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A. False conventional! I should be sorry to think of you as sneering at church order because it is distasteful to you. But I must assure you that numbers in the Church of England now fast dutifully. Why should they be false in mentioning it in their hymns?

B. Yes, they fast!-rigorously eating scalloped oysters instead of minced veal, and fried soles instead of roast mutton. And you have a damsel in a charming costume of Lenten black, singing of these and other like durances, in the intervals between lawn tennis and concerts, and picture exhibitions and shopping.'

A. That is the observance of Lent as imitated by the frivolous. It is a caricature of the reality, which very many now practise devoutly.

B. I don't presume to deny that many good church-people try to use a Lent discipline. There are all degrees, from the schöne Seele who arduously endeavours to meet the problems of the nineteenth century by a strained attempt at the methods of the ninth, to the black butterflies I spoke of. But I still maintain that, for better for worse, the reality of the ancient discipline has passed away from our Church at large. We have to find other methods than those of real privation of food, real beating of the breast, and heaping ashes on the head, and weeping between the porch and the altar. Therefore it is false and conventional to sing as if we practised all this. And I would humbly urge that the singing of such hymns as these be discontinued.

A. Perhaps it might be better to confine their use to special congregations, and for ordinary parochial services in Lent to choose hymns in which the broad facts of repentance and remission of sins are dwelt on, without reference to the tears and fasting which you feel so incongruous.

B. I should say it would be better. Then, again, take other

hymns whose language is conventional, corresponding to no real belief in the singer's mind. Do not let us sing of angels singing to welcome pilgrims' when no one of us believes that he will now hear angels, let him listen ever so intently. Do not let us announce with our lips, as in this hymn I open upon

Soon will come the great awaking,

Soon the rending of the tomb

when we know in our minds that the probability is the present order of things will go on for hundreds more of human generations, and when we ourselves have not the slightest expectation of that 'soon' coming. It is false and conventional for Christians of the nineteenth century to sing as if they had the belief in an imminent judgment day that possessed those of the first. And would it be too much to ask one other thing? That view of the 'scheme of redemption' which may be called the ledger-and-cash-book viewA. What do you mean?


B. —is, I am credibly informed, far less widely accepted than it I mean by my rough metaphor that particular version of the Gospel which represents the Almighty as driving a bargain with each shivering soul, by which He covenants to accept Christ's sufferings instead of the soul's damnation, on condition that the soul gets up certain ecstatic emotions, through which it feels itself saved'; the soul being moreover represented as keenly and exclusively occupied with getting saved.'

A. I certainly never hear such a gospel in church.

B. I rejoice that you do not. But now I come to my petition. Is it too much to ask that the many hymns in which such a gospel is dilated on should be disused in church singing, since their doctrine is happily falling into discredit? Here is a hymn, for instance-not in Hymns Ancient and Modern,' but in another of your books-I think it is a hymn of Watts:

When I can read my title clear

To mansions in the skies

'When I can be quite easy about the lease of that house in Great George Street'-if anyone will put that into a stanza of 'common metre 'it will be equally devotional. It is only in a strictly mechanical sense that the first aspiration is more elevated than the second. And there is plenty more of the same sort still sticking in every hymn-book-the apotheosis of anxious selfishness--the detestable save-me-and-damn-the-world of it all-oh, I do not wonder that certain poor folks think they have discovered to the world an improvement on Christ's Gospel, and call it 'altruism'!

A. I would hint, in the gentlest manner possible, that you are using rather strong language.

B. For a parson's parlour on Sunday afternoon? Strong but appropriate.

A. But I am a practical person, and I should like to know what is the outcome of all these interesting and forcible remarks? The only definite counsels I have received are, to keep silence when a certain hymn is sung, and to prevent my children learning bad Dissenting hymns.

B. Any bad hymns. The Dissenters have no monopoly of


A. Well, well; I want to know what you recommend for the bettering of our hymn-singing, on whose faults you are so eloquent? I once heard a poet and man of letters say that there are only about seven good hymns in the language. Would you propose to restrict our choice to these?

B. No. As I said before, we must often be content in a hymn with something less than a poem in perfect English. If I had the ordering of hymn-singing, I should act liberally to hymns which, though faulty as poetry, are not wanting in devotion, reverence, or truth, and are consecrated by the pious singing of Christian people. But I should be rigorous in excluding, by every means I had, such hymns as offend in vulgarity, irreverence, morbid sentiment, conventionality. And I should go a step further; I should exclude such hymns as present perversions of the Gospel which, though once prevalent, are now generally discredited amongst those able to think as well as feel, and which will slowly and surely drop away from those whose main guidance in religion must be through feeling.

A. It is all very well for you to say 'I should exclude' and 'I should admit.' Bachelors' wives and old maids' children are always well managed. How, I should like to ask, would you proceed if you were plunged into the depths of ordinary parochial life?

B. Well, there is one obvious course open. Certain hymns ought to be dealt with as were certain amendments to a memorable bill in the House of Commons. They should be ruled out.' They ought not to be allowed upon that mystic slate which, as I observe, appears in the rectorial study on Saturday mornings.

A. Regardless of the feelings of the choirmaster, organist, or schoolmistress, on whose help the rector depends for the musical part of Sunday?

B. Not regardless of feelings, but managing them. The rector must educate, and suggest, and censure as occasion serves. must wean his good folks from base loves.


A. Not so simple and easy a matter as it seems to the layman 'free as air.' We cannot rule out a hymn as you can write down a book. But I am very candid. I own that more might be effected than has been attempted. On the other hand, you are bound to listen when I tell you that you, the outsiders' as you choose to call VOL. XXII.-No. 127.


yourselves—you who look down on the parochial circle with careless superiority-might do much to widen and enlighten that circle. For instance, silly, vulgar, conventional hymns, and also hymns expressing perversions of the Gospel, would be far less sung than they are if people like you would care about the ordinary church services, instead of merely giving them an intermittent attendance, which apparently serves no purpose but that of affording you materials for sarcastic criticism.

B. Do not you make our talk end in bitterness; it has, I hope, not been profitless on either side. My motives and aims in this matter are the same as yours, though I do not feel myself worthy to expatiate upon them in words.

A. This is a comfortable word to me, in any case.

B. I recall to-day how a dear young friend of my youth (now with God) used to sport with this same grievance of the hymns. His church going was (for a season) due rather to a reluctance to distress his mother and sisters by discontinuing it than to any solace or delight found in it for himself. And I well remember how he would archly call the attention of the devout sister or cousin beside him in church to any stanza of especial platitude or folly in the hymn being sung, to her mingled distress and amusement. Well, it was amusing. And yet it was not the effect which, one should say, the solemn singing of the praise of God ought to have on an able young man full of promise. But the public praise of God can never engage the energy and reverence of such, so long as we allow ignorance, and indolence, and cowardice to rule over our attempts at its utterance. Would it not have been better for all concerned, and for the sceptical, somewhat cynical, somewhat scoffing attitude of my friend's mind, if there had been some such power in the church singing for him (and he was very musical) as Augustine found? Here comes your husband from the afternoon service, which we have neglected. Let me end our talk by reading you St. Augustine's words on church singing:

How did I weep, in Thy hymns and canticles, touched to the quick by the voices of Thy sweet-attuned church! The voices flowed into mine ears, and the Truth distilled into my heart, whence the affections of my devotion overflowed, and tears ran down, and happy was I therein.1


The Vicarage, Penrith.

1 St. Aug. Conf. ix. 14.


MR. ROMANES's article, published in the May number of this Review, is so excellent an example of the manner in which this subject should be treated, that it invites a few supplementary remarks and qualifications, which scarcely amount to criticism, as they in no way invalidate the general practical conclusions which he advocates.

Mr. Romanes is of opinion, for assignable and intelligible reasons, that 'in the animal kingdom as a whole the males admit of being classified, as it were, in one psychological species and the females in another.' And he is also persuaded that, among human beings, the course of history has resulted in bringing the minds of men and the morals of women respectively to a higher degree of development. The first of these propositions is no doubt true in the main; but so long as vague metaphysical notions about an Ewigweibliche continue to becloud the atmosphere, it is important and interesting to note that the psychological and other distinctions of sex are among the after-thoughts of the primeval mother nature.

Who would have ventured to predict, after comparing a rudimentary vertebrate in the undated past, say, with the common ancestor of ants and bees, that the future did not belong to the insects? There is a vast region of animal life in which existence seems renewed by transmigration rather than birth, where parentage is virtually unknown, and where the community is differentiated into castes rather than sexes. By an easy flight of the imagination, we can suppose ants and bees or butterflies to have developed on their own lines to a point as far removed in organisation, morals, and intelligence from the typical rudimentary insect as man is from the rudimentary vertebrate. The psychological distinctions of sex, noted by Mr. Romanes, would have no place in such a world. Even among the vertebrates, it was not a foregone conclusion from the first that the mother bird or fish should hatch and protect the young: this function is shared or monopolised by the male so often that we can not be certain, if the rulers of the world had been developed from the races that swim or creep or fly, that intellectual birds or moralised

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