The late Walter Muir Whitehill, the previous Editor of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, loved music and took great delight in learning about all aspects of colonial American life. It was upon his suggestion that the Society held a conference on music in colonial Massachusetts, and upon his invitation I agreed to organize it and serve as editor for the two volumes which have resulted from it.

    The original conference included nine papers grouped into three categories: music in public places, music in homes, and music in churches. The contributions found in this volume and the one that preceded it are based upon what was presented at the conference. Their transformations resulted from an opportunity for informal discussions during the conference, and the chance to update their topics because of unforseen delays not the fault of the participants. This volume represents the contributors’ knowledge and research as of 1976, unless otherwise indicated below.

    Volume I of this work contains four studies on subjects related to music in public places. They include: “Selected American Country Dances and Their English Sources” by Joy van Cleef and Kate Van Winkle Keller; “Military Music of Colonial Boston” by Raoul François Camus; “Songs to Cultivate the Sensations of Freedom” by Arthur F. Schrader; “Broadsides and Their Music in Colonial America” by Carleton Sprague Smith, with an appendix “Commentary on the Tunes” by Israel J. Katz.

    This volume, volume II, contains six studies, three related to topics on music in homes, and three on subjects having to do with music in churches; an overview of music in Colonial Massachusetts, based on the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, held in conjunction with the conference in 1973; and four appendices of primary source material.

    The first study is “Social Music, Musicians, and Their Musical Instruments in and around Boston” by myself. As a specialist in organology, the study of historical musical instruments and their technology, and former Keeper of Musical Instruments at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I was interested in Boston’s earliest history of musical instruments because Boston has always held the distinction of being the capital for instrument making on this continent. What sorts of musical instruments were in Boston during its first century, for what purposes, in what circumstances, by whom were these instruments played, where did they come from, and were any made here, were some of my questions. I searched most of the extant major bodies of primary documents from the first century of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The conclusions are based upon a compilation and analysis of my findings. Although none of the instruments documented in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Boston is known to exist today, this essay is illustrated with images of two categories of musical instruments. One is of European instruments of the same type and period documented in Boston, because almost all of the instruments in Boston during the period under examination were imported from Britain and the Continent. The other category consists of the earliest surviving instruments of the same type but made in America, even though these, in some cases, date from as much as one-hundred years later. The latter were included for several reasons. First, the basic shape had not changed significantly; second, this was an opportunity to show the earliest surviving American examples; and third, many of these were included in the exhibition that accompanied the conference.

    The second essay, “A Musical Gathering: Investigative Steps and Preliminary Conjectures” is by Phyllis Braff, Curator of Art (and the painting under discussion) at the Nassau County Museum in Port Washington, New York. This painting came to light only in the late 1960s, and was exhibited publically in the conference exhibition for the first time. As the largest and most impressive painting there, it was a focal point for the exhibition. It was felt this work was so new and significant a discovery that, even though it was not the subject of a conference paper, it merited a chapter in this conference volume. The painting’s expert, Mrs. Braff, was asked to submit it. Hers is a fascinating detective story of the attempt to uncover where the painting was done and when, and who were the musicians behind the portraits. In the context of the music conference, this stunning painting represents a typical musical ensemble that might have been heard in Boston in the mid-eighteenth century.

    The third contribution to this volume, and the last which deals with subjects related to music in homes, is “Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts Songsters” by Irving Lowens. To our great sadness, Mr. Lowens died last year after serious health problems. Mr. Lowens had a long and distinguished career as a music critic, collector of early American musical imprints, music librarian, and educator. Suffice it to say, he was one of the finest and perhaps the most influential American musical scholars since Oscar G. T. Sonneck was active in the first quarter of this century. Until Mr. Lowens pursued the subject, little was known about early popular singing. Thanks to the publication of numerous small volumes known as “songsters,” the texts of a majority of these songs have been preserved. Mr. Lowens left no stone unturned in searching out, surveying, and documenting these now rare ephemera. In 1976 the American Antiquarian Society published his Bibliography of Songsters Printed in America before 1821 which contains much of the information included here, but in different form. In the present publication Mr. Lowens compiled and analysed eighteenth-century Massachusetts songsters, and we have included illustrations of the title pages, and where there is one, the frontispiece, for each extant songster.

    The section on music in churches begins with the fourth study in the volume, “Massachusetts Musicians and the Core Repertory of Early American Psalmody” by Richard Crawford, Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Professor Crawford surveyed all psalm tune books published in America prior to 1821. By the frequency of each tune’s appearance, he determined the core repertory of one hundred psalm tunes for Congregational churches during this period. In the present study, Professor Crawford examines the core repertory for what it reveals about the contributions of Massachusetts musicians, and provides a biography and bibliography for each Massachusetts composer whose music is included among the repertory. As this volume goes to press, so does Professor Crawford’s two-volume work, The Core Repertory of Early American Psalmody (Madison, Wise: A-R Editions, 1984). In these volumes can be found the music for each core repertory tune named in the present study. The total number of printings given for each tune in the present contribution, however, has been slightly revised in the A-R publication.

    The fifth contribution to this volume is “The Musical Pursuits of William Price and Thomas Johnston” by Sinclair Hitchings, Keeper of Prints at the Boston Public Library and fellow member of the Society. Heretofore, much more scholarly attention has been paid to Puritan and Congregational church music subjects than to Anglican ones. A step towards correcting this imbalance is taken in the present study by Mr. Hitchings. William Price and Thomas Johnston were two prominent mid-eighteenth-century Anglicans, each deeply concerned about improving the music in each of the three Anglican churches in Boston (King’s Chapel, Christ Church, and Trinity Church) by supporting musical activities with their skills and from their pockets, and in particular by establishing organ music as an important part of the services. Mr. Hitchings has described the careers of these two Anglican churchmen, interweaving their involvement in Anglican music throughout. In addition, an extensive chronology of primary sources has been provided for William Price, less well known than is Thomas Johnston.

    The sixth and last contribution to this volume based on a paper delivered at the conference is “Eighteenth-Century Organs and Organ Building in New England” by Barbara Owen, an organ historian, organ builder, and conservator. Ms. Owen has concentrated her scholarly efforts on the introduction of organs into eighteenth-century New England churches, and provides well-documented profiles of the American builders of those organs. Ms. Owen’s book, The Organ in New England (Raleigh, N.C.: Sunbury Press, 1980) continues her study into the twentieth century.

    From the titles of the contributions to the conference on “Music in Colonial Massachusetts,” the reader will notice that an emphasis was placed upon the exploration of secular musical subjects over sacred. This was due to the fact that more scholarly attention in the past has been devoted to sacred over secular. These volumes were intended to add to the ever-growing store of new information about our musical heritage. Throughout this volume and the one which precedes it great care has been taken to include a large number of illustrations of objects largely contemporary with the colonial period. American musical iconography, works of art that depict musical subjects, is scarce and difficult to locate. These two volumes include a number of examples of iconography previously little known, if at all. An extensive search has produced illustrations of not only musical pictures, but also of musical instruments, music books, musical advertisements and notices, trade cards of music dealers, dance tickets, broadsides, songsters, musical furniture, household inventories and wills which mention musical instruments and books, and journal entries which record musical occurrences at the moment they happened. The cumulative effect of the large number of illustrations in both volumes and the quality of the reproductions, thanks to Meriden Gravure, serve admirably, we believe, to make today’s reader more closely and directly acquainted with the musical colonists and their musical objects.

    Many of the illustrations, too, document objects included in the exhibition “Early Music in Massachusetts,” which was held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from May 16 through September 2, 1973, in conjunction with the conference. “Epilogue to Secular Music in Early Massachusetts” by Cynthia Adams Hoover, Curator of Musical Instruments, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, is the most lengthy segment of the present volume and follows the six contributions based on conference papers. In 1972 Mrs. Hoover kindly agreed to assist me in the preparation of the conference exhibition. Her lengthy essay in this volume was conceived initially as a picture book record of objects in the exhibition that would also serve to introduce the three conference segments: music in public places, in homes, and in churches. Happily instead, her contribution developed into an overview of the period and summarized the present state of our knowledge, up to about 1979, of a wide range of aspects of secular music in New England during the two centuries that followed the landing of our forefathers. While writing this portion of the present volume, Mrs. Hoover was also delving into the study of colonial musical theater, an area about which little was known, and as a result, a topic entirely missing from the conference. The unforeseen delays in the publication of this volume provided Mrs. Hoover with the opportunity to add her work on musical theater to her segment in this volume, and cast light on what was at the conference a dark corner.

    The four appendices which conclude this volume are a compilation of quotations from primary documents on areas of colonial musical life which were either too interesting to omit, as in the case of Appendix A: “A Seventeenth-Century Experiment on the Transmission of Sound,” or were subjects which needed to be expanded upon. Appendix B: “Civic Announcements: The Role of Drums, Criers and Bells in the Colonies” by M. Sue Ladr and the undersigned; and Appendix C: “Dancing, Music and Singing Masters in Boston, 1630–1800” by myself. Appendices B and C resulted from the extensive files created during a systematic search for all musical references through the major colonial primary sources. These included: the Boston Town Records, all probate documents up to 1800 for two counties (Suffolk and Middlesex), and the published records for a third (Essex County); all the Boston newspapers published prior to the Revolution (the Boston Gazette was read to 1800); and a large number of colonial journals and diaries. This was accomplished over a period of eight years with the help of an army of volunteers, who are gratefully acknowledged at the beginning of the appropriate appendices.

    Appendix D, “Musical Theses at Colonial Harvard” is by Edward T. Dunn, S.J., of Canesius College. It brings together all the titles of the theses with translations, and provides background information on them. The Rev. Dunn is an expert on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Harvard College subjects.

    editorial procedure

    Although considerable time and effort were given to minimize the inconsistencies of style from paper to paper, it was felt that each author’s individual preferences should be respected whenever possible. Thus the reader will discover certain inconsistencies of style which should perhaps be pointed out at the onset to avoid confusion.

    In the first volume, confusion often arose as to whether the author referred to a tune or a broadside text. It was decided to distinguish tune names by placing them in lowercase except for an initial capital of the title and of all proper names. This style, then, adopted throughout the first volume, was applied to the second volume as well. The only deviation from this style appears in the volume in hand in Richard Crawford’s contribution “Massachusetts Musicians and the Core Repertory of Early American Psalmody,” where the convention of referring to hymn tunes in large and small capitals has been followed.

    Because of the large number of titles dealt with and the manner in which they were used, special attention was given to their orthography, preserving the original capitalization, punctuation, and lineation in order to facilitate identification and comparison among fairly uncommon sources. However, in the second volume the sources given in the checklist of songsters by Irving Lowens appear in modern library style, since these songsters have been made available through the Evans microfilm series published by the American Antiquarian Society.

    It is hoped that the reader will not be impeded by the variations in style encountered in these two volumes, but rather will find it interesting to compare the different scholarly approaches found here.


    I am indebted to a number of people for their generous help with this volume. In addition to Walter Muir Whitehill, Frederick S. Allis, Jr., his successor as Editor of the Society, is at the head of the list. He was always available with unending patience and cheerful readiness to step in and offer his aid with such diverse tasks as capturing the last few illustrations with photographer Thomas Lang at the county probate offices and the State House to providing a second pair of eyes for proofreading. Also at the top of the list are the late Glenn Hogan, Stinehour Press editor and his successor Jon Quay; William Glick from Meriden Gravure who can coax for the purpose of photography the loan of almost any document from the most fortified libraries; M. Sue Ladr, my editorial assistant; and Donald Hindley for his unerring support and assistance when pressed into service.

    Staff members from many libraries, historical societies, museums, and archives provided essential and much appreciated assistance. These include the American Antiquarian Society and in particular Georgia Bumgardner, the Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library and especially Sinclair Hitchings, the Bostonian Society, the Boston Anglican churches—King’s Chapel and Christ Church, Historic Deerfield, the Essex Institute, Harvard University’s Baker and Houghton Libraries, the Massachusetts Historical Society and particularly Ross Urquhart, the Massachusetts State Archives, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Colonial Court Records, the Registries of Probate, and the Records of the Supreme Judicial Courts for Suffolk and Middlesex Counties.

    The following have helped with numerous details, and/or with research and proofreading. They are Frances Yost Knight, E. Lindsay Davidson Shea, Elizabeth Compton, Carole Greenleaf, Edith Schmidt, John Koster, Mary Black, Mary Wallace Davidson, Margaret Graham Holmes, Ruth Piken, Sarah Moore and Juliette Rogers. And finally, profuse thanks are due to Anne Dhu Shapiro for her eleventh hour checking of tune analyses in the final contribution to volume I.

    Barbara Lambert

    10 Pequot Road

    Wayland, Massachusetts

    October, 1984