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National Chant Book,
POINTED FOR CHANTING:
Respectfully dedicated, by permission, to the Worshipful and Reb. George Martin,
Canon of the Cathedral and Chancellor of the Diocese of Exeter,
F. AND J. RIVINGTON, AND J. A. NOVELLO.
THE great and daily increasing interest that attaches to the ancient practice of Chanting is beginning to be felt both among the Clergy and the Laity, and it will, I trust, 'ere long, lead to the universal adoption of the long neglected chant in the use of the Psalms in Divine worship, which certainly is most in accordance with the intention of the compilers of our Prayer Book, and the Hebrew custom of old, as well as in obedience to the Apostolic command* and the practice of the Fathers.
If we considered aright the great antiquity of the Chant and its use in the constant giving of praise to Almighty God, whether in the tabernacle, the Temple, or the Christian Church, surely it were needles to write a long preface in recommendation of its more extended adoption by Christians of the nineteenth century; but it will doubtless be expected of me, in bringing forward the present Chant-Book, to introduce it by a few words on the subject of Chanting; I therefore purpose to do so, although little is left for me to say, after the able works on the subject by Latrobe, Burney, Jebb, Oakley, Havergal, Gray, &c.
The practice of Chanting is of the greatest antiquity, of which I shall quote some proofs from the Holy Scriptures. Moses may be considered as the first composer of sacred Hymns. All nations seem afterwards to have adopted this mode of expressing their religious sentiments, and to have employed Hymns, in celebrating the praises of their respective objects of worship, from the idea that they were acceptable to the Divine nature.
* Ephesians v. 19. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Col. iji. 16.—“Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
The composition of sacred Hymns was carried to great excellence by succeeding Prophets, but was brought to its highest perfection under David, who, if he did not introduce, certainly established, the custom of singing them in the public service, with alternate interchange of verse, as the antiphone in our Cathedral service. And moreover, the practice of Psalmody received the sanction of Christ and his Apostles, who, themselves, recommended the custom by their precept and example.
In the 1 Chron. xxv. it is shown how the captains or chief leaders, (that is the companies of Priests who waited on the services of God at the Temple,) with David, divided the singers who were to prophecy* with harps, with psaltries, and with cymbals (that is, who should sing the Psalms which David and the other Prophets composed). I would observe, that these young men were not really Prophets; but are said to “prophecy” because they sang prophetical Hymns, divinely inspired, and played instruments of music. Again, in the same chapter, the number of “sons and brethren” of the chiefs of the four-and-twenty orders, or courses of singers, was always the same, namely, twelve; it would therefore favour the hypothesis that the “
sons” were the singing boys, and the “ brethren” the singing men; and this offers a very striking
• It will be observed how frequently in Scripture the word " prophecy” is used; I would therefore refer my readers to the following:
Dr. Hammond observes, To“ prophecy” is a word of extensive signification. Besides, First, the foretelling of future events, which is the ordinary notion of it; it signifies, Secondly, to work miracles, (Ecclus. xlviii. 13.) compared with 11 Kings xiii. 21.
Thirdly, To declare the will of God to any, by revelation or mission from Him; in which sense, as Christ's prophetic office consisted in revealing the will of God to the world, so all, who have in any degree done the like, by teaching men their duties towards God and each other, are styled Prophets. See Exod. vii. 1. compared with iv. 16.
Fourthly, it signifies to expound or interpret Scripture; as in i Cor. xiv. 1. &c. Fifthly, it is sometimes used to signify wild and extravagant behaviour, or such speaking was usual with enthusiasis among the heathen. See Sam. xviii. 10.
Sixthly, it signifies singing and praising God; forming Divine Hymns, and singing them to God. See 1 Sam. x. 5. Chron. xxv. 1. & Num. xi. 25. And it is in the sense last given that it is intended to understand the examples and quotations here given.
resemblance to the mode practised in our own Cathedrals. The 136th Psalm gives us a beautiful example of the antiphone; and from its construction it was evidently celebrated, in due order, by one half of the Choir, while the other half, or perhaps the whole in full chorus, took up the burden of each verse. The words “for his mercy endureth for ever,” are a kind of chorus appointed by David to be continually sung in the Divine service : 1 Chron. xvi. 41. And in this same chapter (see verse 34-36,) there is a beautiful Hymn in which the chorus responds to the Precentor, or chief singer, and say i.e. sing,) “Amen,” in praise of the Lord.
The 3rd chap. of Ezra, which relates to the laying of the foundations of the second Temple, offers us another indisputable example of the antiphone, in the manner in which “the priests, in their apparel, with trumpets, and the “sons” of Asaph with cymbals praised the Lord, after the ordinance of David King of Israel.” “And they (the Priests and Levites,] sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy
endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the House of the Lord was laid.”
The 1 Samuel xviii. 6, 7,—"And it came to pass as they [the Israelites,] came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistines, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets* with joy and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said (that is, they sang,] Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” See 1 Samuel xxi. 11. where this is confirmed in the words "And the servants of Achish [King of Gath,] said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land ? did they (the inhabitants of the cities of Israel,] not sing one to another of him in dancing, saying, [i. e. singing,] Saul hath slain,” &c., &c.; and again, this is repeated in the xxix chap. 5th ver.
In Nehem. xii. 8. Mattaniah is spoken of as one which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren,” [i. e. his duty was to see that the psalm of thanksgiving was sung every morning and evening at the burnt sacrifice,) and Bakbukiah and Unni their brethren were over
The Tabre: or Timbrel was a drum with bells appended to it, carried in the hands and beat with the fingers. It is still nised in Syria; and has become popular among ourselves in the tambourine.