CHAPTER XI.
ON THE PROFANATION OF THE SCRIPTURES IN THE VERSIFIED PSALMS USED BY THE PRETENDED REFORMERS
BUT amongst all profanations it seems to me that this comes out above the rest, that in the temples publicly, and everywhere, in the fields, in the shops, they sing the rhymes of Marot as Psalms of David. The mere incompetence of the author, who was utterly ignorant; his licentiousness, which he testifies by his writings; his most profane life, which had nothing whatever of the Christian about it, caused him to be refused the communion of the Church. And yet his name and his psalms are, as it were, sacred in your churches; they are recited among you as if they were David’s, -whereas who sees not how the sacred word is violated? The measure and restrictions of verse make it impossible that the sacred meaning of the Scripture words should be followed; he mixes in his own to make sense, and it becomes necessary for this ignorant rhymester to choose one sense in places where there might be several. What! is it not an extreme violation and profanation to have left to such an empty-headed witling a judgment of such great consequence, and then in the public prayers to follow as closely this buffoon’s selection as one ever did formerly the interpretation of the Seventy, who were so particularly assisted by the Holy Spirit ? How many words and how many sentences has he secreted therein which were never in the Scriptures?

This is a very different thing from ill-pronouncing Scibboleth.(Judges xii. 6) At the same time it is well known that there is nothing which has so delighted busybodies, and above all women, as this authorisation to sing in the church and at the meetings. Certainly we forbid no one to sing devoutly, modestly, and becomingly ; but it seems more proper that Ecclesiastics and their deputies should sing as a general rule, as was done in the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple. O how delightful to get one’s voice heard in the church! But do they not betray you in the songs they make you utter ? I have not leisure or convenience for going into the matter further. When you shout these verses of the 8th Psalm :-Thou hast made him such that no more remains to him except to be God; but as to all else thou hast, &c.--how delighted you are to be able to chant and sing these French rhymes Marottes. It would be much better to keep to the Latin than to blaspheme in French. Accept this warning. When you sing this verse, whom do you suppose you speak of? You speak of Our Lord, unless, to excuse the audacity of Marot and of your church, you also erase the Epistle to the Hebrews from the holy Bible: for S. Paul clearly there (ii. 6, 7, 8) expounds this verse of Our Lord. And if you speak of Our Lord, why do you say he is such that no more now remains for him except to be God? Questionless if anything now remains to him to be God he will never be it. What say you, poor people ?-that it “remains” for Jesus Christ to be God? See how those men make you swallow the poisoned morsel of Arianism, in singing these sorry rhymes. I am no longer astonished that Calvin confessed to Valentine Gentilis, that the Name of God by excellence belongs only to the Father. Behold the splendid eversions of the Scripture with which you are well pleased; behold the blasphemies which your Church sings in a body, and which she makes you repeat so often.

And as to this fashion of having the Psalms sung indifferently in all places and during all occupations, who sees not that it is a contempt of religion ? Is it not to offend His Divine Majesty to say to him words as excellent as those of the Psalms, without any reverence or attention? To say prayers after the manner of common talking, is this not a mocking of him to whom we speak ? When we see at Geneva or elsewhere a shop-boy laughing during the singing of the Psalms, and breaking the thread of a most beautiful prayer, to say: What will you buy, sir ? do we not clearly see that he is making an accessary of the principal, and that it is only for pastime that he was singing this divine song, which he at the same time believes to be of the Holy Spirit ? Is it not good to hear cooks singing the penitential Psalms of David, and asking at each verse for the bacon, the capon, the partridge! “That voice,” says De Montaigne, “is too divine to have no other use than to exercise the lungs and please the ears.” I allow that all places are good to pray in privately, and the same holds good of every occupation which is not sin, provided that we pray in spirit, because God sees the interior wherein lies the chief and substantial part of prayer. But I consider that he who prays in public ought to make exterior demonstration of the reverence which the very words he is uttering demand: otherwise he scandalises his neighbour, who is not bound to think there is religion in the interior when he sees the contempt in the exterior. I hold, then, that both in singing as divine Psalms what is very often an imagination of Marot’s, and in singing them irreverently and without respect, they very often sin in that reformed church of yours against that word: God is a spirit, and those who adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. (John iv. 23) For besides that in these Psalms you very often attribute to the Holy Ghost the conceptions of Marot contrary to the truth, the mouth also cries in streets and kitchens: O Lord! O Lord! when the heart and the spirit are not there but in traffic and gain, as Isaias says (xxix. 13): You draw near God with your mouth, and with your lips glorify him, but you heart is far from him, and you have feared him according to the commandments and doctrines of men. It is quite true that this impropriety of praying without devotion occurs very often among Catholics, but it is not with the advertence of the Church: and I am not now blaming particular members of your party, but your body in general, which by its versions and liberties bring into profane use what should be treated with the greatest reverence. In chapter 14. Of the 1st of Corinthians, the Let women keep silence in the churches seems to be understood of hymns (cantiques) as much as of the rest: our nuns are in oratorio non in ecclesia.

 

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