in Worship is Selah's occasional
newsletter for church musicians, with interviews and helpful
articles for choir directors, organists, and leaders of congregational
Learning from the Past
The April '93 issue of The Hymn carried
an article by Carol A. Pemberton titled "Praising God Through
Congregational Song: Lowell Mason's Contributions to Church Music."
All of us probably know Mason's hymn tunes MISSIONARY HYMN to
the text "From Greenland's icy mountains," OLIVET to
"My faith looks up to thee," and HAMBURG to "When
I survey the wondrous cross." This article gives us a better
look at Lowell Mason the church musician and composer and gives
an in-depth history of an influential nineteenth-century figure.
Pemberton took the following points from a
lecture Mason gave in October 1826 at the Hanover Street Church
in Boston, Mass., noting that they sum up his thinking on church
music throughout his career.
· Church music must be simple, chaste,
correct, and free of ostentation.
· The text must be handled with as much care as the music;
each must enhance the other.
· Congregational singing must be promoted.
· Capable choirs and judiciously used instruments, particularly
the organ, are indispensable aids to services.
· A solid music education for all children is the only
means of genuine reform in church music.
· Musicianship per se is subordinate to facilitating worship.
His points are worth repeating and can give
us cause for reflection on the work we are all involved in.
For further information on the good work of
The Hymn Society and their journal, The Hymn, call them
toll-free at (800) 843-4966, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org
You will want at Hal Hopson's arrangement
of one of Lowell Mason's compositions ("Sing
Praise to God," using Psalm 117 as the text).