"Again the harmony comes o'er the vale; And through the trees I view the embattled tower Whence all the music. I again perceive The soothing influence of the wafted strains, And settle in soft musings as I tread The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, Whose outspread branches overarch the glade."
Music has power not only to soothe and to lull, but to awaken and energise, and through such awakening man is able to accomplish and do things which would seem impossible to achieve under other circumstances. Let a person become possessed of a great ideal and others may think that he can never succeed in carrying it out; but there is within him that innate intelligence, power, and energy that can never rest until the desired end is attained. No matter how great the ideal may be, when it enters fully and completely into the life of a man, it exists there solely to be expressed, and any man co-operating with the laws of life is capable of doing whatever he wills to do.
Man, with all his achievements, is as yet only in his infancy. He has, however, passed through that stage wherein he looked upon himself as a "worm of the earth," and his face is now upturned toward the stars. He is beginning to dream dreams, and see visions of what life may become when he steadfastly turns his face toward the light. Slowly but surely there is coming into his life the consciousness of son-ship; that he is a part of the whole; that he is one with the inner life and the outer form. The whole trend of life is an upward one. It is a constant overcoming and as constant a becoming. Each ideal, when realised, becomes a step in the upward way. Each ideal realised is the cause of a new and greater ideal yet to be realised, and with such realisation comes the greater gain in mental and physical power, and a greater knowledge for the true direction of that power; finally, man comes consciously to know that he is in an ever-increasing scale that leads from death unto life, from earth unto heaven, from humanity to divinity. Through such development will man take his righteous place among the angelic hosts that are singing the new song of life. The golden harps referred to in the New Testament symbolise the coming of a time when man through the rhythm, melody, and harmony of his life shall strike every chord of his being, and give forth that music which has ever existed in his soul, although mind and body have not, as yet, been attuned to express it. The wisest and greatest prophets of all ages have declared the truth of this. In the book of Job we read: "Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Shakespeare, in his "Merchant of Venice," writes:
"There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st But in his motion like an angel sings, Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubims: Such harmony is in immortal souls; But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay Doth grossly close us in, we cannot hear it."
Many of the greatest minds of ancient times believed in the theory of the music of the spheres, and among ancient writers it was a favourite subject of philosophical inquiry. Pythagoras and Plato were of opinion that the music constituted the soul of the planets in our system, and the disciples of both these celebrated philosophers supposed the universe to be formed on the principle of harmony.
The Pythagoreans maintained an opinion which many of the poets have adopted, that music is pro-duced by the motion of the spheres in their several orbits, and the names of the sounds, in all probability, were derived from the seven stars. Pythagoras says that the whole world is made according to musical proportion. Plato asserts that the soul of the world is conjoined with musical proportion. Sir Isaac New-, ton was of opinion that the principles of harmony pervade the universe, and gives a proof of the general principles from the analogy between colours and sounds. From a number of experiments made on a ray of light with the prism, he found that the primary colours occupied spaces exactly corresponding with those intervals which constitute the octave in the division of a musical chord; and hence he has shown the obvious affinity existing between the harmony of colours and musical sounds.
Cicero notices the astonishing power of music, and Plato supposes that the effect of harmony on the mind is equal to that of air on the body. Father Kircher requires four conditions in music proper for the removal of sickness: first, harmony; second, number and proportion; third, efficacious and pathetic words joined to the harmony; fourth, a skill in the adaptation of these indispensable parts to the constitution, disposition, and inclination of the patient.
The celebrated Italian composer and musician, Tar-tini, who lived something over two hundred years ago, taught that with the problem of harmony solved, the mystery of creation, of even divinity itself, would be revealed in the mystical symbols of tone relation.
Mysticism, music, and religion are so intimately related, that it is difficult to tell whether music inspires to religion and mysticism, or religion and mysticism inspire to music. If we look upon religion as a state of feeling, a development of man's love nature and highest emotions, then it is only reasonable to suggest that music becomes the means of expression and that through voice or instrument we get the highest and best expression of the God that lives in man. The patron saint of music, St. Cecilia, around whose personality are woven so many wonderful, as well as beautiful, legends of music, was of a deeply religious nature, and seemed to be endowed with power through her music to affect the minds of people to an almost miraculous degree. The poet Dryden, in the following lines, tells in musical verse something of this power:
"Orpheus could lead the savage race, And trees uprooted left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre: But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher: When to her organ vocal breath was given, An angel heard, and straight appeared,
Mistaking earth for heaven!"
The compelling power of music will be better understood when it is once realised that music is probably the highest, as well as the deepest, expression of Universal Will. Music is not a production of any human being, but all music is divine in its origin, and the composer is the discoverer and gives form to that which he discovers. Later, the singer or instrumental musician becomes the interpreter. The imperfections, if there exist any, are not in the original music, but in the inability of the composer to transcribe the music as he heard it in his inner consciousness, or the lack of true interpretation on the part of the singer or the instrumentalist. If music, then, is one of the highest expressions of Universal Will, then beyond doubt it must have a compelling power, and it should be able to overcome any or all obstacles by which anyone may be confronted in this life. It may be made to overcome hate with love, doubt with faith, gloom with hope, bring light out of darkness, and so ennoble, beautify, and strengthen the whole life.