Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Religion Degenerating into Music"

W. K. Pendleton was twice son-in-law of Alexander Campbell, and coeditor
of the Millennial Harbinger. He also succeeded Mr. Campbell as editor of the
Harbinger and president of Bethany College. He had an article in the Millennial
1868, pages 36-42, "Religion Degenerating Into Music." W. K. Pendleton wrote this rather stinging piece about the introduction of the instrument into the worship of the church:

If the people will have an idol, music is perhaps as respectable a one as the
religious development of the nineteenth century can invent. We are not arguing
the relative merit of human inventions. We are denying that the Christian religion is, in any part--jot or tittle--a human invention at all. "Development" has nothing to do with it. It came from its divine Author perfect and complete, and the great work of the church is to hold the people to it; to protest, to remonstrate, to anathematize against anything that sets itself up beside it, till every imagination of man is crushed under its feet and withered by the breath of its nostrils. "Pure religion and undefiled"--sublimated into music! The sweet charities, that fall like heavenly dew upon the arid places of human woe--expired in screaming ecstasies of sound! 'Tis too impious. Better for the people, that some stern iconoclast should rise in the holy indignation of the old prophets, and break to pieces all the senseless organs and scatter all the godless choirs that desecrate our fashionable cathedrals, than that this fatal tendency to substitute a musical sentimentalism for a living Christianity should be allowed to go unrebuked until it has fixed itself, with the power of a fatal delusion, upon the habits and the credulity of the age. (Page 40.)

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