WHEN a musician, desiring to conduct a melody, is hindered in his design by the want of accord in the instruments employed, his efforts end in ridicule, and provoke the laughter of the auditors. In vain he expends the resources of his art, or accuses of falseness the instrument which reduces him to impotence.
The great musician of Nature, the God who presides over the harmony of song, and who controls the resonance of the instruments according to the rhythm of the melody, is unwearying, for weariness reaches not the gods. And if an artist conducts a concert of music, and the trumpeters blow according to their ability, the flute-players express the delicate modulations of the melody, and the lyre and violin accompany the song, who would think of accusing the inspiration of the composer, or withhold from him the esteem his work deserves, if some instrument should trouble the melody with discord and hinder the auditors from seizing its purity? Even so, not without impiety can we impeach Humanity, on account of the impotence of our own body. For know that God is an Artist of untiring Spirit, always Master of His science, always successful in His operations, and everywhere bestowing equal benefits. If Phidias, the creative artisan, should find the material on which it is necessary for him to work, refractory to his skill, let us not blame him who has laboured to the utmost of his power; neither let us accuse the musician of the faults of the instrument, but rather complain of the defective chord, which, by lowering or raising a note, has destroyed the concord; and the worse this is, the more does he merit praise who succeeds in drawing from such a chord an accurate tone. Far from reproaching him, the auditors will be all the better pleased with him. It is thus, O most illustrious hearers, that our inward lyre must be attuned to the intention of the musician.
I can even imagine that a musician, deprived of the aid of his lyre, and being called upon to produce some great musical effect, might, by untried means, supply the place of the accustomed instrument, and arouse thereby the enthusiasm of his auditors. It is related of a cithara player, to whom Apollo was favourable, that, being once suddenly checked in his performance of a melody by the snapping of a string, the kindness of the God supplied the want and magnified the talent of the artist; for by providential help, a cicada interposed his song and executed the missing notes which the broken cord should have sounded. The musician, reassured, and no more troubled by the accident, obtained a triumph. I feel in myself, O most noble hearers, something similar; for, but now, being convinced of my incapacity and weakness, the power of the Supreme Being has supplied in my stead the melody wherewith to praise the king. For the design of this discourse is to declare the glory of royalties and their achievements. Forward, then! the musician wills it, and for this the lyre is tuned! May the grandeur and sweetness of the melody respond to the purpose of our song!
And since we have tuned our lyre to hymn the praise of kings, and to celebrate their renown, let us first praise the good God, the supreme King of the universe. After Him we will glorify those who reflect His image, and hold the sceptre of royalty. Kings themselves are glad that the song should descend from above, degree after degree, that aspiration should draw nigh to Heaven whence victory comes to them. Let, then, the singer praise the mighty God of the universe, ever immortal, whose power is eternal as Himself, the first of Victors, from Whom all triumphs come, succeeding one another. Let us hasten to close our discourse, that we may offer praise to kings, even to those who are the guardians of peace and of general security; who hold from the Lord supreme their ancient power, and receive victory from His hand; those whose sceptres shine resplendent to herald the hardships of war, whose triumphs anticipate the conflict; and to whom it is given not only to reign, but to overcome; whose very advance to battle strikes the barbarian enemy with fear.
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