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Lowell Mason

1792 - 1872 Person Name: L. Mason Composer of "ERNAN" in The Voice of Thanksgiving No. 3 Dr. Lowell Mason (the degree was conferred by the University of New York) is justly called the father of American church music; and by his labors were founded the germinating principles of national musical intelligence and knowledge, which afforded a soil upon which all higher musical culture has been founded. To him we owe some of our best ideas in religious church music, elementary musical education, music in the schools, the popularization of classical chorus singing, and the art of teaching music upon the Inductive or Pestalozzian plan. More than that, we owe him no small share of the respect which the profession of music enjoys at the present time as contrasted with the contempt in which it was held a century or more ago. In fact, the entire art of music, as now understood and practiced in America, has derived advantage from the work of this great man. Lowell Mason was born in Medfield, Mass., January 8, 1792. From childhood he had manifested an intense love for music, and had devoted all his spare time and effort to improving himself according to such opportunities as were available to him. At the age of twenty he found himself filling a clerkship in a banking house in Savannah, Ga. Here he lost no opportunity of gratifying his passion for musical advancement, and was fortunate to meet for the first time a thoroughly qualified instructor, in the person of F. L. Abel. Applying his spare hours assiduously to the cultivation of the pursuit to which his passion inclined him, he soon acquired a proficiency that enabled him to enter the field of original composition, and his first work of this kind was embodied in the compilation of a collection of church music, which contained many of his own compositions. The manuscript was offered unavailingly to publishers in Philadelphia and in Boston. Fortunately for our musical advancement it finally secured the attention of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society, and by its committee was submitted to Dr. G. K. Jackson, the severest critic in Boston. Dr. Jackson approved most heartily of the work, and added a few of his own compositions to it. Thus enlarged, it was finally published in 1822 as The Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music. Mason's name was omitted from the publication at his own request, which he thus explains, "I was then a bank officer in Savannah, and did not wish to be known as a musical man, as I had not the least thought of ever making music a profession." President Winchester, of the Handel and Haydn Society, sold the copyright for the young man. Mr. Mason went back to Savannah with probably $500 in his pocket as the preliminary result of his Boston visit. The book soon sprang into universal popularity, being at once adopted by the singing schools of New England, and through this means entering into the church choirs, to whom it opened up a higher field of harmonic beauty. Its career of success ran through some seventeen editions. On realizing this success, Mason determined to accept an invitation to come to Boston and enter upon a musical career. This was in 1826. He was made an honorary member of the Handel and Haydn Society, but declined to accept this, and entered the ranks as an active member. He had been invited to come to Boston by President Winchester and other musical friends and was guaranteed an income of $2,000 a year. He was also appointed, by the influence of these friends, director of music at the Hanover, Green, and Park Street churches, to alternate six months with each congregation. Finally he made a permanent arrangement with the Bowdoin Street Church, and gave up the guarantee, but again friendly influence stepped in and procured for him the position of teller at the American Bank. In 1827 Lowell Mason became president and conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society. It was the beginning of a career that was to win for him as has been already stated the title of "The Father of American Church Music." Although this may seem rather a bold claim it is not too much under the circumstances. Mr. Mason might have been in the average ranks of musicianship had he lived in Europe; in America he was well in advance of his surroundings. It was not too high praise (in spite of Mason's very simple style) when Dr. Jackson wrote of his song collection: "It is much the best book I have seen published in this country, and I do not hesitate to give it my most decided approbation," or that the great contrapuntist, Hauptmann, should say the harmonies of the tunes were dignified and churchlike and that the counterpoint was good, plain, singable and melodious. Charles C. Perkins gives a few of the reasons why Lowell Mason was the very man to lead American music as it then existed. He says, "First and foremost, he was not so very much superior to the members as to be unreasonably impatient at their shortcomings. Second, he was a born teacher, who, by hard work, had fitted himself to give instruction in singing. Third, he was one of themselves, a plain, self-made man, who could understand them and be understood of them." The personality of Dr. Mason was of great use to the art and appreciation of music in this country. He was of strong mind, dignified manners, sensitive, yet sweet and engaging. Prof. Horace Mann, one of the great educators of that day, said he would walk fifty miles to see and hear Mr. Mason teach if he could not otherwise have that advantage. Dr. Mason visited a number of the music schools in Europe, studied their methods, and incorporated the best things in his own work. He founded the Boston Academy of Music. The aim of this institution was to reach the masses and introduce music into the public schools. Dr. Mason resided in Boston from 1826 to 1851, when he removed to New York. Not only Boston benefited directly by this enthusiastic teacher's instruction, but he was constantly traveling to other societies in distant cities and helping their work. He had a notable class at North Reading, Mass., and he went in his later years as far as Rochester, where he trained a chorus of five hundred voices, many of them teachers, and some of them coming long distances to study under him. Before 1810 he had developed his idea of "Teachers' Conventions," and, as in these he had representatives from different states, he made musical missionaries for almost the entire country. He left behind him no less than fifty volumes of musical collections, instruction books, and manuals. As a composer of solid, enduring church music. Dr. Mason was one of the most successful this country has introduced. He was a deeply pious man, and was a communicant of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Mason in 1817 married Miss Abigail Gregory, of Leesborough, Mass. The family consisted of four sons, Daniel Gregory, Lowell, William and Henry. The two former founded the publishing house of Mason Bros., dissolved by the death of the former in 19G9. Lowell and Henry were the founders of the great organ manufacturer of Mason & Hamlin. Dr. William Mason was one of the most eminent musicians that America has yet produced. Dr. Lowell Mason died at "Silverspring," a beautiful residence on the side of Orange Mountain, New Jersey, August 11, 1872, bequeathing his great musical library, much of which had been collected abroad, to Yale College. --Hall, J. H. (c1914). Biographies of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company.

William Gardiner

1770 - 1853 Person Name: William Gardiner, 1770-1853 Arranger of "GARDINER" in The Hymnal 1982 William Gardiner (b. Leicester, England, 1770; d. Leicester, 1853) The son of an English hosiery manufacturer, Gardiner took up his father's trade in addition to writing about music, composing, and editing. Having met Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven on his business travels, Gardiner then proceeded to help popularize their compositions, especially Beethoven's, in England. He recorded his memories of various musicians in Music and Friends (3 volumes, 1838-1853). In the first two volumes of Sacred Melodies (1812, 1815), Gardiner turned melodies from composers such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven into hymn tunes in an attempt to rejuvenate the singing of psalms. His work became an important model for American editors like Lowell Mason (see Mason's Boston Handel and Haydn Collection, 1822), and later hymnbook editors often turned to Gardiner as a source of tunes derived from classical music. Bert Polman

George J. Elvey

1816 - 1893 Person Name: George Job Elvey Composer of "ST. CRISPIN" in Services for Congregational Worship. The New Hymn and Tune Book George Job Elvey (b. Canterbury, England, 1816; d. Windlesham, Surrey, England, 1893) As a young boy, Elvey was a chorister in Canterbury Cathedral. Living and studying with his brother Stephen, he was educated at Oxford and at the Royal Academy of Music. At age nineteen Elvey became organist and master of the boys' choir at St. George Chapel, Windsor, where he remained until his retirement in 1882. He was frequently called upon to provide music for royal ceremonies such as Princess Louise's wedding in 1871 (after which he was knighted). Elvey also composed hymn tunes, anthems, oratorios, and service music. Bert Polman

William Henry Monk

1823 - 1889 Person Name: William H. Monk Arranger of "HURSLEY" in Hymns of the Kingdom of God William H. Monk (b. Brompton, London, England, 1823; d. London, 1889) is best known for his music editing of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861, 1868; 1875, and 1889 editions). He also adapted music from plainsong and added accompaniments for Introits for Use Throughout the Year, a book issued with that famous hymnal. Beginning in his teenage years, Monk held a number of musical positions. He became choirmaster at King's College in London in 1847 and was organist and choirmaster at St. Matthias, Stoke Newington, from 1852 to 1889, where he was influenced by the Oxford Movement. At St. Matthias, Monk also began daily choral services with the choir leading the congregation in music chosen according to the church year, including psalms chanted to plainsong. He composed over fifty hymn tunes and edited The Scottish Hymnal (1872 edition) and Wordsworth's Hymns for the Holy Year (1862) as well as the periodical Parish Choir (1840-1851). Bert Polman

Ludwig van Beethoven

1770 - 1827 Composer (attr.) of "GERMANY" in The Presbyterian Hymnal A giant in the history of music, Ludwig van Beethoven (b. Bonn, Germany, 1770; d. Vienna, Austria, 1827) progressed from early musical promise to worldwide, lasting fame. By the age of fourteen he was an accomplished viola and organ player, but he became famous primarily because of his compositions, including nine symphonies, eleven overtures, thirty piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, the Mass in C, and the Missa Solemnis. He wrote no music for congregational use, but various arrangers adapted some of his musical themes as hymn tunes; the most famous of these is ODE TO JOY from the Ninth Symphony. Although it would appear that the great calamity of Beethoven's life was his loss of hearing, which turned to total deafness during the last decade of his life, he composed his greatest works during this period. Bert Polman

Ruth C. Duck

b. 1947 Person Name: Ruth Duck Adapter of "Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life" in Chalice Hymnal

Frederick C. Maker

1844 - 1927 Person Name: F. C. Maker, 1844- Composer of "MELROSE" in Methodist Hymn and Tune Book Frederick C. Maker (b. Bristol, England, August 6, 1844; d. January 1, 1927) received his early musical training as a chorister at Bristol Cathedral, England. He pursued a career as organist and choirmaster—most of it spent in Methodist and Congregational churches in Bristol. His longest tenure was at Redland Park Congregational Church, where he was organist from 1882-1910. Maker also conducted the Bristol Free Church Choir Association and was a long-time visiting professor of music at Clifton College. He wrote hymn tunes, anthems, and a cantata, Moses in the Bulrushes. Bert Polman

John Bacchus Dykes

1823 - 1876 Person Name: John B. Dykes Composer of "THANKSGIVING" in Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church As a young child John Bacchus Dykes (b. Kingston-upon-Hull' England, 1823; d. Ticehurst, Sussex, England, 1876) took violin and piano lessons. At the age of ten he became the organist of St. John's in Hull, where his grandfather was vicar. After receiving a classics degree from St. Catherine College, Cambridge, England, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1847. In 1849 he became the precentor and choir director at Durham Cathedral, where he introduced reforms in the choir by insisting on consistent attendance, increasing rehearsals, and initiating music festivals. He served the parish of St. Oswald in Durham from 1862 until the year of his death. To the chagrin of his bishop, Dykes favored the high church practices associated with the Oxford Movement (choir robes, incense, and the like). A number of his three hundred hymn tunes are still respected as durable examples of Victorian hymnody. Most of his tunes were first published in Chope's Congregational Hymn and Tune Book (1857) and in early editions of the famous British hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern. Bert Polman

Anonymous

Person Name: Anon. Author of "Where cross the crowded ways of life" in The Song Companion to the Scriptures In some hymnals, the editors noted that a hymn's author is unknown to them, and so this artificial "person" entry is used to reflect that fact. Obviously, the hymns attributed to "Author Unknown" "Unknown" or "Anonymous" could have been written by many people over a span of many centuries.

George C. Stebbins

1846 - 1945 Person Name: Geo. C. Stebbins Composer of "NORTH" in American Church and Church School Hymnal Stebbins studied music in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, then became a singing teacher. Around 1869, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, to join the Lyon and Healy Music Company. He also became the music director at the First Baptist Church in Chicago. It was in Chicago that he met the leaders in the Gospel music field, such as George Root, Philip Bliss, & Ira Sankey. At age 28, Stebbins moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he became music director at the Claredon Street Baptist Church; the pastor there was Adoniram Gordon. Two years later, Stebbins became music director at Tremont Temple in Boston. Shortly thereafter, he became involved in evangelism campaigns with Moody and others. Around 1900, Stebbins spent a year as an evangelist in India, Egypt, Italy, Palestine, France and England. (www.hymntime.com/tch)

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