BIRMINGHAM : MEETING OF THE SOCIETY OF ST. CECILIA.—The usual monthly meeting of the Society of St. Cecilia was held on Monday evening, April 23, in the girls' schoolroom, Shadwell-street. After the usual formal business, and the preliminary announcement of a festival to be held in the month of June, the Rev. A. H. Pollen, of the Birmingham Oratory, gave an address to the members " On the use of the Organ in Divine Service."
After stating that the object of his address was to show how much may be done by the organist in the way of raising the taste of our people towards " what is true and good in music, and strong because it is true and good," the lecturer went on to give reasons drawn from the nature of the instrument itself, " why the organ, the king of instru-ments," has been selected by the Church as the only fitting instrument for the accompaniment of her Liturgy.
The organ is used in two ways, either to provide an accompaniment to the voices, or for voluntaries. In accompaniment it is used either to support the voices in singing the Plain Chant or the popular hymns, or else to sustain an independent part in the interpretation of modern music. But undoubtedly the most important function of the organist is his connection with what is artistically the highest kind of Church music, and thus the noblest of all music, namely the chant.
A chord may be agreeable because of its sonorousness ; but it has no meaning in itself, and can express no feeling. To a musician, it is true, certain chords imply a progression; the imagination supplies something gone before ; the logical sense of consecutiveness requires a resolution, as it is called, of the chord to follow after ; but what gives any meaning at all to music must be progression of tones, and this progression we call melody. -As there is no music without melody, so, conversely, melody is the very essence of all music : " the noblest part," to use the words of J. S. Bach ; and an appreciation of melody is what distinguishes " musical " people from " unmusical." But in no clement of the musical art does the popular taste suffer so much from conventionalism, and consequently from changefulness and fashion, as in the appreciation of melody. People are deceived by the sprightliness of dance rhythms, by long custom, by the association of a tune with some sweet-toned instrument or voice ; so that the really musical sense of melody has become obscured by prejudices of a sensuous sort. And :hus, on account of the changeableness of all sentiment which is not based on truth—I mean on the higher and more spiritual aspirations of the heart—and which is not controlled by a sense of rational restraint