Mason, Lowell, editor.
The Boston Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music.
Lowell Mason (1792-1872) began compiling and editing a collection of sacred music in 1819-20 while living in Savannah, Georgia, where he worked as a bank teller in addition to part-time service as a church musician. After failing to persuade publishers in Philadelphia and several other cities to print his work, he submitted it to Dr. George K. Jackson, organist of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, for his consideration. Pleased with the compilation, Dr. Jackson recommended to the society that they sponsor its publication. The first edition appeared in 1822, but did not give Mason's name as the editor. In twenty-one subsequent editions (this is the nineteenth), Mason continually altered the contents to keep it "progressive." He replaced the older, more conservative hymns and psalm tunes with his own compositions and with those of contemporary European composers.
One selection is Mason's "Watchman Tell Us of the Night." The tune shown here is that which another New Englander, Charles Ives (1874-1954), set for voice and piano. In Ives' arrangement of the song, the accompaniment, taken from the first movement of his Fourth Symphony (1909-1916), provides a striking contrast to Mason's melody.