Did Spurgeon really say...?

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Stephen Steele | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jan 27 2017 8:21 AM

This is in the same vein as my earlier post 'Did M'Cheyne really say...?'

This isn't an attempt to start a debate about instrumental music or Spurgeon's position on it - there are many quotes from his writings that make clear he was opposed to organs.

However there is a quote from Spurgeon about organs going round that I can't find a source for. It's been attributed to him for over 100 years - the earliest I can find is 1904 (pdf).

Some attribute it to his sermon 'Singing in the Ways of the Lord', but it isn't there. One website gives the source rather unhelpfully as '(Sermons in the Metropolitan Pulpit, London, 1861 pg. 218, 1870 pg. 353, 1881 pg. 474)' but it's not there.

The last paragraph of the quote IS from Spurgeon - on Psalm 42.4 in the Treasury of David. Perhaps the above quote has got mixed in with the genuine quote from Spurgeon?

In my Logos library I have all his sermons, the Treasury of David, his autobiography and a few other bits and pieces, but NOT the sword and trowel.

Maybe someone who has his complete works wouldn't mind doing a search and seeing if they can find it?

The quote is:
"We should like to see all the pipes of the organs in our Nonconformist places of worship either ripped open or compactly filled with concrete. The human voice is so transcendently superior to all that wind or strings can accomplish, that it is a shame to degrade its harmonies by association with blowing and scraping. It is not better music which we can get from organs and viols, but inferior sounds, which unsophisticated ears judge to be harsh and meaningless when compared with a melodious human voice. That the great Lord cares to be praised by bellows we very gravely question; we cannot see any connection between the glory of God and sounds produced by machinery. One broken note from a grateful heart must have more acceptable praise in it than all the wind which swept through whistling pipes. Instrumental music, with its flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of noise makers, was no doubt well suited to the worship of the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar, the king, had set up, and harps and trumpets served well the infant estate of the Church under the law, but in the Gospel's spiritual domain these may well be let go with all the other beggarly elements.
"What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by the theatrical prettiness of a quartette, the refined niceties of a choir, or the blowing of wind from inanimate bellows and pipes. We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it."

(From here, taken from a book that I don't have access to - but I'm dubious the book would have the reference either, seeing it conflates what are definitely two separate quotes, even if they're both by Spurgeon)

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Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 31 2017 12:18 PM

I did not find that exact quote, but to my surprise, I found that Spurgeon did not much like musical instruments, though he tolerated them in worship.

Spurgeon said, "in the early Christian Church, in her purest ages, these things were discarded as tending towards Judaism; and at this day, the sweetest singing in the world is heard in the assembly which utterly abjures the use of every musical instrument. Yet I believe that there is Christian liberty about these things; and, for my part, I like to think of Luther with his lute and of George Herbert with his harp. If they were helped to praise God the better, let them have the music. Yet the singing is never sweeter than when it is all song; and there is no better music than that which comes from hearts and tongues that are alive, and that know what sounds they make, and wherefore they make them.

I found this in his Exposition of Psalm 33 and 1 John 1, following following the sermon "The New Song of Earth" (Sermon 2424 dated July 17, 1887

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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Milkman | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 31 2017 12:50 PM

I have The Sword and the Trowel and couldn't find such a quote in them. Good luck.

mm.

mm.

Posts 2720
mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 1 2017 1:08 AM

This is fascinating. Never suspected it from Spurgeon. I think I can understand it. Spurgeon disdained anything that distracted from simple worship. Not really all that different than Bach who felt that music's sole purpose was to edify the soul and glorify God. Wonder what they might have to say to one another now.

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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Milkman | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 1 2017 6:06 AM

I love your Richard Baxter quote!

mab:

This is fascinating. Never suspected it from Spurgeon. I think I can understand it. Spurgeon disdained anything that distracted from simple worship. Not really all that different than Bach who felt that music's sole purpose was to edify the soul and glorify God. Wonder what they might have to say to one another now.

mm.

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 1 2017 6:51 AM

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 3 2017 4:34 PM

Milkman:

I love your Richard Baxter quote!

Thank you!

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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Jonathan Bradley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 4 2017 5:52 PM

I reached out to Dr. Christian George, the curator of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in KCMO, and he said he could not find that quote as attributed to Spurgeon. "Can't find it in his entire works." 

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 4 2017 7:04 PM

Michael Childs:

I did not find that exact quote, but to my surprise, I found that Spurgeon did not much like musical instruments, though he tolerated them in worship.

Spurgeon said, "in the early Christian Church, in her purest ages, these things were discarded as tending towards Judaism; and at this day, the sweetest singing in the world is heard in the assembly which utterly abjures the use of every musical instrument. Yet I believe that there is Christian liberty about these things; and, for my part, I like to think of Luther with his lute and of George Herbert with his harp. If they were helped to praise God the better, let them have the music. Yet the singing is never sweeter than when it is all song; and there is no better music than that which comes from hearts and tongues that are alive, and that know what sounds they make, and wherefore they make them.

I found this in his Exposition of Psalm 33 and 1 John 1, following following the sermon "The New Song of Earth" (Sermon 2424 dated July 17, 1887

This sounds like Spurgeon to me (and of course, it is). I suspect he also had respect for the 'sweet psalmist of Israel' who was an instrumental musician, as well as a vocal one.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 11433
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 4 2017 7:06 PM

I thought the use of 'concrete' was interesting. 'Filling' would normally be 'cement' from the 1700s forward. 'Concrete' that could fill pipes was first used mid-1800s, but only became popular in the late 1800s. If indeed Spurgeon, he had experience with it:

https://www.norwoodsociety.co.uk/articles/137-the-concrete-church.html   (But doesn't answer the mail.)

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 249
Colin | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 6 2017 10:51 AM

oops!

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