Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And of course MUSIC...

When you enter my shop you will notice music playing.  (It also plays outside my shop through weatherproof speakers and the huge clock in front of the shop plays carillon bell music every 15 minutes)  If you asked my family they would tell you that I listen to music 24 hours a day and could listen to Christmas music 12 months out of the year.  They are right, I could.  Very few things attract my attention as much as clocks and one of them is music.  This weeks article deals with just a few of carols for this time of year and the relevance of their writings.  Although not an article directly dealing with clocks, it does deal with time and relevance of this time.    The American Civil War sparked revival on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Between 100,000 and 200,000 Union soldiers reportedly converted to Christ, as did approximately 150,000 Confederates. Many soldiers' quarters featured chapels, and it was during this conflict that military chaplains became common. During the fall of 1863 and the winter of 1864 alone, some 7,000 of Robert E. Lee's troops became Christians. The same era saw a flurry of hymn-writing and carol-writing, especially in the North. In 1849, with the Mexican-American war just over and smaller skirmishes (between settlers and American Indians and between slavery-supporters and abolitionists) igniting across the frontier, Edmund Hamilton Sears expressed a longing for peace in "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." Sears, a New Englander, was not directly involved in these battles, but as a pastor and Christian journalist, he had cause to comment on them. As scholar Alfred Edward Bailey noted in his 1950 classic The Gospel in Hymns, Sears's carol specifically emphasizes the social significance of the Christmas angels' message. Sears writes of a "weary world," with "sad and lowly plains" where "Babel sounds" echo. He laments "two thousand years of wrong" and the fact that "man, at war with man, hears not / the love song which they [the angels] bring." The carol's last stanza anticipates the day "when peace shall over all the earth / its ancient splendors fling." Instead of peace, the 15 years following Sears's song saw unprecedented strife. The ravages of the war directly inspired another carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," which was penned by Maine native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow around 1862. The sadness of this song reflects Longfellow's grief over the 1861 death of his second wife (burned to death at home when candles ignited her clothing), his bitter opposition to the war, and the sorrow of his son Charles having been gravely injured in battle. The poet's staunch Yankee views also show through in the original version of the text, from which three particularly partisan stanzas were dropped when the poem was set to music in 1872. The excised stanzas include such lines as "Then from each black, accursed mouth / The cannon thundered in the South" and "It was as if an earthquake rent / The hearth-stones of a continent." Retained, however, were the following two poignant passages:"'There is not peace on earth,' I said
'For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men""Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.'"
Another carol to come out of Civil War experience is "O Little Town of Bethlehem," by Phillips Brooks. A pastor in Philadelphia during the war, Brooks also ministered to Union soldiers. He called the Emancipation Proclamation "the greatest and most glorious thing our land has ever seen."Debate over the date when Brooks his poem continues to this day, and it touches on how closely related the song is to the war and its aftermath. One theory holds that Brooks wrote the text in 1868 and that the stillness in Bethlehem mirrors the stillness in Philadelphia, where a generation of young men had been wiped out. More likely Brooks wrote the text in 1865, during a Christmastime visit to the Holy Land, and he was merely describing Bethlehem as he saw it. At any rate, the words were not set to music until 1868, after which the carol was sung annually by the children's choir at Brooks's church. Few people outside the parish knew of the carol until it suddenly appeared in newspapers about a decade later.
    We at Pine Knoll wish all a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Music is always on at my home unless the hubby is home and then I go to another room to listen while he watches tv. I too love the Christmas music and have a Christmas clock that chimes a new song every hour, a Charlie Brown Christmas clock which is on all year long and my advent calendar plays a different Christmas Carole every time I hang an ornament. Music can lift a person's soul. Thank you for sharing this interesting blog on the composing of these beautiful Christmas songs. May your Christmas bring you and your family Peace and Joy! And some day I swear I am going to make it to your store. I love clocks!!!!!!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.