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Introduction to R. R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church
(London: William Clowes & Sons), 1894 by S. Baring-Gould

We have now dethroned the Metrical Psalms, but we have hardly gone far enough in the direction of hymnody. We want some hearty, festival singing of carols at each of the great feasts. What are Dissenters doing now to get congregations? They have their Services of Song, more or less secular, with a dash of religions cant about them like a smack of garlic in a dish. The people are becoming more musical and more to delight in music. They seem to have a special delight in sacred music. By all means let us take the opportunity and give them a performance of carols at the festivals. Whilst the Dissenters are giving " Little Topsy," " Poor Joe," and " Wandering Gyp," as Services of Song flummery and mawkishness let the Church boldly produce carols and give a Service of Song at each festival, made up of carols, teaching doctrine, and giving emphasis to the festival.

S. Aldhehm, of Malmesbury, when he desired to bring the gospel home to the people, dressed himself as a minstrel and went to four cross roads and sang there popular ballads, and on them based his discourse. We cannot go far wrong in utilising the carol in our churches. Why is it to be sung outside? By all means bring the people in, and let them hear it and join in it with heart and voice.

The clergy make as great a mistake in confining the hymnody in church to Hymns Ancient and Modern or the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge hymnal, as they do when they exclude extemporary addresses. We must not be too stiff. The Church must unbend; her services must be made more popular never with loss of reverence, but reverence is not lost when simplicity takes the place of what is stilted and unintelligible. A. and M. and other hymnals have done much for us, but we must not stand at that point. We must try to bring the Festivals still more home to our people. We should not be content with Christmas Carols, we should use Carols for all the seasons. The country people have no quarrel with the food the Church offers them, but they do not like the cooking. The meat is excellent, but it is too leathery in the way it is served. The bane of the Church of England has been her stiffness. She is infinitely the most formal of Churches; and it is this stiffness, this formality, which the poor dislike. They are not at ease in her courts, no more than they would be at a dinner party at the squire's.

 

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