Music and the Minister

The monthly music of the message column.

By H. A. MILLER, Professor of Music, Pacific Union College, California

Danger of Statistics!—Sales of religious and health literature by the four Seventh-day Adventist pub­lishing houses in North America jumped from $3,660,­176 in 1942 to more than $6,000,000 in 1943, it was recently reported. Colporteur sales, it was stated, have increased 408 percent since 1939.

The growth of the so-called sects is a subject that de­serves close attention and study by the larger denomi­nations, from whose ranks many of the followers of these smaller organizations are drawn,—Zions Herald (M. E.), April 12.

Startling Statistics.—So far as statistics can show, it took thirty Baptists last year to win one soul to Christ. Worse yet, it took forty-three Protestants in general to win one soul to the allegiance of Christ. —Watchman-Examiner, Dec. 23, 1943.

For ages past, music and religion have been intimately associated. Vocal and instrumental music were used by the Israelites under Moses and Miriam. David's frequent mention of his interest in the art is significant. Even Jesus and His dis­ciples joined in singing a hymn before departing from the last supper. And one might well think that prior to this time the Saviour frequently had led His followers in the singing of some familiar hymn. We read in the book Curiosities of Music, by Louis C. Elson:

"Pliny the younger on being made proconsul of Bithynia was especially charged by the emperor Trajan, to find accusations against the Christians there, the num­ber of whom was augmenting daily. A letter of his, supposed to have been written in the third year of the second century of our era, contains the following re­garding the new religion.

"'They affirm that their fault and errors have only consisted of this—they convene at stated days, before sunrise, and sing, each in turn, verses in praise of Christ, as of a God."

Even the "Gnostics found music, singing especially, 'their chief aid in proselytizing,' while 'another great heresy in the early church, the Arian heresy, owed to its hymnody its enormous spread and influence through­out both West and East.'"

The Albigensians and Waldensians evidently had their part in the use of music as a means of spread­ing their faith—so much so that this century's two outstanding forces were "the lance and the harp."

In Reformation days Protestants were known everywhere as "the hymn singers." Later the united efforts of the Wesley brothers in encour­aging their congregations to sing the songs they so painstakingly provided, still witness to the bene­fits that may be derived through the proper use of music as an aid to the gospel.

Martin Luther might well be called the musi­cian-Reformer. One of his theses "demanded that the congregation be permitted to sing in religious service." The Jesuit Conzen observed that "more souls went to destruction through Luther's hymns and tunes than through his doctrines."

Calvin's interest in using music as an aid to the approaching Reformation is shown in his acquir­ing the services of Goudimel and Bourgeois, both great composers. His establishment of a school in Geneva to teach "the young to sing" and "to qualify for leading the music in the church," tes­tifies of the importance he attached to music as an aid to the promulgation of the gospel.

John Huss also established a school for singers and "compiled the first Protestant hymnbook." Zwingli was an accomplished musician, and used this gift to such an extent that his enemies dubbed him the Evangelical Flute.

John Wesley is said to have been profoundly influenced by the singing of a group of Moravians "on board a ship on which they and the founder of Methodism sailed across the Atlantic in the year 1735." From the first, hymn singing charac­terized the Methodist societies.

Need we point out other peaks of musical in­terest to show the effectiveness of a musical min­istry in the hands of men called of God to per­form an outstanding work for Him? This con­stant interest of so many God-led men, in the use of music to give wings to their faith, should lead us to think more seriously of its proper place in the third angel's message.

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By H. A. MILLER, Professor of Music, Pacific Union College, California

October 1944

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