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WREXHAM DEANERY CHORAL UNION FESTIVAL. The annual festival of the choirs comprising the Choral Union for the deanery of Wrexham was held at the Parish Church, on Tuesday afternoon. The choirs present on the occasion were the follow- ing:—Wrexhaui Parish Church, 20 voices; St. Mark's Church, 30; Minera, 32; Overton, 15; Bangor, 18; Iscoed 18; Mr Cuzuer's party, 19; total, 152. The committee were fortunate in again securing the services of Mr Cuzner, of Chester Cathedral, whose able conductorship has given so much satisfaction in former years. The choirs had been about four months in training; and the music, although simple, as being best adapted to the capacities of country choirs, was carefully selected from the works of the best modern com- posers of Church music. It should be borne in mind that it is not the aim of the Choral Union i. accustom the choirs under its control to the singing of difficult compositions; this may very wellbeleft to those choral societies whose ambition prompts them to give recitals from the oratorios of the great mas- ters. Tne mission of the Choral Union is much more practical, having regard to the object for which the union was originally set on foot, namely, to improve the services in the various churches within the deanery. Previous to the establishment of this society the art of chanting the Psalms and singing the anthems and hymns as they ought to be sung was very little understood; but a considerable improvement has now taken place as resulting from the operations of the union, and this improvement is becoming more apparent every year. It need hardly be said that the object which the society has in view is one that is deserving of the warmest encouragement at the hands of both clergy and laity in the different parishes. With respect to the clergy, we believe they have from the very com- mencement assisted the movement in every possible way, and recommended it to their flocks, who, as they are more immediately benefited by a musical reform, ought to patronise it to the fullest extent in a pecuniary point of view. The Rev C. W. Streatfeild, vicar of Bangor Iscoed, the hon. secretary, has been a valuable acquisition to the Choral Union, and the success which has hitherto attended the movement has been mainly owing to his exertions. The festival was announced to commence at half- past three, the choirs haviag previously entered the church for a rehearsal. There was a good congregation, though perhaps not so large as that of last year. Beside the officiating clergy, whose names we give below, the following were also present:—Wrexham, Rev Griffith Jones, and Rev W. Davies; Minera, Rev G. Williams and Rev J. Thomas; Overton, Rev H. Mackenzie; Bang-or, Rev G. H. McGrill; Iscoed, Rev C. W. Streatfeild Brymbo, Rev W. Jones and Gresford, the Rer Richard Jones. The clergy officiating were the Rev Charles Gambn, M.A., cura'e of Hawarden, who intoned 1 the prayers; and the Rev J. Dixon and the Rev C. W. Streatfeild, who read the first and second lessons. This was by far the best choral festival from a musical point of view, although the inner parts did not seem so full. St. Gi'es' and St. Marks, Wrexham, were the only choirs surpliced, the crthere being arranged in the two centre seats. The pro- cessional hymn commenced Through the night of doubt and sorrow," the tune being Rev J. B. Dykes' in D. The procession marched tip the centre aisle, and dividing at the chancel came back to their usual place under the organ. Although it is very difficult to keep together under such eircum- stances, the hymn was sung remarkably well. The Confessional and Lord's Prayer were done very effectively, not hurried over aa we too frequently hear them, the former being said after the minister had ended each sentence. The responses were Tallis's. The psalms for the day were the Ixv, xxxiii, and xlvii, the chants being appropriate and simple. The pointing of the nsalms and canticles was taken from Dr Elvey's Psalter. Mr Cuzner conducted from the centre aisle, and gave the time with his baton, but his splendid bass voice proved the best baton. Both Cantoris and Decani sang well, the sides being very evenly balanced, and the manner in which the canticles and psalms were goue through must be very gratifying to all concerned. The anthem, 0 Lord, how manifold are Thy works" (Barnby), was sung with great precision and spirit throughout, Mr Armstrong, deanery choirmaster, presiding at the organ. The Veu. Archdeacon Morgan, on entering the pulpit, said:—I have been desired to remind the congregation that the collection at the close of the service is to be appropriated in aid.of the funds of the choral union. The expenses attending the carrying out of th object of the Union are neces- sarily very considerable, and the chief means available for meeting these expenses are what you are disposed to contribute to-day at this service. The work done by this Union is a good work, and I have every confidence that you will show yomr appre- tion of the work by contributing liberally to-day. Anyone who is acquainted with parochial work may know that there are many difficulties in the way of I the managers aud promoters of a choral union. Of these difficulties the outside world knows but little. We only see the result when choirs meet as they do to-day. We cannot do much to remove these diffi- culties but at all events we can obviate one great, hindrance, and that is the main difficulty; and I trust that you may be disposed to give liberally in aid of this good work. The Archdeacon then announced his text, whieh was taken from 1 Epistle General of St. John, 5th chapter and the 11th and 12th verses, co This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life. and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Good news, he said, requires to be supported by stroag evidence. If the tidings be important in the highest degree, we naturally demand the clocest and fullest confirmation of the truth of them. Never was better news sent to this our world than that which the angel spake to the shepherds of Bethlehem, Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people for unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Asad as there were never such joyous tidings, so was there never intelligence supported by eudi strong testimony. We are told in the former part of this chapter that all heaven and earth unite in bearing testimony to this great truth. The apostle brings forth no less than six witnesses, There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and there are three that bear record on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood." And we are told more simply what this divine witness is ce This is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son; He that hath the Son hath life, and He that hath not the Son hath not life." It may suggest to us two subjects for our consideration; and, com- ing as they did after the special service in which they had been engaged, they would, he trusted, help to deepen the impression which had already been made; they would enable them, he trusted, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to realise the im- portance of the work in which they had been en- gaged, and make them go forth to their parishes fully resolved, each one for himself, to know if they had that life of which the Son of God was said to be the author, and the giver and the guardian. W p have here a record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Eternal life, then, is the great blessing promised us, a life that never runs out, a life that never wastes or fades, a life that bears its full ft-uit throughout eternity, a life as clear, as fresh, as strong, as sure as the life of God himself. When God breathed into the nostrils of man, man became a living soul. God breathed then into man the breath of His own life, and therefore man became a mortal being; but this is not the life spoken of here, because it is a life that belongs as much to the souls which are lost in hell, as to the souls which are saved in heaven, But the life that is spoken of here is eternal happiness as contrasted with the eternal woes of hell, a life which begina on earth, and is perfected above, which we are taught to know in part, but the completeness of which we shall be taught and made to enjoy in heaven. And this blessing spoken of includes every other blessing. It includes the wondrous gift of acceptance with God. Of this our blessed Lord says so strongly, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life." It includes, too, the blessing of sanctification, as we hear from the Apostle speaking to the Ephesians, "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." It includes, too, the perfected bliss of glory, "When Christ," St. Paul says in writing to the Coloasians, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." But let us consider how it is that we have this great blessing. Do we, for instance, earn it ? Do we deserve it ? Do we pay any price for it ? The apostle tells us clearly no. God gave to us eternal life. A gift « something that we pay nothing for, something bestowed freely, so that all to whom it is offered are equally fit to receive it. Think for a moment of that. Were it not a. free gift, where is the merit in us that could purchase it ? where is the covenant of works that should convey it to us ? where is that perfect obedience that could fulfil the requirements of the infinitely holy law of God ? where the over- abounding dtffies which can make up for past guilt ? Nay, where is there a disposition in any one of us by nature to turn at all to God ? All is wanting, so that if the blessing come at all, it must come to us as the free sovereign gift of God. Yes, this is the only way to obtain it, without money and without price. It is, Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely." But consider again, God hath given to us." Who are these ? Consult the whole context and they would see that a certain class is spoken of, those who are born of God, those who believe in the Son of God, those who love the ways of God, those who overcome the world, and after it is added, These things have I written to you that believe in the name of the Son of God." Therefore this is not a blessing that is thrown away on those that have no heart for it, who have not fitness, he meant no humility or readiness to receive it; but it is a blessing given to those who feel their need of it, those who are willing to re- ceive God's gift in God's own way. And we are told once more where this blessing is to be found. It is not merely said that we have the blessing on account of the Saviour. This is a blessed and glorious truth indeed. All the overflowing love of God is brought down to the sinner through His dear Son. This is the truth of the Gospel but it is not the truth of the text. The truth of the text is not that we live through Christ merely, but that eternal life is given to us in His Son. That is te say Jesus Christ the Son of God is the fountain of our life. It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell. Here is the fulness not of a vessel but of a fountain. It is not merely said that He is full, but all ful- ness is treasured up in Him. In Him all fulness dwells and therefore, of this fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. Just as the child receives from its parents member for member, just as the paper receives from the press letter for letter, so we receive from Christ grace for grace. There is not a single grace existing in the infinite fulness in Christ which is not fashioned in its measure and degree in every individual believer in Christ. Here then He exhibits Himself as the fountain and dis- penser of grace; but He is also set cut as the guardian of grace. What a blessing this is, what a mercy to know that our life is not left in our own keeping. It was once so left in the case of Adam; but he lost it, and it has never been entrusted to man again. This treasure, this jewel is far too precious to be left in such uncertain keeping. Therefore, it is now hid with Christ in God, hid not that we should not find it, but that we should diligently seek it. It is hid, that is to say, safely lodged that all the power and all the malice of Satan are not able to reach it; hid in the bosom of God, in the hands of an Almighty guardian, in safe keeping fer ever. Here then is a wondrous view of our privilege as Christians; it is not only that God gives the blessing, but it is given through such a Mediator; it is not only redemption, but redemption through His blood, which shows forth the riches of His grace. This brought him to the second point, the great importance of receiving this record. It is, the words of the text tell us, a* matter of Lfe and death, a matter of eternal life and eternal death. What an extraordinary expression is here made use of, (õ having the Son of God." A poor, sinful crea- ture actually declared to have possession of God Himself, and having God as his possession, his trea- sure, his portion, his security, his inheritance. We find that the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews does not scruple to say we are made partakers of Christ, united to Him, one with Him. He that hath the Son of God hath life." Before he was dead in trespasses and sins, under sentence of death, lying for execution; but now the sentence is removed, it is cancelled; "There is now, there- fore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." We have not to wait for our acceptance until we reach heaven. It will then be declared, but it is now virtually really enjoyed. We no longer stand as onoe we stood; we stand not as Adam did on our own stock, but we stand as branches of the living Vine. We can never wither as members of a Living Head; we can never die as partakers of the promises sealed to us by the oath of God Himself. Yes, we live not our own life, but Christ Jesus by His blessed spirit lives in us; we are not saved by our own prayers, but by the intercession of the Son of God Himself; we are not reconciled to God by our own works, but by the precious atoning blood of Jesus; therefore we know that He is able to save to the uttermost because He died and because He lives. But as certainly as this blessing shows out clear and bright so awfully dark is the' contrast; for do the words of the text go on to say, He that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Oh, what a black, fearful, tremendous doom is here brought out before us. It is not said that he may not have life, but the expression simply implies just this, that as long as we reject Christ, as long as we remain without any interest in Him, we are living in death, under the wrath of God. The wrath of God abideth on us at home or abroad, asleep or awake; wherever we are if we believe not the Son of God we shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on us. They need not stay surely to look on such a picture, it was an awful subject, and no words of his could possibly describe it; but their prayer should be that no one of those present in the church that day might know the reality of it. But it is as sure as we live that without Christ we must be lost for ever as it is that if we have an interest in Christ we shall be saved for ever. And it is this great truth, the certainty and awful solemnity of it, that should makw them each one examine himself before God as to whether he had received this record. Those who belonged to the Choral Union, who had been that day leading the praises of the congregation should be especially careful that their daily life is in accordance with the profession they had made, with the position in which they stood. They were brought by their very position very near to God; they drew near to him very often and very conspiciously in their different parishes; they drew near to him with their lips, but after all the great question was where were their hearts ? Where was their treasure ? Where •fras their life ? Oh that it might be hid with Christ in God. May the thoughts and words and deeds, may the daily life and conversation show that the praises they had been singing that day with such skill and correctness were only the out- come of a heart at peace with God. And for those who had joined in the service his part as a preacher would have been well done, and theirs as listeners, if only they should leave that church with this great truth more firmly impressed on them than ever, that ■' He that hath the Son of God hath life, and that he that hath not the Son of Go<! hath not life." Whilst tRe last hymn was being sung, the oiter- tory was collected, and amounted to iill 8s0}:1. TEA AT THE TOWN HALL. On leaving the church, the choirs proceeded to the Town Hall, where an excellent ten. was provided for thens, the catering being undertaken by Mr Sterne, of Hope-street. Grace was sung before I and-after the repast in a manner worthy of a choral society; and before separating Mr Streatfeild rose and said that before anyone left the room he should l'ke to say just one word. He was sure they would all agree with him—the members of the choirs joining in the service that afternoon and others who were present—that their heartiest thanks were due to Mr Cuzner for his able leadership. He hardly knew how they should have done without it; and while expressing their thanks to him for his kind assistance and the assistance of his party, he should be obliged to him for a few hints, telling them where they were wrong in order that they might correct their faults on another occasion. Mr Cuzner, in reply, said he was quite taken aback by the vote of thanks pissed to him, because he had simply done his duty. He was engaged to conduct their service, and when a man engaged to do a work it was his bounden duty to do it as thoroughly as he could, and that he had endeavoured to do. With regard to the failings, he did not know that they ought to be called fail- ings, because the service as a whole was satis- factorily done. The anthem he must certainly compliment them upon, and the psalms went with a precision that he did not think could be surpassed in mixed choirs, and he did not detect the least flaw in the pointing and time.°» There was one thing he advised them to do, and that was to be a little more careful with the words on the reciting note The entire precision of the chanting depended upon that. They had got their words pointed very well, though he was not an advocate for accented words being pat so far on the reciting note. There were one or two things of that kind that day, and it was altfiost impossible for choirs to sing together where that was the case. The first verse in the 1 first psalm afforded a little illustration of his mean- ing, where the word vow occurred, And unto Thee shall the vow be performed," The word emphasised after that was of two syllables before" the one on the reciting note. The danger was that the vow should have too much attention and the other syllables too little. The best way was to em- phasise the word immediately before, or the syllable or word but one before the reciting note. They would see for themselves what he meant. He should advise the choirmaster who had to prepare i their practice in their churches to pay particular attention to that one thing. The chanting would be more intelligible to their own congregations, and when they came together as on the present occasion they would be able to join with one another better than they did at present. He ought J to say a few words more before he closed his < remarks; because he did not think he was the 1 person who ought to carry off the laurels that day. There was another gentleman who deserved the honour rather than himself, and that II was their choirmaster. What they had done that 1 day certainly reflected great credit on his pains- taking for he must have taken a great deal of pains to bring them to the perfection they had 1 arrived at as shown by their performances that day. j If the committee would allow him, he would pro- pose a cordial vote of thanks to Mr Armstrong for j the trouble he had taken in training them. No doubt if they followed out his instructions they would go on prospering, and each succeeding anni- versary would show the good effects of his train- ing. He therefore proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Armstrong for the success that had attended their | service that day (applause). Mr Trevor Parkins said he was sure no one would wish to leave the room without expressing their gratitude to Mr Streatfeild for managing their choral festival; and he hoped they would I agree with him in saying that they were indebted to him for the success of this meeting (applause). Mr Streatfeild returned thanks, and said he had received valuable assistance from Mr Parkins, who ha.d been quite another secretary, and also from Mr Overton. The gathering then separated.




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