Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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406                                                  PURITANISM,
smooth sweetness in it, it is like unto honey, alluring the auditory to effeminacy, pusillanimity, and loathsomeness of life... . And right as good edges are not sharpened, but obtused, by being -whetted upon soft stones, so good wits, by hear­ing of soft music, are rather dulled than sharpened, and made apt to all wanton­ness and sin." He complains of music "being used in public assemblies and private'conventicles as a directory to filthy dancing;" and that "through the sweet harmony and smooth melody thereof, it estrangeth the mind, stirreth up lust, womanisheth the mind, and ravisheth the heart." Speaking of the minstrels who had licenses from the justices of the peace, and lived upon their art, he says, " I think all good minstrels, sober and chaste musicians (I mean such as range the country, riming and singing songs in taverns, ale-houses, inns, and other public assemblies), may dance the wild morris through a needle's eye. There is no ship so balanced with massive matter as their heads are fraught with all kinds of lascivious songs, filthy ballads, and scurvy rhimes, serving for every purpose and every company."
These specimens of the Puritan spirit with regard to music may suffice; but the Curious will find similar passages in nearly all their writings. The arguments against cathedral music were ably answered by Hooker in Book v. of his Eccle­siastical Polity, and by others. At the Restoration, the Rev. Joseph Brookbank published a book in favour of church music, entitled " The well-tuned Organ ; or, an Exercitation: wherein this Question is fully and largely discussed, whether or no Instrumental and Organical Musick be lawful in Holy Publick Assemblies." 4to., 1660. There is little argument in the Puritan books against church music, they consist almost entirely of bitter invective or vulgar abuse. Music, however, was not the only subject of their attacks.
When James I. was making a progress through Lancashire in 1617, he rebuked ' the Puritan magistrates for having prohibited and unlawfully punished the people for using their " lawful recreations and honest exercises upon Sundays and other holidays, after the afternoon sermon or service;" and in the following year, he published a declaration concerning such sports as were lawful. These were, " dancing, either men or women; archery, for men; leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless recreation; May-games, Whitsun-ales, Morris-dances, and the setting up of Maypoles, and other sports therewith used, so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or neglect of divine service." Such recreations were prohibited to " any that, though conform in religion, are not present in the Church at the service of God, before going to the said re­creations ;" and all were to be sharply punished who abused this liberty by using these exercises before the end of all divine services for that day; and each parish was to use the said recreation by itself. The Puritan magistrates had forbidden these sports, under the plea of taking away abuses; but such amusements had always been held lawful, and " if," said he, " these times be taken away from the meaner sort, who labour hard all the week, they will have no recreations at all to refresh their spirits; and, in place thereof, it will set up filthy tipplings and drunkenness, and breed a number of idle and discontented speeches in their ale-houses." Also it will " hinder the conversion of many, whom their priests

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