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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 046:181 (Jan 1889)
Article: Music And Christian Education
Author: Edward S. Steele


Music And Christian Education

Edward S. Steele

In the former article conclusions were reached favorable to the Christian cultivation of music, both for specifically religious uses, and as an element in general culture. The inquiry now assumes the educational point of view, considering what the claims of music are relatively to those of other studies, and what the aims and instrumentalities of musical education in our time and country should be.

First, then, attention must be called to the large community of spirit and interest which subsists between the fine arts and the branches of an ordinary liberal education. Their sympathy becomes apparent when we consider that even the pursuit of the sciences, not excepting the physical, is largely prompted by an impulse which is at the bottom aesthetic. It is a quite mistaken assumption that the sole, or even the main, inspiration of the vast scientific investigations of modern times has been a regard for utility. This investigation, on the contrary, has been more an enthusiasm than a calculation; and even when use has been the avowed end the real moving power has been the unquenchable aspiration of man toward an orderly view of the world, an insight into its idea or plan, as an attainment on its own account valuable. Francis Bacon, indeed, places the true end of

science in “the better endowment and help of man’s life,” and Herbert Spencer defines it as the function of education “to prepare us for complete living”—that is, through instruction in the sciences. While neither of these apostles of science lacks feeling for art, or works without the enthusiasm of his calling, yet neither of them seems to recognize the fact that a theoretic comprehension of the world is directly enlarging, ennobling, and satisfying to the mind, and so possesses a value quite apart from any efficiency it may have in endowing life with “new commodities,” or even in instructing us “how to live.”

Now a theory of the world is a teleological view of it; not, indeed, in the short-sighted popular sense, but in the large conception of it as a unified system of causes converging in a grand result. But teleology, as earlier seen, is the essence of the ideal; consequently, theorizing becomes a process of idealizing, and just this is the source of its fascination. In scientific investigation, indeed, the ideal is not to be constructed, but found—though even so the process of finding requires the invention of an hypothesis. But the ideal discovered is not less truly aesthetic than the ideal created; and if nature were not so constituted as to yield to study an ideal return, science would want its charm. There is an immediate beauty of nature, and there is a beauty...

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