It has been said by no less an authority than Lord Macaulay, that "to learn to read is the business of half a life," and it is urged that the first aim of every minister of religion should be to learn how to read the Bible. The proper interpretation of the Bible through reading requires more study, more feeling, more pathos, and a better understanding of the book, than is demanded by any other book in the world. It is possible to impress a spiritual lesson more deeply on the mind by the reading of the Scripture than is accomplished by the most brilliant sermon. And this is not surprising, for we are to remember that in one case it is the reading of the word of God, and in the other case it is the speaking of the words of men.
In order to give encouragement and instruction to our field and institutional workers, the Fireside Correspondence School has provided a course of study in The Fundamentals of Expression. This course was prepared about one year ago, and among those who have enrolled are ministers, teachers, and Bible workers. This course consists of twelve lessons ; and the cost (including books, helps, tuition, correction of recitation papers, and the conducting of an examination allowing two hours' college credit) is only $12.85. For further description of this course and other information, address The Fireside Correspondence School, Takoma Park, D. C.
One of the most notable examples of effective ministerial reading occurred three thousand years ago. It was at the time when the Israelites had returned from the seventy years' Babylonian captivity, and on a certain day all the people gathered in the street before the water gate, in the city of Jerusalem, and "Ezra the scribe . . . stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose," and read to the people from the book of the law of Moses, beginning at daylight and continuing until midday. Concerning this event, Inspiration has recorded that "they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." Ezra possessed the gift of reading, and God made use of this gift for holding the attention of that great outdoor audience on this momentous occasion, for we read, "The ears of all the people were attentive."
It should be remembered that in reading the voice tone and modulation is of first importance, and that feeling is the very soul of good rendering. One thrill of genuine feeling is of more value than all the rhetorical rules of ancient and modern times. Feeling in one's own heart will send the electric current through other hearts. There is a golden rule in the five monosyllables--fee/ each word you speak.
Next to feeling comes expression, which is described as "word painting." Some men can throw more real life into a single word than others can impart in a whole page. Few orators have excelled the late William Morley Punshon, eminent Wesleyan preacher, in the art of word painting. He was realistic in the highest degree, and brought the very sound of the event read about into the word itself. He came into this coveted possession of word painting, not by genius, but by study. He studied the whole scene of that which he wished to express by word, until it became a picture in his own mind, then with power of voice control and the pathos of feeling he painted the picture in words before his hearers.
The ordinary reader and speaker need not become disheartened in his recognition of failure to master the art of reading. Nothing good or great is given to man without indefatigable labor; therefore persevere in study. A textbook of inestimable value is entitled, "Vocal and Literary Interpretation of the Bible," by S. S. Curry, which may be obtained through the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Takoma Park, D. C.
Washington., D. C.
* This is the last of the series by Prof. M. E. Cady on the speaking voice, its training and use in gospel service. The supreme value of the voice gift, and the duty of all gospel workers so to train and develop the powers of voice and speech that they may be free from faulty and defective utterance. is strongly emphasized in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy.