BY JOHN WORCESTER
MASSACHUSETTS NEW-CHURCH UNION
THE ORGANS OF SPEECH.
WE have studied the nose and the lungs in their relation to breathing, and the mouth in its use of eating. Let us now attend to their common use of speaking, in which the larynx and trachea are added to them, and indeed with a leading part.
The larynx lies behind and below the prominence in the throat called the "Adam's apple." This prominence consists of a large cartilage, closed in front but open behind. Just within the open edges behind, and extending below, lies another large cartilage; and across the space between the Adam's apple in front and the top of the second cartilage in the rear are stretched two membranous chords called the vocal chords. These are attached in front to the middle of the Adam's apple, just where we feel a depression; but behind they are attached not immediately to the other [p. 192] large cartilage, but to the edges of two little cartilages which are hinged upon the great cartilage. Resting upon this great cartilage, these little cartilages, as they open and shut, open and shut also the vocal chords, to regulate the amount of air that passes to the lungs; and the two great cartilages play upon each other in such a way as to tighten or loosen the chords, and so to vary the pitch of the voice.
There are several little muscles by which these motions are effected; and some muscular fibres are said to be attached to the vocal chords themselves, to regulate their length of vibration, like fingers upon a violin string.
The tension alone of these chords produces no sound; but when they are made tense, and the lungs also arouse themselves and forcibly puff upon the chords, they instantly respond with a sonorous tremble, like the reed of an organ-pipe, or the strings of an aeolian harp. Then, the horseshoe-like cartilages of which the trachea or windpipe is composed, and the scarcely less sonorous [p. 193] elastic membrane by which they are connected together and their circle is completed, all join in the audible vibration, like the pipe of an organ when its reed is blown upon. The tense lungs, also, elastic and made to delight in every kind of aerial motion and vibration, resound like the body of a viol, with a tremble in which the lining membranes of the chest, and even the ribs and the very skin, are compelled to join, and which is communicated by elastic fluids and tissues to the extremities of the body. From the larynx the vibration extends upward, affecting all the parts contiguous to the breathing passages, -- namely, the pharynx, the palate, tongue, teeth, and lips, the nose, and the sinuses of the forehead; indeed, the whole skull and the brain partake of the contagious thrill, and join in the song or speech. Nor is their part merely that of passive spectators carried away by enthusiasm; they all contribute to the quality of the tone, each one modifying it in its own way, as we see plainly in regard to the nose, teeth, tongue, and lips, and as would appear from the other organs observed attentively. [p. 194]
There are two kinds of modifications to which vocal utterances are subject, one affecting the quality of the tone as to force, pitch, harshness, or tenderness, and the other producing the articulations of speech. The lungs, trachea, larynx, nose, and bones of the head, are concerned especially with the first class, producing and modifying the tone of the voice; the lips and teeth, the palate, and especially the tongue, are principally instrumental in forming words. In singing, tone predominates; in speaking, articulation; yet the words of speech are imperfect unless filled with sonorous sound from the lungs and larynx; and the tones of singing are incomplete until shaped by the mouth.
The lungs, in their office of breathing, correspond to the love of perceiving and thinking truth in its application to the affections; or, in the Greatest Man, to the states of life of the heavens. In other words, they correspond to the faculty of exploring our own affections and ends, and purifying and correcting them according to the pure [p. 195] truth from the Lord. And it is meet that the organ which corresponds to the faculty of knowledge of the affections and ends, should express that knowledge by means of the very air which corresponds to the truth by which the exploration is made. As vocal organs, therefore, the lungs correspond to the love of confessing the thoughts of the heart. In the heavens it is the love of confessing to the Lord, or from the Lord to men and angels, the thought and the affection of the heavens.
"There were angelic choirs," Swedenborg relates, "which praised the Lord together, and this from gladness of heart. Their praise was heard sometimes as very sweet singing; for spirits and angels have sonorous voices, and hear one another as men do; but human singing, as to the sweetness and harmony, which were heavenly, is not comparable to that. From the variety of the sound I perceived that there were many choirs. I was instructed by the angels who were with me that they belonged to the province and uses of the lungs; for they have song, because this office belongs to the lungs; this also it was given to know by [p. 196] experience. It was permitted them to rule my respiration, which was done so gently and sweetly, and also interiorly, that I felt my respiration scarcely at all. I was further instructed that they who are assigned to the involuntary respiration are distinct from those assigned to the voluntary. It was said that they who are assigned to the involuntary respiration are present while man sleeps; for as soon as a man goes to sleep, the voluntary control of his respiration ceases, and the involuntary takes it up." (A. C. 3893.)
On another occasion, to correct the unfavorable opinion which spirits from the planet Jupiter had formed of the spirits from our earth, choirs of the angels from this earth came to them, one after another. "Choirs," he explains, "are when many think, speak, and act one thing together, in a continuous series; the celebration of the Lord in the heavens is for the most part by choirs .... Those choirs so greatly delighted the spirits of Jupiter who were with me, that they seemed to themselves to be caught up into heaven. That glorification lasted about an hour. It was given [p. 197] me to feel their delights which they derived from it, which were communicated to me. They said that they would tell it to their friends who were elsewhere." (A. C. 8115.(1))
To the larynx are related those members of the community in heaven and
on earth whose love it is to catch the shades of affection which come to
them, and express them by modulations of tone. The larynx is the only musical
instrument in the body; and the things that relate to the musician's art,
which is strictly the art of expressing affection by sound, are there concentrated.
A true musician is not led by his ears but by his affection; the tones
that agree with this he seizes, whether they are sweetest to the ears or
not. He will be true to his feeling in his playing and in composing. As
he writes, his throat sings silently; and his ears, possessed by the same
affection, hear the silent music, and help to guide the throat. If orchestras
and choirs are added they
The part which the lungs have in this expression in the individual and the Greatest Man, is to furnish the breath, that is the thought, modified by the life of the man, and full of its heart-throbs. They represent the inspiration of exalted thought and feeling, springing from the life of the community, which they of the larynx put into form.
Other organs that are interested in the reception of the breath, as the nose and the membranes and passages connected with it, partake of the resonance of the expired air; and no doubt the angels of the corresponding provinces in heaven join sympathetically and joyfully in the sonorous thought of the lungs of the heavens.
They themselves sought and examined the truth [p. 199] which furnishes the means of thinking; and they share in the delight of expressing the truth.
To this the lips, teeth, palate, and especially the tongue, contribute definiteness of articulation, which corresponds to distinctness and definiteness in the expression of thought, especially from the love of instructing.
"They who correspond to the mouth," Swedenborg says, "continually wish to speak; for in speaking they find the greatest pleasure. When they are perfected, they are brought to this, that they do not speak anything but what is of use to their companions, to the community, heaven, and the Lord. The delight of speaking thus is increased with them as the lust of regarding themselves in their speech, and of seeking wisdom of their own, perishes." (A. C. 4803.)
No argument is needed to show that if the whole heaven ever speaks as one man, it is through those who are in the province of the mouth; and that if either of the heavens, or any society in heaven, should so speak, it would be by those related to it in this manner. [p. 200]
Now, the whole heaven does speak to man, or the Lord through the heavens;
for He speaks His Word to man, and
"The Lord spoke through heaven with John, and He also spoke through
heaven with the prophets, and through
Usually the Word of the Lord seems to have been spoken by "an angel of the Lord"; but sometimes by "a great voice out of heaven" without the presence of an individual. In either case, it is from the Spirit of the Lord filling the heavens, and expressing His thought and affection through those who are in the organs of speech. During the scenes of the Last Judgment, no doubt Swedenborg had a great deal of experience of the ways in which the Lord speaks in the world of spirits.
Returning now to the use of the mouth in receiving food, we remember that it corresponds to the use of receiving new spirits into the heavenly kingdom, and, more generally and abstractly, to the love of gathering in their experiences of the providence and goodness of the Lord; for it [p. 202] is only that which men receive and live of the goodness and wisdom of the Lord, that is food to the heavens. The two uses of the mouth, therefore, are as closely related as sowing and reaping; for the Sower soweth the Word, and the harvest is the ripened lives of men. "Twin offices," Swedenborg calls them -- "the office of serving speech, and that of serving nutrition"; and he adds: "as far as the tongue serves nutrition, it corresponds to the affection of knowing, understanding, and being wise in truths; wherefore, also, sapientia, wisdom, and sapere, to be wise, are from sapor, taste; and, as far as it serves speech, it corresponds to the affection of thinking and producing truths." (A. C. 4795. See also 4791.)
Even the silent angels whose special office it is to prepare the spirit to be raised from the body, and thus to receive additions to the heavens, as they sit quietly by his head look into his face with the effort to communicate their own thought, which relates to eternal life in heaven; and this is the means of doing their use. [p. 203]
The influence of the angels of the mouth into our minds produces therefore not only the love of obtaining useful knowledge, which corresponds to the love of receiving food, but also the love of bringing the thought into good form for expression; or, more simply, to the love of speaking, of communicating knowledge, and of teaching. (See A. C. 6987.)
In any company or society of persons associated for some use, there are many who have some perception of what should be done; but it is usually the case that a few speak for the rest, and express their thoughts for them. The feelings and perceptions of the many correspond to the action of the heart and the lungs, and perhaps other interior organs; and the expression of these feelings and perceptions in form, to the action of the mouth. Hence, we not unfrequently call one who speaks, a mouth-piece for others. And if there are any who only wait for the conclusion, that they may know what is to be done, they are like hands and feet to the company. [p. 204]
In ancient days, before men learned to speak by words, they expressed their feelings and thoughts by changes of the face, and especially by delicate motions of the lips, which in innocent persons are still so expressive. They were taught by angels by similar changes of the face; and their teachers also were from the province of the mouth, and particularly from that of the lips. (See A. C. 4799.)