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210               curiosities of music.
The religious chanting of some of the larger sects, is quite impressive. Mr. Sile, Professor of History and Philosophy at the Imperial University of Yeddo, says:—" Some of the chants are very impressive; especially those of the Buddhists; they have a kind of sepulchral solemnity about them, and when performed responsively by large companies of Bonzes, on either side of a gloomy temple, in front of a shadowy half-illumined shrine, they sound like the mournful wailings of prisoners, not of hope, but of despair."*
The peculiarity of the performance lies in this: every man chants, not on a given key, but on that which best suits his natural voice. The time is well kept, but the key notes are as various as each voice that sings; as each one is allowed to choose his own pitch. The effect is good; it giving that blurred and massive sound, which is observed when a large congregation repeats the " Lord's Prayer " together; but the inflections and inter­vals are more marked and effective. Instru­mental music is also sometimes present. The bonzes clad in heavy, sacerdotal vestments, officiate to an accompaniment of gongs and tam­bourines.
The solemn entry of the high priest into the choir, makes an immediate diversion in the monotony of the service. This grand dignitary is clad as richly as the bishops and arch-bishops of the west; red cloak, green silk stole, and white embroidered robes. He is followed by a young
•LetUr to the " Leisure Hour," June 9. 1877.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III