The Church In Theology And Liter

The rapid review of three crowded centuries, which is all that the

narrowly prescribed limits of this volume have permitted, has

necessarily been mainly restricted to external facts. But looking back

over the course of visible events, it is not impossible for acute minds

devoted to such study to trace the stream of thought and sentiment that

is sometimes hidden from direct view by the overgrowth which itself has


We have seen a profound spiritual change, renewing the face of the land

and leaving its indelible impress on successive generations, springing

from the profoundest contemplations of God and his work of salvation

through Jesus Christ, and then bringing back into thoughtful and

teachable minds new questions to be solved and new discoveries of truth

to be pondered. The one school of theological opinion and inquiry that

can be described as characteristically American is the theology of the

Great Awakening. The disciples of this school, in all its divergent

branches, agree in looking back to the first Jonathan Edwards as the

founder of it. Through its generations it has shown a striking sequence

and continuity of intellectual and spiritual life, each generation

answering questions put to it by its predecessor, while propounding new

questions to the generation following. After the classical writings of

its first founders, the most widely influential production of this

school is the Theology Explained and Defended in a Series of Sermons

of President Dwight. This had the advantage over some other systems of

having been preached, and thus proved to be preachable. The series of

sermons was that delivered to successive generations of college

students at Yale at a time of prevailing skepticism, when every

statement of the college pulpit was liable to sharp and not too friendly

scrutiny; and it was preached with the fixed purpose of convincing and

converting the young men who heard it. The audience, the occasion, and

the man--a fervid Christian, and a born poet and orator--combined to

produce a work of wide and enduring influence. The dynasty of the

Edwardeans is continued down to the middle of the nineteenth century,

and later, through different lines, ending in Emmons of Franklin, Taylor

of New Haven, and Finney of Oberlin, and is represented among the living

by the venerable Edwards A. Park, of Andover, who adds to that power of

sustained speculative thinking in a straight line which is

characteristic of the whole school, a wide learning in the whole field

of theological literature, which had not been usual among his

predecessors. It is a prevailing trait of this theology, born of the

great revival, that it has constantly held before itself not only the

question, What is truth? but also the question, How shall it be

preached? It has never ceased to be a revival theology.

A bold and open breach of traditionary assumptions and habits of

reasoning was made by Horace Bushnell. This was a theologian of a

different type from his New England predecessors. He was of a temper

little disposed to accept either methods or results as a local

tradition, and inclined rather to prefer that which had been hammered

out on his own anvil. And yet, while very free in manifesting his small

respect for the logicking by syllogistic processes which had been the

pride of the theological chair and even the pulpit in America, and while

declining the use of current phraseologies even for the expression of

current ideas, he held himself loyally subject to the canon of the

Scriptures as his rule of faith, and deferential to the voice of the

church catholic as uttered in the concord of testimony of holy men in

all ages. Endowed with a poet's power of intuition, uplifted by a fervid

piety, uttering himself in a literary style singularly rich and

melodious, it is not strange that such a man should have made large

contributions to the theological thought of his own and later times. In

natural theology, his discourses on The Moral Uses of Dark Things

(1869), and his longest continuous work, on Nature and the

Supernatural (1858), even though read rather as prose-poems than as

arguments, sound distinctly new notes in the treatment of their theme.

In God in Christ (1849), Christ in Theology (1851), The Vicarious

Sacrifice (1866), and Forgiveness and Law (1874), and in a notable

article in the New Englander for November, 1854, entitled The

Christian Trinity a Practical Truth, the great topics of the Christian

system were dealt with all the more effectively, in the minds of

thoughtful readers in this and other lands, for cries of alarm and

newspaper and pulpit impeachments of heresy that were sent forth. But

that work of his which most nearly made as well as marked an epoch in

American church history was the treatise of Christian Nurture (1847).

This, with the protracted controversy that followed upon the publication

of it, was a powerful influence in lifting the American church out of

the rut of mere individualism that had been wearing deeper and deeper

from the days of the Great Awakening.

Another wholesome and edifying debate was occasioned by the publications

that went forth from the college and theological seminary of the German

Reformed Church, situated at Mercersburg in Pennsylvania. At this

institution was effected a fruitful union of American and German

theology; the result was to commend to the general attention aspects of

truth, philosophical, theological, and historical, not previously

current among American Protestants. The book of Dr. John Williamson

Nevin, entitled The Mystical Presence: A Vindication of the Reformed or

Calvinistic Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, revealed to the vast

multitude of churches and ministers that gloried in the name of

Calvinist the fact that on the most distinctive article of Calvinism

they were not Calvinists at all, but Zwinglians. The enunciation of the

standard doctrine of the various Presbyterian churches excited among

themselves a clamor of Heresy! and the doctrine of Calvin was put upon

trial before the Calvinists. The outcome of a discussion that extended

itself far beyond the boundaries of the comparatively small and

uninfluential German Reformed Church was to elevate the point of view

and broaden the horizon of American students of the constitution and

history of the church. Later generations of such students owe no light

obligation to the fidelity and courage of Dr. Nevin, as well as to the

erudition and immense productive diligence of his associate, Dr. Philip


It is incidental to the prevailing method of instruction in theology by

a course of prelections in which the teacher reads to his class in

detail his own original summa theologiæ, that the American press has

been prolific of ponderous volumes of systematic divinity. Among the

more notable of these systems are those of Leonard Woods (in five

volumes) and of Enoch Pond; of the two Drs. Hodge, father and son; of

Robert J. Breckinridge and James H. Thornwell and Robert L. Dabney; and

the Systematic Theology of a much younger man, Dr. Augustus H. Strong,

of Rochester Seminary, which has won for itself very unusual and wide

respect. Exceptional for ability, as well as for its originality of

conception, is The Republic of God: An Institute of Theology, by

Elisha Mulford, a disciple of Maurice and of the realist philosophy, the

thought of whose whole life is contained in this and his kindred work on

The Nation.

* * * * *

How great is the debt which the church owes to its heretics is

frequently illustrated in the progress of Christianity in America. If it

had not been for the Unitarian defection in New England, and for the

attacks from Germany upon the historicity of the gospels, the

theologians of America might to this day have been engrossed in

threshing old straw in endless debates on fixed fate, free will,

foreknowledge absolute. The exigencies of controversy forced the study

of the original documents of the church. From his entrance upon his

professorship at Andover, in 1810, the eager enthusiasm of Moses Stuart

made him the father of exegetical science not only for America, but for

all the English-speaking countries. His not less eminent pupil and

associate, Edward Robinson, later of the Union Seminary, New York,

created out of nothing the study of biblical geography. Associating with

himself the most accomplished living Arabist, Eli Smith, of the American

mission at Beirût, he made those Biblical Researches in Palestine

which have been the foundation on which all later explorers have built.

Another American missionary, Dr. W. M. Thomson, has given the most

valuable popular exposition of the same subject in his volumes on The

Land and the Book. With the exception of Dr. Henry Clay Trumbull in his

determination of the site of Kadesh-barnea, the American successors to

Robinson in the original exploration of the Bible lands have made few

additions to our knowledge. But in the department of biblical archæology

the work of Drs. Ward, Peters, and Hilprecht in the mounds of Babylonia,

and of Mr. Bliss in Palestine, has added not a little to the credit of

the American church against the heavy balance which we owe to the

scholarship of Europe.

Monumental works in lexicography have been produced by Dr. Thayer, of

Cambridge, on New Testament Greek; by Professor Francis Brown, of New

York, in conjunction with Canon Driver, of Oxford, on the languages of

the Old Testament; and by Dr. Sophocles, of Cambridge, on the Byzantine


In the work of the textual criticism of the Scriptures, notwithstanding

its remoteness from the manuscript sources of study, America has

furnished two names that are held in honor throughout the learned world:

among the recent dead, Ezra Abbot, of Cambridge, universally beloved and

lamented; and among the living, Caspar René Gregory, successor to the

labors and the fame of Tischendorf. A third name is that of the late Dr.

Isaac H. Hall, the successful collator of Syriac New Testament


In those studies of the higher criticism which at the present day are

absorbing so much of the attention of biblical scholars, and the

progress of which is watched with reasonable anxiety for their bearing

on that dogma of the absolute inerrancy of the canonical Scriptures

which has so commonly been postulated as the foundation of Protestant

systems of revealed theology, the American church has taken eager

interest. An eminent, and in some respects the foremost, place among the

leaders in America of these investigations into the substructure, if not

of the Christian faith, at least of the work of the system-builders, is

held by Professor W. H. Green, of Princeton, whose painstaking essays in

the higher criticism have done much to stimulate the studies of younger

men who have come out at conclusions different from his own. The works

of Professors Briggs, of Union Seminary, and Henry P. Smith, of Lane

Seminary, have had the invaluable advantage of being commended to public

attention by ecclesiastical processes and debates. The two volumes of

Professor Bacon, of Yale, have been recognized by the foremost scholars

of Great Britain and Germany as containing original contributions toward

the solution of the problem of Pentateuchal analysis. The intricate

critical questions presented by the Book of Judges have been handled

with supreme ability by Professor Moore, of Andover, in his commentary

on that book. A desideratum in biblical literature has been well

supplied by Professor Bissell, of Hartford, in a work on the Old

Testament Apocrypha. But the magnum opus of American biblical

scholarship, associating with itself the best learning and ability of

other nations, is the publication, under the direction of Professor

Haupt, of Baltimore, of a critical text of the entire Scriptures in the

original languages, with new translations and notes, for the use of


The undeniably grave theological difficulties occasioned by the results

of critical study have given rise to a novel dogma concerning the

Scriptures, which, if it may justly be claimed as a product of the

Princeton Seminary, would seem to discredit the modest boast of the

venerated Dr. Charles Hodge, that Princeton has never originated a new

idea. It consists in the hypothesis of an original autograph of the

Scriptures, the precise contents of which are now undiscoverable, but

which differed from any existing text in being absolutely free from

error of any kind. The hypothesis has no small advantage in this, that

if it is not susceptible of proof, it is equally secure from refutation.

If not practically useful, it is at least novel, and on this ground

entitled to mention in recounting the contributions of the American

church to theology at a really perilous point in the progress of

biblical study.

* * * * *

The field of church history, aside from local and sectarian histories,

was late in being invaded by American theologians. For many generations

the theology of America was distinctly unhistorical, speculative, and

provincial. But a change in this respect was inevitably sure to come.

The strong propensity of the national mind toward historical studies is

illustrated by the large proportion of historical works among the

masterpieces of our literature, whether in prose or in verse. It would

seem as if our conscious poverty in historical monuments and traditions

had engendered an eager hunger for history. No travelers in ancient

lands are such enthusiasts in seeking the monuments of remote ages as

those whose homes are in regions not two generations removed from the

prehistoric wilderness. It was certain that as soon as theology should

begin to be taught to American students in its relation to the history

of the kingdom of Christ, the charm of this method would be keenly felt.

We may assume the date of 1853 as an epoch from which to date this new

era of theological study. It was in that year that the gifted, learned,

and inspiring teacher, Henry Boynton Smith, was transferred from the

chair of history in Union Theological Seminary, New York, to the chair

of systematic theology. Through his premature and most lamented death

the church has failed of receiving that system of doctrine which had

been hoped for at his hands. But the historic spirit which characterized

him has ever since been characteristic of that seminary. It is

illustrative of the changed tone of theologizing that after the death of

Professor Smith, in the reorganization of the faculty of that important

institution, it was manned in the three chief departments, exegetical,

dogmatic, and practical, by men whose eminent distinction was in the

line of church history. The names of Hitchcock, Schaff, and Shedd cannot

be mentioned without bringing to mind some of the most valuable gifts

that America has made to the literature of the universal church. If to

these we add the names of George Park Fisher, of Yale, and Bishop Hurst,

and Alexander V. G. Allen, of Cambridge, author of The Continuity of

Christian Thought, and Henry Charles Lea, of Philadelphia, we have

already vindicated for American scholarship a high place in this

department of Christian literature.

* * * * *

In practical theology the productiveness of the American church in the

matter of sermons has been so copious that even for the briefest

mention some narrow rule of exclusion must be followed. There is no

doubt that in a multitude of cases the noblest utterances of the

American pulpit, being unwritten, have never come into literature, but

have survived for a time as a glowing memory, and then a fading

tradition. The statement applies to many of the most famous revival

preachers; and in consequence of a prevalent prejudice against the

writing of sermons, it applies especially to the great Methodist and

Baptist preachers, whose representation on the shelves of libraries is

most disproportionate to their influence on the course of the kingdom

of Christ. Of other sermons,--and good sermons,--printed and published,

many have had an influence almost as restricted and as evanescent as the

utterances of the pulpit improvisator. If we confine ourselves to those

sermons that have survived their generation or won attention beyond the

limits of local interest or of sectarian fellowship, the list will not

be unmanageably long.

In the early years of the nineteenth century the Unitarian pulpits of

Boston were adorned with every literary grace known to the rhetoric of

that period. The luster of Channing's fame has outshone and outlasted

that of his associates; and yet these were stars of hardly less

magnitude. The two Wares, father and son, the younger Buckminster, whose

singular power as a preacher was known not only to wondering hearers,

but to readers on both sides of the ocean, Gannett and Dewey--these were

among them; and, in the next generation, Henry W. Bellows, Thomas Starr

King, and James Freeman Clarke. No body of clergy of like size was ever

so resplendent with talents and accomplishments. The names alone of

those who left the Unitarian pulpit for a literary or political

career--Sparks, Everett, Bancroft, Emerson, Ripley, Palfrey, Upham,

among them--are a constellation by themselves.

To the merely literary critic those earnest preachers, such as Lyman and

Edward Beecher, Griffin, Sereno Dwight, Wayland, and Kirk, who felt

called of God to withstand, in Boston, this splendid array of not less

earnest men, were clearly inferior to their antagonists. But they were


A few years later, the preëminent American writer of sermons to be read

and pondered in every part of the world was Horace Bushnell; as the

great popular preacher, whose words, caught burning from his lips,

rolled around the world in a perpetual stream, was Henry Ward Beecher.

Widely different from either of these, and yet in an honorable sense

successor to the fame of both, was Phillips Brooks, of all American

preachers most widely beloved and honored in all parts of the church.

Of living preachers whose sermons have already attained a place of honor

in libraries at home and abroad, the name of Bishop F. D. Huntington

stands among the foremost; and those who have been charmed by the

brilliant rhetoric and instructed from the copious learning of his

college classmate, Dr. Richard S. Storrs, must feel it a wrong done to

our national literature that these gifts should be chiefly known to the

reading public only by occasional discourses and by two valuable studies

in religious history instead of by volumes of sermons. Perhaps no

American pulpits have to-day a wider hearing beyond the sea than two

that stand within hearing distance of each other on New Haven Green,

occupied by Theodore T. Munger and Newman Smyth. The pulpit of Plymouth

Church, Brooklyn, has not ceased, since the accession of Lyman Abbott,

to wield a wide and weighty influence,--less wide, but in some respects

more weighty, than in the days of his famous predecessor,--by reason of

a well-deserved reputation for biblical learning and insight, and for

candor and wisdom in applying Scriptural principles to the solution of

current questions.

The early American theology was, as we have seen, a rhetorical and not a

merely scholastic theology--a theology to be preached.[384:1] In like

manner, the American pulpit in those days was distinctly theological,

like a professor's chair. One who studies with care the pulpit of

to-day, in those volumes that seem to command the widest and most

enduring attention, will find that it is to a large extent apologetic,

addressing itself to the abating of doubts and objections to the

Christian system, or, recognizing the existing doubts, urging the

religious duties that are nevertheless incumbent on the doubting mind.

It has ceased to assume the substantial soundness of the hearer in the

main principles of orthodox opinion, and regards him as one to be held

to the church by attraction, persuasion, or argument. The result of this

attitude of the preacher is to make the pulpit studiously, and even

eagerly, attractive and interesting. This virtue has its corresponding

fault. The American preacher of to-day is little in danger of being

dull; his peril lies at the other extreme. His temptation is rather to

the feebleness of extravagant statement, and to an overstrained and

theatric rhetoric such as some persons find so attractive in the

discourses of Dr. Talmage, and others find repulsive and intolerable.

A direction in which the literature of practical theology in America is

sure to expand itself in the immediate future is indicated in the title

of a recent work of that versatile and useful writer, Dr. Washington

Gladden, Applied Christianity. The salutary conviction that political

economy cannot be relied on by itself to adjust all the intricate

relations of men under modern conditions of life, that the ethical

questions that arise are not going to solve themselves automatically by

the law of demand and supply, that the gospel and the church and the

Spirit of Christ have somewhat to do in the matter, has been settling

itself deeply into the minds of Christian believers. The impression that

the questions between labor and capital, between sordid poverty and

overgrown wealth, were old-world questions, of which we of the New World

are relieved, is effectually dispelled. Thus far there is not much of

history to be written under this head, but somewhat of prophecy. It is

now understood, and felt in the conscience, that these questions are for

every Christian to consider, and for those undertaking the cure of souls

to make the subject of their faithful, laborious professional study. The

founding of professorships of social ethics in the theological

seminaries must lead to important and speedy results in the efficiency

of churches and pastors in dealing with this difficult class of

problems.[386:1] But whatever advances shall be made in the future, no

small part of the impulse toward them will be recognized as coming from,

or rather through, the inspiring and most Christian humanitarian

writings and the personal influence and example of Edward Everett Hale.

* * * * *

In one noble department of religious literature, the liturgical, the

record of the American church is meager. The reaction among the early

colonists and many of the later settlers against forms of worship

imposed by political authority was violent. Seeking for a logical basis,

it planted itself on the assumption that no form (unless an improvised

form) is permitted in public worship, except such as are sanctioned by

express word of Scripture. In their sturdy resolution to throw off and

break up the yoke, which neither they nor their fathers had been able to

bear, of ordinances and traditions complicated with not a little of

debilitating superstition, the extreme Puritans of England and Scotland

rejected the whole system of holy days in the Christian year, including

the authentic anniversaries of Passover and Pentecost, and discontinued

the use of religious ceremonies at marriages and funerals.[386:2] The

only liturgical compositions that have come down to us from the first

generations are the various attempts, in various degrees of harshness

and rudeness, at the versification of psalms and other Scriptures for

singing. The emancipation of the church from its bondage to an

artificial dogma came, as we have already seen, with the Great Awakening

and the introduction of Watts's Psalms of David, Imitated in the

Language of the New Testament.[387:1] After the Revolution, at the

request of the General Association of Connecticut and the General

Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Timothy Dwight completed the work

of Watts by versifying a few omitted psalms,[387:2] and added a brief

selection of hymns, chiefly in the grave and solemn Scriptural style of

Watts and Doddridge. Then followed, in successive tides, from England,

the copious hymnody of the Methodist revival, both Calvinist and

Wesleyan, of the Evangelical revival, and now at last of the Oxford

revival, with its affluence of translations from the ancient hymnists,

as well as of original hymns. It is doubtless owing to this abundant

intermittent inflow from England that the production of American hymns

has been so scanty. Only a few writers, among them Thomas Hastings and

Ray Palmer, have written each a considerable number of hymns that have

taken root in the common use of the church. Not a few names besides are

associated each with some one or two or three lyrics that have won an

enduring place in the affections of Christian worshipers. The gospel

hymns which have flowed from many pens in increasing volume since the

revival of 1857 have proved their great usefulness, especially in

connection with the ministry of Messrs. Moody and Sankey; but they are,

even the best of them, short-lived. After their season the church seems

not unwilling to let them die.

Soon after the mid-point of the nineteenth century, began a serious

study of the subject of the conduct of public worship, which continues

to this day, with good promise of sometime reaching useful and stable

results. In 1855 was published Eutaxia, or the Presbyterian Liturgies:

Historical Sketches. By a Minister of the Presbyterian Church. The

author, Charles W. Baird, was a man peculiarly fitted to render the

church important service, such as indeed he did render in this volume,

and in the field of Huguenot history which he divided with his brother,

Henry M. Baird. How great the loss to historical theology through his

protracted feebleness of body and his death may be conjectured, not

measured. This brief volume awakened an interest in the subject of it in

America, and in Scotland, and among the nonconformists of England. To

American Presbyterians in general it was something like a surprise to be

reminded that the sisterhood of the Reformed sects were committed by

their earliest and best traditions in favor of liturgic uses in public

worship. At about the same time the fruitful discussions of the

Mercersburg controversy were in progress in the German Reformed Church.

Mercersburg found fault with the common style of extemporaneous public

prayer, and advocated a revival of the liturgical church service of the

Reformation period, but so modified and reproduced as to be adapted to

the existing wants of Protestant congregations.[388:1] Each of these

discussions was followed by a proposed book of worship. In 1857 was

published by Mr. Baird A Book of Public Prayer, Compiled from the

Authorized Formularies of Worship of the Presbyterian Church, as

Prepared by the Reformers, Calvin, Knox, Bucer, and others; and in 1858

was set forth by a committee of the German Reformed Church A Liturgy,

or Order of Christian Worship. In 1855 St. Peter's Presbyterian Church

of Rochester published its Church-book, prepared by Mr. L. W. Bacon,

then acting as pastor, which was principally notable for introducing the

use of the Psalms in parallelisms for responsive reading--a use which at

once found acceptance in many churches, and has become general in all

parts of the country. Sporadic experiments followed in various

individual congregations, looking toward greater variety or greater

dignity or greater musical attractiveness in the services of public

worship, or toward more active participation therein on the part of the

people. But these experiments, conducted without concert or mutual

counsel, often without serious study of the subject, and with a feebly

esthetic purpose, were representative of individual notions, and had in

them no promise of stability or of fruit after their kind. Only, by the

increasing number of them, they have given proof of an unrest on this

subject which at last is beginning to embody itself in organization and

concerted study and enterprise. A fifty years of mere tentative groping

is likely to be followed by another fifty years of substantial progress.

The influence of the Protestant Episcopal Church upon this growing

tendency has been sometimes favorable, sometimes unfavorable, but always

important. To begin with, it has held up before the whole church an

example of prescribed forms for divine worship, on the whole, the best

in all history. On the other hand, it has drawn to itself those in

other sects whose tastes and tendencies would make them leaders in the

study of liturgics, and thus while reinforcing itself has hindered the

general advance of improvement in the methods of worship. Withal, its

influence has tended to narrow the discussion to the consideration of a

single provincial and sectarian tradition, as if the usage of a part of

the Christians of the southern end of one of the islands of the British

archipelago had a sort of binding authority over the whole western

continent. But again, on the other hand, the broadening of its own views

to the extent of developing distinctly diverse ways of thinking among

its clergy and people has enlarged the field of study once more, and

tended to interest the church generally in the practical, historical,

and theological aspects of the subject. The somewhat timid ventures of

Broad and Evangelical men in one direction, and the fearless

breaking of bounds in the other direction by those of Ritualist

sympathies, have done much to liberate this important communion from

slavish uniformity and indolent traditionalism; and within a few years

that has been accomplished which only a few years earlier would have

been deemed impossible--the considerable alteration and improvement of

the Book of Common Prayer.

It is safe to prognosticate, from the course of the history up to this

point, that the subject of the conduct of worship will become more and

more seriously a subject of study in the American church in all its

divisions; that the discussions thereon arising will be attended with

strong antagonisms of sentiment; that mutual antagonisms within the

several sects will be compensated by affiliations of men like-minded

across sectarian lines; and that thus, as many times before, particular

controversies will tend to general union and fellowship.

One topic under this title of Liturgics requires special mention--the

use of music in the church. It was not till the early part of the

eighteenth century that music began to be cultivated as an art in

America.[391:1] Up to that time the service of song in the house of the

Lord had consisted, in most worshiping assemblies on this continent, in

the singing of rude literal versifications of the Psalms and other

Scriptures to some eight or ten old tunes handed down by tradition, and

variously sung in various congregations, as modified by local practice.

The coming in of singing by rule was nearly coincident with the

introduction of Watts's psalms and hymns, and was attended with like

agitations. The singing-school for winter evenings became an almost

universal social institution; and there actually grew up an American

school of composition, quaint, rude, and ungrammatical, which had great

vogue toward the end of the last century, and is even now remembered by

some with admiration and regret. It was devoted mainly to psalmody tunes

of an elaborate sort, in which the first half-stanza would be sung in

plain counterpoint, after which the voices would chase each other about

in a lively imitative movement, coming out together triumphantly at the

close. They abounded in forbidden progressions and empty chords, but

were often characterized by fervor of feeling and by strong melodies. A

few of them, as Lenox and Northfield, still linger in use; and the

productions of this school in general, which amount to a considerable

volume, are entitled to respectful remembrance as the first untutored

utterance of music in America. The use of them became a passionate

delight to our grandparents; and the traditions are fresh and vivid of

the great choirs filling the church galleries on three sides, and

tossing the theme about from part to part.

The use of these rudely artificial tunes involved a gravely important

change in the course of public worship. In congregations that accepted

them the singing necessarily became an exclusive privilege of the choir.

To a lamentable extent, where there was neither the irregular and

spontaneous ejaculation of the Methodist nor the rubrical response of

the Episcopalian, the people came to be shut out from audible

participation in the acts of public worship.

A movement of musical reform in the direction of greater simplicity and

dignity began early in this century, when Lowell Mason in Boston and

Thomas Hastings in New York began their multitudinous publications of

psalmody. Between them not less than seventy volumes of music were

published in a period of half as many years. Their immense and

successful fecundity was imitated with less success by others, until the

land was swamped with an annual flood of church-music books. A thin

diluvial stratum remains to us from that time in tunes, chiefly from the

pen of Dr. Mason, that have taken permanent place as American chorals.

Such pieces as Boylston, Hebron, Rockingham, Missionary Hymn,

and the adaptations of Gregorian melodies, Olmutz and Hamburg, are

not likely to be displaced from their hold on the American church by

more skilled and exquisite compositions of later schools. But the

fertile labors of the church musicians of this period were affected by

the market demand for new material for the singing-school, the large

church choir, and the musical convention. The music thus introduced into

the churches consisted not so much of hymn-tunes and anthems as of

sacred glees.[392:1]

Before the middle of the century the Episcopal Church had arrived at a

point at which it was much looked to to set the fashions in such matters

as church music and architecture. Its influence at this time was very

bad. It was largely responsible for the fashion, still widely prevalent,

of substituting for the church choir a quartet of professional solo

singers, and for the degradation of church music into the dainty,

languishing, and sensuous style which such artists do most affect. The

period of The Grace Church Collection, Greatorex's Collection, and

the sheet-music compositions of George William Warren and John R. Thomas

was the lowest tide of American church music.

A healthy reaction from this vicious condition began about 1855, with

the introduction of hymn-and-tune books and the revival of

congregational singing. From that time the progressive improvement of

the public taste may be traced in the character of the books that have

succeeded one another in the churches, until the admirable compositions

of the modern English school of psalmody tend to predominate above those

of inferior quality. It is the mark of a transitional period that both

in church music and in church architecture we seem to depend much on

compositions and designs derived from older countries. The future of

religious art in America is sufficiently well assured to leave no cause

for hurry or anxiety.

* * * * *

In glancing back over this chapter, it will be strange if some are not

impressed, and unfavorably impressed, with a disproportion in the names

cited as representative, which are taken chiefly from some two or three

sects. This may justly be referred in part, no doubt, to the author's

point of view and to the personal equation; but it is more largely due

to the fact that in the specialization of the various sects the work of

theological literature and science has been distinctively the lot of the

Congregationalists and the Presbyterians, and preëminently of the

former.[394:1] It is matter of congratulation that the inequality among

the denominations in this respect is in a fair way to be outgrown.

Special mention must be made of the peculiarly valuable contribution to

the liturgical literature of America that is made by the oldest of our

episcopal churches, the Moravian. This venerable organization is rich

not only in the possession of a heroic martyr history, but in the

inheritance of liturgic forms and usages of unsurpassed beauty and

dignity. Before the other churches had emerged from a half-barbarous

state in respect to church music, this art was successfully cultivated

in the Moravian communities and missions. In past times these have had

comparatively few points of contact and influence with the rest of the

church; but when the elements of a common order of divine worship shall

by and by begin to grow into form, it is hardly possible that the

Moravian traditions will not enter into it as an important factor.

A combination of conditions which in the case of other bodies in the

church has been an effective discouragement to literary production has

applied with especial force to the Roman Catholic Church in America.

First, its energies and resources, great as they are, have been

engrossed by absolutely prodigious burdens of practical labor; and

secondly, its necessary literary material has been furnished to it from

across the sea, ready to its hand, or needing only the light labor of

translation. But these two conditions are not enough, of themselves, to

account for the very meager contribution of the Catholic Church to the

common religious and theological literature of American Christendom.

Neither is the fact explained by the general low average of culture

among the Catholic population; for literary production does not

ordinarily proceed from the man of average culture, but from men of

superior culture, such as this church possesses in no small number, and

places in positions of undisturbed learned leisure that would seem in

the highest degree promotive of intellectual work. But the comparative

statistics of the Catholic and the Protestant countries and universities

of Germany seem to prove conclusively that the spirit and discipline of

the Roman Church are unfavorable to literary productiveness in those

large fields of intellectual activity that are common and free alike to

the scholars of all Christendom. It remains to be seen whether the

stimulating atmosphere and the free and equal competitions of the New

World will not show their invigorating effect in the larger activity of

Catholic scholars, and their liberation from within the narrow lines of

polemic and defensive literature. The republic of Christian letters has

already shown itself prompt to welcome accessions from this quarter. The

signs are favorable. Notwithstanding severe criticisms of their methods

proceeding from the Catholic press, or rather in consequence of such

criticisms, the Catholic institutions of higher learning are rising in

character and in public respect; and the honorable enterprise of

establishing at Washington an American Catholic university, on the

upbuilding of which shall be concentrated the entire intellectual

strength and culture of this church, promises an invigorating influence

that shall extend through that whole system of educational institutions

which the church has set on foot at immense cost, and not with wholly

satisfactory results.

Recent events in the Catholic Church in America tend to reassure all

minds on an important point on which not bigots and alarmists only, but

liberal-minded citizens apostolically willing to look not only on their

own things but also on the things of others, have found reasonable

ground for anxiety. The American Catholic Church, while characterized in

all its ranks, in respect of loyal devotion to the pope, by a high type

of ultramontane orthodoxy, is to be administered on patriotic American

principles. The brief term of service of Monsignor Satolli as papal

legate clothed with plenipotentiary authority from the Roman see stamped

out the scheme called from its promoter Cahenslyism, which would have

divided the American Catholic Church into permanent alien communities,

conserving each its foreign language and organized under its separate

hierarchy. The organization of parishes to be administered in other

languages than English is suffered only as a temporary necessity. The

deadly warfare against the American common-school system has abated. And

the anti-American denunciations contained in the bull and syllabus of

December 8, 1864, are openly renounced as lacking the note of


Of course, as in all large communities of vigorous vitality, there will

be mutually antagonist parties in this body; but it is hardly to be

doubted that with the growth and acclimatization of the Catholic Church

in America that party will eventually predominate which is most in

sympathy with the ruling ideas of the country and the age.