But if the prescription of new tunes does not end congregational singing, I have another suggestion. Get an irreligious choir, and put them in a high balcony back of the congregation. I know choirs who are made up chiefly of religious people, or those, at least, respectful for sacred things. That will never do, if you want to kill the music. The theatrical troupe are not busy elsewhere on Sabbath, and you can get them at half price to sing the praises of the Lord. Meet them in the green room at the close of the “Black Crook” and secure them. They will come to church with opera-glasses, which will bring the minister so near to them they can, from their high perch, look clear down his throat and see his sermon before it is delivered. They will make excellent poetry on Deacon Goodsoul as he carries around the missionary box. They will write dear little notes to Gonzaldo, asking him how his cold is and how he likes gum-drops. Without interfering with the worship below, they can discuss the comparative fashionableness of the “basque” and the “polonaise,” the one lady vowing she thinks the first style is “horrid,” and the other saying she would rather die than be seen in the latter; all this while the chorister is gone out during sermon to refresh himself with a mint-julep, hastening back in time to sing the last hymn. How much like heaven it will be when, at the close of a solemn service, we are favored with snatches from Verdi’s “Trovatore,” Meyerbeer’s “Huguenots” and Bellini’s “Sonnambula,” from such artists as
Prima Donna Soprano, from Grand Opera House, Paris.
Basso Buffo, from Royal Italian Opera.
First Baritone, of His Majesty’s Theatre, Berlin.
If after three months of taking these two prescriptions the congregational singing is not thoroughly dead, send me a letter directed to my name, with the title of O.F.M. (Old Fogy in Music), and I will, on the receipt thereof, write Another prescription, which I am sure will kill it dead as a door nail, and that is the deadest thing in all history.
The battle of pew and pulpit.
Two more sermons unloaded, and Monday morning I went sauntering down town, ready for almost anything. I met several of my clerical friends going to a ministers’ meeting. I do not often go there, for I have found that some of the clerical meetings are gridirons where they roast clergymen who do not do things just as we do them. I like a Presbyterian gridiron no better than a Methodist one, and prefer to either of them an old-fashioned spit, such as I saw one summer in Oxford, England, where the rabbit is kept turning round before a slow fire, in blessed state of itinerancy, the rabbit thinking he is merely taking a ride, while he is actually roasting.