THE Rev. Dr. William Ritchie of
St. Andrew’s Church, Glasgow, was exceedingly fond of music, and had
taught his church to admire both vocal and instrumental music combined.
They determined, if possible, to secure an organ, to assist in aiding
the praise in public worship, but were not allowed to do so by the
Presbytery, which was of the "opinion that the use of organs in the
public worship of God is contrary to the law of the land and
constitution of our Established Church."
This did not, however, prevent Dr.
Ritchie cultivating his favourite art. He loved the violin especially,
and had both a big and a small one, which he frequently used. Though
popular with his own congregation, who were devoted to him, and admired
his ministrations, he was not so well liked by his brethren, who thought
he acted an unministerial part by playing on the violin. In the year
1807 he was waited upon by a deputation of ministers, to advise him to
give up his performances on these instruments on a Saturday night, that
he might be the better prepared in spirit for the sacred duties of the
Sabbath day. When they arrived, Dr. Ritchie asked them to come in, and
he would let them hear one of his favourite tunes, and then they could
judge for themselves whether such music was calculated to produce evil
or good results.
They consented to remain, and he
begged them not to interrupt him in the performance till he was done,
which would be, at most, in a few minutes. Taking the largest instrument
into his hands, he played with care and feeling his own most favourite
tune, the Old Hundred.
The effect was marked. One of the chief divines was
entranced, and could not refrain from saying,— "Oh, ‘tis a heavenly
sound! please let us hear it again."
Dr. Ritchie, marking the
favourable impression made, played several sacred pieces to the
admiration of the deputation, some of whom declared themselves converts
to the beneficial effect upon the mind of sweet sounds.