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divine Art is so distinctly to recognize its rightful relation to Divinity, as the privileged handmaid of Religion. Without feeling called upon to pronounce any opinion upon other amusements and festivals for which other voices in other places are pleading, I am glad that this veteran Association of New England, faithful to its first love, true to the key-note of its earliest organization,
at a moment too when so many influences are alluring us away from whatever is pure and lovely and of good report, - has instituted a series of holidays, not only combining morality and innocence with the most refined and elevating enjoyment, but blending so nobly and so worthily the praises of God with the recreation of man.
I do not forget that a severe religious casuistry has sometimes raised a question, how far it is fit to employ sacred themes and sacred words for the mere purpose of entertainment. But it is a great mistake to suppose that mere entertainment is all that is imparted, or all that is intended, by such performances. That man must indeed be “ deaf as the dead to harmony," who can listen to the story of the Creation or of the Redemption, as told in the lofty strains which are presently to be heard here, without being kindled into a more fervent admiration and adoration of the great Author and Finisher of both. Yes, deaf as the dead to harmony must he have been born, and with a soul sealed
to at least one of the highest sources of inspiration, who feels no glow of grateful awe as the light flashes forth in audible coruscations upon that new-created world, and no thrill of holy joy as the heavens are heard telling the glory of God; — whose belief in the miraculous incarnation of “ One mighty to save" is not quickened as the majestic titles by which he was to be called come pealing forth so triumphantly in the very words of prophecy, -“Wonderful, - Counsellor, - the Mighty God;" — who is not conscious of a more vivid faith in the great doctrine of the resurrection, as the sublime declaration of the patient old Patriarch is again and again so exquisitely reiterated, -"I know - I know that my Redeemer liveth ;” — and who does not catch a deeper sense of the mystery and the glory of that blessed consummation, when “the Kingdoms of the earth shall become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ,” while the air
around him is ringing and reverberating with the ecstasy of those transcendent and exulting Hallelujahs !
No, it is not entertainment alone which this occasion will have communicated to some at least of the souls which shall vibrate to these sublime and solemn strains. I know that the fervors and raptures which result from mere musical susceptibility are no safe substitute for the prayer and praise which belong to the true idea of religious worship, and I am not altogether without sympathy with those who would be glad to see this ancient society returning to its original practice during the first ten or fifteen years of its existence, by giving some of its public performances, as they are now doing, at times when they may be attended and enjoyed by those to whom the domestic circle or the services of the Sanctuary are the chosen and cherished occupations of a Sunday evening. But it will be an evil day for the best interest of mankind, when the noblest and most impressive varieties of music shall be utterly discarded and divorced from the service of religion, and given finally over to the meretricious uses of sensuality or superstition. The sacred Chronicler has told us how it was, under the old dispensation that it was only 6 when the singers and the trumpeters were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music and praised the Lord, saying, “For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever;'" -- that it was only then, at the outpouring of that grand vocal and instrumental unison of thanksgiving and praise, that the visible glory of the Lord came down, filling and overshadowing the house of God. And though the Gospel does undoubtedly point to a purer and more spiritual worship, yet from that most memorable and solemn hour, of which the simple record runs concerning the Saviour and his disciples, — “ And when they had sung an hymn, they went out unto the Mount of Olives," from that most memorable and solemn hour, Music has been recognized as a consecrated handmaid of Christianity; and those which Christ himself has thus joined together, it is not for any man to put asunder.
And may God grant that the performances which are now about to begin, may be endued with a double power over the
hearts of all who hear them; that these resounding anthems may do something to purge and purify the corrupted currents of the air we breathe ; – that these lofty enunciations and reiterations of the great truths of the Bible may aid in arresting and driving back the tide of delusion, infidelity, and crime which is raging and swelling so fearfully around us; — and that these Hosannahs and Hallelujahs may combine with the Prayers and Alms of the approaching Anniversary Week, in calling down a fresh blessing on our beloved city and upon us who dwell in it;
so that when at last that hour shall come, which can neither be hastened nor postponed by the idle calculations of learned astrologers, or the idler conjurations of diviners and sorcerers, – when the trumpet of the Archangel shall be heard sounding through the sky and summoning us, in God's own time, from our destined sleep of death, - our hearts and voices may not be wholly unattuned for uniting with Cherubim and Seraphim and all the Company of Heaven in that sublime Trisagion, —“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts! heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory ! ”
It only remains for me, ladies and gentlemen, in behalf of this oldest existing Musical Society of Boston, -- older, if I mistake not, than almost any of its kind in London, since the Institution of the Ancient Concerts has passed away with the Iron Duke, one of their principal Directors, - to pronounce the single word
6 welcome” to you all. But while offering you this welcome in their name, as I now most respectfully and cordially do, I feel that my duty to-day would be but half performed, if I did not, also, in your name, - and as the self-commissioned organ of the vast concourse of my fellow-citizens, by whom this noble Hall will day by day be thronged,- if I did not, in your name and in theirs, assure the members of this old pioneer Association, of the sincere and grateful appreciation, which is entertained by our whole community, of their unwearied and honorable efforts in the cause of musical improvement, and of their signal success in giving a worthier and more impressive utterance to the praises of God “in the great congregation.” And may the favor of Heaven, and the patronage of a generous public, never be wanting to their future career!
THE CINCINNATI SOCIETY.
A SPEECH MADE AT THE TRIENNIAL BANQUET OF THE CINCINNATI, IN BOSTON,
MAY 27, 1857.
I HAD hardly expected to be called up so soon, Mr. President, while so many distinguished gentlemen around me - at once better entitled to attention, and better able to reward it -- are still unheard on this occasion. But I thank you sincerely for the kind words with which you have introduced my name to the company, and for the substantial compliment of being counted worthy to respond to the sentiment which has just been proposed. I cannot but feel, sir, that there is a peculiar fitness in the brave and patriotic fathers of New England being remembered at this table, and by those who are assembled at it. Perhaps nobody knew more about the rise and progress of that great contest for American Independence, out of which this society grew, and which it is especially designed to commemorate, than our own Massachusetts John Adams. And it was in one of those remarkable letters, I think, which he wrote to the honored father of my excellent friend on the left (Frederick Tudor, Esq.), that he used language somewhat of this sort: “When we call Otis and Henry and Adams and Jefferson the authors of Independence, we ought rather to say that they were only the revivers and awakeners of the old, original, fundamental principle of New England colonization."
And it is true, Mr. President, that we have but one history, from the arrival of the Arbella or the Mayflower, to the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution. The Patriot Age is only a continuation of the Pilgrim Age; another glorious chapter of the same noble volume, in which I trust, many more glorious chapters are still to be inscribed. There are differ
ences of manifestation and diversities of operation, but we may trace the same brave and patriotic spirit from the first renowned military hero of New England - Miles Standish, who performed his capital exploits at the head of an army of only eight men down through the whole succession of captains and conquerors wlio displayed their valor against a savage or against a civilized foe, - who fought or who fell at Bloody Brook, at Louisburg, at Quebec, or at Bunker Hill, - until we find it flowering and flaming out, in matchless perfection, in the bright, consummate WASHINGTON. It is all one history, and one and the same brave and patriotic spirit animated the old Fathers of New England and the more recent “ Father of his country.”
But the present occasion, I am aware, sir, belongs eminently to the commemoration of the Revolutionary period, and of those who were prominent in it; and I hasten to express the gratification which I feel in thus being permitted to meet with so many of those, from all parts of the Union, who have inherited the blood of the gallant officers by whom our revolutionary contest was conducted.
It has been my fortune only once before — though frequently invited — to dine with any branch of the Cincinnati. It was more years ago than I can readily count, and while I was in the military staff of a distinguished friend — then Governor of this Commonwealth whose absence we all miss so much on this occasion, and whose eloquence is always the best dessert of any dinner table at which he is present — “apples of gold set in pictures of silver.” I need hardly name Edward Everett.
But it is not the living only whom I miss from that well-remembered group at old Concert Hall, as I now recall it. The noblehearted Dearborn your last President-General
was there. The amiable and benevolent Robert G. Shaw was there. And a gallant and venerable figure rises to my mind's eye at this moment, who had come as a guest from the neighboring Granite State, and who was accompanied, unless I am much mistaken, by a young and promising son, hardly yet distinguished even in the history of his own Commonwealth. The venerable patriot has vanished from our view, but his son has come to honor, though he knoweth it not, and is here with us to-day as an Ex-President of the United States.