Every time since the unfortunate struggle I have described, when Nick and I take a country walk and pass a dog fight, he comes close up by my side, and looks me in the eye with one long wipe of the tongue over his chops, as much as to say, “Easier to get into a fight than to get out of it. Better jog along our own way;” and then I preach him a short sermon from Proverbs xxvi. 17: “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.”
The massacre of church music.
There has been an effort made for the last twenty years to kill congregational singing. The attempt has been tolerably successful; but it seems to me that some rules might be given by which the work could be done more quickly, and completely. What is the use of having it lingering on in this uncertain way? Why not put it out of its misery? If you are going to kill a snake, kill it thoroughly, and do not let it keep on wagging its tail till sundown. Congregational singing is a nuisance, anyhow, to many of the people. It interferes with their comfort. It offends their taste. It disposes their nose to flexibility in the upward direction. It is too democratic in its tendency. Down with congregational singing, and let us have no more of it.
The first rule for killing it is to have only such tunes as the people cannot sing!
In some churches it is the custom for choirs at each service to sing one tune which the people know. It is very generous of the choir to do that. The people ought to be very thankful for the donation. They do not deserve it. They are all “miserable offenders” (I heard them say so), and, if permitted once in a service to sing, ought to think themselves highly favored. But I oppose this singing of even the one tune that the people understand. It spoils them. It gets them hankering after more. Total abstinence is the only safety; for if you allow them to imbibe at all, they will after a while get in the habit of drinking too much of it, and the first thing you know they will be going around drunk on sacred psalmody.
Beside that, if you let them sing one tune at a service, they will be putting their oar into the other tunes and bothering the choir. There is nothing more annoying to the choir than, at some moment when they have drawn out a note to exquisite fineness, thin as a split hair, to have some blundering elder to come in with a “Praise ye the Lord!” Total abstinence, I say! Let all the churches take the pledge even against the milder musical beverages; for they who tamper with champagne cider soon get to Hock and old Burgundy.