Music in the Church

It has been my privilege to serve as organist in a Christian Science church for many years. This experience has been a means of great spiritual growth to me. As so many expressions of gratitude have come to me for my work, I will endeavor to convey in words what the music means to me, as to its purpose, place, and effect in the service.

We are exhorted frequently throughout the Scriptures to be glad, to rejoice, and to praise God for His goodness to His children. David expresses this beautifully in a psalm: "Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." Mrs. Eddy in her writings has made frequent use of music to bring out her illustrations of harmony. On page 11 of her Message for 1900 she says: "Music is more than sound in unison. ... Mind, not matter, makes music; and if the divine tone be lacking, the human tone has no melody for me." Our purpose, then, is to express harmony in tone. The first step in demonstration is for the musician to see that his desire and motive are right. A great love for our cause, expressed in obedience, humility, and gratitude, is a purpose which will give music a proper place in a Christian Science service. The selections should be chosen with great care from the purest expressions of musical art and should bring out such qualities of thought as peace, poise, calmness, sweetness, purity, beauty, strength, positiveness, achievement, triumph, and victory, without any personal display. Music may be compared to the frame of a beautiful picture. In the realm of tone it causes us to forget self and unrest and speaks of peace and harmony. The prelude opens the service and may voice our praise and thanksgiving before the Word is spoken. The offertory is a continual offering, as it represents bringing "all the tithes into the storehouse," while the postlude, a song afterwards, may express ultimate victory and triumph.

In Article XIX, Section 1, of the Manual of The Mother Church we find the following: "The music in The Mother Church shall not be operatic, but of an appropriate religious character and of a recognized standard of musical excellence; it shall be played in a dignified and suitable manner." Mrs. Eddy also says in her Message for 1900 (p. 11), "I want not only quality, quantity, and variation in tone, but the unction of Love." Our work, then, is to express love, not only at the service but in a continual lifting of thought to the music of Soul, the true sense of harmony. Then we will find it manifest in tone, the solo, the hymns, or the Word, and the effect is healing.

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A Lesson from the Sea
August 2, 1919

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