Church music

CHURCH MUSIC. Certain parts of our Service are directed to be "said or sung," the former possibly describing the parochial, the latter the Cathedral, manner of performing Divine Service. The use of musical instruments in the singing of praise to God is very ancient. The first Psalm in the Bible—viz., that which Moses and Miriam sang after the passage of the Red Sea—was then accompanied by timbrels. Afterwards, when the Temple was built, musical instruments were constantly used at public worship. In the 150th Psalm the writer especially calls upon the people to prepare the different kinds of instruments wherewith to praise the Lord. And this has been the constant practice of the Church in all ages. It is not clearly known when organs were first brought into use, but we find that as early as the year 766 the Emperor of the East sent an organ as a present to Pippin, King of France. It is certain that the use of them has been very common now for several hundreds of years.

The custom of dividing the choir into two parts, stationed on either side of the chancel, in order that they may say, or sing, alternate verses, dates from the primitive Church. Thus Miriam sang. (Ex. xv.20.) Thus the angels in heaven sing. (Isaiah vi.3)

The Psalms and Canticles are generally sung to a chant. These are of two kinds—Gregorian  and Anglican. Gregorian chants are very ancient; a collection of them was compiled by Gregory, Bishop of Rome, about A.D. 600. They are sung in unison. Anglican chants, which are of much more recent invention, are sung in harmony. Nearly all our Church music is based on the Gregorian chant. A single  chant is an air consisting of two phrases, corresponding to the two parts into which every verse of the Psalms and Canticles is divided in our Prayer Book by a colon. A double chant consists of four parts. Sometimes the Canticles are sung to what is called a Service, which is a musical arrangement similar to the Anthem.

Hymn, a metrical song of praise. Hymns are nowhere formally authorised in our Church, with one exception, viz., the Veni Creator in the Ordination Service. Still, metrical hymns have been sung in the Church from Apostolic times, the words of some of which are extant. The "hymn" sung by our Lord and his disciples at the Last Supper was probably the "Hallel," Psalms cvii.—cxviii.

Anthem, as the term is usually understood in England, consists of passages from Holy Scripture set to music; such also are Introits. Anthems are almost peculiar to our Church, but have been in constant use in it since the Reformation.

Other parts of the Service, such as the Prayers, the Versicles, the Litany, are frequently read either on one note (monotoned ), or on one note occasionally varied at the end by a cadence (intoned ). This is objected to by some as being unnatural; but it is not so. A child naturally intones  or monotones  if set to read or recite. And where a congregation have to repeat the same words together, it is absolutely necessary that they should do it on some given note, or the result would be Babel. Children in school, of their own accord, say their lessons together in a monotone. The practice of doing so in the Church dates from the very earliest times.