Industries and Inventions of The Shakers
SHAKER MUSIC _A Brief History_
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Sister Bertha Lindsay Sister Lillian Phelps
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Canterbury, New Hampshire
The subject for the evening is one of great interest, as dating back 186 years, we find the Shakers to be an exceedingly ingenious people, devoted pioneers of this adventure.
It is rather difficult for one who has been a member of this church, to speak of the achievements of this especial group without seeming boastful, yet, we, the inheritors can justly be proud of the useful contributions made in early days. It therefore is our duty to inform those interested while we are able.
While different societies originated and manufactured some particular item, these were shared with all others as, while we were like one big family, each society was a complete unit within themselves, self-sustaining, supplying the necessities for their own needs. An interchange of goods from one village to another was possible because of frequent visits of the leaders. I will now try to detail for you some of the early industries and inventions.
Perhaps the most colorful of the early industries was the herb and root industry. This was a natural outgrowth of the Shakers’ interest in gardening and agriculture. Eldress Anna White states in her writings that, “the Shakers were the first in this country to introduce botanical medical practice, the first roots, herbs and vegetable extracts for medicinal purposes placed on the market having borne the Shaker stamp”.
Thomas Corbett of Canterbury originated the famous Syrup of Sarsaparilla also, the Wild Cherry Pectoral Syrup. Rose-water was far-famed, used in cooking as well as medicinally. I would not have time to give a complete list of the many herbs and roots, grown, harvested and packaged, but will quote a few figures to show the tremendous extent of this industry. Records show this industry started in 1800, reaching its greatest importance around 1848 when the sisters cleaned and packaged 9,327 lbs. of roots. In 1871, 14,079 bottles of Norwood’s Tincture of Veratum alone was put up. Perhaps the extent of this business may be gauged by the fact that in one year more than a million labels were cut. How many of you ever heard of “Healolene”? A hand, or after-shave lotion made from quinces, at Mt. Lebanon.
The physics gardens at Mt. Lebanon occupied at one time over 50 acres, where a variety of 50 plants were raised. They collected nearly 200 varieties of indigenous plants, bringing from the South, West and from Europe some 30 to 40 other varieties.
Between 1861-62 the extract business flourished, with over 100 varieties, both solid and fluid manufactured. The herb industry continued on a much smaller scale as late as 1900. Witch-Hazel was distilled and sold at Canterbury up to 1910. The herb industry rapidly extended to Watervliet, Harvard, Sabbathday Lake, Canterbury, Enfield and Union Village.
It is but a step from the herb industry to the garden seed industry which flourished from the establishment of this business in 1794 to the early 1890’s. In its early stages plain paper and cloth bags were used, later brightly colored posters were distributed, and the seeds put up in neatly labeled boxes or in gayly tinted little packages. One of the first industries was the making of men’s wool hats. Another prosperous industry was the tanning of leather. It grew to such dimensions, the Shakers were not able to raise enough hides themselves, so bought from nearby farmers. The manufacture of cloth and leather shoes were for their own use mainly. Leather mittens, bridles, saddles and harnesses were also made. Such industries as making whips and whip-lashes, dry measures, brass, bone, ivory and pewter buttons, shoe-buckles, garden hoes, and ironware were necessary items for home use.
Shingle, brick making and stone-cutting were active industries, filling orders for the world’s market long before they used these items themselves.
Countless items as apple barrels, wash and dye tubs, churns and seed pails were manufactured. Wooden dippers in nests of 3. Sieves of many types were made of wire, horses’ manes and cows’ tails, woven on special looms.
Having a natural deposit of red clay at Mt. Lebanon, pipes were made for sale. A small industry was the manufacture of steel, brass and silver pens, with handles of wood and tin, made to close telescopically. The Shakers were credited with being the originators of the metal pen. An important industry was the making of oak staves for molasses hogsheads which were exported to the West Indies. Bee-keeping was an essential experiment as the immense orchards of fruit trees were thusly benefited. Markets as far as England were found for their superior apples. Sundry items like coonskin fur gloves, floor mops, horn combs and the making of men’s shirts were occupations in most of the societies.
While much of the sisters’ time was occupied with domestic tasks, they found time to assist in picking over the herbs, making seed bags and other useful articles. Wines, sauces and jellies were made for sale, cucumber pickles and tomato catsup were flourishing around 1811. Dairy products such as fine cheeses and butter were sold in quantity. Other related industries were the making of sausages, the raising of strawberries, currants and gooseberries, even to barrels of dried elderberries. Our gift shops sold quantities of sugared flagroot, also sugared lemon, orange and grapefruit peel. Tons of dried apples were sold or made into apple sauce. Kilns were constructed for the paying industry of drying both corn and apples. The famous Shaker Applesauce was cooked in sweet cider, the proportion being something like 4 gallons boiled down to one, then slowly cooking the dried apples in this. The result, a rich, delicious sauce.
The famous Shaker cloak, named the Dorothy Shaker Cape, was made from the finest imported French broadcloth. The originator of this Cape was Eldress Dorothy Durgin of Canterbury. These may still be purchased from tiny white ones for babies through little girls’ sizes to ladies’ sizes, although the fine material of earlier days cannot be found, they still are a charming acquisition to milady’s ward-robe.
Here in Canterbury we had an orchard of over 1,000 maples, situated about a mile northeast of the village. Maple products such as syrup, maple sugar cakes, pulled candy and clay sugar formed a thriving industry for many years.
A variety of many types of baskets were made. Elder Daniel Boler and Daniel Crossman of Mt. Lebanon invented machinery for splint making and basket working. This craft was learned in early years from traveling groups of Indians. Between 1809 to 1871 an unending variety of several patterns were made. Immense baskets for herbs, knitting, egg and fruit baskets or utility baskets, difficult to classify were woven. The popular baskets or boxes were among the most unique made in several of the societies from the middle 1800’s to the present. The poplar tree is native to our woods, they were cut when frozen into 24 in. lengths, put through a Shaker invented plane, taking off thin strips of poplar, then shredded into fine strips, first by hand, later Brother Irving Greenwood devised an electric powered machine to shred the poplar. It was woven on hand looms. A paper pasted on the reverse side made it firmer and less susceptible to breakage. Lined with various colored satins, they presented neat utility or sewing boxes.
No product of the Shaker wood-working shops possesses greater charm than the multi-sized oval boxes, made in nests of from 5 to 12. The boxes were joined with a method called fingers, a novel refinement over the old style of joining. Brother Delmar Wilson still active at our Maine society made oval carriers by the thousand. These lined with satin fitted with emery, cushion and wax made attractive sewing boxes.
Women who joined the societies were often experienced in the varied domestic arts practiced in colonial homes, so it was natural they continue to spin yarn, weave and dye cloth, dip candles and engage in the countless occupations of that period. Looms were used and constructed at the very outset. Carding, spinning and the weaving of woolen, cotton and cotton-wool cloth done exclusively by the sisters, who also hatcheled the flax for linen cloth. The first bird’s-eye linen was a Shaker product. Until 1809 when a machine was invented, the cloth was cut with shears made by Shaker blacksmiths. The looms were in constant use until 1853 when the comparative cheapness of mill cloth made it seem uneconomical for the Shakers to rely on their own produce. However, weaving of handkerchiefs, toweling, carpets and spreads continued up to 1865. In Kentucky the Shakers grew mulberry trees so as to raise silk worms for the weaving of silk. Some of the first iridescent silk was woven in Kentucky, also the Sabbathday Lake Shakers made some of the first wrinkle-proof material. This was obtained by placing the cloth between layers of chemically treated paper, pressed in a Shaker invented screw-press, using heat underneath, producing a shiny surface on one side, a dull water silk on the reverse.
The Shaker brothers were expert agriculturists and mechanics, making woodenware such as pails, tubs, measures, boxes, spinning wheels, rakes and all the furniture to supply the houses with the necessities of living. Chairs were made in all societies for their own use; however, at Mt. Lebanon chairs of all sizes were made for sale, up to the close of that society. A particularly interesting chair, called a tilting chair, was made by the addition of a novel invention called a boot, which fitted on the bottom of the back legs like a ball and socket joint. The chair revolves on the boot while the boot remains stationary—secured with a piece of rawhide, it enabled one to tilt back without tipping over or leaving mars on the floors.
Saxon and Merino sheep were raised to obtain the finest wool for weaving. Thoroughbred horses and cattle were raised for sale. Some of the first thoroughbred Guernseys were purchased by the Canterbury Shakers from the English Isle of Guernsey. The brothers looked upon the soil as something to be redeemed from rugged barrenness into smiling fertility and beauty. So their vast acreage yielded abundantly as proof of their devotion. From early records of farming, we learn that wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, flax and potatoes were the first crops cultivated. Fruit trees were planted at an early date. Shakers were taught that agriculture was a part of their religion. A Gardener’s Manual was published in 1843. In this one writer expressed the Shakers’ belief that “if you would have a lovely garden, you should live a lovely life”.
Among the inventions was a Screw-Propeller, a rotary or disk harrow, automatic spring, the sash balance and threshing machine. The Shakers were among the first to use water power to run their various mills, this led to the invention of a governor of the overshot water wheel, also a Turbine water wheel. Many inventions influence our homes today such as the machinery for making the tongue and groove boards and the first flat broom invented by Theodore Bates of Watervliet. Broom corn was raised and brushes manufactured as early as 1798. Table swifts for winding yarn was a helpful contribution of the Hancock Shakers. Other inventions included a machine for filling seed bags, and one for filling herb packages, the apple paring machine, the common clothes pin, the self-acting cheese press. Did you know the first one-horse wagon used in this country was a Shaker product of Enfield, Conn.? The Shakers not believing in patents or monopolies of any type were, however, forced because of lawsuits from unscrupulous money grabbers, to patent a few items such as the Revolving oven, which may still be seen in the Canterbury Bakery, and the far-famed Wash Mill, which won a gold medal at the Philadelphia exposition in 1876.
The list of inventions and devices of Shaker ingenuity if extended into detail would seem almost endless. Briefly, I would like to tell you of some important inventions showing their relation to our lives today. Brother Thomas Corbett of Canterbury built a static electric machine in 1810. It consisted of a glass cylinder, revolving against a chamois pad producing frictional electricity. This charge was drawn off into a Leyden jar. It was the first therapeutic electric machine. It is hard to imagine a shop today without a circular saw. Sister Sarah Babbitt of Harvard while watching some of the brothers saw, remarked on the amount of lost motion, the idea of a circular saw came to her. She experimented with a notched disk of tin, slipped it on to her spinning wheel, and finding it adequate to saw a shingle, reported her findings. The first one piece circular saw may now be seen in the New York State collection of Shaker Items, Albany, N. Y. The Shakers prowess in research was well recognized by a gentleman who while visiting his children at Mt. Lebanon, heard of a Vacuum Pan being used by the Shakers in their medicinal herb industry. The Vacuum Pan was utilized by the Shakers because when medicine is boiled in a vacuum it boils at lower degree of temperature. Hence, many of the good qualities are not driven off in steam. He asked permission of the Shakers to experiment with the vacuum pan in an attempt to preserve milk. He made a success and a fortune when he invented evaporated milk. His name was Gail Borden. If you should ever go to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, you will see the Vacuum Pan. The Shaker Museum at Old Chatham, N. Y. has on display Gail Borden’s Work Bench.
At its very peak, the Shaker movement numbered only about 6,000 members, at our beautiful village at Canterbury around 400 members which by some worldly standards of measurement would be only a drop in a gigantic ocean of humanity, but we feel that numbers do not count if the motivating principles are right and if each individual gives all that he has, and dedicates his “Hands to work, and his Heart to God”, and if he strives to be his brothers’ keeper. And so, we humbly point to the cemetery of our early Shaker founders who lived not for fame but who were dedicated to the beliefs that when a person loves his God and also his fellow man, the personality of the individual is lost in the Spirit of Christ. And so even if much of Shakerism remains unknown and the physical symbols to some seem to disappear completely, we know that darkness and night may fall, but there is always a tomorrow when the sun will rise again. For we feel thru the revelation of Mother Ann and the teachings of Christ, we have followed a path that is clearly defined leading us to an inner Godliness and a perfect union—a love of God—and a universal love for all mankind.
Some have asked—why did the Shakers invent so much—why did such beauty abound in their work—I can only say—The beauty of the world about us is only according to what we ourselves bring to it. For example: to some, Autumn is a prelude to winter with its cold and loneliness. To others, Autumn represents the magnificence of God’s Great Creation, but for we who follow the path of Godliness, the world takes on a new and more beautiful dimension, and everywhere we find that inner love that brings to our lives the great radiance of God’s great love. With you and only you, lies the choice of selection. To me—I like the words of the poet, who looking on the beauty of Autumn, said, “Dear Lord, when with this life I’m thru and I make my abode with you, Just one thing I would ask of Thee. Will Heaven have Autumn, and crimson trees?”
The study of music was a basic feature of education among the Shakers. In the early days, songs were learned orally, and communicated from one Society to another, by word of mouth.
The first person to urge the study of music was Brother Abram Whitney, a teacher of music, and a member of the Shaker Society at Shirley, Mass. Upon solicitation, Brother Abram visited Canterbury and Enfield, N. H., and gave lessons in the rudiments of elementary music.
About 1821 he, with the help of other inventive minds, developed a form of musical notation, called Shaker Script or Letteral System, so named, because of the use of letters, instead of the conventional round notes. In this method, the first seven letters of the alphabet, were used. Capital letters were whole notes, small letters designated quarter notes, while Italics were used for eighth notes, and half-notes had a line added to the side of the letter.
In 1843, a Shaker brother from Mt. Lebanon, N. Y., by the name of Isaac N. Youngs, changed this method, and used only the small letters of the alphabet, and altered the system of designating the tempo. He published a pamphlet, entitled “A Short Abridgement of the Rules of Music”. Later, Russel Haskell of Enfield, Conn. wrote “A Musical Expositor”, or a treatise on the rules and elements of music, about the year 1847.
In 1852 our beloved Elder Henry Blinn, of Canterbury, had a set of letteral music type made, from which he printed a book, entitled “Hymns and Anthems”. When the Manifesto, (a magazine which was published at our Canterbury Society, and which had a fairly wide circulation throughout the country) was printed Elder Henry Blinn, the editor, realizing that many people of the world, as well as Shakers, were reading this publication, thought it best to use a note-system more universal than the old Shaker Script system, as each number contained a Shaker Hymn. So he advised the return of standard notes, commonly used by the world. Thus in 1871 the round note-system came back into Shaker use. And so, about that time, the “Repository of Music” was printed, right here at Shaker Village, containing the elementary and advanced lessons from the works of able teachers, and showing the more universal note-system used by the outside world.
Some years later the Shakers of Canterbury hired Professor Davis of Concord, N. H., to give a course of lessons in music, adding further to the knowledge that had already been gleaned from Brother Abram Whitney. Progress was rapid, as brethren and sisters, desiring to add greater dimensions to their religious expression, diligently labored to learn all that was offered.
Soon the answer to a continuous desire to learn, came with the introduction to the Society, of a Dr. Charles Guilmette, of Boston. Doctor Guilmette was a superior teacher of vocal music, both in theory and in practice. He proved to be, not only an accomplished vocalist, but an elocutionist and physician as well. Continuous lessons in correct breathing and tone-production, awakened in all, an even deeper interest in singing.
Formation of classes in singing soon followed, composed of groups of children as well as adults. Soon we had numerous well-executed trios, quartets, and double-quartets or sextets. Family singing-meetings were held twice a week, at which each group presented selections for the enjoyment of the family. Vocal training became a “must” with the Shakers, and a high standard of quality music was soon attained.
Elder Arthur Bruce of Canterbury, a gifted musician, before entering the Society, and a brilliant baritone, in his own right, formed and directed a Shaker Ladies Quartet, called the “Qui Vive Quartet”. Under his direction, and with the added assistance of visiting musicians, the quartet acquired a perfection which brought many requests for their concert performance, from various parts of the country.
The quartet sang entirely without accompaniment, and could sing, at a moment’s notice, over 100 selections from memory. Nearly all of these songs were arranged by the members. As an illustration of the cooperative spirit of the Shakers, the instruction received by this quartet, was freely shared with the younger singers, resulting in a family chorus of unusual quality.
First attempts in singing in harmony, by the family, were ventured in the 1800’s, but only melodies were used in Church Service. These melodies contained lessons in practical Christian living, and were often more impressive than the spoken word. One of these was a gentle reminder in song, of the importance of loving, daily association.
May I softly walk, and wisely speak, Lest I harm the strong, or wound the weak. For all these wounds I yet must feel, And bathe in love until they heal.
Why should I carelessly offend, Since many joys of life depend On gentle words and peaceful ways, Which spreads such brightness o’er our days.
Much of the music used in our Church Service, we believe to have been inspirationally received by members so gifted. Eldress Dorothy Durgin, who was especially adept in this gift, kept a slate by her bed, upon which she wrote the spiritual messages which came to her in the night or early morning hours. She would then pass the words to the one for whom she thought the message was intended, saying “I thought of you when these words came to me”.
Some of these messages were accompanied by melody, others were set to music at a later date. And even today many of these songs remain the most loved ones in our Canterbury Hymnal. One of these, an especial favorite, reads as follows:
Angels call me, call me higher To a realm of purer thought; Call me to the fountain nigher, Where the gems of Truth are wrought.
Call me here to love and worship, Here to serve and learn God’s way. Rise, my soul, renewed, responsive, Meet the Christ that calls today.
Ever calling are the angels, Calling to the heights Divine; Calling where the gifts immortal Seek my spirit to refine.
All of life it is to serve them, All of joy to feel their power. Rise, my soul, thy friendship deepen With the Christ that calls each hour.
These inspirational hymns were not confined to any one individual as in every Society there were many members so gifted. The Christ Spirit could easily find expression, where hearts were dedicated to His Service.
Eldress Dorothy Durgin, who was born in Sanbornton, N. H., entered the Society at the age of 8 yrs., after the death of her mother. A lover of children, she was given the care of 24 little girls, while still a young woman. Because of her interest in the youth, she was appointed teacher of the District School, where she taught for six years. Her qualities of leadership were tremendous, so it was only natural that she be appointed to the order of Eldership, at the age of 24 yrs., which position she held for 50 yrs. She was, probably, without parallel, as a writer of hymns, and, during her lifetime produced over 30 inspired songs.
Few persons realize the tremendous effort involved in tracing the authors of our Shaker Hymns. We have always considered that those who received them, were only the channel through which these inspirational messages flowed. In other words, we believe that when an individual is thoroughly consecrated, the personality is lost in the spirit of Christ.
If it wasn’t that we have remembered the circumstances connected with these hymns, their authorship would have been purposely submerged. For our Hymn Books bear only the name of the Society, where the hymn was composed, never its author.
But recently, and only after the author had passed away, did we consent to give out these biographical facts, for we believe that a talent to create a work of art, to invent or compose, is God-given. It is a gift, and we are but the tools chosen to be used in His service. We have, it is true, the power to increase these talents, by study and by application; but we are to take no credit for these gifts, for we are merely His instruments, and they are loaned to us, to be used for the blessing of others. One of our lovely old hymns ably expresses this sentiment in the words,
“Lost in the tide of doing good, Thy Master’s humble name. So thy discipleship record, Beyond all earthly fame.”
Music used in Church Service was without instrumental accompaniment, as the mixed voices of the members, formed an adequate chorus. However, as diminished numbers left the singers without the assistance of male voices, an organ was introduced for vocal support.
Many persons are curious as to the reason for using dancing or marching, in our earlier religious services. It is amazing how much sound reason is behind the thinking of the early Shaker leaders, and how much psychology was employed.
It was the belief of the Shakers that every faculty should be used in the worship of God, and so, various forms of physical exercise were introduced, particularly the March. A group of eight or ten singers, occupied the center of the room, around which the members marched in perfect formation. It was with a graceful, rhythmic motion of the hands as the members marched to the slow or quick tempo of the music.
Dancing, or the March, was not such a strange occurrence during a religious service of the early days of the Church. We have mention, in the Old Testament, of David and Miriam dancing before the Lord. Also there are 19 instances where dancing is mentioned in the Mosaic Law.
There was also a definite psychological purpose behind the Shaker marches, seldom explained, and rarely understood by the general Public. The perfect rhythmic body motions, of a worshipper, who combined this activity with a deep mental and religious fervor, developed within himself, a great spiritual inspiration, almost impossible to understand or describe, by one who has never witnessed or participated in this form of worship. But if one could have been present, as I was, and could have seen the perfect spiritual union, that was produced, when a soul combined the physical motions, the singing voice and the dedicated heart, in giving praise and thanks to God—I’m sure you would have agreed that the physical motions added a still greater dimension to the expression of Prayer. However, as years passed, and older members were unable to join in these marches, the exercises were discontinued, as it was considered necessary to maintain a perfect union among the members, a service in which all may participate as One.
Today, our Church Service is quiet and more formal, resembling, perhaps the Prayer meetings held in many of the churches of other denominations.
The first organ was introduced into the Society, by Elder Henry Blinn. It was one of the first built by the Prescott Organ Co., of Concord, N. H., and can be seen today, still in working condition, in our little Museum, right here at the Canterbury Village. When purchased, it was placed in the School House, where the members gathered for instruction in the reading of notes.
The introduction of instrumental music was quite an innovation among the Shakers. Eldress Dorothy Durgin felt that music added refinement to a young person, so she made a trip to a Music Company in Boston, to negotiate the purchase of a second organ for instrumental practices.
Eldress Dorothy possessed a gracious, winning personality, and so impressed the proprietor of the Company, that he presented the Society at Canterbury with a fine cabinet organ. The first piano was introduced in 1872. Later, pianos owned and brought in by those who joined the Society, provided added facilities for instrumental practice.
In order to encourage this musical movement, Eldress Dorothy held monthly recitals, at which each pupil was represented, everyone, from the beginner, who could do but simple finger exercises, to the more advanced student, who could, perhaps, master the difficult music of the classics. Every child who desired, was given the opportunity for musical instruction whether so gifted or not.
Soon other instruments found their way into the Society, and an orchestra was formed composed of 2 violins, cornet, bass-viol and piano. Some years later another orchestra was organized comprising 2 violins, a cornet, cello, 2 saxophones, drum and cymbals and pipe-organ and piano. This orchestra was under the direction of Professor Nevers of Concord, N. H., who also directed the well-known Nevers Band of Concord. The Society at Sabbathday Lake, also formed a small, but fine, orchestra. Indeed every Society made the study of music a part of their educational life.
On special days such as Easter and Christmas, the members arranged concerts, at which time they presented selections from Standard Cantatas, such as Gaul’s Holy City, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, etc., plus many choruses of our original composition.
On Christmas morning the young people greeted the family, as they assembled for breakfast, with a beautiful Christmas Carol. One especially impressive and original arrangement, was called “The Celestial Choir”. As the family assembled for breakfast a small group of singers, started singing on the attic stairs, and, as they descended, others joined them on each loft, resulting in a full chorus of voices, as they approached the lower hall, after which they joined the family in a well-prepared Christmas breakfast.
God’s gift of Music has always played a most important part in the life of the Maine Societies. The library of the family at Sabbathday Lake reflects the breadth and richness of Shaker musical tradition. Not only does the collection contain the earliest known Shaker musical manuscript dated 1802, but it serves as a guide to the musical history not only in Maine, but of all the other Societies. In some manuscripts, hauntingly beautiful melodies, in a minor key, written over 175 years ago, before the gathering of the Societies in Gospel order, mingle with the impassioned and moving hymns, given under inspiration, by the Holy Spirit.
In discussing Maine Shaker music we cannot pass over the name of Otis Sawyer who for nearly fifty years served the Cause of Christ; first as Elder of the family at Poland Hill, later as Elder of the Church Family at Sabbathday Lake and finally as Spiritual Head of the Maine Ministry.
Elder Otis is responsible not only for the words and music of countless lovely hymns, but also the untiring compiler of things musical in Maine. Due to his efforts we have preserved over 500 inspired hymns from Alfred, Gorham, Sabbathday Lake and Poland Hill.
One of the most talented musicians ever to have lived the Shaker life in Maine, was Elder Oliver Holmes. Altho’ he died in 1841 fond memories of his great gift of song, and of his musical inventiveness still remain.
It is of interest to note that “The Gift to be Simple”, the Shaker song, perhaps best known to the world, chiefly through Aaron Copland’s having used it in his “Appalachian Spring”, is from Maine, having been composed by the Ministry of Alfred.
We must mention, too, the names of two sisters, important for their contributions to the world of Shaker Music. To Aurelia Gay Mace, the versatile Chronicler of Maine Shaker history, we owe, not only the preservation of several remarkable manuscript collections, but also a wealth of highly personal and original comment both on the songs, popular among Believers, and the manner in which they were sung. To Sister Aurelia we are also indebted, for much of our knowledge of the March in Worship, and the interaction of song and March.
Eldress Mary Ann Gillespie was the composer of many beautiful hymns during the period immediately following the Civil War. One of the best loved of her hymns is entitled, “Watching and Praying”. The words follow:
Watching and praying, I find you, O my beloved, my own. Trusting a Father’s rich promise I will not leave you alone, I will not leave you alone.
Though thro’ the desert I lead Or apart in the mountain ye pray, For strength in the hour of need, I never will answer you, “Nay”, I never will answer you, “Nay”.
The musical education of the Shakers has certainly come a long way, since the days of Brother Abram Whitney’s letteral notation and the simple melodies of our early founders. Today, many of our hymns and anthems are much more elaborate as you will note in a later Shaker Anthem, entitled “Rejoice”. Although, perhaps, rather empty without the addition of a full chorus, you will get some idea of the quality of the composition, as I play it on the organ. The present day Shaker Hymnal contains many beautiful hymns and anthems. Some were arranged and harmonized by members, using various Scripture texts, while others were the musical expression of those simple, sincere soul-breathings from the dedicated hearts who were imbued with the spirit of the first Christian founders. One of these hymns ably voices the universal faith of the Shakers, whose hearts deeply feel for those, their brothers, who suffer and are in need of love and assistance. The following hymn, entitled “Universal Prayer”, is one of many, which are sung in our Church Service, in loving thought of others.
The Spirit is calling, earnestly calling O Zion, unfold in deep prayer. O pray for the fathers, the sisters and brothers, O pray for the household; O pray for the mothers, remember all others, O pray for the whole, whole world.
O Spirit, most holy, earnestly calling, So tenderly pleading for all, In prayerful devotion we bow at Thy bidding To ask Thy rich mercies may fall, ’Till household and nation shall see Thy salvation, Thy power reach the whole, whole world.
—Silently corrected a few typos.
—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook is public-domain in the country of publication.
—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by _underscores_.