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Monday, 31 August 2015

There is Nothing New Under the Sun, My Fellow Liturgical Musicians

Wait...  here we are with a new book treating of beloved characters from an old book... hmm, I shall have to consider the paradox.
Let us exchange the previous axiomatic cliche ['zat redundant?] for "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

I don't read novels anymore, literally, none.
About twelve years ago I went from voracious consumption mostly of literary novels and classics, never fewer than a half dozen stacked up on the floor on my side of the bed, didn't matter as long as they were light enough, (literally, of a low enough weight, so as not to strain wrists or eyesight in bed,) several a week, (when is the new AN Wilson coming out, I must know!!!!!!!! and oh, look I never read this Charlotte Bronte novel, PLEASE let it be as good as Villette!!!!!) to zero.
 I still read tons, but just, somehow, not novels, and I can't figure it out.

But that's really not my point.

Himself is crazy for his Kindle, and is reading Go Set... and made me read a passage that had me in stitches.
From the time of Jean Louise’s earliest ecclesiastical recollection, Maycomb had sung the Doxology in one way and in one way only:


a rendition as much a tradition of Southern Methodism as Pounding the Preacher. That Sunday, Jean Louise and the congregation were in all innocence clearing their throats to drag it accordingly when out of a cloudless sky Mrs. Clyde Haskins crashed down on the organ

PraiseGodfromwhomall Bles—sings—Flo—w

PraiseHimallcreatures He—re Bee—low

PraiseHimaboveye Heav’n—ly Ho—st

PraiseFatherSonand Ho—ly Gho—st!

In the confusion that followed, if the Archbishop of Canterbury had materialized in full regalia Jean Louise would not have been in the least surprised: the congregation had failed to notice any change in Mrs. Haskins’s lifelong interpretation, and they intoned the Doxology to its bitter end as they had been reared to do, while Mrs. Haskins romped madly ahead like something out of Salisbury Cathedral.
Jean Louise’s first thought was that Herbert Jemson had lost his mind. Herbert Jemson had been music director of the Maycomb Methodist Church for as long as she could remember. .... He had devoted thirty years’ spare time to his church, and his church had recently rewarded him with a trip to a Methodist music camp in South Carolina.
Jean Louise’s second impulse was to blame it on the minister. He was a young man, a Mr. Stone by name...
Mr. Stone had long been suspected of liberal tendencies; he was too friendly, some thought, with his Yankee brethren; he had recently emerged partially damaged from a controversy over the Apostles’ Creed... [but he] was tone deaf.
Unruffled by Herbert Jemson’s breach of allegiance, because he had not heard it, Mr. Stone rose and walked to the pulpit with Bible in hand.
[Jean Louise] felt amusement turning into indignant displeasure and she stared straight at Herbert Jemson throughout the service. How dare he change it? Was he trying to lead them back to the Mother Church? Had she allowed reason to rule, she would have realized that Herbert Jemson was Methodist of the whole cloth: he was notoriously short on theology and a mile long on good works.
The Doxology’s gone, they’ll be having incense next—orthodoxy’s my doxy. ...
Mr. Stone had pronounced the benediction and was on his way to the front door when she went down the aisle to corner Herbert, who had remained behind to shut the windows. Dr. Finch was faster on the draw:
“—shouldn’t sing it like that, Herbert,” he was saying. “We are Methodists after all, D.V.”
“Don’t look at me, Dr. Finch.” Herbert threw up his hands as if to ward off whatever was coming. “It’s the way they told us to sing it at Camp Charles Wesley....The music instructor... taught a course in what was wrong with Southern church music. He was from New Jersey,” said Herbert....
“He said we might as well be singing ‘Stick your snout under the spout where the Gospel comes out’ as most of the hymns we sing. Said they ought to ban Fanny Crosby by church law and that Rock of Ages was an abomination unto the Lord....He said we ought to pep up the Doxology.”
“Pep it up? How?”
“Like we sang it today.”...
“Apparently,” [Dr Finch] said, “apparently our brethren in the Northland are not content merely with the Supreme Court’s activities. They are now trying to change our hymns on us.”
Herbert said, “He told us we ought to get rid of the Southern hymns and learn some other ones. I don’t like it—ones he thought were pretty don’t even have tunes.”
Dr. Finch’s “Hah!” was crisper than usual, a sure sign that his temper was going. He retrieved it sufficiently to say, “Southern hymns, Herbert? Southern hymns?”....
“Now, Herbert,” he said, “let us sit quietly in this sanctuary and analyze this calmly. I believe your man wishes us to sing the Doxology down the line with nothing less than the Church of England, yet he reverses himself—reverses himself—and wants to throw out … Abide with Me?....What about When I Survey the Wondrous Cross?”
“That’s another one,” said Herbert. “He gave us a list.”
“Gave you a list, did he? I suppose Onward, Christian Soldiers is on it?”
“At the top.”
“Hur!” said Dr. Finch. “H. F. Lyte, Isaac Watts, Sabine Baring-Gould.”
Dr. Finch rolled out the last name in Maycomb County accents: long a’s, i’s, and a pause between syllables.
“Every one an Englishman, Herbert, good and true,” he said. “Wants to throw them out, yet tries to make us sing the Doxology like we were all in Westminster Abbey, does he? Well, let me tell you something.... your man’s a snob, Herbert, and that’s a fact.”
“He was sort of a sissy,” said Herbert.

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