PRESBYTERIAN TEA MEETING.
The annual tea meeting of the Presbyterian Church, in the Ashburton district, was held on Tuesday and was an unqualified success from beginning to end. “ Tea fights,” to use the language of the street corner, are to a great many steady going people the very greatest bore on earth. Not that they object to the good things provided by the ladies—a healthy appetite never quarrels with something good to eat —nor to the happy chat that usually goes hopping round the tea table, but the meeting that follows after, when the parsons are let loose upon the crowd, usually acts upon the spirits like, a wet blanket, and before one half of the prosers have finished delivery of their “sermons out of the pulpit,” and the choir has got through its programme of Root, Bliss, and Sankey, or other _ very good but scarcely holiday music, the large majority of the crowd are suffering a species of martyrdom, and eai’nestly wishing the whole thing over. The young men, whom, perhaps, the missionary desires of the church would prefer to remain and to feel interested in church affairs, have of course left long before the meeting has been half got through, and would probably be found, if sought for, where more lively scenes are being enacted. For some reason or other the speakers are mostly always clergymen or amateur preachers, and as the cloth dons not very readily dissociate itself from its Sunday color, the same color shows sombrely from the soiree after meeting platform. As has been often said there is altogether too much “ preach ” at tea meetings, and in these days it would he well if it were administered, sandwich like, between a fair proportion of monotony - relieving elements. The church has in the soiree a most powerful aid, if it would only make it attractive to all and tiresome to none. Presbyterianism has become popular since itslong prosy sermons were shortened, and their tone made more lively ; since the long, drawling notes of the old Scotch minor tunes, led by a cracked-voiced precentor, gave place to more modern and agreeable melodies, in which the congregation follow the lend of an instrumentaided choir ; and since the metrical atrocities of the old Scotch psalms have been supplemented by a modern hymnal equal, botlx as to music and matter, to anything known to the English ear or in the English tongue. It is the raciness of the Wesleyan meetings that makes them attractive, so xvith the Methodists, and hence the crowds they ore able to collect; why not, then introduce an clement of liveliness into the meetings which are held for “ congregational festivity.” On Tuesday the Presbyterians followed this plan, and the result as we have said, was that the meeting was an unqualified success. Every speaker, from the chairman along to the last, indulged in genuine bursts of humor or drollery, as a set-off to the more serious portions of his address, and as a consequence the audience were just in the mood to enjoy the gay, while at the same time they appreciated, and doubtless profited by the grave. The choir, too, were happy in th ;ir selections of pieces, and beyond the
“ Grand old puritan Anthem”
as Longfellow styles the 100th Psalm, and the Doxology at parting, all the music xvas secular, thus making the meeting what it ought to he, more of a holiday outing of the church than a “ service.” The pieces sung by the choir—and sung well, by the xvay, notwithstanding the difficult character of some of them —xvere, “March of the men Harlech,” “ Spring’s delights,” “ Hail to the chief,” “ Hark, the lark,” and “ Comrades in arms.” In the course of the chairman’s remarks at the opening, he stated that during the fexv months of his pastorate he had visited over 200 families, and travelled over nearly every foot of ground in the xvide district from the hills to the sea, and betxveen the Rakaia and Rangitata, which large area had for a time composed his district.
Rev. Mr. Keall, in addressing the meeting on the vocation of the church, had some difficulty with the crowd of boys in the gallery, and he hoped the reporters would have a good tale to tell of their behaviour. One reporter at least is sorry to have to relate that before the meeting was over the “ future men ” had to be ignominiously bundled out, their noise having become unbearable. Corporal punishment may be a very objectionable thing, but we are Conservative enough to believe that a good cowhide strap would be a useful article of furniture in some dwellings. The Rev. Mr. Smith, who is always effective, was unusually so on Tuesday, and told a few good stories remarkably well. The Rev. Mr. Westbrooke, in the course of his remarks, chatted pleasantly about Scotchmen and their kirk, and in reference to the Scotch psalms, said their peculiarity could scarcely wipe out the following anecdote a worthy Christian, who in honor of the visit of the Bishop to his district gave out as follows :
Let us zing to the prayze an’ glawry o’ God dree vusses o’ the hunclerd an’ vourteeuth zaam, a vnrzk-n ’spechly ’dapted to the ’casion by myself. Fust Vuss. “ Why hop ye zo ye little hills, An’ what vav do ’e skip ? Is it a cas yawn proud lo zee His Grace the Lard Biship ? Zecund Vuss. Why skip yc zo ye little, little hills, And what var do ’e hop ? Is it a ’cas to prach to we Is corn’d the Lard Bishop ? Theerd Vuss. Eeze! he’se corn’d to prach to wc, Then let uz aal stick up, An’ zing a glawrious zong ov praze, An’ bless the Lard Bishup. After the Rev. Mr. Barley, of Oamaru, had shortly spoken, The Rev. Mr. Cairns, an Irish clergyman, and full of the national humor, whq has recently been placed over the Sydenham congregation, addressed the meeting.; He dealt with “ soirees” as a subject, and!, his speech sparkled throughout with fun and story. He was especially taken, he< said, with the superiority of the choir! work that evening, and while speaking of the cultivation of music he told a little tale of a knot of choristers who set about improving their abilities in a peculiar way. They wrote verses, and adapted them to the tunes they usually practised. One genius, to the tune “Martyrdom,” clinked together the following As I cam to the schule to-night, A ghost sight I did sec ; A peerywinkle on a stump. And it threw clods at me. Another genius rnede a fellow chorister the theme of his verse, and to the tune “Bedford” elaborated as follows : Satau entered into the swine, The herd for to destroy ; He left a long-nosed one behind, M’Kinlay, you’re the boy. Rather rough on M’Kinlay. Mr. Cairns kept the meeting in roars of laughter all. through the evening, and was vociferously applauded. We have not given above the best specimens of humor that enlivened the meeting, but we have chosen the broadest, simply to show how far the speakers at a tea meeting may go with fun, and yet be able to keep the lessons of Christianity before the people, as was assuredly done on this occasion by all the speakers. The tea meeting was attended by over 200 people, and the hall at the after meeting was crowded. The tables, which were most sumptuously furnished, were supplied with good things, and attended to by —Mrs. Orr, Mrs. Savage and Mrs. Stephenson, Mrs. Dunn and Mrs. Craighead, Mrs. Baxter and Mrs. Rutherford, Misses Gavin and Miss Stewart, Mrs. Kidd, MissM'Laren, and Miss Kidd, Mrs. Hepburn and the Misses Hepburn, Mrs.
Houston and the Misses Houston, Mrs. Wiliamaon and Miss Williamson, the indispensable bachelors’ table being cared for by Miss Taylor, Miss Campbell, and Miss Jameson.
The choir, whose efforts were heartily applauded, was under the couductorship of Mr. Savage, Mr. Stott playing the accompaniments. The usual votes of ti a iks concluded the ixxcefcing.
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