« PreviousContinue »
extension of professional training. At present, a foundation of granite too often sustained only a straw shed. The clergy wanted a thorough knowledge of theology, the power of composing their own sermons, or of delivering them extempore and with good effect, and the power of reading the service naturally, easily, impressively, and devotionally
. These reforms were loudly called for in our system of clerical education. The first and most common fault in reading the Liturgy was a want of understanding that it is not a structure without variety,—the want of admission that it is of a very composite character. “I have been thirty years in orders,” said a friend, “ and I never make any difference, but read it through exactly in the same way." This friend confessed that the people went to sleep under it. A variation in the voice, &c., would at least have the effect of keeping the people awake. The great error was ini supposing that the service had simply to be read through. Some clergymen regarded the prayers as a mere preface to the more important part-the sermon.
The consequence was, that the service was read in such a way that no impression was produced, and the congregation did not seem to understand that part of it was addressed to the body of the people, part of it to God, and that another part was God's message to man. There was a want of entering into the spirit of the service on the part of the clergyman, and there was a corresponding want of appreciation of the service on the part of the people. The opening sentences being the word of God, should be read quietly, calmly, solemnly; the Exhortation should be addressed to the people, not read, but spoken ; not with the eyes glued to the book, as though it had never been seen before, but as addressing the congregation. In the rubric, before the first lesson, they were told that it must be read “distinctly, with an audible voice.” They were told further, that the person reading should “stand, and turn himself as he may best be heard of all present.” There should also be a marked difference of tone and manner between what is addressed to the congregation and what is addressed to God; in the latter case the note should be lower, the voice more solemn, the manner more devotional; the people should feel that in the first place you are speaking to man, and in the second you are praying to God. Whether it were : psalm, a prayer, a creed, or a lesson, it should have its
proper expression and feeling. Some might ask,- Do
you intend to represent the lessons ? do you intend to be dramatic ?” No: but a difference must be made between what was read and what was spoken. “Then you must be more or less dramatic.” Only in the sense of being representative, not theatrical. He had heard a clergyman read the well-known lesson describing the conflict of David and Goliath, with such a natic imitation of the giant's deep voice and David's childish treble, that he could not help laughing. He had heard of another who suited the action to the word when reading of the "damsels playing with the timbrels.” Such reading was positively wicked, for it brought the word of God into contempt. All their reading should be quiet, calm, clear, distinct, and impressive, giving the proper emphasis and nothing more, so as to afford to each part its peculiar significance before the people. The next fault was the want of a proper training of the voice, and of the whole mechanism of speech. For this important part of their work they had no training at all. Men took it for granted that they had voices: and so they had, but they needed training and education. They would not venture to sing in public without training ; yet when they were ordained, they said a solo, or sang it,--and a very bad solo it was in most cases. They thought they read remarkably well : they had no idea how badly they read. He was not speaking of the understanding, but the mechanical part, the non-management of the voice, which was the cause not simply of “clerical sore throat," and other symptoms of bad health, but caused the imperfect hearing by their congregations. Most clergymen were not heard all over the church ; even the “
were not heard. He knew a man with a most splendid voice who was not heard, because he was like the boisterous lecturer to whom the Quaker said, during a pause—“Friend, thou makest so much noise we cannot hear thee.” That was the case with many clergymen. Those with the strongest lungs were not always the best heard, for they awoke the echoes. Most clergymen did not stand sufficiently erect at the prayerdesk, but putting on a little quiet humility, stooped, rounded their shoulders, till the chest was contracted, the chin rested upon the neckcloth, which pressed against the windpipe, and the voice falling upon the book was reflected to the ceiling. The prayer-desk should be raised breast-high,
the head kept well up, the shoulders thrown back, the chest developed, and the general attitude such that the voice of the speaker could be thrown forward with ease and distinctness. If the clergy, as a rule, did not stand properly, he was certain that they did not breathe properly. He would communicate a secret which a man used to charge 30 guineas for—it was the art of breathing through the nostrils instead of through the mouth. All public speakers should take advantage of every pause in speaking and reading, to shut the mouth and breathe through the nostrils. Amongst the advantages of this practice were keeping the nostrils clear and the mouth and throat moist, which give ease in speaking. Any impediment in the nostrils caused an unpleasant nasal tone. Hurrying to church should be avoided. The clergyman should be in church 10 or 15 minutes before the
service began. He should be always calm, quiet, and cool; no nervousness, no rapid breathing: a glass of water before going in would be better than any. thing else.
He ridiculed the “throaty” and “mincing" styles of speaking : the first might be “audible," and the second “distinct," but the rubric required that the reading should be audible and distinct. The voice should be formed in the back part of the mouth, and due care should be taken in the enunciation of both vowels and consonants. It was a common saying—“Take care of the consonants, and the vowels will take care of themselves." He was not sure of that.
Mr. D’Orsey next touched on the subject of pronunciation, into which we cannot follow for want of a phonetic alphabet. As to the consonants, he said it was marvellous how much power was lost from not using the lips, which were very flexible with all great speakers, such as the Bishop of Oxford, Mr. Disraeli, or Mr. Bright. Those who spoke indistinctly, he advised to read Milton and Shakspere aloud in a stiff and formal style, for the sake of drill. The first requisite in speaking was that a man should be heard; but many of our best preachers in London and at Whitehall were not heard 20 yards off the pulpit. The mispronunciations of the letters h and r were noticed ; and an instance was given of a clergyman who justified his calling the Queen Victoriar, on the ground of euphony! A third cause of errors was a want of a thorough study and understanding of the Lessons. The Bishop of Manchester had, in a letter
to himself, called attention to the necessity of comparing the English translation with the original, in order to throw light on certain passages. The lecturer next touched on the management of pauses, accentuation, and emphasis. Mrs. Siddons' grand rule was “take time ;” and at school we were told to “mind your stops.” Unfortunately, clergymen did not “take time,” and did not “mind their stops." In college chapels the object was to "get through” the service as fast as possible ; and they had heard of a fellow who did it in 227 minutes, while the record of the time was kept to a fraction. He was ashamed to say, that only ten days ago he had to reprove a man for reading the lessons fast, and the excuse was,—“You cannot expect a man to read slowly in the boating week.”
Where ought the pauses to be? Wherever there was a comma, there should certainly be a pause. If his reverend brethren would make the experiment of developing the vocative case in every prayer they read, and make a pause before and after the words “O Lord,” they would be surprised at the increased solemnity and beauty of the service. As to false accentuation, he feared that seven-eighths of the clergy present said "" forgive” last Sunday instead of
Other instances of wrong accent adduced as almost universal were acknowledged, confess, and in the concluding portion of the Creed, is the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body," &c. Mr. Howlett, in his excellent book, “Instructions in Reading the Liturgy,” gave a list of 300 words that were mispronounced by the great body of the clergy. In the Exhortation alone most clergymen made twelve mistakes; such as obtain, forgiveness, although. Not one man in fifty read the word “although” properly. As to emphasis, some settled the question by using no emphasis at all—as lawyers omitted to point their documents, probably for the advantage of leaving the meaning an open question. Some, perhaps, feared that emphasis might enforce doctrine. The very sense depended upon emphasis, and it was very often grotesquely used, as in a certain case of feeding the people, when it was said, “And they did eat.” At the time the Bible was translated, and the Prayer Book compiled, the words do and did were not used as they now are, and they did not exist in the original. It was ridiculous to read thus,—“Rejoice with them that do rejoice.”
The well-known Joe Miller, “Saddle me the ass, and they saddled him," he had heard varied in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, thus:-" The young man said, saddle me, the ass; and they saddled him.” As a rule, the emphasis should be laid on the notional rather than on the relational words. He expected that in every church in Manchester last Sunday was heard—“ Lord, have mercy upon us." ("No."). He was glad there were exceptions, but this false emphasis was almost universal. The stress should be upon mercy. In the Creed, it was said—“ On the third day he rose again from the dead.” He denied it; our Lord rose but once. The accent should be on rose. It was another good rule not to emphasise pronouns, unless in antithesis. As to the verbs, the havoc amongst them was dreadful. He was certain that many present gave the Lord's Prayer thus :—“Our Father, which art in heaven.” There should be no stress upon “art” or “which ;' the emphasis should be upon “Father” and “heaven.” It was a common fault to make a full pause after “heaven." The grand difficulty was in the clause—“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.” It was wrong to emphasise “against;" the antithesis was in the pronouns. The last point he noticed was the want of emotion, or the necessity of the heart being in the work. A knowledge of our own language ought to be
taught at the universities, as well as Latin and Greek. Every man intended for the ministry ought to be trained in composition, extempore speaking, good reading, and the power of 'addressing a congregation effectively. He did not depreciate any of the preliminary studies; but he hoped the time was not far distant when these things would be recognised as a part of clerical education.
THE LAY OF THE LABOURER.
BY THOMAS HOOD.
SPADE! a rake! a hoe!
A pickaxe, or a bill !
A flail, or what ye will !
To ply the needful tool,
In Labour's rugged school.