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j CHURCH CHOIR FESIIYaL.
Tho eighth annual festival of the Sydney Diocesan Church Choir Association took place last evening at St Andrew's Cathedral and being the Feast of St. Andrew, the service formed a fitting close to the dedication festival. In former years the conductor ship has been undertaken by the precentor, the Rev A. R. Rivers but in the absence of his successor the duies devolved upon Mr. Montague Younger, the organist of the cathedral. An energetic committeieof clergy and laymen, with the Primate as president and Mr George H. Stayton as hon. secretary and treasurer performed the work of organisation. Mr. W . T. Sharp, of St John', Ashfield, acted as organist, and the Rev. S. S. Tovey, B.A. as precentor. The choirs represented were tho Cathedral, Christ Church, St Paul's Burwood; St John's, Ashfield; St St Thomas', North Sydney; St Mark's, Darling Point; All Saints', Woollahra All Saints', Petersham; St Jonhn's, Darlinghurst; St Peters, Watson's Bay;
St. James' and St. Bede's, Drummoyne, forming in
all a surpliced choir of about 170 voices. Prior to the service tho chonisters were entertained at tea in St. Andrew's schoolroom by Miss Snowdon Smith
and ladies from each of the parishes concerned.
Although the surpliced choir was supplemented in the usual way by two or three score singers who took no part in tho procession it will be seen that the chorus was much smaller than during previous years.
In 1890, for example, the surpliced choir numbered 251,and last year 171 boys and 76 men formed the procession. This in itself, would be a thing of little significance if there had not been a considerable falling off in the rendering of the festival as a whole. This is partly attributable to the choice of the music, which was not so happy as usual. This remark applies to tho processional hymn, the Rev. J
Baden Powell's " Salve, Festa Dies " The words, were obviously suited to such an occasion, but the general character of the music was far from joyous, and the mere fact that the refrain had to be chanted by six cantors shut it out from the category of hymns which could be effectively employed for processional purposes. Last night the cantors sung steadily tor the most part, but the voices had not sufficient weight in the large and lofty building to prove impressive. The last four of David's
psalms were sung, the first three to chanys by Mon tague Younger, the last to a chant by P Humphreys. Tho massed voices told well throughout, and the unisonal effect on Psalm c1 at the words 'Let everything that hath breath praise tho Lord," was broad and majestic. The "Magnificat" and "Nuns Dimittis" were sung to music by Dr Walmsley Little, whose versions will not compare with many settings by the older composers of Enghsish Church music. In the "Magnificat " either the singers or the organist did not always follow the conductor's beat, for at the repeated "Holy is His Name," a familiar but charming effect was spoled by the fact that the choristers had not completed the rallantando phrase when the solo stop of the instrument, ascending the scale above tho voices, had already sounded the key- note The "Nunc Dimittis" was well rendered, but here the composer s ' Gloria " lacked roverence, so that the con spirito movement was altogether too flippant and modern in its tone for the sacred words. Sir John Goss'a fine authemn, ' Praise the Lord, O My Soul," showed the united choirs to advantage in the portion for full chorus. In tho sweetly-rendered hymn, "Oh for a Closer Walk with God' (Myles B. Foster) Mr Searl sang with care and feeling the tenor solo, and other hymns, as well as Handel s "Hallelujah Chorus," were given during the even-
Tho lessons were read by the Dean of Sydney, and the sermon was preached by the Bishop of Goulburn upon tho 15th verse of tho 3rd chapter of the second
Book of Kings: " And it came to pass, when the minstrel played that the band of tho Lord came upon him". The Bishop pointed out that the text referred to tho prophet Elisha, and re- minded his audience that Saul, a man of opposite character, reckless and irreligious, also owned the soothing emotional charm of music . From the general influence of the a , upon the mind the preacher argued the intimate counection of man's dual nature, the physical and the spiritual; and by illustration showed how often the Almighty used the machinery of sweet voices and harmonious sound to raise and elevate and kindle into higher life the soul of man. Herein lay the rationale of solemn temples and stately strains and of all other human art employed by God to bring the inner nature of His creatures into a state of re
eceptivity for Divine revelation and spiritual inter- communion. Hence the efforts now being made to dedicate the highest forms of music to the service of the sanctuary should be welcomed though at the same time the danger lest the surface only should be stirred by tho strite after artistic efliciency, whilst of the depths of our nature remained untouched , was earnestly pointed out. The Benediction was followed by the ' Senenfold Amen " composed by Sir John Stainer, which the great choir renendered admirably There was an immense congregation, and tho sacred soi vice was evidently followed with the greatest interest and attention.