"To that cathedral, boundless as our wonder, Whose quenchless lamps the sun and moon supply: Its choir the winds and waves, its organ thunder,
Its dome the sky."
"Then I said, "I covet Truth; Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat, - I leave it behind with the games of youth,' As I spoke, beneath my feet The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath, Running over the club-moss burrs; I inhale the violet's breath; Around me stood the oaks and firs; Pines, cones, and acorns lay on the ground; Above me soared the eternal sky, Full of light and deity; Again I saw, again I heard, The rolling river, the morning bird; - Beauty through my senses stole, I yielded myself to the perfect whole. - Emerson.
I believe that most people have a mistaken idea as to what constitutes a religious life. To some, it is a mere observance of outer forms: going to Church, attending the weekly prayer-meetings, and conforming in a general way to the rules and regulations of the religious body to which they may belong. With others, it goes a step farther than this, and considerable thought is given to the effort of suppressing outer manifestations of inner desires and passions, and to such people this seems to represent self-control. Again, with others, asceticism, with strict regulation of diet and frequent fasting, sometimes with prayer, but more often without it, constitutes still another phase of religion. The above illustrates to a degree, what the majority of mankind believes to be religion. But there is nothing in such religion that will make either for the beauty or the harmony of true living. All such religion retards rather than aids natural progress. It would seem to me as though real development must follow along natural lines, and any departure from this would cause some to miss and others to overshoot the mark. The different phases of religion I have enumerated have in them comparatively little of the rhythm, melody, and harmony of life, all of which should be essential parts of the religion of life. The truly religious life must become all three, because the fundamentals of music are also the fundamentals of human life. The so-called religion of today, instead of being beautiful, is rather a gruesome affair. The only hope to be derived from such a condition as exists is that the average person no longer believes such teaching necessary to the living of life. The theory, or the shell of it still remains, but the substance is practically gone. We may have been miserable sinners in the past, enshrouded by the gloom of fears and doubts, or worms of the dust that disfigured God's beautiful earth; but the substance of such belief has vanished. People in their services may mumble over the words, but they are no longer awed or frightened by them. The old forms and creeds are passing away to make room for a new religion that shall be filled with brightness and hope, a religion of joy and gladness that will really proclaim peace and good-will to all men.
Joy and gladness have their hidden source in the depths of the soul. Joy and gladness, peace and goodwill will find expression in life's new song. When in the religion of the future the soul is awakened to its own potential powers and possibilities, music will wield a larger influence than any or all other factors. Empty forms, ceremonials and creeds will be replaced by soul-satisfying music. The dry sermon and the shallow prayer which the priest or clergyman offers up for the enlightenment of his fellow-man, or the direction of the Supreme Power, shall pass away, and in place shall come a mighty chorus of voices engaged in praising God in a grand symphony of song that will do more for the spiritual development of those engaged in singing or listening than a thousand prayers or sermons could do uttered by man.
Who has not been more impressed by the religious spirit in the music of "Parsifal" than by any dozen sermons ever delivered? There is no way known to man that will reach and touch his highest nature so effectively as the highest music that comes to him through the medium of the voice of his fellow-man.
In life, everything done in the right way is a religious act; and everything done in a wrong or a discordant way is an irreligious act. We know that when rhythm can be introduced into work or into play, it not only makes for ease and grace of movement, but it gives pleasure to the one using it; and we might say that the pleasure in turn became melody, and because of the rhythm and melody living in and being expressed through the life, one becomes in the most harmonious way related to one's environment. After all, what more is there in life, what is there to call for any greater attention than the inner rhythm and melody of life, and the outer harmony and beauty of life? Do not these cause one to reach up and beyond everything that is unreal and untrue? Does not such a state resolve itself into goodness from first to last? If there be any departure from goodness, surely it must be the result of the temporary failure to live the rhythmic life from centre to circumference. I use the word "rhythmic" here advisedly; because if we leave rhythm out, it would not be long before all the melody and harmony would be gone, too. Once the religious life is founded on music, the burden of sin will be lifted and the effects of sin, which we call disease, will be removed. For rhythm, melody, harmony and beauty can never introduce fearful, discordant or unwholesome things into life: the same source does not send forth sweet and bitter waters. I know that many will take exception to some of the statements I have just made, and will argue that if my statements were true it would be impossible for professional singers or musicians so often to be discordant and inharmonious themselves; surely, if music were the panacea for all our mental and physical states, we should get some full expressions of its benefits from those who are most actively engaged in it. This looks, on the face of it/a reasonable argument. I think, however, it can be shown that it in no way disproves my statements, because much of the music of the present time is not written with the object of calling out the best that is in man. In fact, in some cases, it would seem as though composers wrote their music to appeal to man's lower or elemental passions, and this, to a degree, will explain why so many singers and musicians lead what might be called unmusical lives. They are under the spell of a subtle hypnotism that exists in certain kinds of music and acts almost like morphine to deaden one's sensibilities, so that nothing is seen in its right proportion. Consequently, people under the influence of such music become mentally and morally unbalanced.