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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Rev. Professor Eadie on instrumental music and hymns

THIS reverend divine was no musician, and made no pretence with respect to it, but with his usual breadth and liberality gave his voice and vote for liberty of use or no use in the matter of instrumental music in the case of each congregation. He did so at a time when such views were quite the reverse of popular, particularly among Presbyterian dissenters, to which section of the church he belonged. The feeling may be judged of from the ridicule heaped upon the plea for such liberty in a discussion on the question in one of the Church courts by the late Rev. Dr. Mackerrow of the Bridge of Teith, who contended that if the organ were allowed to the churches in the Lowlands, those in the Highlands might prefer and claim the use of the bagpipes.

Dr. Eadie, speaking on behalf of liberty, mentioned the fact that he had preached to a congregation in England, on an occasion in which the psalmody was led or accompanied by a fiddle, and that he regarded the services as quite as devout and spiritual as any in which he had ever taken part After his return from his tour to Egypt and Palestine, during the course of a discussion in the Glasgow U.P. Presbytery on the proposal to compile and issue a new Hymn Book, he made a lively and trenchant speech, in the course of which he criticised many popular hymns then in use as objectionable on the score of taste, doctrine, and fact. With reference to the last, he mentioned the popular hymn of Bishop Heber, which begins—

"By cool Siloam’s shady ril !"

"The fact being," said the professor, "that there is neither shade nor ril!"

This is on a par with a criticism of Burns on a line of a Scottish song by a contemporary poet, John Tait, Esq., W.S., Edinburgh. As it was first published in 1775, it read:

"And sweetly the nightingale sang from the tree."

Regarding which Burns remarked:

"First, The nightingale never sings from a tree, but from a low bush; and, Second, There is not a nightingale to be seen or heard in all Scotland !"

The author, on seeing or hearing of this criticism, altered the line, thirty years after its first appearance, to:

"And sweetly the wood pigeon coo’d from the tree!"

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