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Having reviewed the above instrument, we are not only confirmed in our opinion therein expressed, but have an increased opinion of the evils, and of the dangers to which the contrary tends.
Of these, although not among the most material, yet worthy of notice, is its occasional standing in the way of a courteous interchange of ministerial services among the clergy. Those of the body, who conceive of themselves to be conscientiously bound by what they know to be the intendment of the rubric, cannot but refuse to officiate, with the omission of the ante-communion, however sanctioned by the custom of a particular place: and although the stated minister should condescend to tolerate a practice different from his own, yet the diversity cannot but have a disparaging tendency in the estimation of a congregation.
Secondly. The conscience of every bishop is occasionally implicated in the subject. A deacon offers for the priesthood, after administering habitually.in violation of what the other believes to be the meaning of the rubric; wbile the one is to require, and the other is to promise conformity to it. On a presbyter's contemplating removal to another diocese, he finds it important to his character and to his prospects, that there should be certified conformity to the institutions of the Church; of the contrary to which the .bishop has been credibly informed. It will be said, that in each of the supposed cases, the party may have conducted himself conscientiously, and agreeably to his own interpretation of the rubric. Let this be supposed the case; but let it also be granted, that the bishop, in taking his line of conduct, has also a conscience to be satisfied, and a right of interpretation to be sustained. At the same time let it be remembered, that of those who reject the constant use of the service in question, none plead conscientious scruples for their conduct.
If there be any case in which this matter, more than in any other, may press on the conscience of a bishop, it must be, when he is called to the duty of consecrating to the Episcopacy; and when the bishop elect, before a step is taken in the act of consecration, is to take on his lips the solemn form of words prepared for him; with the understanding in the minds of bis consecrators, that lie intends & deviation from the order of the Church, on so extensive a branch of her services as that in question.
Thirdly. The misinterpretation is an assumption of the whole legislative authority of the Church; leading, in its consequences, to the setting aside of a very great proportion of the Book of Common Prayer. In our former communication we admitted, and now admit, that the favourers of the innovation are in the habit of using the ante-communion service on all occasions of the administration of the communion. We remarked, that their doing so was in contrariety to their construction; and that if others, under the shelter of it, should dismiss the ante-communion service whenever a sermon is to follow; and with it, the collects, the epistles, and the gospels; no fault, on the ground taken, can be charged. In the case supposed, why should there be retained such useless lumber in the liturgy? This was substantially set forth in our former communication; and is now repeated, for the purpose of exhibiting the matter in the light of the exercise of the whole legislative authority of the Church; and that, in the great extent to which it has been referred to.
To prepare for a further elucidation of the part of the canon in question, we here transcribe it—"Upon the Sundays and other holy days (if there be no sermon or communion) shall be said all that is appointed at the communion, unto the end of the gospel, concluding with the Blessing."
The question turns on the sense of the words “ or," and their dependence on the preceding preposition “if.” The dictionaries explain this word, by the synonymous terms—“suppose that” and “allow that," and etymologists deduce it from the word “ give;" which must be its sense in the English rubric; since otherwise whenever the communion is to be administered, the ante-communion service is to be dispensed with; an absurdity wbieh none will advocate.
The sense of this rubric may be perceived the more clearly, by remarking its connexion with that immediately before the sentences. The latter says—" then shall follow the sermon;" after which, according to the same rubric, the minister is to repair to the Lord's table, and to begin the offertory. The rubric now in question does not dispense with any thing before enjoined, but supposes cases of exception, in regard to what is to follow, saying—" if there be no sormon or communion," &c.
In consideration of the premises, the House of Bishops respectfully propose to the House of Clerical and Lay De puties the following canon :
A Canon explanatory of the first Part of the Rubric at the
end of the Communion Service.
" Whereas, in the first part of the last rubric in The Order for the Administration of the Communion,' the allowing of the officiating minister, there being no sermon or communion, to proceed to the Blessing; was owing to the circumstance, that without such a proviso, his doing so would not have been agreeable to the rubric: it shall be the duty of every minister of this Church, in the celebration of divine service on Sundays and other holy days, to recite that part of the service which commonly has the name of the ante-communion service."
No. 35. Page 257.
Thoughts on the Proposal of Alterations in the Book of Psalms
in Metre, and in the Hymns, now before a Committee of the General Convention: By a Member of the Committee.
The subject shall be considered as it respects—Ist. The Book of Psalmsin metre—2dly. The Hymns already adopted; and_3dly. The adoption of others.
Let the Book of Psalms in metre, as translated by Tate and Brady, be continued entire, until another entire translation shall be presented, and thought preferable after deliberate examination by those the best qualified to judge of the work, us to the integrity of it, and as to its poetic merit. It is not understood that any such translation is in readiness; and, as to altering of the book in particular passages, it is a course which, once begun on, is likely to be continued, by'a succession of changes without end. Probably the book will never be the same, longer than from one General Convention to another.*
Some are for printing only select passages of the book ; and the reason given is, that the greater part of it is never used. It is here predicted, that let the selection be made with ever so much care, there will be complaints of the omission of passages, which, it will be said, ought to have Deen retained ; and of the retaining of others, which, it will also be said, might have been well spared. This was sufficiently experienced in the reception of what was called the Proposed Book. Where fastidiousness of criticism may grow out of mere difference of taste, why not leave every man to his own ?
* These remarks were not designed to discountenance a measure subsequently adopted by the assembled members of the committee—the appointing of a subcommittee to report to an adjourned meeting-any deviations which there may be from the most correct copies, and any mis-translations of the original.
But, say they, it is an unnecessary swelling of the volume. For this, there is an easy remedy. The metre psalms are no part of the Book of Common Prayer; and no law of the Church will be violated, if there should be editions with such selections as the favourers of the works may approve of; who would have none to please but themselves. The license is allowable in reference to the hymns also.
Let the hymns already adopted be retained; because there can be no material use in the contrary, and because it would counteract the tendency to perpetual change. Be it, that here and there we find a line or two not defensible. Let these be altered in future editions. The alterations would be slight, and not materially affect the use of the present books. In giving numbers to the new hymns, there should be a continuation of those of the old.
In favour of new hymns it is pleaded, that there are some occasions not specially provided for. Be it so: and let a few hymns be chosen for those occasions. The necessity for any more may be doubted of; considering that for the usual subjects of praise and thanksgiving, and for the expression of penitence, and for the impressing of a great variety of salutary instruction, we have an abundant supply in the Book of Psalms. Yet, if there should be proposed additional hymns, not too many, and not only correct in sentiment, but excelling in poetic merit, no objection is here made.
Most decidedly is there objected to the taste of some, disposing them to wish for hymns, in which the same subjects are again and again repeated in varied phraseology. It is denied that this contributes to devotion; and the denial is grounded on the well known property of the human character, that when religious sensibilities have been often excited by certain words, the repetition of them is more likely to produce the like excitement than other words comprehending the same sentiments. The principle is applicable to other subjects, and accounts for the long duration of the effects of popular ballads-especially the wonder-working one of the Swiss. Whether the inviting feeling be religion or patriotism,
makes nothing as to the question of effect. Let it be sup« posed that some poet should compose a song, expressing the sentiments in “Rule Britannia,” &c. and equal to that song in versification. Can it be supposed, that the new song, or any occasion interesting the public mind, would have an equal effect with the accustoined words? It is ňot to be imagined. Much less would this be likely to happen, if the new song should have a new tune tacked to it.
Divine wisdom has accommodated to this property of human nature: of which there is an interesting instance in Deuteronomy xxvi. 5—“ A Syrian was my father," &c. This was a form to be repeated without variation from year to year; no regard being had to the taste of those whose ears have a relish for great variety in words. So, when the ark “ set forward,” it was always with the invocation“ Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee, flee before thee:” and when it rested, it was with—"Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.” In each case, the same words were repeated always: and in after times, when the services of the temple were arranged, they were invariable.
In order to perceive the ground of this procedure in human nature, we should distinguish between what is gratifying to the intellect, or to the imagination, or to the ear, and that which is an excitement of devotion, or of sensibility in any other department. The former kind of gratification requires variety ; but as producing the latter, sameness is more effective.
It is no objection, that in the Book of Psalms, we find the same sentiments in a variety of diction. Those compositions were such, as present state of mind, and present circumstances of life, suggested to the mind of the sacred poet. The fact has no bearing on periodical returns of devotion, whether public or private.
There seems no reason for difference in this respect, between psalmody and prosaic prayer. Under the latter head, we have the stated form of the Lord's Prayer; and there are extant other forms, attended on by him and by his apostles in the synagogues. Our Church has adopted the principle in this department. We know, that some would make inroads on this arrangement. . But what is the consequence? It is, that in their extemporaneous prayers, they insensibly assume the character of harangues: on the principle above stated, that variety has a more natural alliance with exercises of this sort, than with the excitement of devotion.