Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

The Committee on Necrology reported the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

RESOLUTIONS.

Whereas God in his Providence has, during the past year, removed by death Rev. Charles Brooks, of Medford, Mass:; Rev. Cyrus A. Crane, D. D., of East Greenwich, R. I.; William Seaver, of Northboro', Mass. ; Albert A. Gamwell, of Providence, R. I.; and Dr. Lowell Mason, of Orange, N. Y.;

Resolved, That we sincerely cherish the memory of these our departed associates, for their constant devotion to the interests and objects of this Association, of which they were early members and founders; for their personal example of wisdom, fidelity, and patience in their endeavors to promote the cause of popular education, and for the abundant success in their special departments of personal service by which they obtained the most honorable distinction as educators, and became the benefactors of the generation in which they lived.

MR. HAMMOND said :-Mr. President, I have but a few words to say in reference to the persons who are the subjects of these résolutions. I cannot say that I was personally acquainted with most of the persons alluded to, or that I am particularly acquainted with their biography. But we all knew some of them through their extended reputation. The name of Lowell Mason is prominent in the educational history of this country. I remember distinctly the impression produced by an address which I heard him give at New Haven, I think some twenty-seven years ago, when he was in the midst of his popularity, attracting the attention of teachers to music, and when he was specially engaged in popularizing sacred music, which was his great work.

I think it is not claimed for Dr. Mason that he was one of the most eminent musicians of his time, but it can be claimed that he was one of the most celebrated teachers, and more than this, that he interested the public at large in a new style of musical composition. He was known as a composer, and his tunes are sung in every Christian congregation

of every denomination. He was distinguished, as I understand, as what might be called a translator of music, bringing to the knowledge of the educators of this country the best compositions in his particular department, to be found in Europe. He introduced that class of tunes so popular, and which were published by the Boston Academy under the title of Gregorian Chants, such tunes as Hamburg, Olmutz, etc., which are really a thousand years old, taken from the music used in the Catholic church, and made over into English tunes.

One thing more in regard to Mr. Mason, which shows his diligence as an instructor and teacher, eminent in sacred music in the same way that Professor Silliman was in the study of chemistry ; beginning in the same way, when a popular taste in regard to a sensible style of music had to be created. One thing that shows his zeal in this matter, is the splendid private library of musical works which he collected. I had an opportunity of seeing this twenty years ago, and there was not then any work published in this country that he did not possess.

Prof. GREENE of Providence. I rise to second the passage of the resolutions. I had the pleasure of being personally acquainted with several of the gentlemen whose names are included as subjects of the resolutions, and who have passed away from us; especially with Dr. Mason, of whom I desire to speak more at length. I do not intend to give any extended history of his career, but to present some things in the history of his life, and the particular circumstances under which he developed the subject of sacred music, in this country.

The first time I ever saw Lowell Mason was in Boston, in 1831, I think. I had heard of his name in connection with the Boston Academy of Music. I then attended an exercise to which he invited the public, and at which he presented a choir of children,-a novelty at that period. I was delighted and amazed at the success with which he had developed the musical talent of those children. They were arranged in the gallery of the church where he was the Musical Director, ar

ranged all around the gallery, forming a complete rectangle, and he presided at the organ. One of the pieces, I recollect, was the “ Pretty, Pretty Pear Tree ;” and the children sang it with great skill, some parts in solo, and the audience were delighted

Having been acquainted with him since, I can give some of the incidents of his life. He was born in Medfield, Massachusetts, and at the time of his death was a little more than eighty years old. He was very fond of music as a boy and young man, and played the violin. He went to Boston and was encouraged somewhat there; and finally went to Savannah, Georgia. It was there that he devoted himself especially to the subject of church music, and developed a strong taste for music in a large choir, cultivated to such an extent that they became a wonder in that part of the country. At length he was invited to come to Boston, being assured by several clergymen there that he should have a salary greater than he was receiving in Savannah. He came there in 1827, or 1828, I think. He commenced with teaching children, and it was there that he became acquainted with Dr. Woodbridge, who understood the German language, and who told Mr. Mason something about the methods of teaching music in Germany. Dr. Woodbridge translated a little German work, which was instantly introduced into the choirs of children. Dr. Mason devoted himself especially to teaching children music on a new plan, and here is where he did the most for music and for education in this country.

Having obtained from this little translation, his knowledge of the German or Pestalozzian method, he commenced giving instruction upon this new method. Some present may not know anything about the old method. This method was briefly explained, how the rules and gamut of music was first learned so as to be recited to the teacher; then the voices of all were tried to see if they could sound the “eight notes; and if they did this tolerably well they passed; if not, they were set upon the side seats. It was believed that there was a select few who could sing-1 do not know whether selected from all eternity or not-and the rest were set apart as not being able to sing. But Dr. Mason changed all that, and said the true method was to set the children to singing, giving them the simplest music possible. I give this as the key to the whole of Dr. Mason's life, in the department of music. He demonstrated the power of children to sing, and introduced sacred music into the public schools, which was the grandest thing of his life. Before that, no such thing was allowed.

I remember that after Dr. Mason had succeeded in introducing music into the schools of Boston, other cities soon adopted the practice, and when I went to Hartford to teach school, I found that all the children were taught to sing. It was delightful practice, as the masters had all fallen in with it and were greatly pleased with it.

When Dr. Mason first tried to introduce singing into the schools of Boston, he was met with a refusal to permit him to do it; but he worked upon them and labored with them as Dr. Mason only could; and any one who knew his tact and power would know how he succeeded in this work. He proposed that he would go in without pay if they would allow him to try it; and in this way he succeeded in exciting a great deal of interest, and finally the School Committee paid him a salary, and he went in as Director of Music in the Boston schools, and this grew to be considered a special department of instruction.

Then he began to publish books, and upon the German plan; and he was afterwards called upon to go to Providence, New York, and almost every large city in the Union, to lecture and exhibit his methods of teaching music to people generally; and this is the way that Dr. Mason became so widely known in this country as a leader, especially in church music. He then began to compose, or as has been well said by Mr. Hammond, he became the translator of the old medivval music of Europe. Thus he prepared books for social gatherings, for glee clubs, and sacred music, making him known as an author. He came forward to meet a necessity, and he did meet it most nobly; and we all know that his style of teaching is the prevailing one to-day. He did not claim any originality, but called it the Pestalozzian method. He thus became famous, going before teachers to exhibit his methods, having the wisdom and skill to show them how these methods could be applied as well to geography, arithmetic or other studies, and thus did much to disseminate better methods of teaching in all departments. And he had the privilege and pleasure of knowing that his work had been eminently successful throughout the country, and he was the first person honored by the degree of Doctor of Music. He deserved it, and has been known from that time as Dr. Mason.

Such a man must be a man of commanding energy, and with this there was a generosity which ennobled him, inducing him to go before the public and work, with pay or without it. He often received letters asking him to go to certain places, in which it would be said: “ We have little to offer you.” The Doctor would reply: “ I shall come, give me all you can, the more the better, for it will do you good.” And he was there and worked just as hard whether he received anything or not.

But he was finally successful in his personal labors, and obtained an ample fortune. He was rewarded for his works, as very few of us are who are engaged in education. He was also a religious man; he was a man whose life showed his religious tastes. He did not hesitate anywhere and everywhere, before all classes of people, to present the service of song as part of the service of God. He was eminently catholic in his religious feeling. It made no difference where he went; he believed in God and in worshipping God by prayer and singing; he was earnestly in favor of the whole of it in private and in public.

The last time I ever saw him was on his return from the meeting of the National Association at Harrisburg. He invited me to stop with him, and I had a most delightful interview with him. He was full of anecdote, full of experience, which a man who had lived such a life would have; and he

« AnteriorContinuar »