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No. 405 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Musick among those who were styled the chosen People was a Religious Art. The Songs of Sion, which we have reason to believe were in high Repute among the Courts of the Eastern Monarchs, were nothing else but Psalms and Pieces of Poetry that adored or celebrated the Supreme Being. The greatest Conqueror in this Holy Nation, after the manner of the old Grecian Lyricks, did not only compose the Words of his Divine Odes, but generally set them to Musick himself: After which, his Works, tho’ they were consecrated to the Tabernacle, became the National Entertainment, as well as the Devotion of his People.

The first Original of the Drama was a Religious Worship consisting only of a Chorus, which was nothing else but an Hymn to a Deity. As Luxury and Voluptuousness prevailed over Innocence and Religion, this Form of Worship degenerated into Tragedies; in which however the Chorus so far remembered its first Office, as to brand every thing that was vicious, and recommend every thing that was laudable, to intercede with Heaven for the Innocent, and to implore its Vengeance on the Criminal.

Homer and Hesiod intimate to us how this Art should be applied, when they represent the Muses as surrounding Jupiter, and warbling their Hymns about his Throne. I might shew from innumerable Passages in Ancient Writers, not only that Vocal and Instrumental Musick were made use of in their Religious Worship, but that their most favourite Diversions were filled with Songs and Hymns to their respective Deities. Had we frequent Entertainments of this Nature among us, they would not a little purifie and exalt our Passions, give our Thoughts a proper Turn, and cherish those Divine Impulses in the Soul, which every one feels that has not stifled them by sensual and immoderate Pleasures.

Musick, when thus applied, raises noble Hints in the Mind of the Hearer, and fills it with great Conceptions. It strengthens Devotion, and advances Praise into Rapture. It lengthens out every Act of Worship, and produces more lasting and permanent Impressions in the Mind, than those which accompany any transient Form of Words that are uttered in the ordinary Method of Religious Worship.


[Footnote 1: See note on p. 51, vol. i [Footnote 1 of No. 13]. He took leave, June 14, in the Opera of Antiochus.]