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Present state of Syrian Church-A midnight service-Hint to ritual

ists—Syrian ignorance rather than bigotry-Mission instrumental-
ities—The College-Its religious aspect—Two brothers-Religious,
tone in College-Protestant results-Disappointments—Causes of
failure-Unmanageable boys-High pay-Attitude of a dominant

-Native capacities not developed—Foreigners and evangelism
-Power of national sympathy—Our present agency-Cottayam
Church - Other congregations— The printing establishment
Electro-plating types—Rev. George Matthan --Butler's · Analogy'

Marumakathayam - Rev. Koshi Koshi-Our Timothies and
Tituses-Leaders in the native Church- The slaves of Travancore

– First efforts on their behalf — College boys as teachers
Baptism of slaves - The slave and the Brahmin–Testimony of

I HAVE already mentioned that there is a decided movement towards reform in certain quarters amongst the Syrian body. But I lately witnessed a scene which furnishes an example of what the Syrian Church, as a whole, really is still. One evening a deputation from one of the churches (of which there are two) at Cottayam waited upon me to ask if they could borrow two hanging lamps from my verandah for the night, as they were going to have a grand entertainment, and they needed an unusual amount of illumination. The members of the deputation were all well known to me, so that I found it,


difficult to say them “nay. But my curiosity was excited,

' and I made inquiries as to the entertainment. I found that it was the commemoration of the death and burial of Mar Gabriel, whose account of the early history of the Syrians I quoted in a former chapter. In the morning masses were to be said for the repose of his soul, and at midnight there was to be a preparatory service, which many hundreds of Syrians were expected to attend. This midnight service was to be in commemoration of the bishop's burial, as his mortal remains lie in the chancel of the church, and it was to conclude with a funeral procession. I asked permission to witness it, which, I need scarcely say, was at once allowed. Accordingly a little after eleven o'clock I set out for the church. I found the church and churchyard already crammed with people. It was with no small difficulty that I worked my way to the west door of the church, aided though I was by many who knew me, and at last established myself under the west gallery. The church was brilliantly lighted, hung with a galaxy of lamps, among which, not, I confess, without some feeling of shame, I recognised my own. Through a friendly feeling towards some of the members of the church my own verandah had been plunged in unwonted darkness, in order that, perhaps, very questionable orgies might be the more fully illuminated.

But when I lent the lamps I was hardly prepared

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Present State of Syrian Church.


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for what was to follow. And, perhaps, when this is read
-in the contemplative quiet, it may be, of the study
—the question will arise, whether, if I saw anything that
I felt to be derogatory to the honour of God, I should not
have lifted up my voice for the true light.' I did not.

I was there only by permission. There were few who did
• not know my sentiments, and to many I could speak

afterwards. So I stood, though sometimes ill at ease,
in what I thought my wisdom and my patience. My
object was simply to be an eye-witness of the enter-
tainment, for what I thought to be a not unworthy
object. And that the assembled multitudes desired an
entertainment, and nothing more, was evident from

shouts and incessant roar of the hundreds of
people, chiefly men and boys, who filled the church
and churchyard, and crowned the high wall that sur-
rounded it. I was surprised, after standing for some
time in the church, to see a number of men about the
door with the ashes of Shiva on their foreheads. What!
Hindus amongst the company. Yes, indeed ; and each
one with a musical instrument in his hand, or under his

We were to have music, then, as a part of the
entertainment. Had I not been forewarned of this by

what I saw, my ears would soon have undeceived me, for
at about a quarter to twelve o'clock the combined bands
of three or four of the neighbouring pagodas began to


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beat their drums, and rend the air with their hautboys and flageolets. Strange sight. The men whose daily employment is to honour the idols of Vishnu, or Shiva, or Bhagawathy, in their daily processions round the temples, were here engaged to do honour to the spirit of a Christian bishop. Here is a subject for contemplation. It is not that the heathen musicians are thereby brought to see anything more noble or true in Christianity than in Hinduism, in a Mar Gabriel than in a Shiva, but that everywhere Christianity, when degraded by superstition and ignorance, degenerates into mere idolatry. Metaphysicians may see a difference, but the common man sees -aye, and suspects none.

But now the priests began to flit to and fro before the altar, coming up the chancel steps in their ordinary white dress; and as they come up one by one, the deacons help them to robe. Ten priests there are, when all have assembled, and each puts on a differently coloured and differently patterned cope. All are of the richest silk. One with a huge scarlet cross at the back, another with a yellow cross, another a crimson, another a white; some with only a small cross at the shoulder, and the rest broad stripes of scarlet and yellow or scarlet and white. And then they arrange themselves in a semi-circle before the altar, their heads slightly inclined, and behind them, in a wider circle, are from fifteen to twenty deacons, also

A Midnight Service.


beautifully clad in a kind of figured cassock, and each swinging a censer. Then there was a hush : the temple bands were still : the voices died out: and a chant arose from the chancel. I scarcely know how to describe it. One who has been in a Jew's synagogue may form some idea, perhaps, of its effect. Instead of Hebrew, the Syrians use its sister Syriac, and the mode of chanting is very similar. This chanting lasted about ten minutes, and consisted of invocations of the Virgin Mary and saints, and among them Mar Gabriel himself. The chanting concluded, they formed in procession, each having in his hand a taper, and the deacons still waving the censers. As they reached the west door of the church, I perceived that the leading priest-an amiable and intelligent young man, who says he has no sympathy with these travesties of religion, but has not courage to make a determined stand against them, and who is well known to me, as he helps me occasionally to spell out a little Syriac-was bearing a silver image of the Virgin Mary. A grand canopy was ready outside, under which he heads the procession round the church. His stepping under the canopy was the signal for Shiva's bands to strike up again with their deafening tom-toms' and shrieking pipes; and immediately an enormous rocket was fired just in front of the procession, and for a moment displayed the mass of heads swaying to and fro in the churchyard, as it went rushing up

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