use of words I would both assume and admit that this "it is assumed" of " E . " is simply the coinage of his own exuberantly imaginative brain. He must be not only "absolutely songless," but absolutely brainless or wicked who, knowing that God had by positive enactment added music to the words in worship, would dare to express the blasphemous conviction that the beneficial influence of this part of the worship is attributable solely “to the thoughts found in the words and in no part to the sound of the singing." I beg leave to suggest that fancy is not fact, and that it would be quite difficult for " E . " to point out the men alluded to under his “it is assumed.”
But the most startling and objectionable statement of this "more talented" brother is, that unless we admit that "mere sound "—sound in and of itself—"has power to arouse brain and heart into earnest, loving sympathy with God and his Christ," then we must admit "that all music is an incubus in worship and ought to be abandoned." I admit neither. I deny both. God has commanded us to sing—to sing in words, to sing in the spirit and in the understanding. I am profoundly amazed, therefore, at the ignorance of the man in the supposed case, who contends that the power of music " to arouse brain and heart," &c., is owing to thoughts found in the words," without the sound of the singing, and that of the man in the real case before us, who contends that the arousing to this "earnest, loving sympathy with God and his Christ," can be produced by mere sound, without the words.— May I not ask, Why then were the words added? Why sing at all? If mere sound will produce this emotional, spiritual result, then what does it matter as to what is piped, harped or organed? Why not the "sounding brass or tinkling cymbal?"
As I advance in years I am constantly learning something new. I am much indebted to " E . " for valuable information. For the first time I have learned that the 1' power of music to arouse brain and heart into earnest, loving sympathy with God and his Christ," resides, according to one, in "the thoughts of the words alone, and in no part in the sound of the singing," and, according to another, in the mere sound of the music independent of the "thoughts found in the words." But this is not all. Unless we admit this theory of mere sound, we must regard “all music as an incubus in worship, and therefore abandon it." God has joined together words and singing in the worship that belongs to his house. “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder," is a declaration of the Savior concerning marriage that applies to music as well. Let us, then, in our worship, have not the words without the music, nor the music without the words, but both the sound and the words. And let the sound be that of the human voice and not that of harp or pipe, violin or organ. " E " must excuse us less talented ones for not accepting his senseless theory of "mere sound," and the wicked conclusion to which its non-acceptance would lead us—the abandonment of all music in the house of God. Let us quote once more:
"Nor should we feel irritated at each other for having different tastes in music. Some have unfortunately no appreciation of music, either of melody or harmony. They were born without the faulty, and therefore we may expect to find them actively opposed to what they cannot understand. We should sincerely sympathize with such, and no doubt we would, did they not insist upon giving us just such a learned criticism upon music as a blind man would be apt to make on the solar spectrum. Some can understand only simple melody of the very plainest kind. We should not expect them to delight in those beautiful harmonies which so entrance the souls of the more talented. Now, it would be sadly inexpedient to force an organ and a choir upon a congregation largely made up of persons to whom nature had not been lavish of her musical gifts—and on the other hand it would be tyrannical and oppressive if such congregations should put a bar on their more talented brethren and insist that they must worship God in nasal tones, utterly oblivious of time or tune, and expect them to feel any emotions but those of disgust. ' Let us be kindly affectioned one to another,' and avoid using harsh epithets about that which we do not understand."
To " E. ," it seems, must belong the exclusive privilege of using harsh epithets and insulting insinuations. The question in discussion in the above quotation, is most unfairly put. If so stated in ignorance, then " E. " himself is guilty of writing about "what he does not understand." If stated in a knowledge of the precise issue, then he has intentionally misrepresented his brethren.— This misrepresentation is the more reprehensible because the writer, among his many assumptions, assumes to be in the possession of a most amiable, Christ-like spirit, and from his lofty spiritual eminence to exhort his less endowed brethren "not to be irritated at each other," "not to use harsh epithets," and "to be kindly affectioned one to another." Such preaching is sound, in the sense of wholesome. It is first-rate preaching. But I should like to see, in this case, and in all others, the sound doctrine endorsed by a practice rigidly consistent therewith. It is painful to say in the case of " E. ," that this consistency does not exist. Indeed, I have no hesitation in saying, that of all the articles that have been written, which I have read, on the subject of music in worship, this one of " E. ," in the Harbinger, is in tone and spirit the most objectionable. It appears to have but two main, noticeable features. It is an effort at fine writing, in proof that " E. " belongs to the class of the "more talented" in the department of musical culture. It is a sneer—supercilious and prolonged—at all who oppose his ipse dixit, as unable to understand, appreciate or enjoy "beautiful harmonies." I do not believe that there is a church or a man among us that either advocates or desires a church-music in which God is to be worshiped in "nasal tones, utterly oblivious of time or tune." I venture the assertion that " E. " does not either. Then why did he say it? Did he not know that it would "irritate?" Is there nothing "harsh" in speaking of those who favor vocal music alone in the church as being "actively opposed to what they can not understand;" as being about as competent "to make learned criticisms on music as a blind man would be apt to make on the solar spectrum;" and as "insisting that all must worship God in nasal tones, utterly oblivious of time or tune?" Is the issue fairly put by " E ? " He knows that it is not. Why then did he put it unfairly?
The truth is this. Here and there may be found one who is opposed to all harmony in church-music and who contends for melody alone. But time and tune belong to melody as well as to harmony. And this vocal melody is not sought for in "nasal tones" by its advocates. The assertion that it is, is a misrepresentation if not an insult.
The majority among us (the dissenters are so few that this may be said to be the almost unanimous view), advocate the very highest musical culture, and desire in the house of God the very best music we can have, consistently with his word. We agree that the best music is harmony and melody combined. What, then, is the bone of contention, the cause of strife, the apple of discord? It is this. There is a party sprung up among us, wise above what is written, that desires to use instrumental music in the worship in God's house. The question is not, shall our church-music be improved, nor, shall we have good music, both melody and harmony—music ever mindful of both time and tune? No, not that. No controversy here. The issue is this. Shall this very best music that we can have in worship be vocal alone. or shall it be vocal and instrumental combined? The argument is: Shall it be vocal according to the specific law of the Lord, or shall instrumental be added according to an imaginary rule of expediency, founded upon a still more imaginary general law that may, perhaps, apply in the case. As all parties advocate vocal music, the controversy is narrowed down to this: Shall instrumental music be used in the house of God? A "more talented" brother has no excuse to offer for his misstatement of the case.— It was misstated, doubtless, for a purpose. It is to be hoped that in all future discussions of the question, the issue will be precisely made, the arguments directed to the point in debate, and that reason and logic be used instead of fancy and assumptions. Let men say pretty things if they please and if they can; but let these pretty things be also both sound and true. The article of " E " is pretty, very pretty; but "further, this deponent saith not."
-Millennial Harbinger, VOL. XLI. 15, March, 1870, pages 164-171 (as copied from The Apostolic Times, March 10, 1870, page 382)
Letter From Sister Campbell
Dear Brother Lard,
I send you for publication the rolling interesting letter from Sister Campbell—a mother in Israel, an humble, earnest, Christian woman, and the widow of Alexander Campbell. She addressed the letter to her relative, Enos Campbell, in remonstrance against the advocacy by him of the use of instrumental music in worship. She sends me a copy of the letter, authorizing me to publish it, in whole or in part, if, in my judgment, the publication would result in any good. She does not attempt to thoroughly argue the matter. The letter contains interesting allusion to the worship in the Bethany mansion, and the Bethany church, and expresses the deep grief of a good woman’s heart over the prospective trouble that is, possibly, in store for us in connection with this innovation. We all highly esteem and love Sister Campbell, and it is to be hoped that this earnest, solemn, affectionate protest will not be without influence in removing from our worship a practice that is wholly without sanction, and that is only productive of evil, and that continually.
Signed ' H . , '
Bethany House, March 28, 1870
Elder Enos Campbell:
Very Dear Brother:—I have been thinking much about you, and therefore, I want to express myself seriously and solemnly to you on what I consider an important, solemn topic—that of aiding and abetting instrumental music being introduced into the worshiping assemblies of the house God, “which is the pillar and support of the truth.” I want to speak plainly and honestly to you on this soul-absorbing topic, which is now agitating the churches everywhere, and wounding, and piercing to the inmost heart of many of our best and most devoted brethren and sister. I shall not attempt to argue the case with you, but only make a few statements of fact as they shall occur to me.
In the first place, permit me to tell you that I have just finished reading the very able and Christian-like resins of Bro. H., as contained int he March No. of the Harbinger,) to Bro. E.’s article, published in the January number of 1870. I have also read with care again and again that prettily written dissertation on music by E. In the January number alluded to. I can not do justice to my own feelings nor to you by the pen, for I more amply elaborate my views, (and, I believe, more effectually,) in conversation. But first, let me state, that I take it for granted you are the person who writes over the signature of E. In the Millennial Harbinger. I know of olden time your fondness for music, and am more impressed from the sentiment and style of the article alluded to that you are the author. At any rate, be that as it may, allow me of your clemency to pen a few scattered thoughts on the subject before us.
You, Bro. Enos Campbell, know full well that I love music, both vocal and instrumental. You know full well, too, that as sure as the morning and evening sacrifice was attended to, that the songs of Zion resounded in this old mansion. But never was instrumental music tolerated or called in to aid the worship in the family. No, the revered patriarch advocated the “melody of the heart” in unison with the “human voice divine” in the worship of the family and in the church; and if he were upon earth now he would do the same. He wrote about it and spoke about it. That you are well aware of, and he never yielded to the teaching of men in regard to the matter. He never approved nor recognized “expediency” as a doctrine to introduce it into the worship of the living God—in the Christian Church. I say again, you are aware that he did not.—He was not opposed to music; for, as I have heard him say, that he had studied it as a science when young, and understood “time well,” but that he was he was born tuneless. Yet no one enjoyed more than he did, both in the family and in the house of worship, the songs of Zion, and the praises of the Lord of Hosts; and he always united in making a “joyful noise,” as he used to say. But never did he enjoy the bereaving, reverberating sound of the organ or the melodeon in the house of worship. I have bee in various cities with him where they had organs in the houses kindly offered by sectarian friends for him to preach in. I was confident while they introduced the worship with the sound of the organ, that though Mr. Campbell complaisantly yielded to it, he at the same time cordially disapproved of it. It was an annoyance to him, and nothing but Christian forbearance led him to endure it, even for the short season. They might as well introduce others Jewish ceremonies to conflict with the Christian worship—that of the sackbut and harp. As for myself, I can truly say that I have tried to sing, (years past,) in unison with the instrument in the house of worship, but could never enjoy myself in the “spirit-making melody in my heart.” I know the young and the gay an fire each others souls in singing different parts and duets on the piano, but illy would that comport with the solemnity of the worship of God. And as for the leading worldly choir in the gallery, I looked upon it as a profanation, and always languished under it with sorrow of heart!
But will you say, What of all this that you have said? There are no arguments in all of your already lengthy remarks. Well, perhaps not. But let what has been said have its weight, if it have any! But now I refer you to yourself, my brother, and desire you to give me one command or example in the New Testament for using instrumental music. Did the apostles or the primitive Christians use them? And were they commanded to use them by the Divine Teachers? I feel assured that you can not lay your finger upon one such command. But to sing praises and make “melody in the heart” you can. You will not certainly adopt the manner of the sectarians in argument and say, as they say in regard to baptism, “We are at liberty to have different forms.” Or, perhaps. You will say in this case as a dear brother, (now no more,) said not long since in his preaching: “This is a progressive age, and we must adopt music (that is, instrumental,) in our churches.” Who ever heard of the precepts and teachings of the blessed Savior being progressive in their nature? We, as Christians, may be progressive in our faith, in holiness, and in all the Christian graces and virtues, but the Savior’s teachings are a unit—they are divine, and mean the same thing in all ages, and need no progressive influence. I fear, I tremble for innovations in the Church of Christ.—Let the truthfulness and simplicity of the gospel prevail, no matter what fanciful or imaginative men may think or say. We, as a body of Christians, understand the New Testament (just as though it had fallen from heaven) as we do, can no admit anything into the worship that has not “a thus saith the Lord.” We can not be so pliant or complaisant as Henry Ward Beecher, who said, “That if any one wished it he would baptize them every week or month.” No, my dear Bro. E., this should not be—this can not be the case with us—who have the precious volume of God our Father in our hands, and the full effulgence of the Sun of Righteousness beaming upon us.
I say that I tremble for the church when innovations are being made. We should, as humble followers of Christ, say as the great apostles once said, “That if meat caused his brother to stumble, or be grieved, or offended, that he would not eat meat so long as he lived.” But how many of our brethren, though without precept or example, glory in triumphing over a weak brother or a sister, as they esteem them, by urging the use of the organ or the melodeon in the house where the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich, assemble together to worship the meek and lowly, loving Jesus.
You that are determined to have your own way by introducing into the church what you must admit is of doubtful disputation, and what has been done so long without, think soberly and seriously upon this matter, and see whether it was add to the good fo the brotherhood or to the glory of God.—And here let me as the favor of those who are abetting instrumental music to please read Mr. Campbell’s article on that subject, as they will find it in the Harbinger for the year 1851, page 581.
I say again that I fear innovations, and trust that the good old brethren that are yet left standing on the walls of Zion will be faithful before they go hence, in lifting up their warning voices against everything and anything that looks like a departure from the simplicity and holiness of the blessed gospel. This fashionable day and generation is putting very assiduously and insidiously many claims to a sinful conformity to the customs and fashions of the day that will not yield good fruit either to their own souls or to the glory of God. Some, I fear, are loving to be called, “Rabbi” and styled “Reverend,” at the same time knowing that there is no authority for it; for in the Scriptures are no Reverends. How would it look for us, speaking of Peter and Paul, to call them the Rev. Mr. Paul and the Rev. Mr. Peter? Would it not look supremely ridiculous? And yet I have heard that even some of our brethren have desired to be addressed as the Rev. Mr. so and so, and that, too, though they had it not in years nor in their superior wisdom.—But according to the Scriptures, how beautifully opposite it is, when speaking of the Most High, to say, “Holy and Reverend is they name.” The good John Newton (an Episcopalian,) when the degree of Doctorship was conferred upon him, returned it by saying, “that if he wished to take degrees of Doctorship, that he must go back to Africa where he had been the slave of slaves.” But here let me add another thought whilst speaking of the brethren.—Whilst I do believe that they “love one another with pure hearts fervently,” making all due allowance for the infirmity of our nature, and still keeping in mind the beautiful saying of the psalmist, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity;” and again, to remember the apostle’s exhortation, (and how needful to be practiced among the brotherhood,) “Be pitiful; be courteous.” What an influence it would have upon themselves and upon society at large brethren, when speaking or uniting, and especially the editorial corps, would they but remember and practice this soothing and beautifying spirit, which you know was so perfectly exemplified in all our Divine Master said and did whilst he sojourned upon earth.
O, my good brother, seeing that your “work of faith and labor of love” in the good cause has been so long eminently blessed, may I not hope that you will still go on to perfection by “endeavoring to keep the verity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.” Labor to keep peace and good will in the Church, and strive to keep out this untaught and unprofitable question in regard to the Jewish organ; & c., being introduced into the Christian worship. Let our worship be the incense of the heart, rising spontaneously with our morning and evening expressions of gratitude, supplications, thanksgivings, deprecations, and prayers.
Now, may the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in u that which is well pleasing in this sight through Jesus Christ. To whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Please present my Christian love to your lovely and beloved wife.
I remain, your sister in the good hope of eternal life,
S. H. Campbell (Selina Huntington Campbell)
The Apostolic Times, July 7, 1870, page 99.