Music And Christian Education -- By: Edward S. Steele

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 045:180 (Oct 1888)
Article: Music And Christian Education
Author: Edward S. Steele


Music And Christian Education

Edward S. Steele

What interest music will have for Christian education must naturally depend upon the capacity of music for Christian uses. The question thus suggested involves two, namely, what in general the powers of music are, and what in special Christian uses are. The discussion of these questions—which in their treatment, however, need not be widely parted—will occupy the present article, while a second will carry the result which may be reached to its practical applications.

Upon the worth of music the average practical citizen places no very high estimate. As an amusement he concedes it that degree of value which he is accustomed to assign to amusements in general, with variations relative to his individual taste. He does not deny it a certain use, especially when coupled with words, in moving people’s feelings in evangelistic and temperance efforts and in working up military and political enthusiasm. And as a Christian worshipper he finds it for some reason indispensable in public religious services.

But the lover of the art makes his estimate in a very different spirit. His expressions are touched with a glow which shows that music has a value for him quite regardless of ordinary standards of utility. It gives him a satisfaction which he would scorn to attribute to an amusement. And while he gladly acknowledges himself moved by its power, he does not conceive that its best effects are found in the

stimulus it affords to the fiery charge or other instant action. He esteems it rather as an inwardly enlarging, elevating, and refining force, which, while exercising the mind with a pure enjoyment, leaves it rested and better attuned to the heavenly harmony whose notes are so hard to catch amidst the jangle of the world. With the worshipper he is most nearly at one; for, however insufficient his philosophy, the worshipper feels that music in some way helps him into a becoming frame of mind, and here comes nearest to freeing himself from the bonds of commonly reputed utility. And to the good Puritan singing: —

My willing soul would stay,
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away,
To everlasting bliss—

the friend of art might likely enough put the query what “use” there is in the extremely unpractical state of mind indicated by the verse.

The former and, as we must regard it, less adequate of these estimates—though the latter on its part might easily pass into one-sidedness and extravagance—arises from a defective view of utility and from a failure to appreciate the part which it is possible for music to play in the human economy. As regards ...

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